Scrapyard Warriors Game Review (prepublished version)

Please Take Note: This is a review of the game’s final prototype. The art, game bits, and the rules discussed are all subject to change. The game is being reviewed on the components and the rules provided with the understanding that “what you see is not what you might get” when the game is published. If you like what you read and want to learn more, we encourage you to visit the game’s webpage or visit the game’s Kickstarter campaign. Now that we have all that disclaimer junk out of the way, on with the review!


The Basics:

  • For ages 5 and up (publisher suggests 6+)
  • For 2 to 6 players
  • Approximately 20 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Cooperative & Team Play
  • Imagination
  • Trading

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Use all your creativity to turn worthless junk into machines of wonder!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or so the old idiom goes. In other words, what is useless to one can be exceptionally useful to another. A broken clock, for example, can yield springs and gears. A broken microwave can provide a magnetron and a capacitor. The point is, just because something is broken doesn’t mean it isn’t still useful. A product’s value might increase tenfold by simply breaking. And for a creative mind, all those parts can be collected and used to build something fantastic. All it takes is a little imagination and a scrapyard of junk becomes a smorgasbord of limitless possibilities!

Scrapyard Warriors, by Black Tea Studios, is comprised of a deck of 155 Scrap cards and 1 60-second sand timer. As this is a review of a prototype, we will not comment on the game component quality. We will mention, however, that the number of cards included in the game provide an incredible range of possibilities for would-be inventors to use.

Scrap, Junk, and Other Treasures

The Scrap cards represent individual bits and pieces of junk ranging from the mundane collection of nuts and bolts to the more exotic and rare find of a complete robot’s head. Just about anything you can imagine (and then some) that would be found in a scrapyard is represented by the Scrap cards.

The cards come in 7 different colors, with each color having a specific point value. The one exception is the orange cards that primarily represent tools and small bits of necessary building materials like tape, glue, and nails. The point values on these cards are considered bonuses, as indicated with a plus symbol. The tools and extra building materials the orange cards provide are considered available by default and only count as points if the player finds and uses them. Of course, they are always welcome to not use them, too.

Included with each card is a little bit of text that either describes what the part is or a tip on its use. These are meant to be guides and should never be used to limit how the part is added to a machine. A tire could be used as a wheel as well as a seat, for example. Just because a card might state a part is good for something specific doesn’t limit the player from using it a thousand different ways.

An example of some of the many cards in the game

Additionally, some parts (like an engine or a fan) require a power source. Lucky for the players, there are many different power sources (like care batteries and solar panels) available in the scrapyard. For cards that need power, a red lightning bolt icon is provided and for those that provide power, a green lightning bolt icon is provided. A single power source can provide energy to multiple items that need it. In other words, a player need not worry about matching 1 green bolt for every 1 red bolt unless they want to. In fact, some parts of a machine that might need power to work can be included in a machine without a power source if they are not meant to be turned on. It’s all up to the inventory to decide, but they might be challenged to defend their invention later in the game.

Tinkering and Creating

What constitutes as a machine is up to interpretation and can be challenged by other players. There are no rules that state what is or is not a machine, other than some machine parts won’t work without a power source. Everything else is up to debate. For example, a player can add an umbrella to a machine that would otherwise not need it to function. This is perfectly fine, but if the player is challenged about the umbrella and cannot describe its use, the player will be penalized. Keeping this in mind, the game supports free-form play and creative thinking with the only caveat that a player’s imagination must be grounded firmly in the realm of plausibility. Adding an umbrella just because you have the card seems legit until there are points to be won or lost and players start to challenge its use.

The game rules (which are subject to change) provide several game modes giving players a number of different game playing choices. They are briefly summarized here. Regardless of which game mode is used, all games will start with the Scrap cards being haphazardly shuffled and then dumped in a pile in the middle of the playing area and within easy reach of all the players. This area is referred to as the Scrap Pile and is purposely meant to be disorganized and a mess, just like a real scrapyard. Cards will be face-down, face-up, and all over the place. The players will be looking through this pile, digging for their parts, searching for the perfect piece to complete their machine.

Standard Mode

Each player takes 7 Scrap cards and attempts to build 1 machine using as many of the cards as possible. The 60-second timer is started and all the player’s try to build a machine using the parts they have drawn. If none of the players can create a machine within 60-seconds that they think is complete, the round ends and all the players can now take one of three possible actions.

