Widget Ridge Review: A steampunk deckbuilding card game

Widget Ridge is a card game that is currently on Kickstarter here. It is a 2 player deck building card game with a steampunk theme. Players compete against each other to build crazy inventions and obtain the most points. It is a quick to play game with our games taking roughly 20-30 minutes. We also found it easy to learn and can see this being a good game to play with your children.

Disclaimer: We were given a copy to review by Furious Tree Games. We will do our best to provide you with an unbiased review and give our honest thoughts about the game.

Example-Full-Construct
Your aim is to build full constructs like this to gather spark

What’s it about?

Players take on the role of inventors living in a steampunk city. For those that aren’t familiar with steampunk it is a Victorian inspired setting that uses steam power for their technology. This is a very basic explanation and there are variations within the steampunk genre. Widget Ridge is a whole setting that the creator has written stories in. For more information on the world and its setting check out his website here.

The inventors are both competing to see who can obtain 100 spark using their inventions first.

How does it play?

The rules are very simple to learn. First players shuffle the marketplace deck and deal the top 6 cards onto the table. This becomes the marketplace where players can buy cards. The marketplace deck is placed nearby to replenish the marketplace as soon as a card is purchased by a player using gold. When a card is purchased it immediately goes

Marketplace-Example
Example of the marketplace

into that player’s discard pile.

Both player’s start the game with a starting deck consisting of 10 cards each. The cards in the starting deck provide the player with spark and/or gold when played. The players shuffle their respective starting deck and decide who is going first. The first player draws 3 cards from their starting deck for their first turn and the second player draws 5 cards. For the rest of the game players draw 5 cards on their turns.

The first player then plays the cards they have drawn if they wish. Cards from the starting deck only give spark and/or gold for players. So the first player calculates how much spark they have gained from the cards played and adds this to their spark track. They then calculate how much gold they have earnt and purchase whichever cards they want and can afford from the marketplace. These cards are immediately placed in the player’s discard pile. As there are no other actions that can be taken on a player’s first turn the cards used are then placed in the player’s discard pile. This player then draws up to 5 from their deck.

The second player then takes their turn. When players are run out of cards in their hand they shuffle their discard pile and this becomes their new hand. The cards the player has purchased from the marketplace will now be in their hand and adds more moves and possibilities during a player’s turn.

Example-of-starter-card-hand
Example of starter card hand

Now on a player’s turn they can choose to play an appropriate card into their workshop or scrap or replace a workshop card and begin building their inventions. If you look at the cards you can see that it is possible for cards to connect and this is the aim. When they connect the cards may trigger a special ability which is listed on the card. The player then takes this action immediately for example; it could be to gain 3 gold. If there are two special abilities triggered from connecting (one on each card) then the ability of the card on the left is applied completely first and then the ability of the next card is applied.

Once a player gets to drawing back up to 5 cards in their hand they are then able to use the ability of their Full Construct (an invention consisting of all 3 pieces (augment, device and accessory). These abilities are normally the best way of gaining spark in the game. We actually created a house rule where you could only use the full construct special ability once before your invention ‘blew up’ to make the game a bit more competitive and difficult for ourselves once we had got to grips with the game.

The game continues until one of the players gains 100 spark. One other thing to be aware of is that constructs or parts of constructs can be ‘melted’ this removes the card from the current game. This can be very useful if your opponent has some particularly good cards in his workshop.

Construct-example
Another example of a full construct

Experience of playing

We found it to be a nice, quick game to play. There’s also a lot of room for customization and replayability in the future as the creator is making more starting decks. There is also the potential of playing it 4 player if you have two copies of the game. It is also possible to set different objectives for winning using the included goal cards. We haven’t tried a game with the goal cards yet, but plan to in the future.

There are also plans for a 1 player version of the game, but this is to come in the future as the game is still being finalised. The cards are of a good quality and the artwork fits with the theme well. One of the highlights of the game for me was with how competitive we got with creating the most outlandish sounding inventions which the game enables you to do with ease.

My one criticism is that is a player got a particularly good invention in their workshop that gave them a lot of spark then the other player could sometimes struggle to keep up. This is partly why we developed the house rule of only being able to use the special ability of a construct once before it was destroyed. However, this doesn’t stop the game from being extremely fun.

Spark-Tracker
The Spark Tracker

As the game is so easy to play and due to its theme I expect children will like playing it as well as adults. I can see this game easily fitting in as a nice little warm up game before a long game or one to play on a lunch break with friends. Something that I haven’t seen anything similar to in any other games is how spark is tracked. I admit that at first I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing with the tracker, but once I got used to it was a nice and different way to track ‘points’ which helps the game stand out from others.

I haven’t actually won any games of Widget Ridge so far. Chris has won all of them, but it has been close every time with there only being roughly 10 points in it at the most. I am determined to beat him though so I’m sure we will be having another game soon.

Widget-Ridge-Review-Winner
The winning construct

Pros

  • Easy to play
  • Quick to learn
  • Good for children
  • Short play time <30 mins
  • Made for 2 players but can accommodate more with other copies
  • Spark tracking is a different way to track points from other games
  • Artwork is good
  • Very competitive
  • More starter decks in the future will add more ways to play/more challenge
  • Box is small so it easily fits into a bag for portability

Cons

  • Not for those who don’t like competitive games
  • One player with a good full construct can dominate the game against an unlucky player
  • Spark tracker can be confusing at first
  • Would be useful to have a symbol on workshop cards to make it obvious at a glimpse if they’re accessory or augment etc.
  • Have to buy multiple copies to have more than 2 players
My-favourite-card
This is my favourite card. Look at the happy little guy

Conclusion

We really like the game as a little warm up game as it brings out our competitive streak. We look forward to playing it with more players as I think that will add an extra edge to the game. It sounds as if the creator has a lot of plans for the game and we look forward to seeing them. I quite like the setting and I’m interested to see more about it. One of the things I haven’t really touched upon is how compact the box is which makes it easy to transport. The box is roughly the length of my phone (Huawei P20 pro) to give you an idea of how compact it is. This is definitely a game that will be added to our rotation of warm-up games. For more information check out the Kickstarter.

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