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Monday, August 29, 2011

HOT BOX - WHAT'S IN THE BOX? - Z-Man 'Factory Fun' vs. Cwali 'Factory Fun'

Factory Fun is one of my favorite games of all time. In this game you are trying to maximize profits by fitting machines into your factory and connecting them in such a way as to generate more profits than what it costs to place each machine. This may sound a little dull but if you like puzzle sorts of games the fun factor cannot be beat!

I was introduced to it early in my gaming resurgence in 2008 by my friend Chris (it's one of his all-time favorites as well) and immediately fell in love with it. I loved the puzzle aspect to it. I loved the components. I loved the artwork. I loved that it played quickly but still was a lot of fun.

I soon was looking for my own copy and ended up purchasing it directly from the designer, Corné van Moorsel, straight from the Netherlands along with a few of his other games. This was a little before the incredible price increases started occurring.

Then, when I heard there was going to be a reprint by Z-Man I was somewhat interested but figured I wouldn't bother since I had it already. I also saw some of the artwork and I wasn't sure - I loved the hand-drawn artwork of my original version and didn't know if the slicker artwork was an improvement or not.

Then I started reading more information that came out about it and they mentioned that it had pieces for 5 players instead of 4 (cool!), the pipes were done as tiles instead of shaped pieces (hmm, not sure about that), and the player boards were double-sided for standard and expert play (awesome!)

Well, I finally caved and decided to get it. And it arrived. And...it sat on my shelf. I can't even remember how long now. Since earlier this year I think. Yes, definitely earlier this year. *sigh*

Perhaps I just wasn't ready to give up on my older copy of the game...

Then Chris got his own copy of the game recently. And opened it right away! Gah! It was time to open mine. He posted a pic of the neat containers he used to put the game pieces in.

He said the containers were for 'spices'. Apparently they had 'spice' labels on them and and he was complaining about it. I suggested he make his own labels and he promptly did! Very cool!



Ok, I'm motivated! I've actually been planning on opening it for the last month or so with the intention of doing a comparison of the old and new versions but hadn't 'gotten around to it'. Well, it is finally time...to see WHAT IS IN THE BOX! Then, further down, I do a comparison of the components of the two versions.

So, here's the box, ready to be opened!



I have to admit I like the box art quite a bit. I'm ok with the people on it, but I REALLY like the factory - the look of the machines and most especially the lights on the ceiling. I don't know why I like them so much, but I do...



Two cuts and we can start peeling....




...then open the box....




...inside, besides the manual, we find...

a nice stack of cardboard! Yes! Lots of neat stuff to punch!


And more cardboard! All the beautiful factory boards! I love the light that looks like it's coming in the windows and the 3D effect that creates with the shadows! It looks even nicer in person than in the photos I'd seen.

I was really getting excited now!

Here are the wooden player bits and some baggies for putting everything into and the box with the empty insert:


But why do included baggies always have to be so BIG when provided in games? Flexibility...I know....but still. Guess I'll be pulling out some smaller ones.

Ah, it's time to punch everything now!


Here's everything punched out...


...and put away neatly in the insert.


Now, I'm not fully convinced about the insert yet. YES, it has appropriate sized spaces for all of the components. And YES, it looks really nice in the box. But NO, I'm not convinced I will keep with this solution permanently. In fact, I'm pretty sure I won't - mainly because I sometimes store my boxes sideways and these components will be EVERYWHERE because there's too much space between the insert and the top of the box - everything will definitely start moving.

For now....I'm using it this way, but it will probably change soon. I'm just not sure what I'm going to use yet. Maybe a plano - I might need to go shopping for something special.

OK. Now that I have it opened and punched, how does it compare to the original version?

As mentioned before, I'm not crazy about the people on the cover of the new version. Looking at the two next to each other, I'm still loving the original cover with the hand-drawn images and I think the people look more realistic - something like you'd see in a real factory. Although, I *do* like both covers for different reasons and I'm not disappointed by the new one at all.


A comparison of the boxes.

You can see the new box is substantially bigger. In fact, the new box is SO big it can contain the original version inside of it...


...and, I think there would still be enough room in there for all the new components as well if the insert was left out (I didn't try this but maybe that will be part of a permanent solution....)

Next up is one of the factory floor boards:

Comparison of factory floor board

This is the same floor for both games. There are several differences here. Interestingly, you can see that the size of the factory floor is actually slightly smaller on the new board, but the overall board is bigger.

The nice features of the new board are: the artwork (love the shadows), '+' marks for the corners of the spaces rather than fully drawn lines, and the key at the bottom for costs is a great touch.


Comparison of the score tracks

The new score track is much bigger, has cleaner graphics, and appears easier to score on with the alternate colored spots. It's definitely an improvement over the older score track.


The pipes


the reservoirs & supply tanks

The components have changed quite a bit, and yet they are very similar at the same time. The pipes on the new tiles have nice shaded graphics and all of the tiles are the same shape. They are also double-sided with curves and straights on one type, the 'T' and '+' on another, and the cross-over and double-curves on the third type.

Now, I like that they are double-sided and consistently shaped. HOWEVER, I almost prefer the actual 'pipe' shapes because they 'look' and 'feel' like real pipes, like you're actually piping things together. Ultimately though, the new tiles are easier to keep lined up on the board. Again, I like both for different reasons in this case.

The reservoirs are all very similar, especially the supply tanks which even have the same octagonal shape. Of course the graphics changed a bit for the new ones, but the biggest change is the colors. In particular, brown was changed to orange and yellow was changed to green, plus blue and red changed tints slightly. Personally, I prefer the original colors although I presume the color changes (and the patterns in the tanks) are to make the game color-blind friendly which I fully support. But I still prefer the original colors for me...

In particular I miss the brown. One of the most famous/recognizable machines is the 'Megabrowner' which is a machine that takes a 1 input of blue and makes it a 3 output of brown (i.e. it's very valuable in the game). The machine is still named 'Megabrowner' but now it has orange as the output instead of brown. That just doesn't seem right to me...

Speaking of machines, let's look at those next:


All of the machines, sorted alphabetically with old and new machines side-by-side.

The original version had 48 machines. The new version has 7 more machines for a total of 55 - this allows it to support 5 players (playing a game consists of using 10 machines per person)

Here are close-ups of each set.




You'll notice the names are all the same and the colors and input/outputs are mostly the same (if you consider the converted colors mentioned above) - although at least 1 or 2 machines have changed input/output colors I think. Of the 7 new machines, there's one anomaly - I don't know if this is a mis-print or intentional for some reason, but there are 2 machines named "Sonic Pack 3" in the Z-Man version, one that is identical to the original and one that is very different. Somehow I split them across columns/images, but one is at the top of the right-most image and one is at the bottom of the image to the left of that.

Interestingly, one of the new machines is named "Z-Manixer".....it has two '3' value inputs and outputs - garbage. Well, perhaps black output is supposed to represent something different, but we've always considered it 'garbage' output since it just ends up being a dead-end in your factory line.

Regarding the machine graphics, the machines themselves look good overall, but I still prefer the hand-drawn Cwali version as I feel they have a bit more 'personality' to them. Also, the new version doesn't show workers working at some of them like they do in the original version :(

Also, the pipes are a bit more clear on directionality (input vs. output) and the sizing of the pipes to indicate the value is an interesting idea (1 is smallest machine pipe, 3 is largest) which I actually like quite a lot in theory, but it seems strange to connect up large pipes to small ones scale-wise. I'm fine with playing it, but I'm not completely sold on it.

The think what I like most on the new tiles is the 'value' (i.e. income that is immediately generated) is printed very clearly in the center of each tile making it easier to compare (versus the original versions) when trying to decide which machine you might want to grab during that portion of the round.

And finally we have the player pieces as well as the 'multiplier' markers used to determine the value of a pipe flow for end-game scoring:


Special Essen 'expansion' crossover pieces and the player markers



the bonus multiplier markers

The player colors have changed somewhat. I'm fine with the changes because I like more color, but the 'boring' original colors were kind of 'fun' because they were 'boring' and fit with the theme.

The former 'bonus' tile only available from Essen is now included standard in the Z-Man version - it simply allows you cross over 2 sets of pipes which can sometimes be very handy when things are on the wrong sides of the board.

The multiplier markers have changed significantly and, I must say, for the better (for the most part). Why? Because they make obvious the scoring you will get at the end of the game. The original version has simple clear round discs that you would put over the pipe numbers when you connected 2 machines together - those numbers are multiplied by '5' at the end of the game for final scoring.

This version simply does the multiplication 'early' and you place a maker with the final VP value instead. This makes it much easier to see your end-game score (and everyone else's as well) as those clear discs were nice but would easily get lost on the board (and sometimes on the floor as well).

Well, that's my breaking out of the newer Z-Man version of the game and comparison of it with the older Cwali version.

I certainly like the components in both versions, but the older version is more compact and the line drawn art really appeals to me. But, the new version has some really nice slicker graphics and also has some changes that were made that ultimately makes it easier to play and understand. AND, the components are actually interchangeable between games as the new ones are only slightly smaller than the older ones.

I think I'll be keeping both copies because I really like the new changes, but I love the old version. Call me sentimental I guess.

Thanks for stopping by and putting up with my long-windedness!

Now go out and build a factory or something!

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