Hello, and welcome to the next entry in a series of reviews, collectively called StormGate Reviews. These reviews will not concentrate on the specifics of how the games work, but rather a brief overview of the main mechanics, how people who play the games receive and enjoy them, how they look, and lastly, my own thoughts. Any edits are to fix grammatical or spelling errors. To see other reviews in the series, Click Here!
In The Impossible machine, players are trying to construct an incredibly elaborate, complicated machine to perform a simple task - a Rube Goldberg device. Players earn points by playing their parts, with the right kind of momentum, into the machine. The Impossible Machine is a card game that supports up to 5 players.
How It Looks and What's In The Box:
The game box is large enough to hold 5 identical 35-40 card decks and an instruction pamphlet. There's also an advertisement card for Glowfly Games, the people who put out the game.
The cards themselves are not the best quality of cardstock that I have seen, but I have seen far worse. I sleeved my copy, but you don't have to.
Glowfly Games deserves a special mention here - they release inexpensive, family games that are fun. They aren't complicated, are easy to learn and teach, and good for the whole family. The Impossible Machine is their most recent release.
The art style of the cards is adorable. They all look like they were drawn by a 10 to 12 year old sketching out what they think a contraption should look like. The input and output symbols are clear and easily distinguished from one another.
How it plays: 15 to 30 minutes, including teaching the game.
The above picture showsa faceup green splitter card.
Players start by selecting a colour for their deck, shuffle it, and draw 6 cards. Co-operatively, each player will play up to 3 cards from their hand into the machine, from left to right. To do so, any card that you play must have an input (symbol on the left side of the card) that matches an existing card's output (symbol on the right side). You can place a card - or even a series of cards - in between cards already in play, or at the end of the machine. Some cards split the machine into two tracks, so there are more options to place. Players also have the option of discarding cards instead of placing cards into the machine. Finally, at the end of a players turn, they draw up to fill their hand back to 6 cards.
At some point, someone will place a card with a Star symbol on the output side - this is a Machine Start card. Once this card is in play, following the turn of the next player and every turn thereafter, the machine operates. Simply flip over the first 3 unflipped columns of cards to be face down, and continue doing so on subsequent turns until every card in the machine is turned down. You now have a completed machine. Players remove their cards and put them in a scoring pile. Create 3 machines, and the game is over.
There are also special "erasure" cards which allow you to permanently remove a card from the machine. There are special rules governing how and where to place cards, but for the most part, it's matching symbols. At the end of the game, You get one point for every card (two points for every card with a Star) that were in completed machines.
Games are always very, very close. I have yet to have a game where there are more than a 5 point spread amongst all players.
How it was received:
I've played this game with a wide variety of people from 13 years old up to 65, and everyone "got it" right away. This is a very easy game to teach, and people pick up on the strategy elements very quickly. My usual gaming group liked it, but to quote Ken, "It's not my favourite game." In all fairness, he says this about every game not named Battlestar Galactica.
Complaints were few, but they almost always universally said that planning ahead is difficult. A few people mentioned the average card stock, as well.
I like this game. It's a filler game, for sure, and for $10 to $15, you can't go wrong. I wouldn't recommend it for someone who only plays "serious" games, as it definately doesn't fall into that category, but I would recommend that everyone should at least try it. Based on just this game, I am going to pick up other games from Glowfly Games. I picked it up with knowing absolutely nothing about it, other than its theme. At the time, BGG did not have a single entry in the forums about it, other than "Any info?" I'm glad I picked it up.
A quick, inexpensive easy to teach and learn card game about building a Rube Goldberg device. Worth playing.
How is it 2-player?
Nice review, btw.
How is it 2-player?
Nice review, btw.
I think it's best with more, but I have played it a few times with just me and my opponent, and it's still pretty good. It definately has that family-game feel to it, where you sit around with your loved ones and chat the night away playing a simple, conversational game.
I am about to get in trouble. I did not care for this one. Here is why. First, I think machines should not be able to have the same component in them twice. People kept doubling out with the same devices to get cards into the machines. Second, there is really no strategy. The goal is to add as many cards as you can for scoring so you optimize every turn. Finally, there really is not a theme. this could be played with any input and output symbol on cards as a pure abstract. As an abstract, there is not enough strategy.
Now to attempt to redeem myself. I really can see where people want a light filler and to tell a story about this impossible machine and smack down with each other. And, I do think this game has done a good job of accomplishing what the designer intended. We played a five player game (I was taught the rules so if something major is missing, please pull this post) and players seemed very bogged down in making a play. It really was not about pondering how to best make a play for the win or to mess with an opponent, it was pondering how to get the most cards to the table. More about process than substance. And, there was a lot of cards played and taken back because they did not match correctly.
All of this said,we all need a nice diversion to have a little fun. This game will appeal to those puzzle type people who want to build a fun machine.
dude, you are totally in trouble.