A Journey Back to Wildlands in the Lost Factory of Gizmos

Jun 19, 2024 | Sessions | 0 comments

Balance collecting crystals with battling powerful Ancients and minions in the shattered world of Wildlands.

Long ago, I played Wildlands with my husband every now and then. When the solo and cooperative expansion was released, my skills were put to the test! At last, I found the boxes again and returned to discover the intriguing card play and tough decisions. So much variety! And I still had to wrap my head around the path to victory at some point. Ha!

Game Overview

Game Name: Wildlands
Publication Year:
 Martin Wallace
 Alyn Spiller and Yann Tisseron
Publisher: Osprey Games
Solo Mode: Included in Wildlands: The Ancients

A faction of 4-6 characters takes on a unique Ancient and its associated minions. Although the goals might seem straightforward, multi-purpose cards provide a lot of nuanced strategies and decisions. It all plays out in a quick matchup where treasures and traps add memorable turns!

A Most Interesting Experience in the Lost Factory of Wildlands

First Play

August 1, 2021



Latest Play

June 18, 2024



Setup Time

5 Minutes

Lifetime Plays


Play Time

30 Minutes


High Score



Game Area

30" x 34"


Low Score


The Pit Fighters

With all of the main expansion content, there are a total of 6 factions, 5 Ancients, and 7 solo-compatible boards. So much variety, especially since each element is unique!

Not quite sure where to begin, I decided to play as an eclectic mix of former arena contestants. The only thing missing was more lore… I wanted to know about them!

I loved how the character portraits lined up to create a panorama. Very clever! Yet gameplay was even better.

Cards offered options tied to each character, as shown by the icons. It was never easy to decide who to activate!

Creating a Panorama and Thinking About Card Choices in Wildlands

Into the Card Depths

Of the available actions, each faction typically focuses on a few. Indeed, this was a very melee-focused group with plenty of defense against all sort of attacks.

Look closely, though. This might seem like a general idea of the cards, but even Conrad knew how powerful this is!

Some wild cards offer additional card draws. Knowing a deck can help make better decisions about when to draw and the probability of gaining something useful.

Card icons also indicate which character can move or take the depicted action… Leading to a lot of tricky decisions!

The Many Nuances of Understanding a Deck to Play Wildlands

Honorary Stealthiness

When I last played, it was pretty obvious which Ancient I would face off against… The Magus. Is there anything more fitting to represent a Stealthy Elephant?! Ha ha!

I went in a different direction this time. However, I was slightly confused by the wasted space in both the base game and expansion rulebook. Why not add examples?

Granted, this system is easy to understand and has far fewer exceptions than expected. More visuals, please!

With a little time spent absorbing everything, I was ready to get started and see if I might actually achieve a victory…

Complete Appreciation for the Magus Ancient in Stealthy Elephant Gear in Wildlands

Against the Machine

Perhaps the only thing truly missing is a gauge of the difficulty levels of the factions, Ancients, and boards. So I just started alphabetically. I see you, Automaton!

The scenario sheets are excellent. All of the information is easy to find, and it includes a reaction table to better plan attacks when negating damage is less likely. Very cool!

I probably started with a difficult Ancient, owing to the fact that the Automaton can never be defeated.

It just keeps going and going… Ha! This was quite exciting to return to, though, and I had plenty of ideas in mind.

Selecting a Scenario to Battle the Automaton in Wildlands

The Joy of Rediscovery and Utter Defeat

I’ll return to talking more about my board game wheel of emotions soon, yet this session brought up many thoughts. The level of losing was extreme… To the point that I wouldn’t even say I was close a few times! That sort of clear defeat often sets me in 1 of 2 directions: I’m either beyond frustrated and see no reason to try again, or I get determined.

That determination is tied to discovery or, in this case, rediscovery, since I played a few times in the past. I might not know how to win now, but the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together. I’m figuring things out, slowly but surely, and can already see how my efforts will be rewarded with an eventual victory… Whenever that happens. Ha ha!

But there’s an important distinction here about winning. My ultimate goal is to be victorious, but it’s the path that matters. I won’t simply stumble into it: There is a sense of work involved. Pair those feelings of discovery and determination together, and that’s where I get into a very positive emotional space associated with fulfillment. Cool!

Falling to the Machine

Uh-oh! Defeat came when I was nowhere close to finding all of the crystals. The Automaton looked pretty proud of taking the final action to knock out my last character.

Chizzok learned an important lesson: Bare knuckles against a metallic machine might not be the best strategy!

