SWOOSH BING makes the new machine and spits out a fiery red glowing magma sphere. This is in general already quite good, but it is not yet the optimum. To get my new machine running, I would need two magma spheres instead of one. Thank God I got a doubler for only one Atomius at the market the other day. I’m going to install it into my crazy machine and then the energy balls will rush through my gizmos. Whereby I just noticed that I urgently need a new energy storage device when the doubler starts to work. But where am I supposed to get it from now?
A gizmo is a small, technical device, which has never been seen before and whose meaning is not exactly defined. In Gizmos by Phil-Walker Harding, published by CMON, you try to use many of these funny things to produce energy spheres in chain reactions, which you can invest in new gizmos. How you become the master of the gizmos and if it’s fun you can read in our review.
Gizmos not Gizmo
If you grew up in the 80s like I did, you inevitably think of the little mogwai when you hear the name of the game. Fortunately, there are no rules of conduct in the game Gizmos, so your machine would not turn into a sinister threat if handled improperly. Instead, your Gizmos, if used and set up correctly, should produce an uncanny amount of energy spheres.
You need these energy spheres to buy more gizmos. And they will bring you more or other spheres, etc., etc. The whole thing ends when one of you has built 16 gizmos or 4 level 3 gizmos. In total, there are three levels of gizmos, which vary in price, but also provide better effects the more expensive they are. After that, the points on the gizmos are counted and the player with the most points wins.
But how can you achieve this? Quite simple, because you only have to choose one of the 4 actions available during your turn. You can simply collect a sphere of energy from the dispenser. Or you can build a gizmo, either from the display or from the archives, paying with collected energy spheres. You can take a gizmo from the display and put it in the archive. Or you can research and pull from one of the 3 gizmo draw piles. The card you draw will then go to the archive or you can build it right away.
That’s all the action you can do. The trick of the game is the chain reactions, because every gizmo you build, you assign to an action. And when you select that action, you also trigger the gizmo, which starts further chain reactions. Each gizmo can only be activated once per action in your turn.
For example, a chain reaction could be that every time you archive a card, you can draw another red energy sphere. If you draw a red energy sphere, you can also build a new gizmo. And once you build a new gizmo, you can grab into the dispenser again to draw an energy sphere unseen.
Of course, it takes a few rounds until you have built up such a machine. But once it’s running, I can barely keep a grin off my face when I explain every step to my fellow players and they just look at each other in amazement at how everything fits together.
However, if you now think that Gizmos is a nice little game for in between, you are only partly right. Yes, the playing time is quite manageable and also the game itself is quite smooth. But the game is not nice, because for us it is a tough race. I have to make sure that I have at least one gizmo in my machine for each turn, otherwise the competition will simply leave me behind. And I really like that. Sure, it also creates a bit of stress, because I’m desperately looking for the gizmo that fits perfectly into my machine. But I find this a lot of fun.
Sand in the gears
This also leads to an important point, however. I can only influence the course of the game to a limited point with my little helpers. For example, if I need a red sphere and it doesn’t lie out, I have to trust my luck or throw my strategy overboard. So I can choose an action in which I blindly pull a sphere from the energy dispenser again and hope that it is perhaps the desired colour. But I can also try to maybe build another machine that gives me a red sphere in the next move.
At the beginning of the game I don’t have any problems with it, because the machinery is not running very well yet. But as the game progresses, you do specialize in a certain strategy, which increases the risk that it might get stuck. For example, if you get bonuses when you build a yellow gizmo, you’ll have a problem if there are no yellow gizmos lying around and you don’t find any yellow gizmos in the draw pile when you do research.
However, it can also happen that you put too much emphasis on versatility and your machinery doesn’t really get going. While your teammates are already rushing to the level 2 and 3 gizmos, which not only give you more victory points, but also give you more bonuses, you’re stumbling around with the level 1 gizmos and just getting stuck. Of course, that’s not very satisfying. If you’re sitting at a table with people who’ve played the game a few times, you’re just running behind.
The machinery needs more gizmos
On the other hand, however, there is the rather manageable playing time. In our case the matches lasted between half an hour and a full hour. The downtime is quite pleasant and short, but can get worse towards the end when the machines are very large and you play in a full four-player setup. In this case, it takes time to work off the chains, and some players have already assembled very complicated chains. But that does not bother me at all.
You should also not underestimate the luck factor. I get along with him, there are other games like The Taverns of Tiefenthal where it bothers me more. Gizmos here is already more chaotic in its basic idea and doesn’t even create the expectation that you can handle a wildly chained machinery really well. As a confused inventor I can be glad if the machine doesn’t blow up in my face by the end of the game.
In Gizmos the games are similar, but each one is played differently. Each time different chains are built. Sure, there are some basic pillars I really want to have, like increasing the storage capacity. But on the whole I let myself be driven by my machinery. That’s what makes a big part of the appeal and replayability for me as well. And after a few games, I tried other strategies. Is it possible to score more points if I build a lot of little gizmos and finish the game quickly? Or do I build on monolithic chain reactions, which start less often but when they start, the big points come in?
Positive at this point I would like to mention the materials. Because in direct comparison with Potion Explosion, another game in which spheres are pulled out of a dispenser, the dispenser at Gizmos is qualitatively better. If you assemble it in peace and order, no additional glue is needed. It holds easily and can be stored very well after the game in the specially designed inlay. Also the balls simply look “rounder”.
Unfortunately the dispenser is not quite optimal. It happened quite often that balls fell from the bar inside the dispenser. Then it only helps to lift the dispenser very carefully and save the sphere. Also the inclination inside the dispenser is not optimal. Sometimes it happens that the rolling of the spheres gets stuck. But this does not do much to the flow of play.
Gizmos grabbed me with his playing feeling right from the first game and I like to play it again and again when it comes to the table. Whether that will still be the case in a year’s time remains to be seen. At the moment I’m completely satisfied with what Gizmos offers, even if the luck factor is quite high.