Publisher: Self Published
Designers: Joseph Chen, Justin Faulkner
Artist: Joseph Chen
Player count: 1-5
Play time: 45-60 minutes
Plays for preview: 8
A prototype copy of Fantastic Factories was provided by Joseph Chen for this preview. All of the components and art are in prototype form. I would like to thank Joseph for his support of Jambalaya Plays Games. I hope this preview will help potential backer make an informed decisions and my opinion is truly my own.
Fantastic Factories is a dice placement and card drafting game where players are trying to build the best group of buildings to defeat their opponents. In the game you will train workers, manage blueprints, and use dice to gather resources. The first person to create 10 or more building or produce 12 or more goods triggers the end game. The player with the most points wins. It’s a race to prove your industrial dominance. The main focus for this preview is to cover the solo mode. Scroll down to the Man vs. Machine section where I have a video overview of the game and a couple turns of me vs. the AI.
I Need a Plan Stan
I want to share a bit about the actual gameplay for all players. The goal is to score as many points as possible by building a tableau of buildings that will generate a combination of prestige and goods (both are points). Most of the buildings you create will help produce goods during the game and add prestige to your score for the end game. The other buildings manipulate dice or gain more resources . The game is played overall several rounds and has two phases, the market phase and the work phase.
Decisions Decisions Decisions
During the market phase players will choose between training a worker from the top row buy paying a blueprint card with the same matching tool symbol or grabbing one blueprint card for free from the bottom row to their hand. Blueprint cards are used to train workers AND build other blueprint cards of the same type. There is an optional move, where a person can pay a resource (metal or energy) to discard a row of cards before they take their first action. I used this in the multiplayer game to prevent players from drafting the cards they need. There is some take that, hate drafting and I mean very light. The overall idea is to focus on training workers to boost resources and/or draft a blueprint card to eventually turn it into a building. Sometimes you might want a take a card just to spend it on another card. Very quick phase, with minimal downtime.
Working Hard Makes Us Stronger
The work phase is where all the fun comes in. Everyone gets to chuck their 4+ dice and put them to work. This phase is played simultaneously and it’s up to you how want to play it out. I don’t want to think there are cheaters in a game, but it’s also good to be aware of how everyone is building their tableau and generating resources and goods. You at least have to pay attention to other players. One of the things you do is build your blueprints. Cards already in your hand can be used to pay for others as long as you have one matching card type to discard and the resources (metal and energy). Usually the cost is based on type of building, with the highest resource buildings being the Prestige type. Prestige type buildings have more prestige than all others. For example, the Beacon card adds a little set collection to generate prestige points at the end of the game.
On your player board, there are three slots for three actions. These are areas where you can place worker dice to generate metal, energy, and additional blue print cards. Research gives you one blueprint card per die you place from the Blueprint deck. The Mine action uses die with faces four through six to generate one metal per die placed. The generate action uses die with faces one through three to produce energy tokens equal to the number of die you place. If you use matching double or triples on any of the working areas, you gain one or two extra of the same resources. For example, if I place two fours to take the mine action, I gain two metal plus one bonus metal for the matching die for a total of three metal. Strategic dice placement will prepare you to build more buildings, keep blueprint cards in your hand, and complete conditions to active cards in your tableau. The only way to get goods in the game is by activate buildings in your tableau, so don’t get too focused on racking up resources, USE THEM. One of the highlights of the game is the player aid. You can understand all of the iconography on every card because the player aid is so clear and concise. I’m a big player aid guy, so I had to mention it. I have a couple of picture of some of the cards players can build. Pay attention to how they generate resources and goods or watch the beginning portion of the solo video that walks through a couple turns.
The end game is triggered when one player has produced 12 or more goods or have completed 10 or more buildings in their compound. There is one more round of play and then scores are tallied. The final score is determined by adding the prestige from buildings, goods earned during play, and prestige cards in your tableau that have end game conditions.
Man vs Machine
The solo mode is just as challenging and fun as the multiplayer experience. It doesn’t feel tacked one, which is something I appreciate. How challenging is it? I played the solitaire game six times and won once (boo hoo). Then I was immediately humbled by the hard mode. Here’s the deal, I had fun every time my losses and totally rewarded by my…….win(singular). The gameplay teaches you how to manage your resources and get the most out of your worker dice on every turn. At some point if you’re not rolling extra dice and generating goods at a decent rate, the AI will crush you! It’s better to show you how the solo mode plays and it’s similar to the multiplayer too. Warning, I use the word “materials” instead of “metal” for some reason. I’m a silly goose.
Why Should I back Fantastic Factories?
Very pleasing to play
The game design is solid and easy to learn
I love clear and simple player aids
Very low downtime due to the simultaneous action work phase
Solo mode is challenging and rewarding
Scales very well at most player counts, 1-4 players
I like the simplistic art design
Gameplay may be too light for some players
I’m not sure 5 players is a good player count for this one, but that’s a personal thing
I really dig this game. There’s something about dice placement and building synergy in your tableau that’s so pleasing to play. If I had three words to describe my time with Fantastic Factories it would be “pleasing to play.” Every action in the game matters for YOU, no one touches YOUR dice, and everything is really in YOUR control. There are enough places to put your dice to use them effectively and having a phase that with simultaneous actions make downtime almost non-existent. Everything in this game just works and I feel like most of gaming audiences will enjoy their experience. Games like this have range because of the low barrier of entry. The gameplay sort of teaches tableau building to novice players and still appeals to more of the hobbyist players. I want to be clear, this is a light game, but EVERYONE I played this game with had nothing but positive things to say about it. If you’re looking for a game with an equally fun solo and multiplayer experience, this is definitely a game you want to take a serious look at. Solo only buyers, I can’t suggest that with 100% confidence. I would tell you to watch the video a couple times and make that choice. I’ll say it makes my decision to back it easier! I’ll leave you with this, Fantastic Factories is simply fantastic!
I hope today’s preview was informative and please pledge responsibly. If you would like to stick around, please follow the blog or my just launched Youtube page. Just like the blog, expect more previews, reviews, and maybe some playthroughs of solo play.