Quick, Colorful Mayhem for 2-4 Players[info_box]This review is of the 2nd edition of the game, due out this June, it includes cards from the Sabotage! expansion pack.[/info_box]
Are you a fan of goblins, or in this case bodgers? Particularly the kind who tinker and build contraptions that typically result in spectacular displays of high voltage electricity, steam, explosions, and sometimes – bodger bits smattered everywhere!? Infernal Contraption is a quick little card game for 2-4 players from Privateer Press that allows you to do just that. All in attempts to build the biggest, baddest contraption to run your opponents out of resources and become the last bodger standing!
The object of the game is pretty simple – don’t run out of cards. The game is all about resource management, but it’s surprisingly easy to play and understand which is a theme not typically common in deck building games. You’ll constantly be be weighing in on the benefits and withdraws of each card you play, whether adding to your grand machine, upgrading its bits, or attempting to sabotage your opponent. Each player has a parts pile (their deck) and there is a scrap heap (discard pile) in the center of the playing area that serve as the main resources of gameplay. However players may never count the cards in the scrap heap, or their parts piles!
Your cards are layed out with the “main line” running horizontally, and “plugs” that attach to it vertically. Plugging parts of your machine together is dependent on the sockets each part has. There are 5 socket types: gears, voltaic coils, steam pipes, alchemical apparatuses, and universal. All you need to do is match up the icons for each socket in order to attach pieces, the universal sockets allow for any type of connection. There are 5 types of cards that will comprise your machine: Contraptions (the bread & butter), Upgrades (bolster your contraptions), Consumables (use once to help/hinder then remove), and Sabotage (one time use, placed in opponents machines) and Power Sources (needed for contraptions & upgrades to function).
Go Get Em’
When it’s your turn you may add a single card to your machine, if you want to add more cards to your machine in the same turn you’ll need to be scrapping an additional card to the scrap heap as payment each time. Already you’re weighing the pro’s and cons of getting rid of cards, and even more so as you begin building your contraption. Each card in your machine will force your opponents to discard cards, give you cards from their parts piles, and a lot more. There are also upgrades which you can attach to your machine that cause various beneficial effects, and sabotage cards that can be plugged into your adversaries machines that can result in some pretty grandiose displays of “haha, you’re screwed!”. After you’ve finished adding to your machine, you target an opponent and flip it on, resolving all of the effects and taunting your opponent through each and every step.
The rules to the game are short and sweet, which is great because it makes it all the more easy to convince people to hop in and play a round. However there are some things it doesn’t clarify that came up during our games that I’m sure it could have handled with an additional FAQ sheet or something. Such as, is there a limit to how long the main line of your machine can be? Can you voluntarily destroy cards from your machine if you feel they’re mucking things up for you? Can you have more than one main line (ex: build a new main off of one of your plugs)?
Assuming none of these things were mention we’d assumed them to all be false. The only other minor gripe I had with the game was the card layout was slightly disorienting, we found that the game plays much better if you simply hold your hand of cards in “landscape” fashion rather than like a typical hand of cards.
As you can see from my unboxing video, these cards are extremely nice quality with a great plastic coating that makes them feel silky smooth when handling and shuffling them. The artwork is colorful, fun, very evocative of the game’s chaotic and wacky nature. Though, the color coded borders could use some toning down in my opinion, while the gear and rivet laden art is great, I feel some solid straightforward colors would have been easier to deal with for this color-deficient gamer. Overall the presentation in Infernal Contraption is top notch, don’t let my quirks drown out the goodness of the game here.
It’s surprising to me that the makers of Warmachine have the resources to not only produce all the greatness for that game and still have time and talent left over to make cool games like Infernal Contraption. It’s quick, accessible, and light hearted which make it great for getting most anyone to play. It’s so fast you can use it to kill 20-30 minutes, or add it into the shuffle of a game night extravaganza.
Another thing it has going for it is that while I suppose it may somehow roughly classify as “deck builder” it is very far from games like Thunderstone where the learning curve can be a bit steep. Also, it’s definitely a competitive game, there are no victory points here or anything like that which was refreshing as I’ve been playing a lot of euro-style games lately. As much as I love euro style games, there’s also nothing bad about attempting to achieve ultimate victory and a little bit of bragging rights over your friends! I’ll admit I’m pretty biased toward goblins, bodgers, or any other variation of ‘small green people with penchant for blowing themselves up and wearing funny hats‘ so it would be pretty hard for me not to recommend this game. In conclusion, this game is a blast and at $20 Infernal Contraption is defintely a worthy contender for space on anyone’s gaming shelf. Thanks for reading!