  • Draw 2 Scrap cards from the Scrap Pile
  • Return 2 Scrap cards to the Scrap Pile
  • Trade 1 Scrap card with another player

The next round begins and this processes is repeated for as many rounds as necessary until one player completes the build of their machine and shouts, “READY!” All the other players then have 60-seconds (using the 60-second timer) to complete the build of their machines using as many of their Scrap cards as possible. Once the timer is done, everyone stops building. Players now take turns, starting with the player who shouted “READY!”,  introducing and explaining their machine, how each part works together, and what the machine does. The other players can challenge one or more parts of their machine if they don’t think it fits or is missing something crucial like a power source. A vote it taken at the table to determine if the rest of the players agree or disagree that the machine has a legit build. If the vote is in favor of the builder, the challenger immediately loses 5 points. If the challenger wins, the machine is considered faulty and does not score any points.

Once everyone around the table has completed their machine introduction and there are no more challenges, the players add up the points on their Scrap cards that are included in their machine. The player with the most points wins the game!

Easy Mode

This is exactly like Standard Mode, but Scrap cards do not need a power source. Players will still get points if they use them, however, but lack of a power source does not put the machine at risk of being challenged.

Crazy Mode

This is exactly like the Standard Mode, but instead of 7 Scrap Cards, each player takes 10 Scrap cards from the Scrap Pile. Additionally, instead of multiple rounds of play, the players are only given 60-seconds to build their machine using as many of the cards as possible. Once the 60-seconds is up, each player must stop building. Players now take turns introducing and explaining their machine, how each part works, and what the machine does. The other players can challenge one or more parts of their machine if they don’t think it fits or is missing something crucial like a power source. A vote it taken at the table to determine if the rest of the players agree or disagree that the machine has a legit build. If the vote is in favor of the builder, the challenger immediately loses 5 points. If the challenger wins, the machine is considered faulty and does not score any points.

Once everyone around the table has completed their machine introduction and there are no more challenges, the players add up the points on their Scrap cards that are included in their machine. The player with the most points wins the game!

Co-Op Mode

One player draws 7 Scrap cards from the Scrap Pile and the 60-second timer is started. All the players now help to create a machine using the 7 Scrap cards drawn. Once the time is up, the players review their machine. If the machine was found to be a success, any used cards are put aside for the duration of the game. Any unused cards are put back in the Scrap Pile. If the machine was found to be faulty, all the cards are put back in the Scrap Pile.  One player now draws 9 cards and the processes is repeated. This continues for a total of 8 rounds, with 2 more cards being added to the hand than the previous round. The 8th and final round will have the players drawing 21 Scrap cards!

Sandbox Mode

Place all the Scrap cards face-up and have fun digging through them to find and create any machine you can imagine! The only rules are those the player want to use. No points are scored and everyone is a winner.

To learn more about Scrapyard Warriors, see the game’s web page or the Kickstarter campaign.

Prediction

Lack of concrete rules and legit machine builds being somewhat vague (by design) will make receiving the Gamer Geek’s endorsements a difficult one. However, what makes the Gamer Geek turn their nose up in the air will turn the heads of the Child and Parent Geeks. Given this, I don’t think it’s an outrageous assumption to suggest the Child and the Parent Geeks will approve of this game and the Gamer Geeks will reject it.

All I had to do for my little geeks is put the game in front of then and they tore into it without me even suggesting there was a game to be played. They started to go through the cards and putting them into different piles, building with them and trading even before I sat down to join in the fun. In fact, the only game mode we played together for a number of days was Sandbox and it never got old.

Eventually, I was able to get my little geeks to look up from the table long enough to introduce the different game modes. They agreed to playing the Standard game mode and I quickly gave them the directions. My 5-year-old was somewhat disappointed with the new restrictions, but was happy to give the game a try. And so, after answering any questions they had, we were ready to play our second game mode, but before we did so I asked my little geeks their thoughts on Scrapyard Warriors so far.

“This is a really neat game. It reminds me of LEGO but without the plastic.” ~ Liam (age 8)

“I can build anything, Daddy!” ~ Nyhus (age 5)

Looks like my little geek inventors are ready to go! Let’s put their imagination and creativity to the test to see if this game is worth their time or is just a piece of scrap.

