Scrapyard Empire is a set collection game where you’re trying to build inventions by finding the parts to build the small machines that make them up. Each player starts the game with a character, 8 parts, 5 simple machines, and 1 invention card. Every round players take turns drawing parts or simple machines, trading cards, stealing cards, or digging the scrap pile for discarded cards. The whole game takes 5 minutes to learn, and about 30-60 minutes to play. There’s even a solitaire variant that plays in around 10-15 minutes.

The real meat of the game, in my opinion, is the Dig. By taking a dig action you roll a die and can dig through one of the discard piles for a much needed card on a roll of 4, 5, or 6. For some reason this mechanic really sits well with me. Stealing cards is also much more satisfying than a trade.

The real difficulty here is building your simple machines to create your invention. Why not just hoard cards until you have what you need? You can’t. You can only have 8 parts in your hand and 5 simple machines at the end of you turn. Sometimes this forces you to get rid of cards you could really use, or discard cards that another player can Dig and snag. The whole game is a balancing act of getting/keeping the cards you need, and keeping the other players from getting what they need.

Another cool aspect of the game comes in the form of character and small machine card powers. Every character has a special power they use throughout the game. Some characters can Dig on a roll of 3, 4, 5, or 6. Some get more cards for Digging on better rolls, etc… Small machines also give players special powers once they’re built. Some of these take one of the players 2 actions to use. Some are passive. Examples include being able to draw 4 cards from the deck, or stealing a card another player used a Dig action to get. It’s things like these that add a bit more depth to an otherwise straightforward game.

Overall my kids and I had a great time with this one. The prototype we had was just the deck of cards, but that’s all we really needed for a good time. As you can see on the Kickstarter page, there’s a lot of cool extras you’ll get for backing the project. At a base cost of $21 to get a print copy of the base game, you can’t go wrong with this one.

A prototype version of Scrapyard Empire was sent free to preview by Galliant Games.