Review – Gravwell
A card drafting, racing game.
Year Published: 2013
Designer: Corey Young
Game Time: ~20 Mins
Set-up Time: >1 Mins
Mechanic: Card Drafting, Simultaneous Action Selection
How to win: Get to the Warp Gate first, or be the closest to it after 6 rounds..
In Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension, players command spaceships that have been pulled through a black hole, transporting them into a different dimension. With each ship lacking fuel to get home, each player must collect basic elements from surrounding asteroids, using the gravity of the dimension and what little resources they have in order to reach the warp gate that will take them home. But in this dimension, moving ships will travel towards the nearest object, which is usually another ship, and when those objects are moving either forward or backward, reaching the warp gate isn’t always easy. Time is running out to save your crew and your ship! As a grim reminder of the cost of failing to escape, the frozen hulks of dead spacecraft litter the escape route – but with careful card play, you can slingshot past these derelict craft and be the first to escape from the Gravwell!
Place the board on the table, put the players pieces in the Singularity in the centre and the derelict ships on their designated spaces.
Put the round marker to one.
Shuffle all 26 cards, deal 3x Number of players of cards face down. Then, deal one card face up onto of each face down cards. This will give you several piles of 2 cards, one face up, one face down. Unused cards are left out of the round and are put aside face down.
First players draft fuel cards. Starting with a random player and going clockwise, players take turns taking a set of two cards. This continues around the table until all piles have been taken. Each player will have 6 cards in hand.
Then players will select a card from their hand and reveal them simultaneously. Each of the 26 cards represents an element that is named after each letter of the alphabet, these cards are then resolved in Alphabetical order a-z. They also have a number showing you how far to move your ship.
There are 3 types of fuel cards.
Standard – Move the printed number towards the closest ship.
Repulsor – Move the printed number away from closest ship.
Tractor Beam – Move each other ship the printed number towards you.
If you would land on another ship, you move onto the next empty space.
If you are looking for the closet ship and there is a tie, you count all the ships in front or behind and move to/from the majority.
After the 6th movement card is played the round ends. Take all the energy cards, shuffle them up, create new piles and draft again. For rounds 2-6 the draft starts with the player furthest from the warp gate and the draft continues in position order with the player closest drafting last.
When a player reaches the Warp Gate they win immediately. If after the 6th round no one has reached the exit, whoever is in the lead wins.
So this plays as good as it looks.
It’s very tactical despite the 50% random card draws. You can take those that you need, 3 of them and the hope you get 3 good cards on the other side. If you don’t, learn how to use the ones you have… quick!
There’s generally a lot of laughs and shouting when players who thought they were moving forward suddenly find themselves moving backwards. Or when someone is screwed over by a derelict ship.
One thing I don’t like is the emergency Stop card. It’s useful and needs to be there but usually a player will only lose a lot of ground once per turn and will negate it with this card. I keep pushing to play the “once per game” optional rule but I keep getting out voted.
I like this one and although I no longer own it I’ll happily play it again.
I give it 6/10