Janice Turner sent me a prototype copy of Assembly to preview. She and her husband, Stu, run Wren Games together. You can find Assembly on Kickstarter now through Thu, June 21 2018 4:00 PM CDT.
First, have a look at the fun video they put together to introduce the game:
Assembly is a spacecraft-building escape puzzle and can be played with one or two players. My husband, Greg, and I played with the two player rules. The characters are workers on a space platform that manufactures luxury spaceships. After a virus is released on the platform, all other crew members die, leaving the two of you left to figure out an escape plan while the platform computer tries to lock you down.
Each player gets a hand of three cards and will take turns being the active player. You will need to work together to properly assemble your spacecraft in order to escape the platform before the oxygen runs out. Players will use cards from their hand to execute commands that move spaceship room modules into the correct positions on the assembly platform. Locking the room modules into place before oxygen runs out is the key to winning. You can read the full rule book here.
Replayability: The platform itself is randomized during each setup, so the layout you start with has the potential to be different each time you play. The Room Module stack is also randomized for each play, so the order the Room Modules come out in will also be different each time, further adding to the number of variations in initial setup.
Visual Accessibility: The Room Module icons are indicated by both color and icon, so players can use both or either to keep track of which room goes where on the platform.
Education: You can learn some sign language with this game! There is an option to play strictly with a limited number of hand signs for specific command words (the platform computer jams all audio communication). If you already know sign language, then you’ve got an advantage; if you do not know sign language, then you can learn a few hand signs.
Portability: Assembly is a small-box game. It consists of a small stack of card, 12 Room Module tokens, and a 12-sided die. You can easily keep the box in a bag/backpack to have on you all the time if you’d like. It’s also a quick game, so it’s perfect for playing over lunch while at work.
Options: The rules provide the player with options for increasing or decreasing the difficulty level; there are three options for communication restrictions; and there are four options for computer malfunctions (including none). This allows players to tailor the rules to the people playing the game. It really opens up the game for players of all ages. The box says 14+, but with the open communication option and perhaps decreasing the difficulty or using no computer malfunctions, I could easily see playing this with my ten-year-old niece. For people who prefer strict and specific rules, this might be a con, but this falls into the “pro” category for me, particularly with puzzle games. I love being able to easily adapt a game to the people playing it.
Fun: Assembly is fun to play even when you lose! After the first game, I immediately wanted to play again to try to amend errors made in the first play.
Card size: This isn’t a con for me personally, as I quite liked the mini card size in the prototype and think it fits the game setup very well. The mini size can be an accessibility issue for some, though. NOTE: As of the Kickstarter launch, the final version of Assembly will come with regular sized playing cards.
We really enjoyed playing Assembly. It’s such a great 2-player puzzle game and I love the replayability. The random shuffling of the bay cards in combination with the random order of the room module stack means you will have a different puzzle nearly every time you play. Clearly a lot of playtesting was done to get the number of deck shuffles and number of cards down to nearly the minimum necessary. It’s a tight puzzle!