Gadgeteers: Preview

Fairway puts on his work gloves and safety goggles in this Kickstarter preview of Gadgeteers. Gadgeeters is a two- to three-player, bidding and bluffing by Letiman Games. Gadgeteers hits Kickstarter August 16th. Edit: It’s now live. Check it out!

There’s also a bonus video review by Cassie at the end.

In Gadgeteers, players are aspiring inventors and engineers trying to construct crazy gadgets from an assortment of parts they’re trying to control. Gadgeeters requires thoughtful planning, strategic bidding and just enough bluffing to win.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. There is a bunch of “game” packed into this little box.
  2. The art and components are incredibly cute. My daughter appreciated the inclusion of a purple-haired girl engineer too.
  3. The game is pretty easy to teach and play, but full of opportunities for strategic thinking.
  4. A no lying necessary bluffing and bidding game is always welcome on our table.


Game play ^

The game is played over a series of rounds. During a each round, players take turns secretly bidding for control of parts.

Players bid using a series of tokens ranging in value from one to five as well as a special power token. Each token matches the player’s color for future reference. There are a number of the one and two valued tokens which are reusable through out the game, while the three, four and five value tokens are one-time use.  The one time use tokens also score negative points at the end of the game if they were used.

Alternating between players, players bid up to five times by placing a token, face down on a part in a field of parts. The parts are things like gears, springs, pipes, and whatnot. By the end of the round, players hope to control all of the parts necessary to form one of the available inventions (the Gadgets).

A player controls a part only if he or she has the most value in tokens on that part. If they have all the necessary parts to build the Gadget, then the player collects the Gadget for points and takes back their tokens from the part (except for the one time use tokens).

In addition, many of the gadgets have special powers. Once a player has collected a gadget with a power, he or she can activate the power by playing their “power” token (worth 0 points) and then removing it from the field. The powers enable all sort of things: add an additional token, move tokens, etc.

After players have the opportunity to build gadgets (if they can), another round start. Any played tokens stay out on the parts.

The game ends when someone has created four gadgets. The winner is the person who scores the most points.

On the green ^

The Gadgets and the Art. The art and the machine combinations are definitely endearing. Gather a gear, pipe and glove and you construct of Robohand. The art on the Robohand even shows you where the pieces go together. Awesome.

The inclusion of a purple-haired girl engineer was a good and thoughtful way to be inclusive. My daughter very much appreciated that.

Bluffing and Bidding. Gadgeteers is another recent game that does bluffing and bidding right. It doesn’t encourage lying and provides you enough information to make educated guesses.

The Game Itself.  This game is pretty easy to teach and relatively quick to play. It’s playable by just about anyone who can keep track of both their bids and determine what other players are likely to bid, which is just about anyone 7 or 8 and up. Also, because the bluffing and bidding doesn’t require lying, parents who are uneasy about teaching their kids to lie will feel at ease with this game.

The anticipation of turning over the bid tokens was great. This was especially true in our three player games where there was much high likelihood that someone played a higher value token just to win.

Where it comes up short ^

I have no doubt that Gadgeteers is going to be a popular game. There are a few notes that backers should know about, but none of these detract from how great the game is.

Player count. We do like games at our house that are best with 2-3 players, and the designer explained that it works best there. That’s great. But I think people are going to be surprised that the game doesn’t include a fourth or fifth player.  The version of the game I received had parts for a fourth player, but we have yet to give it a try.

Media previewPopular parts.  It’s possible to get a shuffle of the Gadget cards that result in some of the parts being necessary for a number of the face up Gadgets. This issue is exacerbated when the Gadgets that use location on the bench that also match those same parts. In these cases, especially for two-player games, the result can be a virtual stalemateThe game does offer three things to mitigate this result: when no gadgets are built, new gadgets are revealed;  players can use their powers; or a player can recall all the tokens from one part and hope to claim a different part and gadget. These aren’t perfect solutions, and removing your bid feels a bit like a game of chicken rather than strategy.


In the hole. ^

Gadgeteers is going to be popular when it hits Kickstarter. Letiman Games has made a great bluffing and bidding game that, while family-friendly, is definitely a fun one for any fans of the genre. The idea of bidding for components to make inventions also warms my patent-attorney heart. I’d recommend Gadgeteers to any family or gamer group looking to mix things up at the game table.

Gadgeteers makes it into the hole for a Birdie. ^

Fairway was provided a preview copy of the game for free, but was otherwise not compensated for this review. Fairway also playtested a very early version of this game when it involved vegetables and slightly different game play.

Cassie’s Video Review ^

Also check out Cassie’s Video Review:

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