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Gremlins, Inc. Preview

Gremlins, Inc. Preview

As well as videogames, I have a bit of a passion for board games. There’s something pleasantly nostalgic about sitting around a table with good friends and pushing little plastic pieces around a board for a few hours. I’m not alone in this: throughout 2014, Kickstarter backers put more money into tabletop gaming than videogames and Amazon have reported a double digit percentage rise in board games sales each year since 2012. It’s not just physical board games that are doing well though, there’s been a rise in their digital counterparts. Games like Talisman, Blood Bowl and Settlers of Catan have all been selling well on PC and consoles alongside their more traditional, tangible brethren. It’s no wonder then, that we’re starting to see digital-only board games popping up to entertain us. Gremlins, Inc. is one of those games.

Currently available on Steam as an Early Access title, Gremlins, Inc. is the debut release of Charlie Oscar Lima Tango Interactive Entertainment. Created by Alexey Bokulev, the man behind Eador: Genesis, it’s a board game based around entrepreneurial Gremlins. These aren’t cute Gremlins like Mogwai either, these are low down, dirty, money-grabbing cheats!

You might think of board games as childlike pursuits but actually, the main demographic for board games these days is adults. Gremlins, Inc. is certainly aimed squarely at the older end of the market. It would take a very advanced child to get their heads around the complex rules and intricate strategy involved in this game. It’s one of those games where you won’t have a complete idea of how to play until you’ve played a few games. This probably wasn’t helped by the fact that the build I played doesn’t have much of a tutorial, but that is being created as part of the development. You’ll likely get the hang of it with a bit of perseverance though.


The game starts with every player being dealt six cards. These cards have actions that can be performed but also a dice with a number of spots in the corner. This is because movement is done by sacrificing cards rather than rolling a dice. Once you’ve used a card for movement it is discarded and you draw a new one to replace it. This unique mechanic means that you’re constantly forced to prioritise which of your cards are most important. It usually follows suit that the more valuable cards give you more movement, so you’ll find yourself choosing between the ability to gain valuable resources and the freedom of moving greater distances in a turn. The ultimate aim is to score the most points in a game.

Actions having both good and bad consequences is a recurring theme throughout this game. There are very few actions that have no downside to them and everything you do is a compromise. This in turn means that the game requires a lot of tactical forethought. You have to decide how you want to play. Do you want to build up your own stash of money or steal it from your opponents? Save up to play that eight point card or play loads of cheap two point ones instead? Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong way to play and that makes every game different.

There were a few niggles that I found with the interface so far. It's a work in progress of course, so these may change, but I found that it wasn’t always intuitive. For example, you click on a card in the timeline and details about it pops up above. You have to right click the card itself to close that pop up. If you forget what it was that you clicked to bring up that pop up. I also found that sometimes, movement was tricky. Sometimes I found I had to click a card two or three times before the UI would respond and move my playing piece. Not a gamebreaker, but a niggle that I hope will be resolved before full release.


There’s no way of choosing what Gremlin to play that I could find either. This isn’t a massive issue as there’s no functional difference between them, but it would be nice to be able to pick. Thinking about it, it would actually be nice if there was a difference between characters like in other board games. Perhaps that’s something we may see in the future to add to the diverse tactics in the game.

I was a fan of the clean design of the game. The playing space is decorated but not obtrusively so it’s never uncertain if something is part of the playing area of a background drawing. Graphics are nicely detailed and give a really atmospheric steampunk vibe. Some of the cards are a little small though, so you may find yourself zooming in on things a fair bit. There’s always a lot of information at your fingertips, including a breakdown of what has happened in the game recently. A bit like the hand history of a poker game, there’s a timeline of actions at the bottom of the screen at all times so you can work out how you blinked and lost all your cards just now. This is handy if you’re like me and get distracted by shiny things all the time.

Overall, I’ve had a lot of fun so far with Gremlins, Inc. The complexity may mean that it’s not a game for everyone. I have a very good friend who loves complicated board games and he and I have sunk many hours into it already. In contrast, my fiancée prefers board games that you can finish within half an hour and as a result, she’s not a fan. As is always the case, your mileage may vary. If you enjoy games like Talisman and Discworld: Ankh Morpork where you can play in different ways and there’s a lot to master, then this is one to watch.


Gary "Dombalurina" Sheppard

Staff Writer

Gary maintains his belief that the Amstrad CPC is the greatest system ever and patiently awaits the sequel to "Rockstar ate my Hamster"

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beettlestew - 03:46pm, 17th July 2016

looks fun.