We played Gizmos by Phil Walker Harding at Origins at the CMON demo area. Sarah was very pleasantly surprised that this game was available for demos, and we’re glad that we got some time to try it out ourselves!
Description: Everyone is trying to get the most victory points by building the most efficient, creative, and powerful engines to mechanize and control their gizmos.
You may take one of four possible actions that you can do on your turn:
- File – take a project to build later on in the game.
- Pick – choose a marble from the exposed line out of the marble dispenser and Put it in your ring for use later.
- Build – discard marbles to construct projects either from the display or your file.
- Research – Draw cards from the deck, build or file one and discard the rest.
You also have upgrades and converters. Upgrades let you increase the maximum number of marbles in your ring, the number of projects you may file at one time, or the number of project cards you choose from when you utilize the research action. Converters change energy into different types and quantities.
The game ends when a player has either built their fourth level three gizmo or their sixteenth overall gizmo. Count up your victory points and the player with most has won.
Sarah: The above description may make the game sound like a dry resource management, engine building game; but it isn’t like that at all. What may have been boring in other contexts is given a vitality and striking table presence with this game. There is an undeniable toy factor going on when you pick the marbles from the dispenser; I am sure that it will bring back some childhood nostalgia for many who had marbles as toys growing up. The gameplay itself is a quite interesting trying to race against other players to make the best engine. It felt like you could pursue many different strategies depending on what you were able to build and how each built project could mesh their abilities together.
Marti: I love engine building games, and the colorful simplicity of Gizmos caught my eye almost immediately. The game is incredibly easy to learn and it tickled my fancy with all of the neat combos that I could do on my turn once I got the engine rolling. The marbles and the container that they came out of looked great and worked really well for its purpose. The cards were easy to understand and, once I got playing, I found easy ways to make my machine better as time went on. In short, the game lets you make a Rube Goldberg machine that actually works, and who hasn’t looked at one of those and wanted to do it yourself? This gives you a similar experience without taking all of the time to make it happen in real life!
Scott: I really like tableau building games (Villages of Valeria and Splendor are both in my top 10) so when this one combined that with a cool, science/technology theme I knew I was going to enjoy it. Unlike some other tableau builders, since this one ends when someone gets a certain number of cards in their tableau, you really have to watch what you build into your area. You don’t have a lot of room for superfluous cards if you’re trying to get your engine ramping up before you or someone else triggers the end game. It makes for really smart decision-making but at the same time giving multiple paths to victory (as far as how you build your engine). I like that there are ways to both take visible marbles of your choice and also take random ones from the pot to speed up, but somewhat randomize, what you’re getting to work with. Overall it’s a really neat game that I look forward to playing again!
Try, Buy, or Deny: Gizmos was delightful and enjoyable from start to finish. If you enjoy creating combos, engine building, and hand management you will love this game. If you want a game that plays in under an hour that has a great table presence and toy factor but still has rich gameplay, you should check this game out. If you enjoy the game designs of Phil Walker Harding, buy this game. Even if the aforementioned things are not in your wheelhouse we recommend at least trying this game, it might be a hit for you. Gizmos is a definite buy for us at OSG!
Marti, Sarah, and Scott