Gizmos Review: A Cascade of Delightful Reactions


Gizmos Review

Ever thought about being an ingenious inventor, dabbling in whimsical widgets and marvelous machines? Welcome to our Gizmos review, where science meets fun in this engaging engine-building game. As a dedicated board game enthusiast, I’ve been tinkering with Gizmos over countless game nights, the experience oscillating between satisfying strategic victories and the unpredictable thrill of cascading combos.

The motivation behind reviewing Gizmos at this juncture stems from a resurgence in its popularity, fueled in part by recent expansions. The game has stirred up an energetic buzz, intriguing both the seasoned veterans and the new entrants of the board gaming realm. Thus, an in-depth review seems in order.

As we delve deeper into the fascinating world of Gizmos, we’ll explore its many facets – the triumphs, the stumbles, and everything in between. Will it ignite a creative spark or leave us reaching for the instruction manual one too many times? Join us on this journey of assessment and insight to unearth the answer.

Just The Facts

Game TitleGizmos
DesignerPhil Walker-Harding
PublisherCMON Limited
ThemeScience, Invention
GenreEngine-Building, Tableau-Building
Target AudienceEnthusiasts, Families
Age Range14 and up
Number of Players2-4
Game Duration40-50 minutes
Complexity LevelMedium
Game ObjectiveBuild engines and score the most victory points
Difficulty LevelModerate
Similar GamesSplendor, Century: Spice Road
AwardsGolden Geek Best Family Board Game Nominee (2018)
Release Date2018

Game Overview

Enter the world of Gizmos, a lively realm of inventive marvels. Developed by renowned designer Phil Walker-Harding, this engine-building game sets you in the shoes of ambitious inventors vying for supremacy at the Great Science Fair. Your objective? Amass the most victory points by constructing the most efficient machines, or “gizmos.”

The core mechanics of Gizmos are remarkably streamlined, allowing for ease of play yet offering depth in strategy. Aspiring inventors utilize energy marbles, represented by five colors, to purchase and build their gizmos from the game’s central “dispenser.” Each gizmo – categorized as either converters, collectors, builders, or upgrades – offers unique abilities that can generate powerful combinations, driving players closer to their goal. From converting energy marbles to other types, drawing more from the dispenser, or even constructing additional gizmos in a single turn, the interplay of these machines introduces an exciting dynamic to the game.

Components and Artwork

Opening the box of Gizmos feels akin to unveiling a new set of highly-anticipated, top-of-the-line tech gadgets. The components are sturdy and durable, standing up to repeated plays. Of particular note is the marble dispenser, an eye-catching and fun piece of hardware that doubles as an engaging component in the game’s mechanics.

Aesthetically, the artwork in Gizmos is captivating. The visual design is bright and colorful, with an appealing, futuristic vibe fitting of the inventive theme. Every gizmo card features distinctive illustrations, contributing to the immersion and making each invention feel unique and valuable. This careful attention to visual detail serves to enhance the gaming experience, creating a tangible sense of being in a bustling lab, tinkering with innovative designs.

However, while the artwork is undoubtedly vibrant and the components durable, there might be some room for improvement. The card quality, although sufficient, doesn’t quite match the otherwise high component standard. Furthermore, some players may find the plastic dispenser somewhat cumbersome to assemble and disassemble for storage.

Gameplay Experience

A typical session of Gizmos begins with a fascinating setup: marbles of various colors tumbling into the transparent dispenser, reflecting the light in an inviting spectacle of possibilities. Players start with a modest tableau, a humble beginning in the grand scheme of their scientific aspirations.

The flow of the game is smooth, dictated by the “pick, build, or research” mechanism. A player can pick an energy marble from the dispenser’s chute, construct a gizmo using available energy, or research potential future gizmos. This elegantly simple mechanic belies a depth of strategic options, as players must navigate the best path to expand their engine. The balance between strategy, luck, and player interaction is well-maintained, encouraging both meticulous planning and adaptability.

