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Today I want to talk about dice placement. I want to talk about engine building. I want to talk about resource manipulation and management. I want to talk about Fantastic Factories! Fantastic Factories is an award winning game designed by Joseph Z Chen and Justin Faulkner and it is coming to Kickstarter today!
Fantastic Factories is an engine-building, dice-placement tabletop game for 1 to 5 players for ages 14+ and takes 45 to 60 minutes. Race against other players as you try to build the most efficient factories in the shortest amount of time. You must carfully manage your blueprints, train your workers, and manufacture as many goods as possible in order to achieve industrial dominance!
Discover exciting combinations of factories as you build out your compound. Different factories require different valued workers, and training facilities can ensure that you get the dice values you need. Each round is a puzzle to figure out the optimal placement of all your workers in order to maximize the amount of resources and goods you produce.
Game Description – www.fantasticfactories.com
To play Fantastic Factories, you will draft one blueprint card from the central market on the table, or draft one specialist, discarding a matching card to do so. Specialist effects trigger immediately while blueprint cards go into your hand. Once each player has drafted their choice, then all players will roll their dice for the turn, and simultaneously take actions with those dice. Dice can then be placed on one of the three primary choices; collect energy, collect metal or draw cards. Additionally, as you add more and more factory cards to you table, you may spend dice or other resources to take actions of those factory pieces. Actions include collecting resources, manipulating resources (i.e. discarding cards and spending energy to gain metal), drawing cards, or collecting goods. Goods are the primary goal of the game. The first player to collect twelve goods will trigger the end game. In addition to using dice to take actions, you may also spend resources to build your blueprints. The cost to construct the blueprint is listed in the top left corner of the card. You need to discard one card matching the correct symbol, and spend a number of resources (energy and/or metal) and then you add that building to your factory. Buildings may be utilized the moment they are built.
The first player to build their tenth building will also trigger the end of the game. One more complete round is played and then the game is over. Players count the prestige points that they have gained through the construction of their buildings (shown in the top left corner of the card), and add that to the number of goods that they have collected. The player with the highest total is the winner!
Before I get into my own thoughts on the game I want to preface this by stating that Joseph, one of the designers of Fantastic Factories is a friend of mine. I’ll also get this part out of the way. Back this game. Share this article, share the Kickstarter page and get others to back Fantastic Factories. This isn’t a huge company using Kickstarter to publish their game (when they probably don’t need to), this is two people trying to publish their game. Regardless of the game itself, this is the kind of project that embodies the original intention of the Kickstarter platform. That alone is a good reason to support this project. On top of helping an independent game designer, you will also get a really, truly great game!
When I first saw a prototype of Fantastic Factories being played at a local designer event I was intrigued. The stars never aligned and I wasn’t able to play the game for quite a while. Finally, I asked for a link to the print and play version when Joseph announced that he was posting it, and I blind-tested the game in a two player game with just my wife and I on the Bremerton Ferry. I knew roughly what type of game it was, and I had spent a lot of time cutting out cards and finding the various components, but I didn’t know how the game would flow. (Note, the image here is a prototype print and play version and does not represent the final published version of the game.)
I taught it to my wife and we nearly completed a game before the ferry arrived at it’s destination. Jan swears that she won, but I know if we had the time to complete the game, I would have eked out the win!
We played a full game the next day and we both knew that this was a game that would be in our collection, and not just because it is the game of our friend, but because it is a game that we would be happy to play over and over again. There are a lot of interesting choices and strategies that you can try. Combine this blueprint with that blueprint to build a building, then gain a card and a metal resource. Discard the card and the metal to gain some number of energy. Spend a die and the energy you just generated to make a goods token. The game play is simple enough that I could teach this game to just about anyone, and the diversity of combinations and the fact that you can utilize cards as either blueprints or resources to either gain specialist actions or construct blueprints means that you can easily pivot if you find your strategy isn’t working or if your dice don’t come up the way that you would have liked.
For example, the other night in a game I had two wrench blueprints in my hand and I was planning to build a specific one, using the other to pay the costs. It was apparent after the die roll that I wouldn’t be able to build the one that I had planned on, but I could build the other, and it would help me. So I discarded the original one and built the other. Later I was able to re-draft the initial one and build it too! I didn’t win the game, but I also wasn’t frustrated by the inability to take an action. I was always able to do something, even if it wasn’t the most efficient thing or the thing that I had planned. In dice games it is imperative that players be able to utilize their turns, even if not in the way that they had planned or desired.
I really, truly enjoy Fantastic Factories. For me it falls right on the edge of what many would call a “gateway” game and a medium-weight game. Fantastic Factories has a simple enough core-mechanic that I could teach it to children or non-gamers, but the gameplay is diverse enough that a number of various strategies can be developed, making it ideal for heavier gamers as well.
Whether Joseph was a friend of mine or not, if I stumbled on the Fantastic Factories Kickstarter project randomly, I can say with nearly 100% certainty that I would back the project. Thankfully I do know Joseph and I will be proud to back Fantastic Factories. And, since I have a print and play, I can enjoy the game while I wait for my production copy!
Help a friend. Help an independent game designer. Lets get this wonderful game to succeed. Back early and share often. You won’t be disappointed.