When it comes to choosing a game, be it for a showcase or a retail shelf, understanding distinctions between games that are highly similar in nature is key to finding one that will resonate best for you. This more curated approach will continue to be an ever-growing part of game selection as the number of titles released continues to grow, as the hobby provides more diverse options, and even as your personal tastes may change. While it was easy to once say that a deckbuilder was a deckbuilder, there is now enough variation of mechanic and theme that you need to inquire about more than simply its core premise. The same can be said about tableau-building games. Broadly speaking, in these games the main purpose is to play cards to the table in front of you. However, how you add those precious cards to the table varies wildly from game to game. Do you draft them? Do you buy them? Do you march your army of across the table and forcibly annex them? All of these could fuel the same core tableau idea, illustrating that not all games of the same family are guaranteed to behave the same way. For a style of game treated dismissively by some as too non-interactive, how the disparate parts of a tableau game interact with one another are, somewhat ironically, essential to carving out a unique identity in a crowded field.
Establishing an identity is certainly part of the intent for Fantastic Factories, the latest tableau builder to grace the stage. In this inaugural title by Metafactory Games (and just recently announced to be partnering with Deep Water Games), players find themselves in the middle of a manufacturing frenzy, spurred on by the desire to become the most efficient industrialist around. Rather than having its aesthetic relegated to some 19th century boomtown, however, Fantastic Factories lives up to its namesake with a lightweight-yet-strategic building game that exudes brightness, vibrancy, and a visual playfulness not often found on similarly themed titles. That alone is worthy of some attention.
The gameplay certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Over a number of rounds, each player is racing to manufacture a dozen goods or construct 10 buildings. With a bevy of card synergy to experiment with, the game has quite a number of different ways to accomplish this, though the general flow of is quite straightforward. During the first half of a round players will either draft or purchase cards from the marketplace that are either used to generate resources or construct new buildings. Then, using dice as workers, players roll their dice and allocate them to run the various buildings and factories in their tableau, often chaining one result into the next in a rewarding fashion. Buildings provide a host of abilities, including dice manipulation, recruiting new workers, reducing costs, and more, giving players plenty to consider even in its short play time. To minimize downtime, everyone performs their dice rolls and worker allocations simultaneously, keeping the game brisk while letting everyone focus on optimizing their Rube Goldberg-like facilities.
While Fantastic Factories has many aspects seen before, the combinations of its component parts assemble to an experience that is ideal for those who enjoy the satisfying sensation of building up a finely tuned tableau without wanting to spend two hours doing so or whose flavor is that of a bland historic setting. Designing a game that distills such an experience down into a quick 45 minute exercise without simplifying strategy too much is certainly easier said than done, and it seems worthy to recognize that accomplishment.
And as we are all about sharing in that accomplishment, we’re here today to let you break ground on building your own factory empire by offering up both a copy of the game and the initial set of promo cards that go with it!
For now through November 30th, you can check out the contest details and enter below. Just follow the entry form and proceed with the contest. The more of these entries you do, even if just one, you still have a better chance than not entering at all. Of course you’re welcome to do that too. But your odds of winning drop to zero. No pressure or anything.
But don’t take our word for it. Go grab your hardhat and let the race begin!
The Fine Print: The Cardboard Republic, in conjunction with Deep Water Games is giving this game away strictly for entertainment purposes. This act is not a paid endorsement by Deep Water Games or any other entity. This contest is open to individuals only. Staff members of The Cardboard Republic and Deep Water Games are not eligible to participate. For winners outside of the Continental US, the publisher reserves the right to request they cover part or all of the shipping costs.