1-6 players, Competitive, Puzzle
Designer: Peter McPherson
Artwork: Gong Studios
Overview of Gameplay
In Tiny Towns you will be working on creating a nice little town on a 4×4 grid board. On your turn you will pluck a certain resource cube out of five different resources and place said cube on your grid. You are doing this to try and create a particular pattern of resources that is displayed on the different building cards that you are using in that game. Sounds easy enough but the catch is that when a player picks a resource every other player has to collect that same resource cube. At first this isn’t all that difficult as you have plenty of real estate to place on, however as the game progresses and you find land area becoming more scarce you will certainly be straining your brain to figure out the best placement of cubes.
The game ends when all players have run out of space to place on whether that be resource cubes or buildings. You then tally up the final score based on the particular buildings were used in the game, minus points for land area that is empty and voila! That’s the game in a tiny nutshell.
I have to say for such an inexpensive game this game comes packed with a BUNCH of components. Not only that but very good quality components to boot! There are tons of differently shaped little wooden houses of all different colors to denote the style of building. The cards are tarot sized cards that are decent quality, not linen finished or anything but still felt nice in the hand. The player game boards actually all DO have a nice linen finish and have not yet warped on me which is always a good sign. Let’s see there are also a batch of different colored wooden resource cubes although personally I would have liked some resource tokens in the shape of what they are representing. But as it stands these work just fine and you can pretty much buy these kind of resources already if you want to spruce up your game a bit. Lastly there is a notepad so you can tally up final score easier, I usually never use these things myself but it’s there for you if you need it.
The box and insert are really nice! The insert has space enough to hold everything although you will want to bag up all the loose components like the houses and resource cubes. The game does have enough bags included to bag everything as well which is always a plus. There are spaces for the cards and the 4×4 grid boards as well as the notepad so everything fits perfectly inside with no stray pieces floating about if stored on its side.
Visual Appeal /Theme
Right off the bat the theme kinda reminded me of Everdell as you are constructing a tiny town and indeed even some cards have images of little mice and other critters all looking sophisticated. Both games play completely different and this one you really focus more on the town building rather than the critters themselves. The mini wooden houses all look great and as you start adding different house to your grid it starts to really come alive. The art work on the cards looks good and I especially like the box art, something about it caught my eye.
I mean this game is super simple so learning it is not going to be that difficult but the rule..uhhh page? does do a good job explaining it very quickly. I had the game setup and playing within 10 minutes, however I did spend another 10 minutes just setting up the plethora of house pieces next to their corresponding cards. That’s not something you NEED to do to play but I like my table nice and neat when I play a game.
One thing in particular that I appreciated were the variants to play that are included in the game. Now usually I don’t get all wild about variants but these are really good variants! There is one that helps out new players as they get more accustomed to playing. Another allows you to remove the monuments from the game and yet another implements a deck of cards that picks the resource for you and best of all these are super easy to implement! Just a small tweak here or there and you are ready.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
So the game does lag a bit on table talk. The player interaction is very limited and as such you will mostly be pouring your mind out over your own tiny town not even really considering other players towns. The fun however does not lag and I think that’s due in part to the short game length. Now if the game were longer, let’s say and hour and a half, zero player interaction would be a negative. But most games of this you will squeak out in 30 minutes or so, faster if playing lower player counts. And in that time your mind is so invested in the puzzle of your town that the only time you even realize other people are at the table is when they pick a resource that disrupts your plans. That is to say, quite often closer to end game.
One thing I want to emphasize is that there is ZERO downtime in this game. Even when it is not your turn, you are still collecting resources that other players pick and placing them on your grid. So even though the player interaction is low, every player is continually invested in what is going on.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
The game says it can play up to 6 players although I have yet to get a game that large going. I feel though at that size it would lessen the fun as you have less control over your town. Your thinking you’re going to build an Inn and pick one resource to get it started……well then you have to wait until the other 5 players picks resources before you can continue with your plans. Although I’m sure some other player will pick a resource you need, I’m also equally sure there will be picks that you don’t need or want and you will end up having to wrack your brain on another optimal building placement.
2 player is a blast, the turns are lightning fast, the games are quick and you can easily tally up points between the two of you. The very first game I played with my wife we tied on points, and tied again through the first tiebreaker, and AGAIN during the second tiebreaker. It wasn’t until the 3rd tiebreaker that I edged a win over her as I had 1 more cottage than she did. That’s crazy! The game is easy enough to learn that I also had my 8 year old daughter playing me and it teaches some really interesting things about organization and adaptation as well.
Solo is SUPER fun! There is a deck of resource cards included and you just flip over 3 of them at the beginning, pick one to use and place that resource and discard the card, replacing it with another card. The goal is pretty simple, just try to acquire the most points you possibly can in a game. There is a handy scoring chart in the back of the manual as well to see how you are stacking up. But honestly when I’m just wanting a quick game of something that can get my mind churning I’ll just whip this out and play a few times.
Positive Final Thoughts
If you are looking for a quick easy to learn, hard to master game then this is it. The components are very good and the gameplay is so simple and yet…..so hard! I am really loving this one and think it fits perfectly into a nice starter game for game nights. When playing solo it’s fun and addicting and it will keep you engaged the entire time. For the price you pay you get a whole lot of game here.
Negative Final Thoughts
There is almost no player interaction and higher player counts are iffy unless using a variant. I wish the resource cubes actually looked like the resources they represent.