Gremlins, Inc. is an intense strategy board game in a steampunk world of corrupt capitalist gremlins who compete for money, political power and prestige. Steal resources, extort bribes, manipulate elections, lay traps, arrest other players: in this game, you have to be mean to win!
Each player has a hand of 6 cards to move around the playing field and gain resources that are then spent to earn score points. You play for score ("whoever reaches 30 first") or for time ("whoever has the most score after 30 min") or for rounds ("whoever has the most score after 100 rounds are up").
There are different types of cards in the game (permanent, regular, secret & criminal) and as each card can be used either to move or for action, you need to develop both short-term & long-term strategies for making the most out of where you are, and what you have in your hand. Normally you spend half of your game time accumulating things, and another half attacking other players (stealing, arresting, making them pay a fine, initiating player conflicts, etc.).
The dynamics of the sessions differs significantly between duels, where it's pure cut-throat, and three-player (or more) sessions, where normally everyone attacks the current score/money leader first, which allows for some daring strategies to be developed in the shadow of someone getting arrested out of envy. A typical ranked duel is 20-40 minutes. An intense ranked 5-player game can be up to one hour (the game has a built-in timer to make sure nobody stalls for time).
You think that’s just a pocket watch in your hand, a watch that’s a bit late because you keep forgetting to wind it up? No, no and no – you couldn’t be further from the truth! What you carry around is a whole gremlin town packed into this tiny mechanism: a town with its own bank, its own casino… and even its own jail! Gremlins are the microscopic creatures that inhabit any mechanism that they can possibly infiltrate. If a watch or a telescope malfunctions, then it’s probably due to gremlins who took up a residence there.
More than anything in life, gremlins value money, political power and prestige: prestige that one can claim after completing some sort of a grandiose engineering project. Aside from working on their own projects, gremlins mostly spend their time preventing other gremlins from building something even more grandiose. This they achieve through bribing officials and lying to the electorate, as well through stealing from their competitors - and outright arresting them.
We felt it important to note that Gremlins, Inc. is not a free-to-play game. You buy the game once, and this is all the money that we ask for the product. Also, this is not a CCG or TCG: you do not need to buy boosters or packs, the game offers the same deck to every player, and everyone's chances are equal.
"Despite being kicked to the curb repeatedly in each match, the game is surprisingly not frustrating. You're never far away from recovering and your hand of cards changes up often enough that new strategies open and close to you every turn so you're constantly doing mental gymnastics to track your opponents and what their probably tactics are whilst trying not to make your own plans too obvious and considering all your options."
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We're off to Gamescom on Monday, where we'll be showing hands-on demo of the game alongside fellow indie developers sharing the same booth (2.2/A088): Lazy Bears and their Punch Club, Flazm and their Train Valley as well as Scrap Garden, and JetCat Games and their Heliborne.