Table Top

Published on May 14th, 2015 | by Justified Croak


Infernal Contraption Review

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Average play time per game: 60 minutes

Suitable for ages: 10+

Number of players: 2-4

Mechanics: Card Drafting, Hand Management, Take That


Who doesn’t love goblins? Those pesky little miscreants who love nothing more than bodging together unpredictable devices for the sheer purpose of finding out what they do. Usually something bad, or at least highly explosive. Infernal Contraption gives you the opportunity you have been waiting for to adopt the role of a pointy green eared mechanic and craft a machine that does a thing!

Infernal Contraption is delightful card game of mechanical mayhem from Privateer Press – better known for their Iron Kingdoms game setting. Players take turns adding parts to their masterpiece of a machine, capable of varying outputs; the goal is to be the last green skin standing, while the others are likely crushed under their own machines. Here’s how to get bodging.

NB. The latest edition of Infernal Contraption also contains cards from the no longer sold “sabotage!” expansion. The copy reviewed includes these extra cards.


First separate all “Power Core” cards from the rest and deal one to each player. These cards act as the first and central component to your machine. Any unused power core cards are returned to the box.

Shuffle the remaining cards in to one central deck and distribute them evenly amongst all players to form their parts pile. Any extra cards are placed back in the game box.

Leave space in the centre of the table for the communal scrap pile (discard pile)

Each player draws 7 cards from his parts pile. Each player may choose to scrap (discard cards in to the central scrap pile) any number of cards from their starting hand to redraw up to 7. After each player has had the opportunity to do this once play begins by designating a first player.



Infernal Contraption divides your machine in to three parts:

The Main Line – players build their machine in a horizontal line across their play space. Players add to the main line by placing cards horizontally to either end of the existing machine.

Plugs – these cards are placed vertically connected to the main line (either above or below) players can’t connect additional cards to plugs.

Terminal – Terminals are cards attached at only one point to your machine. Plugs and cards in the main line may also be terminals.

Each card represents a working part of a player’s machine. There are several different card types often indicated by the colour of the card border. Here’s a look at each type.

Power core – Identifiable as it is the only double sided card type. Each player starts with one of these cards and acts as the first power source of a player’s machine. These cards cannot be scrapped, destroyed, or moved for any reason.

Power source – Identifiable due to its power core picture and lack of text. Eventually your machine will need more power. These cards provide power to all adjacent parts and can be placed in the main line or as plugs.

Contraptions (Blue border) – These cards are used to generate the main effects of your machine, whether it allows you to draw a card or your opponent must discard a card. They do not need to be attached to a power source to play, but will only reward its effect when the machine is turned on it the card is directly connected to a power source.

Upgrades (Green border) – Upgrades modify the effects of an attached contraption. Upgrade cards do not require connection to a power source.

Consumable (Rust border) – These parts have a one time effect and are then discarded to the scrap pile. These cards may only be placed connected to a power source as a plug. The reason for this is so after the cards effect is resolved and the card discarded, there wont be a gap in a player’s main line.

Sabotage (Red border) – These cards were introduced into infernal Contraption from a previous expansion. They work similarly to consumable cards, except they are placed in your opponents machine for a negative effect. They do not require a power source but must be placed as a plug for the same reason as consumable cards.



Each part will have either 2 or 4 sockets usually of varied type. To add a part to your machine you must connect one of its sockets to a matching socket on your existing machine. There are 5 types of socket in Infernal Contraption, one of which is universal. Universal sockets can attach to any other socket type, including universal.

Turn Sequence

Players begin by drawing 4 cards if they have fewer than four cards in their starting hand. If a player has no cards in hand then they draw 7 cards at the start of their turn.

Players may play one part for free and add it on to their machine. Players may then play further cards but for each extra card a player wishes to place in their machine, they must first scrap one card to do so.

Players may instead choose to scrap cards from their hand and redraw the same amount from their parts pile; this is instead of playing parts on to your machine.

Once a player has scrapped and drawn or added parts to their machine they get to hit the big red button and see what happens.

Big Red Button:

Once a machine is fired up its parts start to inflict their effect. Starting on the left side of the machine, resolve each card effect in turn. Plugs above the main line are resolved first, then the main line part below it, then the plug beneath the main line; play then moves to the next main line part and continues to resolve its effects in the same way.

Remember to apply any upgrade effects to contraption cards and remove consumable and sabotage effects immediately after resolving their effects.

After discovering what your machine can do a player will then clean shop. They may draw back up to 7 cards in hand before passing play to the next player.

The winner of Infernal Contraption is the last player with parts in their parts pile. Once a player can no longer draw from their parts pile, they are eliminated from the game.



I really enjoyed working through this one, and intend to keep playing it. There is certainly a learning curve but it’s not a steep one. The main issue I saw in my playgroup was getting to grips with the difference between plugs, main lines and terminals and to some extent remembering to match connection. The included rule sheet does an OK job of illustrating this concept, it’s just one of those things that will catch players out for the first few games.

For the asking price, Infernal Contraption gets a huge thumbs up, especially considering the core game now includes a free expansion. We had great fun hammering away at our machines, flipping the switch and never being entirely sure what effect was going to happen. There are some traces of the “take that” mechanic but they’re reigned in and as long as you remember it’s all about having a good time, it doesn’t get nasty. At an hour long it’s a little long to be a filler but on occasion I’d quite happily fill an evening with a few games of this one or mix and match with the other great bodger games available.

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