Widget Ridge is a game by Ian Taylor and Shawn Martineau, published by Furious Tree Games. It is for 1-2 players. In this game, players take on the role of inventor in the world’s biggest science fair during the Festival of Three Churches in the city of Widget Ridge, a Steampunk Mecca. Unfortunately the statue of the first mayor has been activated and is running amok. Players will have to create bizarre and imaginative devices in an effort to overload the statue with as much Spark as possible. Of course their opponent will also be trying to garner as much Spark as possible as well. In the end, the first player to collect 100 Spark will be declared the winner and the Engineer Laureate.
To begin, each player is given 1 Prime Widget, 6 Basic Widgets and 3 Gadget cards. These are shuffled together and form the player’s starting deck, which is placed facedown in front of the player. They are also given 2 Spark Tracker cards, which are used to keep track of each player’s Spark during the game. The Marketplace deck is shuffled together and placed facedown between the players. The top 6 cards are drawn and placed faceup in a row beside the Marketplace deck. This row forms the Marketplace. At this time, if this row contains only cards with a cost of 7 or more, then all 6 cards are shuffled back into the deck and 6 new cards are drawn to replace them. The first player is chosen and then draws 3 cards from their deck, while the second player will draw 5 cards. Once both players have drawn their starting hands, play now begins.
The game is played over a series of alternating turns, with each player taking a turn consisting of 4 phases; the Ideas phase, the Discard phase, the Draw phase and the Full Construct phase. The first phase is the Ideas phase. In this phase, the player is able to perform any number of actions, in any order and as often as they can. They also may choose to perform no actions, moving on to the next phase. The actions available to be performed are to play cards, use gold, place or replace a card in the Workshop and clean out their Workshop. To play a card, the player must simply place it face up on the table in front of themself. These cards may be Widgets, Gadgets or Inventions. Widgets and Gadgets will give the player Gold, Spark or a combination of both. Inventions have 1 of 3 subtypes; Augments, Devices or Accessories. Augments and Accessories will trigger their ability once their card is played, while Devices will trigger when Connected. Once played, these cards can be moved to a player’s Workshop, which is the area in front of the player. A Device can then be connected to an Augment, an Accessory or both. Once connected then the Device can be activated. However to connect any of these together, then there must be a connection path. A connection path is symbolized by the different symbols on the side of the cards. At least one of these symbols must match up with the correct symbol on the other card. One thing of note, Augments and Accessories can not be connected to each other. They both require a Device to connect to. Gold can be used to purchase new cards from the marketplace by paying the amount of gold shown in the top right corner of the card that the player wishes to purchase. Finally the player can choose to discard all the cards from their Workshop to clean it out. It should be noted that a player is only allowed to have 1 Augment, 1 Device and 1 Accessory in their Workshop at any time.
The next phase is the Discard phase. In this phase, the player simply places any cards remaining in their hand and any non-connected cards that are in play or have been played to their discard pile.
This brings us to the Draw phase. In the Draw phase, the player will draw 5 cards from their deck to their hand. If a player’s deck is empty, then they must shuffle their discard pile and place it face down, creating a new deck.
The last phase is the Full Construct phase. In this phase, if a player has connected an Augment, Device and Accessory together in their Workshop, then they are able to activate the Full Construct ability of each card starting with the leftmost card and moving to the right. Once the ability has been used, the player may not activate it any more times during that phase. They will then lose any remaining gold obtained during their turn. Once a player completes their turn, play passes to their opponent.
The game continues with players going back and forth taking turns until one player reaches 100 Spark. The first player to do this is the winner.
There’s one last thing that I wanted to note, some cards contain the terms destroy and/or melt. Destroying a card simply means that the card is placed into the player’s discard pile. Melting a card means it is placed in the melted pile, basically removing it from the game.
