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Mechanica Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look: Mechanica


Designer: Emma Hobday, Mary Flanagan, Max Seidman
Artist: Ann-Sophie De Steur, Cisco Garrido, Spring Yu
Publisher: Resonym
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 45-60 min.

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

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



Review:

tl;dr: Vacu-bot programming, but not their movement through a house, moving them through a production line. Shorter game than I'd like, with satisfying components.

Getting to the Game: First of all, I want to call out the fact that this game is played from the box. You literally don't take the majority of the components out of the box to play it, they stay there and the game is played with the box itself in the center of the table. Give each player a factory board, token vault, four coins, and a basic bot which is placed in the Basic Fabricator on their individual factory board. Take all the improvements out of the box, shuffle them, and put them right back in their denoted slots. Take the top two off the stack and place them in the first two spots on the shop wheel. Shuffle the blueprints and split them up into stacks of 7 cards each; reveal the top card of each stack.



The object of Mechanica is to build as efficient a production-ready factory as you can in the (very short) time frame you're allowed. There are 27 improvement tiles in the game, and you only play with 21 of them unless you're playing a 4-player game. The robots progress through your factory one step every round, so depending on player count, you're not going to have that long to get everything moving. Tempus Fugit.

Playing the Game: On your turn, you'll ship out the bots in your trucks at the end of your production line to make money, and then buy up new improvements from the shop wheel, use the fabricators you have to make new bots, and then prep the shop wheel for the next player. Now's a good time to talk about just how great that wheel is. At the end of every turn, you'll rotate the wheel one step, and then put a new piece in the 7-cost slot. The final slot in the wheel has no backing, so if a piece falls to the end with no one taking it, it's "recycled," and grants you bots as a parting gift as it descends into the abyss. It's unclear just exactly how recycling a Gift Wrapper improvement results in a Deluxe bot on the other end, but hey--you're also installing a flight tester arm that throws bots all around your factory, so maybe don't think about this too much.



Apart from the revolutionary shop wheel, the rest of the game plays as smooth as the assembly line of your dreams. Things move swiftly, with people buying up improvements and slotting them around their factory, trying to make the best overall machine they can. I finally got my shop working amazingly, only to have the game abruptly end just as I was starting to think about blueprints. And now, we come to my solitary issue with this game: the endgame happens far too fast.

Blueprints represent the game's ultimate goal: Spit out bots you don't want to sell and turn them into... shareholder profits? Or something? They become a LOT of money, but money that goes into your "vault," not your "wallet." The difference between these two sources of cash is that your wallet is public information, and your vault is hidden, even from you. Literally, it's a 3-D cardboard piggy-bank-esque safe that you don't open until the end of the game. The issue here is that most require you to have at least one Deluxe bot, and getting to that level is solidly mid-game territory. So, right when you're starting to get comfortable with how much money you have and what you're going to start doing in your factory, you have a decision: score blueprints, or finish your engine. The answer, surprisingly, is score blueprints. The trick of this game is that having a very well-tuned factory doesn't get you anything besides cash for your wallet. What you actually want to do is get a haphazard factory running that gets you only what you need for the blueprint you want, and then score that one and now try to edge around what you built to get the next one.

Your mileage may vary, though, as game length is somewhat dictated by the players. The game ends at the end of a round in which there are no longer any improvements in the stack, and there aren't any left on the shop wheel. From there, everyone empties out their vaults and wallets, most money wins (sigh, capitalism. Don't ever change). In a three-player game, with everyone buying a tile every round, the fastest a game will end is in 7 rounds. So you see, time really is of the essence here. You have to get it done. 

Artwork and Components: The art team has done a phenomenal job with the 1950's Sears Catalog style, and everything adheres wonderfully to the theme. You're building and improving mechanical robot vacuums after all, and you have to be able to embrace the ludicrousness of that. The team has a little work to do, however, as the contrast of white lettering on the yellow/gold backgrounds can often be hard to read, especially with the font size needed to fit everything on the tiles.

  


The overall components here are genius, as everything feels amazing on the table. Snapping together the puzzle-pieces to build your factory works very, very well, and the shop wheel is a genius mechanic. Keeping everything in the box while you play is similarly inspired, and try as I might, I can't find any faults with the overall feel of this game. Keeping in mind that mine is only a prototype, I'm legitimately hyped to see what the final product looks like. Don't miss out on this one.

The Good: The game-box-as-machine works so well and is so satisfying to play with. Components across the board are top notch, and I only have a prototype. 

The Bad: Overall color scheme is hard to read, as the contrast is too low and some text on pieces is too small--I expect this to be sorted by retail. Play time is too short. 

Score: Resonym games has an amazing pedigree, and this game definitely earns its place in their pantheon. Setting up that perfect engine feels great, and the actual physical components will blow you away. I'm giving Mechanica a score of MechanicAwesome.



Check out Mechanica on:

              

On KICKSTARTER now. Campaign ends March 3, 2019



Nicholas Leeman - Reviewer

Nicholas has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.

See Nicholas's reviews HERE.
Mechanica Kickstarter Preview Mechanica Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on February 11, 2019 Rating: 5

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