Despite the loss, and the many more to come, I was pretty enamored by the card system. Everything worked well, yet there were never obvious or overpowered decisions.

I even had to figure out how best to operate the conveyor belts on this unique board. Even more fun discoveries!

Failing to Defeat Metal with Bare Knuckles in Wildlands

Nuanced Strategies

To illustrate just how many choices there are, consider this trio of cards and the faction deck icon spread.

I could decide to move anyone with the wild card, or move any of the characters on the other cards. Or… Would it be wise to draw 2 cards? Or save for an interrupt?

If Chizzok was on a space with a revealed crystal, I could discard all of these cards to claim it and get closer to a win.

But might it be wiser to hang onto the open melee card for an attack or melee defense tied to anyone? Or maybe Karek would be best fit to attack. Such a cool thought process!

Making Endless Choices with the Clever Multi-Purpose Cards in Wildlands

The Trouble with Stasis

A large part of gameplay involves moving around and revealing object counters, which are randomized during setup. Some are excellent, and others are pure traps!

Stasis traps turned out to be a terrible enemy. Just when things were looking up, Karek got stuck and was swarmed by a bunch of gizmos. That did not go well at all. Ha ha!

Although luck played a role in some ways, I was pretty surprised by the quick play time and smooth gameplay.

Little by little, I had some better ideas in mind about how to plot against the Automaton and the different minions.

The Bad Luck of Getting Stuck in a Stasis Trap with Swarming Gizmos in Wildlands

That Don’t Impress Me

In many of these plays, I managed to collect 2 or 3 crystals… Out of the victory requirement of 5. I was close!

Karek either looked stoic or rather disappointed, probably because I put her in some impossible situations. She had to be the decoy sometimes. At least she made it pretty far!

Each play was vastly different, too, particularly with the random setup. Initial placements created unique puzzles.

The consistent losses weren’t terrible: I figured out how to move minions away with the conveyor belts, and kept the gizmos under control just a little bit more. Progress!

A Rather Unimpressed Karek with Less Than Half of the Ancient Crystals in Wildlands

Session Overview

Play Number: 3-6
Expansion: Wildlands: The Ancients
Solo Mode: Included in Wildlands: The Ancients
Play Details: Pit Fighters vs. Automaton (Lost Factory)
Outcome: 4 Losses

My outing consisted of crushing defeats and mildly promising defeats. Ha! Although I didn’t come close to winning, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This system offers so much, even with the same faction, and there is this built-in determination to figure it all out to celebrate a victory. These pit fighters definitely aren’t out of it yet!

So Much Variety in the Setup Puzzle with Lots of Factions, Ancients, and Boards for Wildlands


1 Play


Price & Value



Challenges & Mechanics



Design & Theme



Components & Rules



Achievement & Enjoyment



Distinctness & Randomness


+ Pros (Positives)

  • Deciding how to use each card is extremely strategic and means that there are a multitude of good or great options.
  • Plenty of variety exists with the same setup, yet there are many factions, Ancients, and boards to mix together.
  • The pace of play is very quick with minimal downtime, leading to a surprisingly quick play time that moves along.
  • Understanding a faction and Ancient takes a lot of experience, making the great turns even more exciting.
  • A certain balance is needed between exploring, collecting crystals, and attacking the Ancient or nearby minions.
  • Victories are very difficult to earn, yet this feeds into a sense of determination rather than disappointment.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • Many object counters and minions blend into the spaces a little too much, making them hard to see at a glance.
  • Line of sight takes a little time to fully understand with a rulebook that lacks clear visual examples and diagrams.
  • Although the character miniatures are unique, it can be difficult to recognize who is who during the first play.
  • No new reference cards are included with the expansion, which requires a bit of flipping around the rulebook.

More Wildlands

Explore related posts about Wildlands!

Victory Conditions

Collect 5 Crystals or Defeat the Ancient

  • Overall Goal Progress 0% 0%

Goals and Milestones


Win at least 1 game against the Automaton.


Win at least 1 game against the Magus.


Win at least 1 game as the Guild.


Win at least 1 game as the Pit Fighters.

Continue the Conversation

What do you like about Wildlands? Have you found your favorite combination of faction, Ancient, and board? There is a lot more here with awesome card play mechanics and quick, strategic battles. Such a wonderful time! I can be a little picky when it comes to enjoying skirmish-based solo games, yet this one definitely delivers. Now to just… Win. Ha ha!


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