It came to me as a preview version in a compact box with a slip cover. Very little wasted space inside.
Each player gets a scoring board, four scoring tokens (one of each colour) and three initial tiles. First player is decided according to the instructions which are clear and well laid out. In fact, we read as we went on and it worked really well, our game was under way in minutes.
A Tile Board is then laid out according to the number of players. For a 3 player game it is a 5x6 grid.
The really quite clever Game Gadget seen below next to a section of the Tile Board is then given to the last player, who rotates the cogs on it to show how many people are playing. This will cause the number of rounds left in the game to display on it through the workings of the cogs within. Of course, the last player rotates the cogs after they have their turn, and the round counts down. It gives quite a thrill as the gadget displays "2nd Last Turn" etc.
The players examine their tiles. The light steampunk theme supposes that the Mad Professor's Chromatic Cogtraption has been broken and it's up to the players to restore order to it before the Prof returns.
Each square (corners cut off) tile has two Cog Segments on it - a curve that can be either red, green, blue or yellow. These have been given textures to assist people with colour differentiation issues.
You take one of the tiles you have and swap it for one on the Tile Board.
If you've not changed a thing, you get no points. But if things have changed you score at least a point for the appropriate colours of the Cog Segments that are on the tile you've placed. And more if they join up to other segments on the Tile Board - see you're gradually creating order out of chaos!
You are made aware that your final score will be your scoring Token with the LEAST POINTS.
Once a closed loop or the Cog Segments of one chain reach both ends to an edge of the board, that's a Mechanism which gets the creator a nice bonus and then becomes locked in - you're not allowed to break the Mechanism! You must only play tiles that keep the Mechanism in that state, and you won't score for it after its initial creation.
This makes play quite challenging toward the end of the game and may lead to Analysis Paralysis in susceptible players.
We found that this abstract played quickly, we were finished in less than half an hour even though none of us had played before.
I don't generally go for abstracts but I find this appealing. I really want to play it again - this is after the shellshock of teaching and playing Tsuro about 38 times in a row and feeling like I've been totally burnt out on this form of game. Its graphics and all over design is clean and elegant, and the rules are well written.
Gamers who like The Very Clever Pipe Game or Tsuro and the scoring system of Tigris and Euphrates and Ingenious might like to give this a try. Gamers who like steampunk will enjoy the theme, and gamers like me, who don't go for abstracts that much might just find this one worth giving a shot.
I will let you know how I go with more, and less players. I know enough from this one play that I'll be backing this one.