Full disclosure: A preview copy of Assembly: Re-Sequence & Override was provided by Wren Games. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
So here’s a fun bonus, some more Kickstarter stuff! I mentioned Sensor Ghosts is already live on Kickstarter as of a bit ago, but wouldn’t you know that wouldn’t be the end of it; they’ve got some new modules for Assembly available for backers, too! That’s exciting, so I’m writing up my thoughts on those, too. Let’s dive right in and see what’s new with these two.
In Assembly: Re-Sequence & Override, the computer has decided to fight you back in some new and varied ways, either by locking up your sequencing or by adding some robots to potentially mess up your movements. You still have to take back control of the station, so better, you know, get to that. Will you be able to thwart the computer before it’s too late?
This one’s kinda weird, to be honest, since it’s really two mini-expansions. You can use them together if you want to have a bad time (bad meaning hard), but up to you. I’ll cover them separately.
The important thing is that you keep the deck constructed properly, which will mean adding some new cards, like the Platform / Hold cards:
And the new Wild, which will replace the old one.
You can also use the new Malfunctions, if you want:
You should likely only use the ones that correspond to the expansion you’re playing with. There are also new Glitches, if that sort of thing is your bag:
There are also new characters! Give each player one, provided that it’s compatible with the expansion you’re using (check the symbols).
Beyond that, see each setup section for its own variations.
For this one, you’ll set the game up normally, but split the tokens into two stacks. When it comes time to place the first module, roll the die, and then choose which of the two face-up token stacks you want to pull from.
Do that, and you’re ready to go!
With Override, you’ll be using robomeeples:
They’ll look more robotic in the full game, I’m told. Regardless, keep a stack of tokens and roll the die. Place the module token on that space, then place a robot on top of the module, and then place the other robot of the same color on the Bay Card on the other side of the game (1 / 7, 9 / 3, etc). Do the same thing for another module and a robot of the other color (making sure to reroll the die if you roll the same number as you did for the first color).
Beyond that, again, game is set up as normal:
Again, the game shifts a bit, but it depends on the expansions that you use, honestly, so I’ll move into those sections separately.
Before that, though, the one thing worth noting is the new Platform / Hold card. It’s the only card in the game that’s played on your co-player’s turn, by you, and it has a specific set of abilities:
- Platform: Override only. Allows a robot to use this Bay and move an additional space.
- Hold: Choose a module. That module is considered Locked for this action (pieces rotating will skip over it).
You discard it once it’s used (and don’t draw back up), but it’s still interesting. The game plays basically normally otherwise; all the limits on communication and validation are still in place.
This one changes a few of the actions as well, but only in service of the primary goal. For Re-Sequence, once you lock your first module, every subsequent module must be locked in clockwise order. 7 -> 8 -> 9 -> 10 -> 11 -> 12 -> 1, etc. To help you a bit, the tokens are sequenced, but that can make things challenging, too. Two of the action cards give you new effects:
- Rotate: Now can do one of three things:
- Rotate all unlocked modules, as normal.
- Rotate the module stacks, putting the top module of each stack on the bottom of the stack.
- Swap: Now can do one of two things:
- Swap two unlocked modules, as normal.
- Swap any unlocked module with one of the face-up modules in the stack.
Beyond that, the game plays normally. Lock every module to win!
The major difference here is a few of the actions, but they’re changed in service of the main challenge. Robots now live on two of your module tokens, and they can only be locked if they’re locked into the bay matching their robot! Purple robot to purple robot bay, and green robot to green robot bay. This causes a few actions to shift effects:
- Rotate: Now can do one of three things:
- Rotate all unlocked modules without robots 1 / 2 Bays. Modules with robots are considered locked and are skipped over and not rotated.
- Rotate all unlocked modules with robots 1 / 2 Bays. Modules without robots are considered locked and are skipped over and not rotated.
- Rotate all robots on modules 1 Bay. A robot must be moved to an adjacent Bay unless another player discards a Platform / Hold card. If one is discarded, a robot may skip an empty Bay.
- Swap: Now can do one of three things:
- Swap two modules without robots, as normal.
- Swap two modules with robots, as you’d expect.
- Swap the robots between two modules.
If you can lock all the modules before you lose, you win!
Player Count Differences
Not many. The major two are the deck composition and the need to verify the other player’s actions at two players, but those are the same as the base game. Honestly, I quite enjoyed the expansion as a solo and as a two-player experience. It’s tough! But it feels like it’s well designed around both player counts so they’re unique but still similar in how you have to approach some problems.
I’m happy to play this solo or at two players.
