Scrapyard Empire Preview

This post is a preview for a game currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. Art and rules may change.

In Scrapyard Empire, players are managing their hands of steam-powered parts cards and using them to build small machines, with the ultimate goal of combining those small machines into game-winning inventions!

To set up the game, each play is dealt 8 parts cards, 5 small machine cards, 1 invention card, and 1 character card.

On a player's turn, she will have 2 actions to spend from among 4 choices:
  1. Draw 1 card from either the parts or small machines deck.
  2. Attempt a dig from any scrap pile.
  3. Attempt to steal a part or small machine card from another player.
  4. Initiate a trade with any other player.
  5. Activate a small machine ability.
Look at that art!!!

Digging is an interested mechanism because it allows players to get cards from the discard pile - but players are not allowed to look through the deck before choosing to dig. First, they have to roll a six sided die. On a 4, 5, or 6, the player is allowed to deal the scrapped (discarded) cards in a pile in front of everyone until the player sees the card she would like. The remaining cards are put on top of the dealt cards. So digging requires players to have some memory of what is in the scrap pile. 

Stealing is similar in that a player who would like to steal a card needs to pass a die roll (4, 5, or 6 is a success). After a successful roll, the thieving player can choose any parts card from another player (which are always face up), or take two small machine cards from another player's hand, steal one, and give the other back.

When rolling the die in Scrapyard Empire, players have the option of scrapping any cards they have in order to get a +1 on their roll - which is a pretty neat mechanism. 

In addition to needing the Navigatrix in order to build the Time Machine invention, its in-game ability is pretty nifty!

After a player has used all of her actions, she can build any small machines she has in her hand as long as she has the required parts for it in front of her. She scraps the parts, and lays the small machine card in front of her. These are safe from being stolen. The same then goes for any invention cards she can build with the small machine cards in front of her. They are scrapped, and she puts the built invention in front of her. 

The final phase of a player turn is the discard phase. If a player is over the hand limit - 8 parts, 5 unbuilt small machines, and 1 unbuilt invention - she has to discard down until she is below those thresholds. 

Gameplay continues like this until 1 player has built 2 inventions! 

"I say, that giant lizard does like a mite peckish. Hate to be rude, but must be off!"

Scrapyard Empire is a fun card game that puts some neat twists on familiar game mechanisms that fit quite well into a well-themed package. What I really like about Scrapyard Empire is the feeling of building up an engine. First, you need parts to build small machines, with the ultimate goal of building an invention, but the abilities the small machines give you are so good...maybe I'll just build a few extra small machines here..."

I think the best comparison I can make for Scrapyard Empire is that it reminded me of a slightly more complicated (with  player powers, more options, and more interaction) version of the Spiel des Jahres nominated game, Splendor. Obviously Scrapyard Empire's theme is a bit more exciting, and the mechanisms of this game really do make for more interaction - especially with the ability to steal cards from opponents. 

I think Scrapyard Empire is a fun game that will fit very nicely into many people's collections. It has an appealing theme coupled with easy to explain and learn ruleset - and a very reasonable playing time (30 minutes). If you think Scrapyard Empire looks like a winner, go back it on Kickstarter! There are options on there for a deluxe version of the game that looks simply fantastic.

posted 6/18/2014

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