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Circuit Breaker Preview

Quick Look:

Designer/Artist: Peter Mariutto
Publisher: Freshwater Game Company
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 1-3
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: 30-45 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Circuit Breaker. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

Circuit Breaker is a casual strategy game that can be played solo or with up to two other friends. All players attempt to successfully rewire their own houses in time for a hastily scheduled house party, and will score points by connecting a variety of quirky electrical doodads to their home circuits. Resource management and a crafty rodent will be put to use in a fun and cheeky race to be the most 'happening' place on the block.


Components and Set-Up: Circuit Breaker consists of four Party Favor tiles, 48 Appliance tiles, 36 Wire tiles, three Breaker Boxes, twelve Hidden Objective cards, three Reference cards, four Round tokens, three Mouse/Mouse Trap tokens, a First Player marker, 40 Party Favor tokens, and 18 standard dice.

One of the Breaker Box cards

To start the game, each player receives one Breaker Box, one Hidden Objective card, three Appliance tiles, one Wire tile, one Mouse/Mouse Trap token, six dice, and a Reference card if desired. The Party Favor tokens are placed on their corresponding tiles and placed within reach of all of the players, along with the remaining Wire tiles (three of which are placed face up to create a draft pool) and Appliance tiles. The Round tokens are placed by the Party Favor tiles, and play commences.

Rules and Game Play: Play begins with each player rolling all of their dice at once and taking up to four actions: Buy, Trade, Place, or Move.

Buy - Players can use their rolled dice to purchase Wire tiles or Party Favor tokens. The costs listed on the tokens and tiles must be matched exactly by one or more of the players' rolled dice. Purchased favors/tiles become parts of the player' resources.

The cost of the Wire Cards, along with the number of potential connections, is on the back of the cards.

After the Wire card valued at 5 is purchased, you see that it has 3 connections, with 1/2/3 wire requirements. 

Trade - Players can discard one Appliance card from their hand and take the top Appliance card from the tile stack.

Place - Players may play up to two Wire or Appliance tiles from their hand and connect them to their Breaker Box or other previously played Wire cards. Cards much match the number of connections of the card/Breaker Box they are being placed against, i.e. wire-to-wire, 2-to-2, or 3-to-3.

Television (1-1 connection), Shoe Polisher (3-3 connection), and Microwave (2-2 connection) connected to a wire card.

Move - Players must subtract two from one of their active dice (e.g. 5 becomes a  3, a 3 would become a 1; anything 2 or below cannot be used) and move their mouse or mouse trap. The die used for the movement of the mouse or mouse trap must be used on the same turn on one of the above actions.

The Mouse/Mouse Trap token allows players to take action against or defend against their opponents. When a player places the Mouse on one of their opponents' played tiles, they are claiming that piece as their own, unless that player counteracts the mouse with the mouse trap. If the Mouse Trap is played, the mouse is moved to the Appliance pile, and when it is retrieved by the owner, they take an Appliance tile with it.

Mouse and Mouse Trap tokens.

After an action is taken, play moves to the next player. Players continue to trade actions until one player does not have the ability to to make more than one action. At this point, all players roll their dice, draw another Appliance tile, adjust the Round token, and the next round starts.

More electrical doodads to get the party started.
The games ends at the conclusion of the fourth round. Players score one point for each single non-hidden-objective Appliance attached to their Breaker Box. For any additional cards of the same non-hidden-objective Appliance, a bonus point is awarded. (For example, one electric toothbrush is worth one point. Two electric toothbrushes are worth three points - one point each, and then one bonus point.) Computers, regardless of whether they are hidden objectives or not, are always worth three points.

Hidden Objective cards are worth three points per occurrence, and points for the same appliance grow exponentially. For example, if the electric toothbrush is listed on a player's Hidden Objective card and is connected to the player's breaker box at the end of the game, it is worth three points. If two electric toothbrushes are connected, they are together worth nine points.

Secret Objective card with Tape Deck, Disco Ball, Outlet, and Television.

Finally, players receive one point for every two party favors (e.g. 15 party favors = 7 points) in their possession at the end of the game.

If there is a party without party favors, is it really a party?

There is also a solo variant to Circuit Breaker. In solo mode, play is similar, but the main objective is for the player to connect all four of their hidden objective appliances within four rounds. Players can also play the solo variant with a score objective, scoring the appliances and party favors the same as the multiplayer mode. The other main difference with the solo mode is the Mouse token, as it becomes both an aid and an obstacle in play.

Theme and Mechanics: The theme is pretty simple and fun - you're throwing a party and need to wire your residence to handle things like smoke detectors, electric toothbrushes, toasters, and disco balls. The appliances are unique, and the names are clever.

If there is a party without a shoe polisher, is it really a party?

There are several mechanics employed during play, including point allowance via dice rolling, drafting, set collection, tile placement, hand management, and take-that. 

The Good: There's a lot of mechanics in this game, so there might be something for everyone. There's dice, card drafting, card placement, and much more, and I think that this makes it a good candidate for a gateway game to several different genres. The theme is quirky without being kitschy. It's fun to imagine what type of party would require a tape deck, shoe polisher, waffle iron, and a gumball machine.

I also love games that have a solo variant, especially if the solo variant is different from the multiplayer mode. Circuit Breaker's solo mode makes the game play slightly differently, but it's equally as challenging as its multiplayer counterpart.

The Bad: There's a lot of mechanics in this game. The phrase that kept coming to mind as I played the game was that it was a mile wide, but only an inch deep. While this may be a good thing to some, for others that are looking for, say, a game with a deeper action-point allowance system, may feel a little underwhelmed due to the inclusion of so many other mechanics. 
Final Thoughts: Have I mentioned that there's a lot of mechanics in this game? But seriously, this review was tough because, I couldn't evaluate it against a traditional dice rolling game, though that was one of the mechanics. Nor could I properly evaluate it against other traditional take-that games, traditional set collection games, or traditional tile placement games. It stands alone in its blend of so many unique mechanics, and that is the cool thing about this game.

Circuit Breaker is like one of those appetizer sampler plates that you order when you can't decide if you want six spring rolls, egg rolls, or dumplings, so you get two of each. And that's not a bad thing!  In fact, there are times where that is exactly what you want and the sampler satisfies a need that six spring rolls couldn't. And there are times where you want two of each and you don't want to share. Circuit Breaker can fill both of these needs. There's a lot of mechanics, yes, but they can satisfy a lot of different needs.

You may want to play a game that samples different mechanics, or you may be pitching a different genre to someone new to board gaming, and in those cases, Circuit Breaker will be great. Its mechanics are a mile wide and an inch deep.

Players Who Like: A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Check out Circuit Breaker on:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/239242/sectre   https://www.freshwatergameco.com/  https://www.facebook.com/FreshwaterGameCo/  https://twitter.com/freshwatergame   https://www.instagram.com/freshwatergameco/   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuUhZMdvhHuNaeGAoZe86LQ

Coming to KICKSTARTER June 12, 2018.

About the Author:
Nick is a compliance consultant by day, a board gamer at night, and a husband and father always. When he is not bringing a game to the table, he is running (most often to or from his kids) or watching the New York Yankees. You can follow what Nick is playing on Twitter at @NDShipley
Circuit Breaker Preview Circuit Breaker Preview Reviewed by Nick Shipley on June 04, 2018 Rating: 5

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