- Hold is an excellent card. Most players are usually pretty irritated that they have to rotate everything right after getting something useful into place, but with Hold, you don’t have to! You can force one module to stay in place while everything rotates around it, which is doubly good.
- Add modules as quickly as you can. You really don’t want the adds to be skipping the reshuffle, if you can help it. You only have so many, after all. Once they’re added, swapping / rotating becomes pretty important, so make sure you’re ready with those and the holds.
- As usual, try to use verified actions more often than not. You don’t want to be burning a lot of cards if you can avoid it; that’s typically how you quickly lose the game.
- The Wild Card is the ultimate verifier. Treat it with respect. In a two-player game, it can verify any action. Make sure you only use it if you absolutely have to; it’s invaluable otherwise. Naturally, to make the game a bit easier, you can swap it out so it starts in the deck.
- Re-Sequence: You really need to lock two modules almost every time. It will make your life easier if you can get them into place. Good luck with that, of course, but it will make your life easier.
- Re-Sequence: If you’re not sure which token to take, try to keep the piles even. If you deplete a pile, it’ll limit your options, which isn’t super strategically useful. Usually, hopefully, you have a better sense of which token is a better one to pick. Sometimes you don’t, though, and when that happens I usually just try to even out the stacks.
- Override: Remember how hard it is to move the robots. You often have to rotate them, rotate the other pieces, and then rotate the module with the robot into place if you can’t get what you want initially, which isn’t awesome. If you mess that up, it takes a while to fix.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Both expansions feel well-thought-out, despite being fairly simple conceits, which I really appreciate. Like, at Re-Sequence’s core, it feels almost like a house rule. What if you made the game harder by having to lock modules in some specified order? Naturally, you’d pick clockwise, and the game kinda flows from there. This isn’t to minimize the amount of effort that went into design and playtesting; it’s more to emphasize how much of a logical follow-up this is, and that I’m glad that it’s being made. The robots one is a simple concept, but it doesn’t feel as house-rule-y, to me. Regardless, I’m enthusiastic about it; it adds some nice difficulty without getting overwhelming. It might even be, dare I say, a smidge easier than Re-Sequence (though I’m pretty sure I just got unlucky on my last play). That’s what I keep telling myself, at least. Anyways, they’re both solid expansions; they feel smartly designed.
- Currently you can fit the expansions in the base game box. This is pretty much always a bonus for me; even moreso because they sent me the expansion preview in a bag, but now everything fits in the box, even with the extra metal d12. That’s also rad, but that’s more a thing that’s rad about the base game than anything else. It just didn’t come with my initial preview copy, so I didn’t mention it there. Mentioning now!
- No major increases to play time. It still takes about the same amount of time, maybe a tiny bit more because you have an extra card or two floating around the deck.
- No really major increases to setup time, either. It’s a quick thing to add to the base game, which I appreciate.
- A bunch of extra new content. New Malfunctions, new Glitches, and new Characters all come with this one. I’m not good enough at the game for the extra difficulty parts, but, I can appreciate that they exist, from a reasonably safe distance.
- I understand why it is, but having some pieces that are incompatible with each expansion / the base game is mildly amusing. For instance, the Platform part of the Platform / Hold card isn’t used in Re-Sequence, so it’s just … there. That said, there are icons on some cards to distinguish which parts they’re compatible with; it would help if they were bigger, though, so that it’s easier to tell which parts go where.
- It is possible to get into an unwinnable state with the Robots. Be careful about how you’re swapping and make sure you give yourself some room to maneuver. It’s embarrassing if you knock yourself out of the game (as you saw in my review of Sensor Ghosts, I’m not a big fan of “you lose if you do this”-style conditions), so avoid it.
Overall: 8 / 10
Overall, I think the Re-Sequence and Override expansions are solid! They belong pretty firmly to a category of “iterative” expansions (rather than “transformative” ones) in that they make some steady improvements to the base game while keeping the core experience pretty much the same (as opposed to, say, The Genius expansion for Einstein). There’s a place for both in games, but I definitely prefer the iterative ones, generally speaking, because they’re easier to teach. This expansion can pretty easily be taught without relying on players already knowing the base game. You’ll lose, probably, but it would probably happen anyways; verifying cards is hard. For a small expansion, it thankfully doesn’t feel that light; plenty was added to keep it fresh and bring in a lot of new stuff for experienced and new players, so a lot of the solo gaming crowd will appreciate that. Heck, the two-player crowd should, too. It’s challenging and about communication; maybe a solid date night game? Either way, I’ve had a lot of fun with Re-Sequence and Override, and if you’re looking for a challenging, puzzley game or a solid cooperative experience, I’d recommend checking them out!