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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Monday 15 April 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Rusty Industry

Game: Rusty Industry

Publisher: Yodelling Ogre Games

Designer: Damian Sulej

Year: 2019

Rusty Industry invites you into an underground world of crazy contraptions, and encourages you to assemble a new and great kingdom from the decrepit ruins. You play as one of the king’s chosen entrepreneurs: buying buildings, trading with competitors, and upgrading your facilities to maximise your product output.

Rusty Industry is the first game coming from Yodelling Ogre Games, and is a self-published design from Damian Sujej. We were lucky enough to get a chance to take a look at the great looking prototype ahead of its Kickstarter campaign.


In Rusty Industry players take turns to run their industrial machines. Each round starts with a  production phase where their machines will run, sawmills producing lumber, farms producing food etc. In addition any processing plants will convert their input into output, for example brick factories will turn raw clay into the improved brick resource. After producing everything players will discard resources down to their warehouse limit, starting at 5 but increased by building more warehouses.

Once all this production is done the main phase begins, during this phase several actions can be performed in any order, but with some restrictions. Most notable you can only build 1 building a round but spending the required money and resources. There are 6 basic buildings which are always available and 5 auction buildings which rotate each turn. In addition to building you can also sell up to 2 goods (more if you own markets) to the bank for money. Buy a good from the bank for money. Spend resources to upgrade your factories, increasing their production. You can also trade with other players either buying goods they put up for sale in their turns, or offering your own goods to be bought.

Ultimately you want points and these are available in a few varieties. Completing order cards, which demand a certain combination of resources and money, will grant you points. With bonuses for collecting sets of a colour or one of each colour. Producing export crates will also generate points, these can be done via processing plants which create crates, or simply by trading in advanced resources directly. Finally you gain points based on your economy score, this is increased each time a player buys goods from you and decreased every time you buy from the bank. Having a negative economy is heavily penalised, while having the most at the end of the game scores you bonus points.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Rusty Industry has the core of a great economy game. Starting with no factories and only a small number of resources, you'll soon find yourself owning a string of  buildings that (hopefully) work together to create some export goods, or at least fulfil a steady amount of orders. This core gameplay loop is in itself is immensely satisfying, though there are a few clunky bits around the edges. Since you are limited in how much you can store in your warehouse your growth is constantly limited by how many warehouses you can build. Plus, should you find yourself with too many goods you can't even sell them without building more market -, there always seems to be a restriction on what you can do during your turn.

The number of points earned during a game is notably low; winning scores can easily be in the range of ~8 points which means every point is hard-earned. As you might expect in an engine-builder most of your points come as you approach the end of the game. However as 1 card of the orders market burns every turn you'll spend the first couple of rounds of the game watching completely unachievable orders simply burning away with no real purpose bar heralding the end of the game. The same is true of the auction row, which means you have to be very aware of your timing if you hope to build that advance building you have been eyeing. Especially in a 4-player game where you may only have 1 opportunity to build a building before it burns off the end of the row!

The mechanics to encourage inter-player trading are well thought-out, there is a lot to gain by successfully trading away your goods. However there is also a lot to gain from spending your goods on your own upgrades. And thanks to warehouse limits resources are rarely so abundant that players will have spares until late in the game. This, combined with the heavy cost of trading with the bank means that each player is still drawn to the idea of being able to produce at least a decent variety of resources themselves, which doesn't feel like the intent of the trading mechanics.

Although a lot of what I've said above could be taken as criticism, but it's really just a matter of being aware of what you are getting into. Rusty Industry is a challenging game where you will be fighting tooth and nail for every vital point. Your engine building will need to be calculated, with just a little bit of luck to get the right building at the right time. Deciding which goods not to make is as important as which ones to make, especially when you need those goods to upgrade your buildings. I don't think Rusty Industry will be to everyone's taste, decisions can be hard and this can lead to AP for players who are prone to it. But at it's core it's a fascinating engine building game with a heavy focus on player interaction.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Rusty Industry combines engine building with a very interactive economic game. Whilst it is possible to build an entire engine all by yourself – producing all of the required resources to fulfil the needs of some manufacturing buildings to create export crates – it’s far more satisfying to create an economy amongst all of the players and figure out how best to use that to your strength. Trading resources, so that you don’t need to build one of everything is highly incentivised and is key to ensuring that you don’t spend too long in the game building a giant engine.

Whilst it does take a little while to get your engine going, you’ll soon find that your production is out of control and you need warehouses to make sure you’re not letting goods go to waste. Soon money won’t be a problem either and it might be nice to have a market to allow you to use it all. I love that Rusty Industry has enough complexity to really make you plan from a bunch of different angles to build exactly the engine you need.

One of the challenges we encountered whilst playing Rusty Industry was finding the right players. There is no doubt that the engine building in Rusty Industry requires a fair amount of forward thinking, but the quick refresh rate of two of the card type means that it’s not that possible to plan between turns, especially in a four player game. Gamers who suffer with AP or who are not as familiar with engine building, might struggle to keep the game moving. For players like me who are very happy with multi-player solitaire experiences, there might be a tension between that preference and the game’s need to be played more interactively. However, with experienced players who are interested in interactive economic games, Rusty Industry is a pretty great introduction and certainly much lighter than a trading game like Container.

Personally, I wish that Rusty Industry either played two players or that we had a reliable third player who could really enjoy the interaction in this game with us. However, if 3-4 players is your typical group size – I highly recommend checking out Rusty Industry on Kickstarter.

You Might Like...
  • This game is at its best with a heavy amount of player interaction.
  • There are two quite distinct paths to victory.
  • The rules are simply explained in just four pages.
  • Rusty Industry really makes your brain work to effectively plan all of the intricacies of your engine.

You Might Not Like...
  • For us, not playing 2-player is a drawback, especially when it feels as though there's no reason not to have it play with two.
  • There is a lot of engine building, and not a lot of engine running in the game.

The Verdict
Rusty Industry is a really nice combination of engine building with something a little extra. The lovely cartoony art style really carries what is a quite benign theme and elevates this to a bright and colourful game with some really solid mechanisms under the hood. It's a really well though-out next step in engine building games, that we highly recommend to gamers familiar with engine building, but interested in an interactive economic game too.

Rusty Industry was a prototype kindly provided to us by Yodelling Ogre Games. The publisher also provided the photos included in this review. Rusty Industry is live on Kickstarter from 23rd April 2019.

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