Overview: This is one I came across at Comic-Con this year from Privateer Press. In Scrappers, each player controls a goblin bodger, racing around a factory floor and grabbing parts off the conveyor belt to build a contraption. Action cards and the buttons on the contraption parts allow you to maneuver around the floor, and sometimes you have to tussle over parts if two of you want the same thing. First to finish their contraption wins.
Players: 2 to 4 players
Ages: 9 and up
Playing Time: approximately 30 minutes
Rating: An entertaining diversion, but not extremely deep.
Who Will Like It? I think this is one suitable for kids but not necessarily hard-core gamers. There is strategy involved but also a good deal of luck in how the cards come out.
Theme: The Bodgers are little goblins who like to build contraptions grabbed off the conveyor belt. One thing to note about bodgers is that they are not team players—they fight over parts, bump each other out of the way, and do whatever they can to interfere with the other bodgers. Both the action cards and the machine components have “buttons” depicted on them which allow you to take various actions; it’s a cute mechanic that ties in with the machines but doesn’t necessarily make sense story-wise. I should note that Privateer Press also has other Bodgers-themed games such as Infernal Contraption.
I think one of the weaknesses of the theme is that the contraptions themselves, once you’ve gotten the parts, don’t actually do anything. They’re really just a MacGuffin. While I haven’t played Infernal Contraption myself, my understanding is that the cards you play build up the machine and affect how it works as you’re playing. Something like that would have been nice here.
Components: The components are fair enough—the game board is long and narrow, pretty sturdy and colorful, depicting the messy factory floor with a conveyor belt down the middle. The contraption pieces are represented with square cards, the bodgers are cardboard discs, and there is a deck of action cards. While the cards are all fine, the small size of the action cards can make them a little harder for big hands to shuffle.
Gameplay: Each player gets a hand of three action cards, which can be used to move, jump, switch places, draw more cards, or move the conveyor belt forward or backward. Along the conveyor belt are six parts—some Cores and some Plugs, with different color-coding. Your goal is to collect one Core and four Plugs that match it.
During your turn, you can pass or play a card to take the actions shown—in addition, you may then press the button on the part in front of you after you take your action. So this can allow you to string a series of moves together as you move from part to part, pushing the buttons. Once everyone has passed, then everyone gets whatever part is in front of them on the belt.
The trick is, if there are two people on opposite sides of a part, they tussle over it. Resolving a tussle uses action cards as well—so the more you move around in the action phase, the less you’ll be able to hang onto a part.
After each person has gotten their parts, the conveyor belt moves forward and gets refilled, everyone draws back up to three action cards, and play continues.
There are also optional rules for two non-player-characters to mix things up even more: Keelie can be controlled with special Keelie cards (mixed into the action deck) and allow you to control her for a turn instead of your own bodger—you can put her in the way of other players, and even have her tussle with other players for parts. Guppy is a small bodger who just throws things away—you can move past him (unlike the other full-grown bodgers) but when he stops in front of a part, he throws it away. Both of these rules can really wreak havoc with your carefully-planned out strategy.
Conclusion: I had some fun playing Scrappers but often felt frustrated by how few actions we could take (particularly if we needed to tussle for parts). Having a bad draw can really limit your moves, and on top of that is the randomness in the order of parts. However, it’s a pretty quick game to play once you’ve learned the rules and is more fun with four players than two if you like a lot of chaos.
This one is a bit simpler, strategy-wise, than a lot of the games I play with my regular group (which is mostly high school and college-age kids and some adults) and my six-year-old is still a bit young for it. So it won’t see as much play now, but with the right age it could be a lot of fun.
Ultimately, Scrappers is not at the top of my list, but it’s not terrible either.
Wired: Fun illustrations, push-button actions, and a lot of chaos on the factory floor.
Tired: Chaos means it’s really hard to map out a strategy, particularly with only three cards per turn.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy from Privateer Press.