Head to the warp gate! Gravwell review

It's been a good long while since I posted, due to numerous travels I had to accomplish - one of which is my visit to the wonderful galaxy of Canada to visit numerous planets from the sci-fi franchise, Stargate. Since I'm still hungover from the interstellar journey I took, I thought about making a post about one of the easiest to play and understand science fiction games that I have played: Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension.

In Gravwell, your ship is being drawn into the singularity, and only one person in the team can escape it by heading through the warp gate first. You were able to mine fuel and elements from the asteroids floating around you to power your spacecraft. It may seem like a straight and easy ride in this race-to-the-finish game, but gravity can work for or against you as you hope and pray that your big plan to send your spaceship to the warpgate won't send you back to the singularity. This 1-4 player game has loads of fun and coincidentally, it may also help you to be more familiar with the elements in the periodic table. Let's put on our seatbelts and begin the biggest race in the galaxy!


1 Game Board
26 Fuel Cards
4 Emergency Stop! Cards
6 Spaceship Miniatures with Bases
1 Round-Tracking Pawn
1 Rulebook

I would just love to say that the design of this board game is absolutely psychedelic. The fuel cards are well-designed and the whole game makes you feel like you're floating somewhere in space. The miniatures were nice but I found that they're not that durable since after a few games, the ships started falling off the base as the part connecting them is kind of thin. It's a simple game with basic components, and while the art is good, I really wished that the miniatures were a bit more solid since I was planning on using them on other games or paint them up properly.

Rules and Gameplay

The player who reaches the warp gate first, or the player who is the nearest to the warp gate after 6 rounds win the game. Each round consists of the players mining for elements to fuel their spacecraft. To begin the game, place the grey spacecrafts (also known as space debris) on the yellow spaces on the board. However, in a 2 player game, you only need to place one derelict ship. These ships will have a gravitational pull, along with the singularity and the warp gate, which can affect your spacecraft's movement in the game. Afterwards, place the round-tracking pawn on the first space in the bottom right corner of the board - this will be used to track how many rounds you've spent. This game can be played by 1-4 players. If you want to do a solo run of this game, you just have to get to the warp gate before the time runs out. Pretty simple stuff.

Each player will then pick a color and place their ships in the starting point: the singularity. They will also get an Emergency Stop! card in their color and place it face-up in front of them. This card can be used once every round to negate your fuel card should you think that the movement you will be doing in that round would not benefit you.

The 26 fuel cards will then be shuffled and place 3 multiplied by the number of players cards face down on the side. For example, in a 2 player game, you will deal 6 cards face down in 6 separate piles with 1 card each. When that's done, put a card face up on each of the piles. In a 2-player game, you will then end up with 6 piles of 2 cards each - 1 face up and 1 face down. This will now represent your fuel pool and will be replenished in a similar fashion every start of the round. Set aside the unused cards which will be used in the next rounds.

These fuel cards represent the type of movement you can make in the game - all named with unique elements from A to Z. There are 3 types of fuel cards: normal movement (green), repulsor movement (purple) and a tractor beam (blue-green). The green cards will just move you x number of spaces towards the strongest gravitational pull. The pull is determined by which direction has the closest object to you. Objects include other spacecraft (other players), the derelict spacecrafts, the warp gate, and the singularity. For example, you would move towards the warp gate if another ship is 2 spaces ahead of you vs another ship which is 4 spaces behind you. If the number of spaces is equal, the pull will then be determined by which direction has the most objects in it. The repulsor cards will move you x spaces opposite to the strongest gravitational pull, while the tractor beam cards will pull everything towards you (including the derelict ships) x number of spaces.

The fuel acquiring phase always starts the round. The youngest player will be the first to pick a pile in the first round, going clockwise, until all piles have been depleted. This means that you will be able to see one card (the face up card on top of the pile), while the one in the bottom will remain a mystery until you pick it up. Choose wisely! I personally like picking the lower value cards in order to make sure that my ship won't be affected greatly should I make a mistake, and it's also a good way to move slowly but surely in the direction I want. You can also use this moment to try and remember what cards your opponents picked to use it against them in the current round.

Once everybody has fuel, everybody puts down a chosen card face down, and will be revealed simultaneously. The order of which fuel gets activated first depends on its location in the alphabetic sequence. Everyone moves their ships in order, and this action will be repeated until you extinguish all the cards in your hand. This then ends the round, and you reshuffle the cards to make another fuel pool - beginning another round. This goes on until somebody reaches the warp gate or until the round-tracking pawn reaches 6 rounds.

This game is extremely fun, especially when your opponents' plans get foiled because they end up moving in the opposite direction that they wanted to. In my case, I tend to play it safe and avoid using high movement cards unless I'm absolutely sure I'm in the clear, so there's still a sense of strategic planning involved. If your plans fail, at least there's the Emergency Stop! card at your disposal. This offers an interesting take on your typical race to the finish game. It's easy to explain to new players so you don't have to spend too much time focusing on the rules, and just jump in and play!

Length and Replayability

A typical game lasts around 30 minutes, and the round tracker makes sure that you don't really go beyond that. There's not really any downtime between turns, unless a player takes too long to decide if putting down that fuel is a good idea. Otherwise, the game goes by pretty fast. Sometimes, if someone is really lucky, the game can even end in half the time. The drafting mechanic helps keep things random for future replays. There are even some variants available such as making all the fuel face down instead of making one card face up, but the core mechanic still stays the same. It's a good game to welcome newbies to sci-fi themed games.

Overall score


This is a fun, solid, and simple sci-fi game that anyone of any age can enjoy. It offers a good twist to the race-to-the-finish genre and it's hilarious to see your opponents' plans get foiled and your positions switched when their fuel gets resolved in an unexpected order (it sucks when it happens to you though). Even though it's a simple game, it still has a strategic factor to it because you have to plan your movements well and take into account what the opponent might put down. Sometimes it's even a strategy to move backwards and bring everyone back behind you. I would definitely suggest that you give Gravwell a try!

View the BGG game page here.

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