As you dive deeper into the world of Gizmos, the game starts revealing its innovative elements. The chaining effects of gizmos lead to satisfying turns that genuinely capture the spirit of invention. The randomness of the energy marbles injects an element of unpredictability, while the ability to store energy offers strategic depth. However, this layer of randomness can occasionally frustrate, particularly if the dispenser churns out a series of less desirable energy colors.

Theme and Immersion

Gizmos does an admirable job of integrating its inventive theme into the gameplay mechanics. The process of collecting resources, building your tableau, and creating powerful chains of gizmos paints a vivid picture of a bustling inventor at work. There’s a sense of anticipation each time you activate a chain of gizmos, akin to the thrill of seeing an experiment yield the desired result.

However, while Gizmos‘ mechanics do a stellar job of creating immersion, the narrative elements are somewhat lacking. There is little in the way of storytelling or lore within the game, and the theme, while implemented well in the mechanics, doesn’t necessarily permeate the entire experience. It would have been an added bonus to see a bit more narrative interwoven into the game, perhaps in the form of backstory for the inventors or the Science Fair itself.


Gizmos shines in the realm of replayability. The game’s core mechanic, combined with the multitude of gizmos and the unpredictability of the energy marbles, guarantees a unique experience with each playthrough. With so many gizmos to explore, players can try different strategies, adding depth and a fresh perspective to every game.

The nature of Gizmos means that no two games are the same. The layout of the gizmos and the availability of energy marbles are always changing, requiring players to adapt their strategies accordingly. There is a definite sense of excitement in encountering a new combination of gizmos and devising innovative strategies to best utilize them.

Despite the high replayability, Gizmos might not be for everyone in this aspect. For players who prefer games with predictable patterns or less randomness, the variable setup and unpredictability of the energy marbles might feel somewhat chaotic.

Player Interaction and Engagement

In Gizmos, player interaction weaves itself subtly yet crucially into the fabric of the game. Although each player builds their tableau independently, competition emerges over the shared pool of gizmo cards and energy marbles. Snatching up a gizmo another player had their eye on, or taking the last energy marble of a particular color, adds a layer of strategic interaction that keeps every player on their toes.

There’s no denying the engagement factor of Gizmos. The anticipation of what the marble dispenser will produce, the pleasure of seeing a well-planned gizmo chain take effect, and the suspense of not knowing which gizmo will appear next keeps players fully invested throughout the game. There’s no downtime as even when it’s not your turn, observing other players’ moves can inform your own strategy.

However, while the game offers engagement and some level of interaction, Gizmos lacks mechanisms for direct cooperation or negotiation between players. If you are looking for a game with a stronger emphasis on collaborative play or social dynamics, you may find Gizmos somewhat wanting in this regard.

Learning Curve and Accessibility

Gizmos excels in its approachability and ease of learning. While the game has some depth to its mechanics, the rules are intuitive and straightforward, making it easy for new players to grasp. This balance of simplicity and strategic depth gives Gizmos a broad appeal, making it an excellent choice for both newcomers to board games and seasoned enthusiasts alike.

The game’s rulebook is well-written and comprehensive, laying out the game mechanics in an easy-to-understand manner. Furthermore, each player’s dashboard includes a helpful summary of possible actions and the game’s structure, which serves as a handy reference throughout the game.

Despite its ease of learning and accessibility, Gizmos does have a moderate difficulty level due to the strategic planning involved in building an efficient engine. Younger players or those new to engine-building games may initially struggle with this aspect, although the game’s allure often entices players to improve their skills over successive plays.

Strategies, Tactics, and Tips

Delving into the world of Gizmos can be an exciting adventure. To help you navigate your path to victory, here are some strategies and tactics that might prove useful:

  • Build a flexible engine: While it might be tempting to specialize in a particular color of energy marbles, a successful player often builds an engine that can work with various colors. This flexibility allows you to adapt to the ever-changing availability of energy marbles.
  • Plan your chains wisely: Effective chaining of gizmos can provide powerful turns. Pay close attention to the triggers on your gizmo cards and try to construct chains that allow multiple activations in one turn.
  • Balance your actions: While building gizmos is the main path to victory, don’t neglect the importance of picking and researching. A well-timed research can give you access to the gizmo you need to complete a chain, while strategically picking energy marbles can ensure you have the resources you need when you need them.
  • Keep an eye on your opponents: By observing what gizmos your opponents are building, you can anticipate their needs and potentially block them by taking a crucial gizmo or energy marble.
  • Utilize storage: Upgrade gizmos that increase your storage limits can be extremely beneficial, allowing you to store more energy marbles for future turns.


