Assembly by Wren Games or 'why you don't want to get stuck in space with me.'
Update 02/12/2018 - click on the links below to see a how to play video:
My copies of Assembly arrived last week. I'm so pleased with the look and feel of them. The larger cards work great and it's still portable enough to play on the go. All those stretch goals have meant it has lovely components including a metal die. I upgraded and got extra glitches as well as a play mat and I'm glad I did. I play this game a lot so it's well worth the additional investment for me.
You were so excited when you were assigned to this platform - building luxury spaceships. But now you rue the day you ever set foot here. A series of meteorites have hit the orbital platform, triggering a deadly virus which has wiped out the entire staff - even Jones, the ship cat, bought it. Everything is malfunctioning and the computer seems determined to keep you here. You are delighted to learn that I have survived and can almost certainly impede your escape plan. You have spent many of our breaks winning my hard earned cash from me in a variety of strategic games.
Our only hope is an incomplete ship. If we can contain the virus by locking the bays and complete the assembly of the spaceship, then we can make good our escape and return to Earth with our vital immunity to the virus. So, not only do our lives depends upon our successful completion of this challenge but so too the future of mankind.
To be fair working with me, death is fairly certain but still, it's worth a shot. Afterall it'll entertain us in our last minutes together.
To escape we need to match all the modules to the bays in the assembly line using a limited set of commands. We can communicate but the computer keeps cutting us off as soon as we use a key command word. Time is of the essence.
Assembly is a beautifully compact game. Have a sneak peek here.
Assembly can be played solo or as a 2 player game. It takes between 10 and 20 minutes. I have played it both solo and the two player variant.
I love the look and feel of this game. The layout mimics clock patience. It's co-operative but with communication restrictions which nicely adds to the complexity. But the best thing for me is that the theme is immersive. Every element, every mechanic, every card strengthens the theme. In my teaching days I babbled on a lot about the importance of writer's craft and 'making every word count' so I appreciate it when I see that in action. You really are battling against a sentient knobhead of a computer fixed on your demise. Even the scoring at the end is well crafted 'Unfortunately, good attempts don't make you any less dead'!
I'm still trying to get a run of wins at the basic level but there are challenges that you can add and variations with the malfunction cards (not necessarily more difficult but they lend a different dynamic to the game). When I say I'm still trying, I am playing this a lot. To say it has a strong 'Again... again..' vibe is an understatement and the compact nature of Assembly is very handy given how addictive it is.
And I will play it in the rain and on the train and while I'm waiting for my green eggs and ham and at the pub and in the fog and when I should be writing a blog... you get the picture...
Despite numerous losses, the game is winnable - I know I can do it but it's hard. Which for me means it is perfectly pitched and because you can add difficulties it should remain so.
Time restrictions also add to the challenge. When the command deck is exhausted three times your time is up. Each time you draw the last card you add in one of the set aside command cards - this is an easy way to track where you are up to as well as being integral to the game. The wild card is the last to be added - if only you'd had it at the start, things could have been so different.
There are four basic commands you can use to move the modules onto the correct bay. (Match the symbol on the module to the one shown on the card). You can swap two modules, rotate modules, draw up more modules or lock the bays down. Simple. Apart from, when each deck cycle ends - not only is the command deck shuffled but the computer scrambles all the unlocked bays on the assembly line. So all of the modules that were close or even in the right place are no longer. That computer really is a tricksy beast.
As we speak Wren games are hard at it, designing more challenges. I'm sure they want to see us trapped in a half built luxury spaceship which after all is not a bad way to go.
The game will be live on Kickstarter from May 24th. If you enjoy space, co-operative or solo gaming and you're up for the challenge, this is one you'll want to get on!
Click here to make sure you don't miss out.