SNAP Review – Compile

Compile game

Obviously at The Family Gamers, we like to play games with our family. But sometimes that family is just the two of us. We love going out on a date for breakfast sometimes and even bringing a game along.

And when we find a good one, we love playing it over and over again. Of course, sometimes that means we can burn out on a game a little bit, so we need to find a way to keep it fresh.

This week we’re going to talk about Compile, a new game from Greater Than Games. Compile has a built in way to keep it fresh! We’ll talk about that in a few minutes. But first, the vitals of the game.


Compile is, like we said, from Greater Than Games. It’s a dedicated two-player game by Michael Yang, and it plays in 20-30 minutes. It says ages 14+, but you can probably play this with a gamer ten year old, especially if they already play games like Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering.


So, let’s talk about the art.

It’s a little hard to pick up the spot varnish on video, but the box for Compile has circuits running all over it, with this metallic purple stripe running diagonally through it. It’s meant to look like futuristic technology. And there is, in fact, a reason for that.

The cards inside are all gorgeously detailed, with a metallic sheen on all of the lines, clear iconography to represent the Protocols (we’ll talk about those in a minute), and thematically appropriate full card artwork behind the text. It’s not distracting but it is evocative.

You’re also going to find twelve special Protocol cards inside the box. One side of each says “Loading” and looks a little distorted, like something loading, while the other side says “Compiled” and it’s a clear picture.

Compile: the twelve protocols


I could probably keep talking about the art because I like it so much, but Anitra, let’s talk about the mechanics. How do two people play Compile?

Inside the Compile box – this box by the way is Main1, so I guess there will be expansions – inside this box are the twelve Protocol cards and six cards for each Protocol.

To start the game, one player will pick one Protocol and its six related cards.

Then, the other player will select two Protocols and their cards.

The first player will then take two Protocols.

And finally the second player will take one Protocol.

At this point, you’ve only used half the box – and that’s all you’re going to use for this game. Each player shuffles their 18 cards together and puts their three Protocol cards in a line, Loading side up.

On each player’s turn, they’ll first look at and do any face-up active effects. Then, they’ll play a card from their hand, or rest, which allows them to draw back up to a hand of five cards.

If a player plays a card, they can either play it face down for a value of two into any line, or they can play it face up into its specific line, for whatever the power is on it.

If there is text in the middle box of the card, this text activates whenever the card is turned face up. This might be because a player has just played it, or it could mean a player flipped the card from face down to face up.

Finally, if there is any text in the bottom box of an uncovered card, it’s a passive ability. It defines when it’s going to be triggered directly in the box.

Uncovered cards just mean there aren’t any cards on top of them in a Protocol line.

Play continues back and forth until one player’s line value exceeds (* is at least) ten at the beginning of their turn. If a player’s line value is higher than ten AND it is higher than their opponent’s line value in that same line, then they compile their Protocol. Flip the Protocol card over to “compiled” and discard all cards under that Protocol AND the opposing player’s cards in the same line. That’s their turn.

Eventually, someone will compile all three of their Protocols and they win the game!

Compile in play, with Spirit, Speed, and Life showing on one side of the table; Fire, Metal, Psychic on the other side.


So Andrew, what did we expect from this game?

I didn’t really have the chance to generate expectations for Compile. This was a secret game that the Flat River Games team sprung on a few of the reviewers at the GAMA Expo this year. But as I played the game and it started to unfold, I was definitely intrigued… Each of the Protocol cards has some words on the Loading side that give you insight into the card mechanics for those cards – Like Metal here says Prevent, Draw, Flip. These are three attributes that apply to the deck.

Metal - Loading... Prevent, Draw, Flip

I want to say more, but actually I want to hear, Anitra, what your expectations were first! You heard me talk about this game a bunch before you got a chance to play it for yourself, so what did YOU expect?

From everything you said, I expected deck building and sort of dueling powers with a super high-tech theme.


Oh, all right, so that’s what you expected. What surprised you, then?

The variety of things you could do with the cards! There are a ton of different active and passive powers that will have you drawing extra cards, or playing extra cards, or flipping cards over, and even discarding or “deleting” cards to gain more abilities. And of course, some of them let you mess with your opponent’s side of the Lines, too.

What surprised me most was how six cards really could convey three different attributes for a deck. I also love – and I kind of talked about this before – Just how many combinations there are in this one box. With 12 different Protocols, that’s technically over 1300 different potential decks that you can make! It seems nuts, but that’s the math! It’s true. And some of these Protocols, like Speed, really change the way you play. Anitra, I know that you love that one, right. (I do.)

I think it’s obvious that I recommend Compile, and I think you probably agree.

Yes, definitely. This is a game that has a ton of flexibility, but even with just the 18 cards, the combinations you can make and the jockeying back and forth is super fun. I really love picking combos of Protocols that will work well together, and it’s an easy game to grab for, like you said, a date or something else like that.

We even included Compile in our Top Five New Small Box Games – that’s episode number 372 of The Family Gamers Podcast.

So there you go. We both really enjoy this one. I am excited for expansions and the game’s not even out yet, so what does that tell you?

We’re going to give Compile 4 ½ Protocols out of 5.

And that’s Compile, in a SNAP!

Look for it this summer in a game store near you.

Compile Protocol lines: Plague, Fire, and Psychic versus Light, Water, and Life.

The Family Gamers received a copy of Compile from Greater Than Games (courtesy of Flat River Games) for this review.

SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?

Compile (Main 1)
  • Protocols


Number of Players: 2
Age Range: 14+ (we say 10+)
Playtime: 20-30 minutes