Assembly: 3 to 4 player variant

You are on an orbital platform that assembles luxury spaceships. After a recent micrometeorite impact, a deadly virus has emerged and wiped out the entire staff. You must fully assemble the final spaceship in order to escape! Working either alone or with friends, you will take turns to manipulate the modules around the assembly line towards their correct bays, locking each module into its correct bay.
This is a review of the Assembly 3-4 player variant, which is in the beginning stages of design and available as a print and play from the Sensor Ghosts Kickstarter page.

The Good

Logistics Puzzles (+6)

Everything has a place and everything needs to be in its place. This is the satisfying beauty of Assembly. Imagine you’ve hit the jackpot on a slot machine, all the coins are falling out the well and you’ve been requested by the staff to ensure they land in order. Stressful? Yes. Yet strangely enjoyable if you like order.

Two Rings Introduction (+6)

In the base game, you only have a one ring configuration for the spaceship, but in this variant since you have two copies of Assembly, the spaceship is significantly larger and has two rings. Double the fun, double the stress, double the puzzle. It provides a more interesting dynamic between the command cards because not only do you need to choose which ring moves — whereas in the base game you only have one ring to move — but you also need to perform permutations of adjacent spaces to move modules within and between rings. Honestly though, I would even be willing to get two copies of this game just to play with two rings on solo.

Roles Provide Workarounds (+3)

When in a pickle, since the game has a timer, it’s helpful to have a way out of things. Since all draws are random, effectively the actions available to you and your colleagues are also random. The only thing that you can fully control? Use of your skills, so use them wisely.

More Variables (+2)

Since Assembly’s base game is meant for 1-2 players, once you double this you also double the memory game aspect that makes this game just a little more challenging — as if the random die rolling wasn’t enough!

The Bad

Downtime (-1)

If you’re not the active player or the supporting player, you don’t have much to do on your turn. Most of your turn is reacting to the environment and so anything the active player and supporting player choose to do affects you decisions and consequently you cannot truly spend your turn planning. You can possibly mitigate this by making the supporting player the one that comes after you, but that may not be feasible when you want to execute specific actions.

Wild Card Hack (-3)

I get the primary puzzle is to lock all the rooms and the secondary puzzle is a memory game but once you just pick the one person to always have a certain card I don’t understand how you couldn’t just nix the memory game altogether.

Roles are One-Time Use (-1)

It seems thematically incorrect to be able to reduce someone who is literally a space engineer — at least that’s what I’m assuming — to a one-time use skill.

Punishment Doesn’t Fit the Crime (-1)

If you just don’t have a good memory, and this game is arguably not mostly about memory, the punishment for having a bad memory is disastrous because it debilitates your team unnecessarily. Your support team member supports you so hard that they may just strain themselves and then be encumbered when their turn comes up. But somehow, you have enough know-how to still get to refresh your hand?

The Ugly

Memory Puzzles (-0.5)

Real talk here, I have a bit of anxiety and it affects my short-term memory. Over time and repetition, I do remember things very well but this game moves and changes so quickly that it just resets the forgetfulness again and again.

Background Colors vs Outline Colors (0)

I can’t even tell you how many times we misinterpreted the colors and thought we were close to victory but ended up being so far away from it based on what command cards were available to us. Really wish the card itself was colorful and not just the module outline.

Deck Configuration (-0.5)

It’s a bit of a chore to try and remove and/or add cards to accommodate this variant. Also if you ever want to play the base game, you’ll need to spend at least 10 more minutes during cleanup to separate the copies.

Harder to Understand Permutations (0)

One of the easier things to do in this game with just 1 or 2 players is discuss permutations of how the modules should be moving around the bays. Yet when you need to manage discussions with three others, instead of one other, it becomes much more chaotic because everyone performs these permutations differently and prioritizes the order of operations differently as well.

Difficulty: 2/5 for Advanced
Satisfaction Grade: B- (80%) for Great
Worth Your Money? Yes.