Released in Japan in 2017, Clockworker found its way to Europe and Germany thanks to Sylex and Asmodee. With its great visuals, the game also got a good amount of attention during the SPIEL. Of course, good optics must also be supported by good mechanisms and a long-term captivating gaming experience. Our test shows how well the game manages to do this.

In an unspecified year of the 3rd millennium, the earth was rendered uninhabitable by man's overdeveloped technology. Mankind left the earth and looked for a new planet to inhabit. Only the robots stayed behind. 

A few years later, autonomous robots found a way to survive on this devastated earth and service the machines and factories left behind by humans. 
Players send out their bots to gather resources that can be used to claim artifacts and recordings of humans. In this way, all drive points accumulate. Whoever has collected the most points at the end of the game becomes the leader of the new robot era.

What does a devastated earth look like?

The game is set up quickly. The 16 different artefacts, some of which are duplicated when there are three or four players, are placed openly. Five open shots and the stack with the remaining shots are placed underneath. The same applies to the places. The locations give you resources and the artifacts bring advantages in different situations.

The display in the middle of the table always looks very similar. Image: Jonas Dahmen

All start with a starting location where they place four of the six initially available own bots. Depending on the number of people and position in the round, everyone gets between three and five gears at the start, which represent the currency in the game. 

The blue, green, red, and yellow resource cubes are placed next to the play area as a supply along with the drive point tokens and the remaining gears and bots.

What do robots do when nobody is looking?

Each turn consists of two phases. In the salvage phase, the top bot of each friendly location returns. This is how you get gears and resource cubes. In the action phase you can perform any one of six possible actions. So you can take another bot back from a location and get more resources. You can also place new bots on a location. The slots are always filled from top to bottom. If you have at least six cards (locations or artefacts) in your display, you can place bots on two locations. 

In the beginning, everyone has the same starting location. Image: Jonas Dahmen

With one of the three other possible actions you can buy a new location for gears and fill it directly, repair artefacts or receive recordings. If none of the five possible actions mentioned so far are suitable, you can take two gears with the last option.

How to become the robot boss?

The game ends when one person has twelve cards in their display or when the end tile is revealed from the draw pile. Depending on the number of people, this is placed at a certain position in the recording stack during assembly.

Now count all your drive points collected in the course of the game and add up the points from artefacts and recordings. Whoever collects the most points wins the game.


Number of people: 2 to 4 
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 45 to 60 minutes 
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: moderate
Genre: Kennerspiel
Core mechanisms: worker placement, engine building

Author: Rikkati
Design: Yustas S
Official Website: clock worker
Year of publication: 2022
Language: German
Cost: 32 Euro


Unfortunately, there is not much good behind the interesting game idea and the great optics. The topic could have been implemented better. Just naming the individual resources would have helped here. Still, it's one of the most positive aspects of the game. The illustrations and the bot miniatures are beautiful and enhance the game very well. Only the quality of the miniatures could be better, since they are very prone to buckling in the area of ​​the "robot legs".

This is what it might look like in front of a person during the game. Image: Jonas Dahmen

If you look at all other components, the overall quality of the game material is average. The starting player marker is useless as supplied. Even if you glue it, it's not really stable. Even with other standing figures that are on the die-cut sheet. but does not occur in the game, there are the same problems. The cards are of good quality, as are the other resources and cardboard tokens.

The rulebook seems somehow unfinished and would have needed a lot more care when creating it. In the artifact overview, two different artifacts are described with the same text, in the final scoring "electricity tiles" are mentioned that are not included in the game and overall the rulebook is simply not nice in terms of the typeface and looks like a prototype before the final design. Font size and bold/italics are sometimes inconsistent.

Some of the icons on the artifacts can only be understood with the overview. Especially since the game moves in complexity between a family game and a connoisseur game, a clearer iconography or, even better, texts would have been the more understandable choice here. It's odd that the costs on the recordings and artifacts are each designed differently.

Despite all that, what is really good is the mechanism. Deploying and delayed undoing of the bots is a really nice mechanic. The engine building with the locations and artefact cards is also solved elegantly and allows different strategies. Due to the short playing time, you have to keep an eye on the drive points right from the start. The individual trains run smoothly one after the other.

At least the game can convince with the cute artwork. Image: Jonas Dahmen

During a single game, the game can be really entertaining. However, since the same artefacts are displayed in every game and the recordings and locations hardly show any fundamental differences, the good mechanism wears out very quickly due to the lack of variety.

This game is suitable for occasional games, especially as an introduction to the area of ​​expert games. Unfortunately, it quickly reaches its limits due to the problems mentioned and is not a really attractive game in the long run. 

In two forums on the game's BoardGameGeek page, Sylex pointed out an expansion that appears to be in the works in view of the lack of variety in the artifacts. A solo mode has not been ruled out either.

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Last updated on 8.03.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API