Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 13 November 2018

Great accessories for your thingamabobs:- Gizmos

Game: Gizmos

Publisher: CMON

Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

Year: 2018

Gizmos is a 2-4 player tableau building card game in which players will collect various energy spheres which they will then use to build gizmos. These gizmos each have a power which then allows for bigger and better turns. With clever planning your can outwit your fellow inventors and create the most wondrous collection of gizmos known to man!

Gizmos is set up with a large ball dispenser showing 6 marbles at any one time, a row of 3 markets of high, medium and low value cards and personal player boards including a storage ring to contain your marbles. Each turn players will perform 1 and only 1 action, however with clever use of your already built gizmos, this can cause chain reactions where other actions trigger too. The game ends when a player has either built four of the high value gizmos, or a grand total of all a player's built gizmos is met.

The basic actions are pick a marble from this display, reserve a card to build later, look through the supply decks for one of the market rows and then build or reserve that card or to spend marbles to build either a reserved card or one form the face up market. All of the actions are very simple, but can be enhanced. At the start of the game you can only reserve 1 card, only hold 5 marbles and only look at the top 3 cards of a deck. The simplest gizmos expand these quantities letting you hold more marbles, for example, which you'll need to build some of the most powerful cards, which naturally also give the most victory points!

The ball dispenser works well, with the lighter, plastic, marbles ensuring it should last a long time. Occasionally you need to reach your hand in the top to take a random ball as well!
All gizmos have a function, and many can be triggered with careful planning to create chain reactions. For example, some gizmos allow you to perform a pick action after performing a build action with a card in a certain colour. Combine this with a card that lets you draw a random marble after picking a red marble and another card that lets you treat a red marble as a wild colour and you have yourself a little engine that can quickly build up gizmos. Of course many other strategies work too, with some gizmos giving you points when you perform certain actions or rewarding you massively every time you reserve a card. Exactly what you manage to do is entirely up to you and one of the great things about Gizmos is how different an approach each player uses.

The player board has space for each gizmo you build under the actions so your remember which one triggers which ability.
Unfortunately though, this exciting game of combining cards and building engines is somewhat neutered in a 2 player game. With no mechanic to burn cards in the market, we often found that the market was stale and unchanging. The same 4 cards no-one wanted hang about for the entire game until someone is so desperate that they build them out of frustration. The lack of card flow, and marble flow, means that building a properly tuned engine is often difficult and if you focus on one colour you were often left with game-losing droughts. Unfortunately this has painful repercussions and the game soon becomes a shadow of what it should have been. Worst of all, if one player manages to get some good chain reactions going the other player could felt a bit hard done by. It's not much fun when your opponents turns take 3 minutes while yours take 20 seconds.

Overall Gizmos is a good engine building game, but playing 2 player forces you to take certain liberties with your engine. Adding a third of even fourth player will shrink this issue down if not completely remove it. I really enjoyed the potential combos that could be performed in the game, I just wish I spent more of my turns feeling awesome and accomplished and less of them feeling feeble. I really enjoyed how the early turns are super fast as you perform 1 quick action only, while near the end of the game your turns have gotten far more dramatic, it's a great amount of build up, but the game ends before things start grinding to a halt. Gizmos is a game I would love to love, but unfortunately the flaws have held it back a little too much. I wouldn't say no to a game, but I don't think it will stay in the collection.


Gizmos was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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