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Factory 42

[Factory 42]

Ren Multamäki

Dragon Dawn Productions

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Life in a Dwarven community can be harsh! That’s what we are told in the introduction of Factory 42, the first worker placement game by Ren Multamäki. I still remember my first meeting with Ren, right after the release of the ingenious dungeon crawler Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift. Since then, he has created (and published) a lot of smaller card games like new fresh funded White Hat and the negotiating game Gray Eminence.

Negotiating is also an ability we need in Factory 42 as we work together to fulfil Government needs and desires. But the game is not fully cooperated, because each player – as an Overseer - rules their own small business and wants to press home as much advantage as possible (of course without putting the Government needs at risk).

Next to the main board, the worker placement area, where we sent our workers and commissioners, the player boards, a resource supply board and some cards, the most visible equipment of the game is the bureaucracy tower. Resources are regularly dropped into the tower, but only those that fall out can be used. These resources represent the common pool of the game. You see, Factory 42 is not only a worker placement but also a resource management game.

[Factory 42]

Click on image to enlarge!

Worker placement, resource management, but what for? Well, we are all part of a big factory, the Factory 42, and that’s where all those Government needs are worked out. Metal has to be forged, food to be served and other materials to be put together. To make all these dreams possible, we must send workers to up to 15 different places on the main board and on our player boards. Steam must be generated, inventions be made, research be done and resources be traded, there is really a lot going on in the game. Because each player has only 6 or 7 workers (depended on the number of players), you cannot visit all places in each round. And of course, that’s also not necessary. But often you need to cooperate to have a chance to fulfill the wishes. That means negotiating!

Each round, there is a new requisition from the government. That means: every round you must make new plans, it is nearly impossible to plan ahead for the next round. But, of course, you can improve your abilities when researching, and you can also store some rare resources in your own warehouses.

Each round of the game follows the same structure: First you draw new cards for the round. Next to the Government order, these are new available inventions, the market rates for the round and a special event that affects the current round. With all conditions for the round revealed, we can then send our workers to open spaces in the different locations of the board. Next to “normal” worker spaces, there is often a commissioner space at a location. When this place is occupied, it wields influence on other actions at that same location. Workers are placed clockwise, one by one, until all players have distributed their available workers.

[Factory 42]

Click on image to enlarge!

What follows next is the main part of the game, the resolving of the locations. Beginning with location 1 and ending with location 15 in the full game, the workers carry out their actions, of course only if there is a worker at a location. I will not go in every detail of all these locations. Instead, I would like to concentrate on the main mechanism to manufacture the goods the Government wants from us. Basically, this is a transport mechanism. It begins at location 3 where workers place and load railcars with available resources on loading spaces on the main board. These railcars can be spiked with more resources with help of workers in the next location, but still these railcars and resources are common goods. This changes at the next location again when workers send these railcars to open docks on any player’s board.

Some locations later, you can use your workers at the manufacturium locations on your player board to produce the final goods, the Government orders, using resources from the railcars and from your warehouses (these are mainly filled up by trading). But, producing the goods consumes steam, and that again comes from the general supply. Hopefully, any player has sent a worker to control this steam….

[Factory 42]

Click on image to enlarge!

Factory 42 turned out to be a great, but mean worker placement game. You will only have a chance to fulfill the Government orders, if you rely on other players. That demands a lot of negotiating. But you will see that there will be a lot of backstabbing, because once the railcars were shipped to other docks than you have thought, there might be no need any more to abide by an agreement. Once familiar with the game, the game flows smoothly. But it will take some time to get there. Although you don’t have to start with all components of the expanded game, the standard game with 12 instead of 15 locations is for beginners still complex enough. And the game can turn out to be a brainkiller, if you want to play it that way. So, there is a demanding learning curve, mainly because there are so many options to send your workers with a lot of text explanation at each location. This is not everyone’s case, but it is worth the effort. The game has a lot of interesting game mechanics and decisions. I also like the story of the game that perfectly fits the game flow. So, everything’s perfect?

[Factory 42]

Click on image to enlarge!

Well, there were also some points of criticism for my first edition of the game. So, I had to struggle with some of the symbols in the rules, on the cards and on the boards. Then, the player boards and the railcars could have been of better quality, and last but not least, the colour of some resources were hard to distinguish on the cards, especially in the evening hours. But while my first edition has all these issues, the upcoming "For the Greater Good Edition" shouldn't suffer these problems anymore. I already had a glimpse on some of the improvements, and I can assure that a lot of the cons seem to be fixed.

The new Gamefound campaign will start on 28th of February 2022, you can find it here. In the end, Factory 42 is already a well-done and interesting worker placement game, but with the announced improvements the game has the chance to get even higher marks and to fascinate more players.

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Copyright © 2022 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany