There are some games you just know are for you when you see them. Gizmos’s bright plastic marbles pouring out of a fancy dispenser grabbed me immediately. I love Potion Explosion and have come to accept that I’m a sucker for marble dispensers in games. For the leery, don’t worry; Gizmos is more game than gimmick.
The goal of Gizmos is to earn the most victory points by building the most powerful Gizmotomatron you can. (Okay, I made up that name, but maybe we can make it stick.) The game is stunningly simple, which should come as no surprise given it’s designed by Phil Walker-Harding (the mind behind Sushi Go!, Bärenpark, and a ton of other simple-but-excellent games).
Your turn consists of taking one action. File lets you reserve a card from the center display in your Archive, which will feel familiar to anyone who has played Splendor. Pick allows you to grab a marble from the Energy Row; Build has you spending Energy Spheres to add gizmo cards to your dashboard, and Research lets you go searching through a deck in hopes of finding the perfect card to Build or File.
As they stand, these actions are rather ho-hum and nothing all that interesting. What really gets things revving in Gizmos is how effects are triggered. When taking any of the above actions, you may activate any effect. For example, each player starts with a Level 0 gizmo card, allowing you to draw a random Energy Sphere from the dispenser any time you File. Say you add another card under File; this time, one that lets you take a Pick action. Now, the File action allows you to draw a random Energy and take one from the row. After just a few turns, your combo-engine will be more than just revved up; it’ll be burning rubber. Without evening realizing it, you’ll have internalized the symbols on the cards and be eyeing your next gizmo, anxiously awaiting your turn. This is also a good time to stare at the whimsical art on the cards and ponder just how long that poor little hamster has to run to power the generator.
Selecting the right combination of cards comprise your decision points throughout the game. Do you want to build up one particular action or spread the love around so you’re always getting something no matter what you choose? Personally, I’m a big fan of Build Triggers. Getting to perform a Pick action and gain a victory point just for building a particularly colored gizmo is so satisfying. Any of the gizmos are worthwhile though. Like any good engine-building game, you’ll be jealous of the combinations your opponents created just as much as they are of yours.
As you might imagine, higher level cards allow you to trigger more powerful Effects. I hope you thought about putting some Upgrades and Converters in place. Upgrades increase the number of Energy Spheres your Storage Ring can hold, how many cards your Archive can hold, and how many cards you can search through when you Research. Then there are Converters. If you’re wondering how to mitigate the random assortment of Energy Spheres, Converters are your answer. Some let you use one color of Energy as another. Others allow you to treat one color as two of the same. Get enough of these and you’ll feel like a real machine.
The game ends when someone has 16 gizmos in front of them or 4 Level 3 gizmos. When first starting out, this may seem like a ways away. Things ramp up quickly though and often the game ends at the moment you’re settling into the combotastic creation you’ve made. However, the quick pace means you can reset and play again, which is fantastic because a good inventor never stops creating. Thankfully, Gizmos has all the bits and bobs to keep you entertained for quite a while.
Image Credits: Grace P.
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