The game comes with a fairly good sized stack of cards. This includes several jumbo sized cards for solo play and for changing up the goals. The artwork on each card is very thematic and fun. The Steampunk style theme comes through in each card and I really like the feel of each one. Some have a bit of a silly side to them while others are a bit more in line with a more serious tone. The Spark Tracker cards are really quite unique. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like them before. It’s a really ingenius way of using two cards to keep track of a player’s points. The cards have a nice finish to them and they shuffle quite easily. I do think that I will most likely need to sleeve them though as it appears that they can get scratched up fairly easily. The box for the game isn’t very large which makes this game easy to carry and highly portable. To be honest, there’s not much else to say. The game looks great. The cards are really good quality and the theme comes through quite nicely. Overall I’d call this a win, as far as components go.
8 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is fairly small, almost palm sized. There aren’t a whole lot of pictures or examples in the book, but what’s here is done well. The book begins with a nice backstory for the game to set the scene before playing. From there the book goes into setting up the game and follows that up with step by step instructions for a player’s turn. The book includes nice pictures for setting up the game and showing how the Spark Tracker cards work. The book also includes variations on gameplay which includes solo play and how to play with 3 or 4 players. Of course to play with more players, you’d need another core box to play with. In general I think the rulebook looks pretty good and does a good job of explaining everything. I did notice several typos throughout the book but it’s nothing to really concern yourself with. The rules are still easy enough to understand, even with the misspelled words. Overall I found the rulebook to be quite good and one that doesn’t take long to read or overstay it’s welcome. Once more, I’d call that a win.
8 out of 10
What a truely unique and fun deck building game! I love deck builders and have played lots of different ones over the years, so to come across one that does things in a different way is rare. Having played this one as both a 2 player game and a solo game, I can say that I enjoy both. The 2 player game is simply you and another player trying to reach a goal of 100 Spark, while the solo version has you facing off against the 3 Mechanical Bison and then the statue of Lord Covington. For the solo game, you start off by trying to gain enough spark to stop the 3 rampaging bison. In the second half of the game, you’re facing Lord Covington in a race to 100 Spark. With the bison, each round they wipe out the marketplace so you’re racing to stop them before the marketplace runs out of cards. With Lord Covington, you have only 10 rounds before he blows up and destroys everything. Needless to say, the solo version has a lot of charm and fun. Just like with the 2 player game, you’re basically racing to get enough Spark to win. This is done by playing cards to create strange and wondrous Steampunk devices. In one game, I created a foot powered battle corset with cooling vents. Sounds odd, I know but it provided a lot of Spark. One thing to be aware of is that when buying cards from the market, you really need to think about how those pieces will connect with other pieces you’ve already bought or that are in your workshop already. That means not only do you need to look at the connectors on the sides of the cards but you really have to read the effects to see how they will all work together. That’s if you really want to maximize your Spark output. Of course, the same thing is true for playing with 2 players. Buy cards, create devices and make Spark to win. I can honestly say that I haven’t had this much fun with a deck builder in a long time. This is one that deck building fans like myself will really enjoy. That’s why I highly recommend this game. It’s a great 2 player game and an even more fun solo game.
9 out of 10
Widget Ridge is a Steampunk style deck building game that can be played with 2 players or solo. It can even be played with up to 4 players with a second copy of the core game. The game isn’t a very long one. Most game sessions last around 30 – 45 minutes. With 3 or 4 players, I could see it taking closer to an hour. The cards are lots of fun and have some really great looking artwork on them. The one issue is that they seem to scratch up fairly easily, so card sleeves might be a necessity. The rulebook is easy to read through and understand, despite a few misspelled words here and there and a lack of any real examples. I do however like that there are lots of variants including playing the game solo. This is a real bonus in my opinion. The game itself is a fresh and unique take on deck building. It’s a lot of fun creating new devices and using them to gain Spark, the victory points of the game. There are some cards that will affect your opponent but many times, like with most deckbuilders, it’s just about making the best deck that you can. I really enjoy this game quite a lot. This is one that fans of deck building games will really enjoy, especially if they enjoy playing solo as well as against an opponent. This is one that I highly recommend. So break out your goggles and tophat and get ready for a Steampunk delight. This one is jolly good.
9 out of 10
For more information about this game and to purchase your own copy, please check out Furious Tree Games at their site.