While the base game of Gizmos offers ample replayability, those seeking further depth and variety may wish to explore its expansions:

  • Gizmos: Extra Credit Promo (2020)
  • Gizmos: Lost Designs Promo Set (2018)

Comparison to Similar Games

When placed beside its engine-building peers, Gizmos holds its own quite admirably. A commonly compared counterpart is Splendor, another game featuring a resource-collection mechanic. While Splendor leans towards strategic card collection with less randomness, Gizmos introduces the dynamic element of the energy marble dispenser. The unpredictability of this feature may prove more exciting for some players, adding a layer of anticipation and adaptability absent in Splendor.

Another comparison is Century: Spice Road. Both games involve resource conversion and tableau-building, but Gizmos stands out with its more visually engaging components and the cascading effect of activating gizmo chains. However, Century: Spice Road’s multi-use cards and leaner design might appeal to those who prefer a less luck-based experience and a more portable game.

In terms of target audience and preferences, Gizmos is an excellent fit for players who enjoy the process of engine-building, a dose of randomness, and the satisfaction of creating potent combos. For those who favor a more controlled strategic experience or a more portable game, Splendor or Century: Spice Road might be more appropriate.

Hits and Misses

Gizmos shines in many areas, but it also has room for improvement. Below is a detailed examination of its hits and misses:


  • Engaging Engine-Building Mechanic: Gizmos excels in its engine-building mechanic, rewarding careful planning with satisfying chains of gizmos that yield a plethora of benefits.
  • High Replayability: The wide variety of gizmos and the random energy marble dispenser ensure that every playthrough offers a fresh, unique experience.
  • Attractive Components and Artwork: The marble dispenser and vibrant gizmo cards are visually appealing, enhancing the game’s theme and overall experience.
  • Accessible Gameplay: The game’s intuitive rules and helpful player aids make it easy for newcomers to pick up, while its strategic depth keeps seasoned players engaged.


  • Limited Player Interaction: Beyond competing over the same pool of gizmo cards and energy marbles, there is little direct interaction between players, which may disappoint those seeking a more interactive experience.
  • Randomness Factor: The energy marble dispenser, while engaging, adds a layer of luck that might frustrate players who prefer a more controlled, strategic game.
  • Lack of Narrative Elements: The game could benefit from stronger narrative elements or backstory to enhance immersion and deepen the thematic experience.
  • Storage and Setup Issues: The marble dispenser can be cumbersome to assemble and disassemble, and the game requires a fair amount of storage space.

Gizmos Review: Final Thoughts and Verdict

Immersing ourselves in the inventive world of Gizmos has been a journey of discovery, bringing to light the strengths and potential shortcomings of this engaging engine-builder. Gizmos offers a compelling blend of strategy and chance, coupled with visually appealing components and a theme that’s integrated well into the mechanics, all culminating in a satisfying, albeit occasionally unpredictable, gameplay experience.

Despite the game’s charm, it isn’t without its flaws. A lack of deeper player interaction and narrative elements, alongside the randomness inherent in the energy marble dispenser, may not suit everyone’s tastes. Moreover, the physical storage demands and the setup time for the marble dispenser might deter those seeking a quick setup or more portable option.

With all factors considered, we award Gizmos a 7.5 out of 10. It’s a game that could light up your gaming table with its colorful components and enticing engine-building mechanics. It’s an excellent choice for players who enjoy adaptability, combo-building, and the thrill of the unexpected. If you seek a game that seamlessly blends accessibility with strategic depth, and don’t mind a dash of chance thrown into your strategic mix, Gizmos may just be the bright spark to ignite your next game night.

Remember, the best game for you is one that aligns with your personal preferences and those of your gaming group. With this comprehensive review at your disposal, we hope you’re better equipped to decide if Gizmos is a good fit for your collection. Happy gaming!

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