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Gadget Grid - Review

Designer: Matt Hewes
Artist: Patrick Liddell
Publisher: Spacemole Games
Player Count: 1 to 8 Players
Play Time: 30 to 45 Minutes

Enter the arena and be the last one standing in this eccentric sci-fi battle-royale game. Who will survive in The Grid? In this review of Gadget Grid I overview how to play and discuss the pros of multiplayer and the cons of solo play.

In Spacemole Games’ Gadget Grid, one to eight players enter The Grid to battle against zombots—which are exactly what they sound like—elude monstrous sentries, and clash with one another in a free-for-all brawl.

Players will navigate their characters around the treacherous arena, acquiring gadgets and dodging challenging environments while dealing blows to one another. Each round, more tools and hazards are placed onto the board, creating opportunities as well as perils for the players.


To understand how to survive in The Grid, players first need to understand how The Grid works. The game board is composed of 100 squares arranged in ten rows and ten columns. Squares are numbered sequentially beginning at the top of the board—00 to 09 on row one, 10 to 19 on the second, and so on until the final row 90 to 99. Diagonal lines connect squares from the top right corner of the board to the bottom left. These diagonals help players identify opposite square numbers (e.g. 38 and 83, opposite numbers will always be on that diagonal).

A 10 by 10 game board with 100 squares labeled sequentially and reference text around the outside.
The Grid

Gadget Grid uses a clever setup to ensure no two playthroughs are the same. Before placing components on the board, the starting deck of player character cards, zombot cards, and starting gadget cards is shuffled according to the number of players in the game. Then 2d10 are rolled to generate two opposite numbers from the digits on the dice. The top two cards of the setup deck are placed on those spaces on the grid. With dice results of a 2 and an 8, for instance, the top two cards will be placed on spaces 28 and 82. In this way, setup generates random starting positions for characters as well as the components they will be interacting with. This placement procedure is repeated whenever new gadget cards are placed on to the board.

The objective in Gadget Grid is to be the last player whose character has a Life Gizmo. Each character begins with three of them. Characters lose Life Gizmos when a zomb moves into their space (or they move into a space with a zomb), another player successfully targets their character with an attack, or when their character is in the hit radius of an activated sentry. Remember, the grid is treacherous; almost every space will usually be within range of some sort of threat. When a player’s character loses all their Life Gizmos, they become a zomboid—like one of the zombots that mindlessly roam The Grid but still under the control of the player. Zomboids cannot utilize any gadgets or attacks but steal a Life Gizmo and return to full form when they enter the square of another living character.

Players will need to stay mobile and pick up both offensive and defensive boons to win. The Grid is populated not only by characters, but gadgets as well. The gadget deck is filled with widgets that provide a one time ability, equipment that stay with the character and grant a static bonus, and attacks that can deal damage to opponents. Environments are immovable gadget cards that permanently change the arrangement of the board and include Portals that transport players across the board, dangerous monstrous sentries, impassable terrain, and more.

A small cardboard box printed to appear metallic containing a deck of small cards with an orange and steel silver backing.
The Gadget Deck

At the start of each player’s turn, they will roll the dice and place more gadget cards from the shared gadget deck onto the board (Generation Phase) following the placement rules described above. In this way, even as players pick up equipment, widgets, and attacks, the board is constantly being replenished with new interactables.

Next, the player can either play a widget card from their hand, purchase a premium DLC, repeat the Generation Phase, or do nothing. Premium DLC cards are upgrades that give advanced bonuses to players. These can be purchased from the shared premium DLC marketplace by trading combinations of widgets, equipment, attacks, and lost Life Gizmos. For example, the Zombuoy Buddy gives the player a helpful companion in The Grid.

Players can then move three spaces in any direction (zombs can only move two spaces in cardinal directions giving a mobility advantage to living players), taking any widget, equipment, and attack cards from squares they move through. Finally, players can attack one another, declaring to play one attack card which specifies a damage radius or number of targets that are dealt one hit. Alternatively players can choose to move a zomb up to two spaces, using it as a walking weapon against an opponent.

Gameplay continues until only one player’s character remains with a Life Gizmo.

A component token of the character Greygue a green 5 eyed monster on a blue background with three small tokens attached to the top
Greygue character token with three Life Gizmos

Solo Play

Gadget Grid’s solitary conversion makes simple changes to the setup process and fully automates the zombs and auxiliary player characters, resulting in a solo survival simulator.

The setup deck is assembled including 5 character cards other than that of the player. These become automated characters in the game. Each character, including the player’s, begins with only one Life Gizmo instead of three. I have found that the difficulty of solo play can be easily adjusted by increasing or reducing the number of automated characters.

The player takes their turn as normal with a few modifications. During the Attack Phase, the player does not have the option to move a zomb instead of playing an attack card. However, zombs may be targeted with attack cards and removed from the board temporarily before being replaced at the end of zomb movement. This can help clear the board for the player as they run around snatching up gadgets.

Automation rules are rather simple: at the end of each turn, zombs move two spaces closer to the player’s character and automated characters move one space further away, following normal zomb and character movement rules. The player wins if they are able to remove every automated character’s Life Gizmo. If their own is taken, the player has failed to survive in The Grid.


I had a delightful time learning this game at my local game store’s demo night with designer Matt Hewes and artist Patrick Liddell. I later played the game duet and solo and then organized a 7-player game as well to see how gameplay scales with increasing number of players. The top end of the player count is a raucous bash while two player variant is still a lot of fun with a wider-open board and a more arcade feel to it. I think the game scales well with different player counts; not necessarily in the consistency of gameplay but in enjoyment.

The eccentricity of the theme mirrors that of the gameplay. The rulebook—which is meant to be read from the perspective of a robot onboarding the players into a gameshow—is perforated with puns and humorous elaborations that flavor descriptions of gameplay with anecdotes and story. There are absurd characters like the beheaded Zaggy Moonpowder (a Ziggy Stardust spoof) and Uoiea (who's cousin may have been featured in the Witcher S3). The aesthetic design, jokes, and narratives all help build an enjoyable universe around Gadget Grid, conveying one prominent motif: Don’t think about it too hard, just have fun.

Players must pay close attention to changes on the board. New gadgets are placed each turn, zombots are always roaming, and a once comfortable square can suddenly become dangerous if an opponent picks up a new attack card. But tracking these developments as they happen does not mean the player can do much about them. Despite the player versus player nature of Gadget Grid, the game does not feature much interaction that engages players when it is not their turn. Without a capability to impact the state of the board off-turn, it can sometimes feel like a while before a players’ turn comes around again, especially in higher player count games. Sometimes The Grid is so lively that a player might lose all three Life Gizmos in a single round before they have had a chance to take another turn.

And that is OK! One of my favorite things about Gadget Grid is that players are never really knocked out of the game. They can still take turns and have an impact—although their potential actions are somewhat limited—as zomboids. This is rather unique for player versus player battle simulator games.

The solo variant is very quick; I experienced playthroughs that lasted as little as 5 minutes, although most games were decided in about 20 minutes. It is a more arcade-like experience and a bit less tactical, and the player can take less time strategizing an optimal move and just play. But the somewhat simplistic mechanization of the zombs and automated characters results in a solo play experience that is missing some of the vigor and action of multiplayer.

When applied strictly, the automation rules result in a familiar board state—the automated characters run themselves into the corners while the zombots can be corralled at the center of The Grid because of the player character’s movement advantage. This is not to say that the solo variant is easy; successfully evading the droll march of the zombots is a tough feat. But the solo gameplay can feel a bit repetitive after just a few games.

Overhead view of Gadget Grid game board with card and token components in squares mid gameplay
A busy Grid

Although the solo variant rules instruct the player to remove the Scarezomb Premium DLC from the DLC deck, a few other cards should probably come out for a solitary game as well. The Pet Gremlin Lawyer widget which allows the player to steal a gadget from another player is inert without another player to Steal from. Likewise the 641K Ram Upgrade DLC cannot be used since the player cannot become a zomboid in solo play. On the flip side, both the Square 100 (an untouchable square located off the board) and Zomboflauge (immunity to zombots) Premium DLC make victory almost assured if acquired.

The strategy in solitary Gadget Grid is different than in multiplayer. Without worrying about being in other player characters’ lines of sight and staying out of the radius of the sentries, movement around the board becomes more about survival than gaining an immediate tactical advantage. Some of the urgency to act decisively is removed in favor of self-preservation and evasion. Furthermore, actions can be calculated several turns ahead, while in multiplayer it is difficult to plan out turns because the board changes so rapidly. Multiplayer feels like a race, while solo play is a puzzle.

Gadget Grid is a fun and quirky option for a light game night, especially for higher player count groups who like to vibe with the theme and story of a game. Gamers who like King of Tokyo will enjoy the player versus player competitive battling while abstract gamers can appreciate how survival in The Grid depends on making the most optimized moves available at that moment. The board layout and corresponding placement procedure to ensure randomization is clever and I think could inspire further, equally impressive game setup structures.

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