Gizmos’ Engines of Fun

Gizmos from CMON is a crazy little engine-building game that, like too many games, we only got to see from afar at GenCon this last year. The CMON booth was understandably mobbed, and for good reason. While this game lacks the cool minis CMON is known for, it’s a stand-out example of the sort of fun game that will dominate your game nights.

For those of you who don’t know, an engine-building game asks you to chain together little action-reaction rules. The goal is to compile a series of rules that trigger each other in such a way that they’ll create a chain reaction that gives you victory. For instance, you might have a rule that says, “every time you get a red marble, convert it into two blue marbles,” and a second rule that says, “whenever you acquire blue marbles, draw a number of cards equal to the number of blue marbles you acquire.” So, you pick a red marble which triggers the first rule, which turns the red marble into two blue marbles. That triggers the second rule which allows you to draw two cards.

In Gizmos, you’ll be using a currency of energy spheres (colored marbles) to activate gizmos (cards with rules on them). The colored marbles sit in a neat hopper with a dispenser at the bottom that gives you a nice little row of six marbles. The gizmo cards come in three levels, with the lowest level being the cheapest to activate while the highest level are more expensive but do more useful things.

On your turn, you must do one of the following things:

    • File a gizmo by selecting it from an array of face-up cards in the middle of the table. You won’t be activating it this round, and you don’t need to be able to activate it to take it. There’s a limit to how many gizmos you can have filed this way.
    • Pick one of the energy spheres from the row of six in the dispenser and place it in your energy containment ring. There’s a limit to how many of these marbles you can have in your containment ring.
    • Build one of the gizmos you’ve either filed or is face-up in the middle of the table. The card will tell you how many marbles of which colors you’ll need to do this. Return those marbles to the hopper. This gizmo is now active!
    • Research a new gizmo by drawing the top card from the three face-down gizmo decks. You must either build the gizmo you’ve drawn (by spending the requisite marbles) or file it.

Whenever you take one of those four actions, you’ll check to see if any of your active gizmos is triggered by that action. If it is, you may follow the rule. Each gizmo can only be triggered once, but a single action can trigger multiple gizmos. That is, if you have two gizmos that are triggered when you draw a red marble, you can have both do their thing when you draw a red marble. However, if you draw another red marble on this turn, any gizmos that you already triggered can’t be triggered until your next turn. Gizmos can also activate each other, so drawing that one red marble might fire off a card that then triggers another card and so on…

Active gizmos are worth victory points. Some gizmos generate additional victory points when triggered. The goal is to create a chain reaction of triggering gizmos that either allows you to activate more gizmos or generates victory points for you.

Play continues until someone activates their fourth level 3 gizmo or their sixteenth gizmo of any level. Every other player gets one more turn, and then you total up all the victory points to see who has the most.

The individual rules on the gizmos cards are simple, but you’ll end up with a number to keep track of. CMON suggests it’s best for players 14 years old and older. The game is for two-to-four players and takes under an hour to play. If you’re the sort of Magic: the Gathering player who loves blue decks, if you have a fondness for Rube Goldberg machines, or you have teens who want to learn the basics of algorithms and logic engines, you’ll want to ask the board game experts at your local Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy® about Gizmos today.