By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on September 9, 2020
When a board game launches on a crowdfunding platform, with some of your favorite mechanics, a theme and artwork that looks good, is reasonable priced and above all, it is coming from an indie publisher, what else can you do then to support them at an early stage? So that's what I did and, after the game was delivered and stood a while on the shelf of discovery, it was time to build some Fantastic Factories!
Fantastic Factories is a cards drafting, engine builder with dice (as your workers) placement. Much to my surprise, the game appears to "work" really well, is pretty straight forward to play and not too heavy. By rolling and placing your dice, you can build fantastic factories cards and eventually produce the beloved Goods for the working class people.
In the box I found a whole lot of beautiful dice in the colors red, blue, green, purple, yellow and frosted white. Each player will get a set of those colored dice and a firm dual layered Headquarters board. Resource tokens will come as Energy, Metal and Goods. Four Tool Label tokens and a First Player token. To complete the set, there are also seventy-four Blueprint cards, seventeen Contractor cards, for every player a player aid card and when you go solo there is a solo player aid card.
The game is played in two phases, a Market Phase and the Work Phase. In the Market phase players take turns by taking a Blueprint card or hiring a Contractor (card). The Contractors grant you advantages and you play them immediately. Then the market gets refilled for the next player. This continues until all players had their turn. During the Work Phase every player will simultaneously, in any order: roll their dice, place their dice, activate cards and build Blueprint cards, featuring the Fantastic Factories, out of their hand by paying the appropriate cost.
The dice can be placed on the Headquarter board for an extra Blueprint card or resources, or you can place them on the Blueprint cards in your compound to activate the card. Well, then I better also tell you about these Blueprint cards, wouldn't you agree? These cards have the factories on them, a certain amount of prestige and a function in the game. Some will better the production of your resources. Others will influence your die roll and allow you to modify the value of the outcome of said roll. There are also monuments which are only worth extra Prestige points. And while this is all well and good, the most important factories produce the precious Goods.
Once a player has manufactured twelve or more Goods, or has built ten or more buildings in their compound, the end game sets in. That means all players finish the round after which one last round is played. Once everybody is finished, each player counts their goods and prestige points, and the player with the highest score wins the game!
The Final Verdict
I just love all the gorgeous colored dice! The theme and artwork really work well together. With the infographic like art style, which is often used on the workplace to provide safety information, the game gets its particular look and feel. I really like that combination in Fantastic Factories! The components are well produced, the Headquarter Board is dual layered and really is a joy to play with. A single game can be played within the hour, and with the variety of dice and cards, no two games will be the same.
Two minor issues I have with this game have to do with the minimum of player interaction. You are mainly focusing on your own compound, creating your perfect line of factories, without much interference from other players. Plus, I would have loved to see some more combos, so it's possible to make a more interesting line of factories and have one card increase the power or output of the other.
Fantastic Factories is a great engine builder with great iconography, which makes it an easy game to pick up while still having enough depth to it. You can play this game with friends and it has a pretty hard to beat Solo game. I can imagine some board gamers out there might find this game a bit too light, it not being that big of a brain teaser. However, playing Fantastic Factories truly is a lot of fun and I would surely recommend it as a family game.
Year of release: TBA 2019
Designers: Joseph Z Chen, Justin Faulkner
Artist: Joseph Z Chen
Players: 1 - 5 players, ages 14 & up
Playtime: approx. 60 minutes