Sunday, 17 April 2011

Factory Fun

Plays: 5Px1.

The Game

Factory Fun is a puzzle-like game about setting up a factory. The game is played over 10 rounds, and every round you have a chance to add a machine to your factory. There are four types of material in the game - green goo, pink goo, blue goo and orange goo. Every machine needs some input goo, and will output something else, and you must make everything link properly, paying for necessary piping and storage equipment. You must have the right goo going in, either from one of your goo storage tanks, or from the output pipe of another machine. The output goo must go to the right places, either to the input pipes of another machine, or to some temporary storage (you only have three of these), or if it happens to be a final product black goo, it goes to a special black storage tank (not limited).

At the start of every round, a number of machines are revealed simultaneously, and players simultaneously try to grab the one they want, or forgo the chance to get one. If you take one, but later find that you can't add it to your factory legally (or you choose not to add it), you are fined $5. When you add a machine to your factory, you can move things around, but there is always a cost. The machine that you install earns you some money, but if the cost of all that rearranging is higher than that, you're actually making a loss. So it is important to pick your machine wisely, the tricky part being the urgency to grab the one you want before someone else grabs it.

The other important way of earning money is by connecting your machines, i.e. the output from one machine being connected to the input of another. By doing this you get rewarded a bonus at game end.

The player board, i.e. your factory. At the bottom is a handy reference section for cost of building / moving stuff.

The Play

We did a 5-player game, which I think is the best number, because there are more machines to choose from. I didn't have much idea about the distribution of the machines and their characteristics, and made some poor choices in the early game which limited my options later. There were quite a few rounds that I didn't even want to take a machine, because I would actually lose money by picking any of those available. It's important to know some of the guiding principles like:

  • It is not a good idea to take machines that produce the end product (black goo) too early. (which was what I did)
  • Be careful with taking machines with multiple inputs or multiple outputs. The more there are, the more difficult it is to connect all those pipes.
  • Low valued machines tend to have big outputs. They may not be very profitable in the short-term, but they are good for longer term because they help to set you up for bigger bonuses from machine-to-machine connections.
  • Keep your options open. Have machines with big output capacities in the early game, so that hopefully you can later get machines with big input requirements and then connect them for big bonuses.

Early game. My factory. That big dark green round token in the middle is just a pillar, and serves no purpose other than making life difficult for you. My first machine was that purple coloured Pack-O-Matic on the right. It produced the end product, black goo. It's NOT a good idea to take such machines so early. On the dark green machine on the top left are two small round tokens with +5 and +10. These are the game-end bonuses for machine-to-machine connections. You get 5 x input capacity when you have such connections.

One mistake that we made was we thought that machines once installed could not be moved. That certainly made things harder. You can actually move machines, albiet at a cost. We had unintentionally played with iron-man rules. That made the machine-grabbing quite tense. As the game progressed we became more and more careful with picking the right machines. We realised it was not just about picking the highest valued machine.

Allen won the game by the enormous bonuses that he scored for machine-to-machine connections at game end. These bonuses were a big factor, and I suspect they will normally be a bigger factor than the in-game scoring. I didn't come last despite the poor initial showing. I was saved by my machine-to-machine connections bonuses. My in-game scoring had been pretty disgraceful. So much so that during one of the rounds I was asked whether I had forgotten to move my marker.

Han and I. I don't know why he was laughing. I was laughing because my factory sucked real bad.

The Thoughts

I so need to play this again. That first game was very much a learning game. Factory Fun reminds me a little of Galaxy Trucker, because of the real-time element. But of course here the real-time element is just the grabbing of one machine tile, as opposed to the building of an entire spaceship. The factory building part of the game is pretty much solitairish. I guess you can pay attention to how others are building their factories to see what kind of machines they will be looking for. Just so you know who your competitors are. In our game I was too busy minding my own factory. I'm not sure you'd grab a machine just to deny another player, because you really don't want to be stuck with a machine that you don't want. The game is quite light and fast paced, so playing it with that much thinking will probably make the game less fun and slow the game down.

Factory Fun is a quick and fun puzzle-like game. The recent Z-man Games edition has wonderful artwork and components. I really like the style.


Lord of Midnight said...

TERRY FOX RUN t-shirt.. I Like-ed! :P

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Jeff, I rarely have photos of myself posted here, and so happens that this one posted has me wearing the Terry Fox Run T-shirt. I swear this wasn't planned to bait you. :-)