Fantastic Factories – Metafactory Games – Review

This is one of my very few 10 star game ratings this year.  There are plenty of games I enjoyed enough to recommend, but very few that will be put on my will play anytime at every game day if possible shelf.

Joseph Summa



Theme and What is it?


It’s an arms race!  Well, a stockpiling one at least.  Build your series of factories.  Run them as efficiently as you can.  Assign your workers and resources carefully as you cannot build everything.  But most importantly, stockpile goods faster than your opponents!  Fantastic factories has an excellent theme that shines through most of the gameplay and enhances the play experience.

Gameplay Mechanics


Fantastic Factories has a simple play formula and easy player aids to show the routine.  First, players do a market phase where they draft a card or hire contractor bonuses.  Then they do a simultaneous work phase that consists of rolling their dice, constructing new buildings, and spending dice to collect resources or activating buildings.

Dice can be used to draw new cards from the deck, collect energy, collect metal, or use action spaces on any constructed cards.  To construct a new card, the player needs another card to discard with a matching build symbol and the metal/energy cost.  

Initial Impressions


My favorite types of games tend to be engine builders. You follow a simple play mechanism and build up how effective your simple play decisions are until things start to cascade.  My least favorite type of games tend to be dice driven games.  The dice hate me.  A lot.  You think you have bad dice luck?  I once lost a game with a 0.0142% chance of the events that lead to my doom occurring.

Better question, why did I just ramble so much about dice? Probably because Fantastic Factories has dice in it and they build up your engine building tableau as you go.  I have great news!  There are a great plenty of cards that allow you to spend energy to manipulate the dice.  Flipping to the other side, up 1, down 1, purchasing the exact value you need, complete re-rolls of any dice you didn’t like..  These are the kind of powers that make dice games tame down and reward skill over pure randomness.

Game Build Quality


Metafactory games have done an excellent job on production.  The player headquarters boards have really nicely recessed places to slot dice as actions are taken.  The player aids are designed to be easily understood.  The tokens for resources and manufactured goods are excellent.  The cards are appropriately thick to survive heavy use.  

Artistic Direction


What an excellently simple presentation that works so well.  Fantastic factories has a very crisp art style that is undeniably simple but is just so pleasing.  The artwork sets the tone of the entire game.  It is simple, cute, and just here for a bit of fun.  Nothing overly serious, but also not a lightly themed dry *thing* to do.

Fun Factor


Fantastic Factories is fast playing engine building game where players race to the finish.  There are several routes to victory.  You can produce points as fast as possible and trigger the end of the game as quickly as you can.  You could also just build the most valuable buildings possible and supplement it with a few production good.  Or you can do a mix of the two while building as many constructions as possible.  The game ends at the end of a round if someone has produced 12 points.  It triggers a final round if someone builds their 10th building card.  

My favorite part of the fun is trying to adjust the pace of the game length to be ahead when I or someone else triggers the end.  Someone else rushes the 12 points only to find I have still managed to win by a slim margin with factory card values.  

Age Range & Weight


14+? Why?  This is the kind of rating that should be on heavy strategy games where younger audiences are going to struggle not just with mechanics but with how it all fits together.  Fantastic factories would be very little difficulty to teach to a 10-year-old play group.  There is the slight issue of simultaneous turns making it harder to make sure everyone understands the rules and are playing correctly.  But you can adjust that by going one at a time for the first few rounds of the game while everyone gets the hang of it.  Or you can have players pair up so one does their turn explaining as they go while the other makes sure it is good and then trade the other way.  

The game length is so low primarily because of the simultaneous turns so if you do need to mess with that mechanism expect it to take longer.  But the difficulty to learn is quite low.



I was excited for this game right from the start.  I was intending to get it had the opportunity to review it not come up.  Why?  As a Christmas gift for my wife.  It is the perfect kind of game for her.  She is fascinated by dice but hates when randomness destroys her strategy.  Great!  Fantastic Factories is completely dice driven but offers plenty of opportunity to manipulate the die and mitigate luck.  

It is even more perfect because the game can be taught in 5 minutes and be completely understood by casual game players.  But, it offers enough depth that we can enjoy playing it over and over again.  A quick to play tableau building game with an increased efficiency as you go is just so satisfying.

This is one of my very few 10 star game ratings this year.  There are plenty of games I enjoyed enough to recommend, but very few that will be put on my will play anytime at every game day if possible shelf.