SNAP Review – Gamestormers
[Anitra] I guess it’s inevitable that after spending so much time with board games, some of us would want to make our own games.
[Andrew] But sometimes it’s hard to come up with ideas. Sometimes it feels like work (a lot of the time it feels like work). But thankfully, we live in the twenty-first century, where just about everything can be gamified. And that’s where Gamestormers comes in.
This is a SNAP review for Gamestormers. Gamestormers is a creative, tableau-building card game where you take on the role of a game designer.
You’ll be in a battle of 3-6 people, all trying to prove to the Elder Gamestormer that you can make the best game. It’ll take you around an hour to do so.
So let’s talk about the art here. You have player boards and four different kinds of cards.
The boards have a sketched out grid with space for several concepts.
One of the unique things about Gamestormers is that because of its subject matter, it’s got to touch on a lot of different genres, like Horror and Sci-Fi, Fantasy and High Seas, and some general Civilizations. All of these appear on different cards for Storylines, Mechanics, and Items. It’s really a treat for the eyes to take in all the different pieces of art you’ll be playing down onto your player board(s).
The graphic design does a great job at subtly reinforcing the different card types. The art is consistent across all the genres, which encourages some experimentation (like High Seas with Fantasy – or even with Sci-Fi!). But they also obviously belong to their specific genre – you’ll never wonder what cards “go together”.
The Characters all look very interesting. They DON’T belong to any specific genres, but they do look like people I’d want to talk to.
[Andrew] The art is rich and the colors are saturated, it’s definitely a more modern art style.
[Anitra] OK, you like the art.
[Andrew] I do.
[Anitra] How do you actually play this game?
We already touched on it at the top. In Gamestormers, your goal is to have the most victory points to convince the Elder Gamestormer that you make the best games. You’ll do that by playing cards – Storyline cards, Mechanic cards, and Item cards – onto your play mat.
You’ll start the game with a Mechanic and an Item card in your hand, and you’ll pick between two Characters to put a Character down on your mat.
On your turn, you take two actions in any order:
- The Item Market – Take a card from the face up market into your hand.
- The Theater – Roll the Theater dice. Then use a blank card to create a Storyline, Mechanic, or Item. Put that card in your hand. It’ll be worth two victory points if you play it onto your board later on.
- The Forum – Draw the top three cards from either the Storyline or the Mechanic deck. Keep one, discard the rest.
- The Temple – Use the ability of an Item or Storyline card in your hand, and then discard it.
- The Arena – Declare that you’ve entered the arena, and take a token.
Once everyone has taken their turn, if multiple players have entered the Arena they each draw a Storyline, Item, and Mechanic card. Using these three cards, they create a game narrative and they pitch it to the table. Whoever gets the most votes for best pitch keeps their arena token and their opponent’s. Every competitor gets to keep one of the three cards they drew.
Then, every player puts a card on their Notebook playmat.
After five rounds, everyone’s Notebook will be full. Each player gives a two minute overview of the game they’ve created, and everyone conducts an anonymous vote. The winner gets the Designer’s Choice Award, which is worth two more points.
Then you’ll tally up your points according to the scoreboard and any special abilities you have on your cards. The player with the most points wins.
At higher player counts, there’s a slightly less complex party variant in the rulebook. We’ll leave you to find out about that for yourselves.
[Anitra] So Andrew, what did you expect from Gamestormers?
[Andrew] I came into Gamestormers with a blank slate. This is the only game designed by Jon Spike, who is admittedly specifically focused on the educational side of gaming – his company is GameStormEDU after all. So I was a little worried we’d have a game that focused too much on education and mechanics and not enough on fun.
[Anitra] I wondered what it meant that we’d “summon a game” within the game itself. That didn’t make any sense to me.
[Andrew] But there were some surprises here as well.
[Andrew] Gamestormers was more fun than I expected! I liked that you’re creating the narrative of a game, but I did find that our kids really struggled with telling the story of a game.
[Anitra] The kids weren’t the only ones!
[Andrew] The stories they told were just stories. There isn’t enough here, even with Mechanics and Items, to push the narrative in a direction where you need to have the players do something.
[Anitra] I agree – this feels like a storytelling game. The mechanics of the game are fine, but they put me into a mindset where I’m just trying to get the most points, rather than figure out the best game combination and story. It felt like something was missing – what game developers call the “magic circle” – to get everyone really involved in playing the same game together.
[Anitra] So Andrew, would we recommend Gamestormers?
[Andrew] I think Gamestormers has a place on a shelf, but it’s a really particular place on a really particular shelf. If you’re a family that loves to tell stories, Gamestormers is really cool.
[Anitra] It’s beautiful and the graphic design is on point, but it turns out this kind of game is a hard sell for a lot of people, and there are a lot of other games trying to do this kind of thing already in slightly different ways.
[Andrew] The idea that Gamestormers is doing games instead of stories is novel, but like I said before, there’s not really enough to make that difference stand out. Gamestormers is pretty good at what it’s going for, there’s just a super limited audience for it.
But if you are that audience, we’re going to rate Gamestormers 3½ mechanics out of 5.
And that’s Gamestormers in a SNAP!
The Family Gamers received a copy of Gamestormers from GameStormEDU for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Number of Players: 3-6
Age Range: 9+
Playtime: 45-60 minutes