Final Word

My 8-year-old and 5-year-old did very well with all the game modes, but their favorites where the Sandbox and the Co-Op. Even as I write this, they are upstairs at the kitchen table building with the Scrap cards. The game truly has them interested in building fanatic machines using the parts at hand. In fact, I am constantly being interrupted by them coming to my office and dragging me upstairs so they can show me their newest inventions. And what inventions they are! They are creating flying machines, robot weapons, spaceships, and everything in between! Even my 2-year-old is playing with the cards, but his creations are more or less just copies of what his older brothers are making. With the amount of time, attention, and love they are giving to the game, we have no problem suggesting that Scrapyard Warriors is fully approved by the Child Geeks.

Parent Geeks didn’t sit down at the table and start building machines out of the Scrap cards with just themselves, but they always joined the Child Geeks at the table to help and work alongside them. The Parent Geeks enjoyed the creative portion of the game the most, and not so much the game modes. They were particularly pleased to see how their children used the cards in creative ways and used their problem solving skills to “fix” missing pieces or depended on their ability to convince the table that what they had built would work. One Parent Geek said, “this isn’t so much a game as it is an exercise for the mind that feels rewarding and uplifting.” Well said and I agree! I have yet to not have fun with these cards when I play with them at the table with my little geeks.

With my Gamer Geek friends, however, it was a different story.

Crickets. That’s all that was heard when I put these cards in front of them. They looked through the cards and then asked how they were used. I explained the game and they all suggested this was not a game they would be interested in. I suggested we give it at least a try and they agreed. After 10 minutes of Crazy mode game play, they were done. They all agreed that this was a game that would be fun to play with their families and little geeks, but never with the Gamer Geek group.

A recent session of Sandbox with the game – they created a Monster Truck Motorcycle (left) and a Robot Warrior (right)

Gamer Geeks, this is a game that provides for creative thought and problem solving to come together in a unique way that is, by and large, not really a game. It is more of an exercise in creativity. There are no rules or restrictions to suggest what is or is not a machine, what can or cannot be done, or how the cards should or should not be connected. This is all done on purpose to provide as much room for creative thinkers as possible, but from the perspective of a Gamer Geek, this is just way too open and too vague to be of much use or challenge. Do try it with your little geeks, though. It’s excellent fun.

Parent Geeks, this is a fun and fast game of creative thinking and cooperative inventing. You’ll enjoy the many different ways the game provides ways for the players to use and reuse the Scrap cards and how there is just enough in the game to suggest how a card should be used but never any specific rules to suppress the creative process. One Parent Geek suggested that this was a game that should be introduced to schools as soon as possible as it focused the mind, strengthened the creative processes, and stimulated problem solving and conversation. All the other Parent Geeks agreed. For a family game, they gave Scrapyard Warriors very high marks, but they could not see themselves playing the game with just their peer group. This is a family game where the primary component appears to be kids and their wonderfully infectious enthusiasm.

Child Geeks, you are going to love this game. There are so many treasures for you to find and use, expect to spend much time digging through the Scrap Pile in search of that perfect missing piece to finish your imaginative machines. There are no limits to what you can build and there is never a wrong way to go about it. Challenge yourself to build machines that are logically constructed with power supplies and have a purpose, but never feel you shouldn’t wander unexplored territory and build something the world has never seen. The game modes are fun, but the real entertainment comes from the joy of building and creating, sharing and learning from each other, and seeing a bunch of junk become something incredibly awesome.

As a Gamer Geek, I don’t think this is much of a game. As a Parent Geek, I think this is an outstanding tool for creativity. Scrapyard Warriors is truly unique in its delivery and style, providing endless possibilities that excite and challenge me. Playing Scrapyard Warriors with my little geeks is a wonderful experience and I am always impressed with the many creative machines they create. I attempt to focus their creativity by giving them “missions”, wherein I describe a problem and they must invent a machines that fixes it. They succeed every time. So while I might not enjoy Scrapyard Warriors from the perspective of a Gamer Geek, as a Parent Geek, I could not be more pleased with it.

Simply outstanding.

If you are looking for a fun and creative game that clears the table of any possible creative roadblocks and invites the participants to have free-form and creative fun through problem solving and invention, then grab your imagination tool belt and Scrapyard Warriors.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
Tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply