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Steam Works is a worker placement game in which you are an inventor of ingenious devices, competing for the favour of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Over the course of the game you will take components from the conveyor belts on the main board, and combine them with power sources to manufacture Devices which function as action spaces for all players. You gain prestige points when an opponent uses a device you manufactured, and from activating certain certain components, and for the components in devices you own.

Each player takes one persona board (these can be distributed randomly, or drafted in reverse order of play), and elects to play side A or B. The side A of all boards have different starting resources but the same action spaces available, while side B of each board also has differing action spaces and some special rules.

Each turn, you place your leftmost mechanic onto an unoccupied action space (one on your own persona board, or on a power source in any built device). The cost to place a mechanic is printed below that mechanic's space on the persona board; if you cannot (or do not wish to) pay that cost, you may instead pass with that mechanic and collect the same cost instead of paying it.

When all players have placed all their mechanics, the round ends. All mechanics return to their owner's persona board, the conveyor belts fill up, and the first player marker advances. If the current age's clock tokens have all been awarded or if there aren't enough tiles left to refill all the open conveyor belts, then the next Age opens: each player gains a mechanic, and a new supply of more powerful tiles becomes available. At the end of Age III the game is over and the player who has the most prestige is declared the winner.

Action Spaces

The action spaces on side A of the persona board have the following effects:

  1. Take the rightmost tile of any conveyor belt.
  2. Take a basic power source of your choice.
  3. Manufacture a device containing exactly two tiles from your hand.
  4. Activate one power source in a device you have already built, without placing a mechanic on it.

To manufacture a device you may drag sources and components from your hand and drop them onto the highlighted area of the table. Alternatively, you may click on a tile to select it (giving it a red border), and click again on a destination to move it. You may double-click on a tile to move it from your hand to the manufacturing zone, or from the zone back to your hand.

A manufactured device must contain at least one source, and at least one component. A source and a component are connected when the source provides at least one type of power that the component accepts. Invalid connections are allowed to exist in your device but every tile is required to have at least one valid connection.

When a mechanic is placed on the power source of a built device, every component connected to it may be activated in the order of the player's choice. Some components have different effects depending on whether they are supplied with clockwork, steam or electrickal power - if the source is capable of providing more than one of these, you have the choice of which effect is applied.

Age I components

Collecting Resources
When you activate the Condenser you may take two basic sources of whichever type of power is supplying the Condenser.
When you activate the Innovation Turbine you may take a tile from an unlocked supply deck, or pay £1 to choose one tile from two revealed. (Note: You cannot Undo past the point that the tiles are revealed.)
When you activate the Librarifier you may take any component from the Age I conveyor belts if powered by Clockwork, from the Age II belt if powered by Steam, or the Age III belt if powered by Electrickal.
When you activate the Miscellanerie you take 2 coins and a basic power source of your choice. If an opponent owns the device, they get one basic source of the same type.
When you activate the Monetiser you collect 3 coins.
When you activate the Scroll Rack' you may take any component from the conveyor belts, paying some coins depending on where it is located.
Building Devices
When you activate the Manufacturer you may use sources and components from your hand to build a new device, containing exactly 2 tiles if the Manufacturer is powered by Clockwork, exactly 3 tiles if the Manufacturer is powered by Steam, or exactly 4 tiles if the Manufacturer is powered by Electrickal (though the device does not have to be the same shape as the examples on the Manufacturer tile).
When you activate the Sourcer you may select a basic source from the supplies and add it to any device on the table. (It must be a valid connection). If the device containing the Sourcer is owned by an opponent, they get a coin.
When you activate the Upgrader you may select any source or component from your hand and add it to any device on the table that previous contained 2/3/4 tiles, when Upgrader is powered by Clockwork/Steam/Electrickal respectively. The new tile must have a valid connection.
Other Effects
When you activate the Alarm Chronometer you advance the start player marker, once for free, and again for each £1 spent. (Remember it will still advance once more at the end of the round).
When you activate the Distiller you may discard one source from your hand to gain £5.

Age II components

Collecting Resources
The Amplicondenser works like the Condenser, but you take three sources when you activate it. If the device is owned by an opponent, they get one too.
When you activate the Resonator you may take from the conveyor belts any component which contains a Clockwork/Steam/Electrickal connector that is the same as the one powering the resonator.
Building Devices
When you activate the Insta-factor you must pay 2 coins, then you take a Manufacturer action, then you may immediately activate one of the sources in your new device.
Powering Devices
ElectroClock, ElectroSteam and SteamWork sources supply your choice of two power types in each direction.
The Iterator is placed adjacent to another component (and may be rotated to fit your device). Immediately after that component is activated, you may activate it once again with the same power input.
The Power Converter is placed between a source and up to three other components (and may be rotated to fit your device).
Earning Prestige
When you activate the Anthem Organ you may trade one source for 1 Prestige, or three sources for 2 Prestige.
When you activate the Patriotic Haiku Generator you may trade one coin for 1 Prestige, or three coins for 2 Prestige.
When you activate the Statue Sculptifier you may trade any two sources for 1 Prestige, or exactly a Steam source and an Electrickal source for 2 Prestige.
Other Effects
When you activate the Automaton you may move your Automaton token from the main board onto your persona board. On your next turn you may use the Automaton as a mechanic. At the end of the round it goes back to the main board. This can only be used once per round, if your automaton is not on the main board then activating the component has no effect.

Age III components

Collecting Resources
When you activate the Ubiquity Conveyor you may take any tile from the conveyor belts, or you may pay 2 coins to take any two tiles.
Building Devices
When you activate the Expander you may select any source or component from your hand and add it to any device on the table. The new tile must have a valid connection.
Powering Devices
The Iteration Gears supplies clockwork power in each direction. After the device has been activated once, it is immediately activated again.
The Universal Source supplies your choice of power in each direction. Two mechanics can be placed on this tile, either by different players or by the same player in another turn.
Earning Prestige
Chrome has no activation effect, However when built in a device it is worth 2 Prestige points rather than the usual 1.
Crescendo Organ works similarly to the Anthem Organ, but you may trade two sources for 2 Prestige or three sources for 3 Prestige.
When you activate the Inflater you gain 1 Prestige. If the device containing the Inflater is owned by an opponent, they also get 1 Prestige.
When you activate Ornament Grinder you may trade one tile other than a basic source for 1 Prestige, or two tiles for 3 Prestige.
When you activate Patriotic Sonnet Generator you may trade two coins for 2 Prestige, or four coins for 3 Prestige.

Game End & Final Scoring

The game ends after finishing the round in which Age 3 finishes, either because the final stack of clock tokens has been depleted or there are not enough tiles to refill a conveyor belt. The final score is the sum of:

  • Prestige tokens earned from component actions.
  • Prestige value of tiles in built devices.
  • Clock tokens earned from opponents visits to your devices.

If two or more players are tied for most prestige, then the tied player with the most leftover money, sources, and components combined is the winner. In case of a further tie, all tied players share the victory.

2-Player Changes

In a 2-Player game, the clock tokens are replaced with coins. (The reward you receive when the opponent uses your device is one coin instead of one Prestige). Also, one coin is removed from the current age's stack every round.

Persona B-side Special Rules

Countess Eva Kinarney
Eva pays her mechanics in Electrickal sources (and receives Electrickal sources when passing).
Duke Augustus Shaughness, III
Augustus has his Automaton available every round, but it may only be used to activate spaces on the persona board. It can be played in any order relative to the other mechanics.

Variant Rule

There is an optional house rule which can be selected when the table is starting, under "End of Age Rules". In this case, when a stack of component tiles is depleted, this will only trigger the end of its own Age, and not any future Ages. In particular, this means the game will not end because of an empty blue or white conveyor belt; the game ends only if the Age III rewards stack is depleted or the red conveyor belt cannot be filled.