Game: Tiny Towns
Designer: Peter McPherson
Published: Alderac Entertainment Group
Players: 1-6 Players
Playtime: 45-60 Minutes
Play Type: Abstract Strategy
You are the mayor of a town located in the heart of a forest, where small creatures have made their escape from local predators.Finding resources in this forest can be difficult, but you take whatever you can find to create the most thriving town possible.Players compete to plan carefully, and use resources wisely to create the most flourishing town.
Tiny Towns is an abstract game in which players compete to build the best town. Players will first set up the game so that each of the seven types of building cards are present. Each card type should have one face up, the remainder should go back in the box. The exception to this rule is the pink monument card. Shuffle these cards and hand two to each player. Then will then select one and put the other back in the box. Make sure each player has a player board and can reach the resources.
Once these things are in place, players may begin to play the game. The game is played in a series of turns, and each turn has four steps to it. First, the Master Builder will select a resource. Each player must put that resource in their town. Resources are used to build the town’s building. In order to build a building, the resources must form the same pattern as the resources on a building card. The pattern may be flipped or rotated, but resources must be in the same order. Next, players may build any buildings that are present on their player board. Players can build multiple buildings at once, but no resources can be used in multiple projects. When building a building, players may place their building piece in any of the spaces that the resources were occupying prior to completing the building. Finally, the Master Builder token is passed to the left and the next turn starts.
Players will continue in this fashion until all players can no longer make any legal moves. Once a player cannot make any more legal moves they may not be Master Builder and they must wait until all other players have finished. Players will then score their towns based on the building cards present. Players will also lose points for any sections on their board that hold only resources, rather than buildings. The player with the highest score wins.
There is a variant called the Town Hall Edition. This takes out the aspect of the Master Builder and replaces it with a deck of cards. Players shuffle the cards, and then remove five. For the first two turns, a player will draw a resource card and all players will take that resource. On the third round, players will take a resource of their choosing. The game continues in this fashion, draw two, then pick one.
Tiny Towns is full of charming art, and the symbols are easily decipherable. Each card depicts the type of building, the name of the building, and picture that depicts the pattern the resources must have, and text explaining the ability of the town. They are easy to read, and make teaching the game very easy. There is very limited use of symbols, only the resources are depicted as colored cubes and the victory points have a symbol as well.
The physical components of the game are good too. The game comes with six player boards make of thick punch board. I have not had any trouble with these boards warping. The buildings are depicted through colored wooden houses, which are visually appealing though some of the building can look similar when placed next to one another. For scoring, the game comes with a score pad which is easy to follow.
- High Player Count
- Quick to Play
- Easy to Teach, Difficult to Master
- Take That Mechanics Possible
- Player Elimination
- Difficult to Recover from Poor Planning
- Monuments can be Unbalanced
Tiny Towns has been one of my favorites releases in 2019 thus far. It is easy to teach, and plays in under a hour which makes it accessible to families looking for a game to play after work. While teaching the game is very easy, mastering the game play is extremely difficult. Being a fan of Tetris growing up, I thought this game would be a piece of cake for me, but I was definitely wrong. The ability to preplan in this game only goes so far, as other player’s moves can have a major impact on your ability to successfully complete that plans you have laid out. This mechanic is both a positive for the game, and a negative. It also introduces a take that element that when playing with the wrong group can make the game especially frustrating. If one player decides to pick resources specifically to make it impossible for the other player to build, then there is not anything the other player could do. This has happened to me during two games, leading to me being eliminated 10-15 minutes before the remainder of the table.
If players do not like that potential, I would suggest playing the Town Hall variant which changes the roll of Master Builder into a deck. For players who do not enjoy take that in a game, this variant is more likely to appeal to you. This still requires careful planning though, as cards are randomized and players must make do with the cards that are drawn. Once again, if players do not plan carefully then they will likely be eliminated early. There is no catch up mechanic or way to fix your towns once something is placed.
I really like that Tiny Towns provides a lot of opportunities for variety in the game play. The replayability in the game is high due to the various building cards that can be played, as well as the Monument Cards. Some Monument Cards do feel unbalanced though, in particular the Cathedral which is very easy to build but makes the negative points at the end worth zero is very strong. Especially compared to some of the other building cards which are significantly more difficult to build but may only give 5 points. Learning how to work each of the Monument Cards does take strategy though, and each one does play to a different strength.
Overall, I would suggest Tiny Towns for people looking for a challenging quick game to play. The nature of the game allows it to play very well at almost any player count, and it is easy enough to teach to those who are new to the hobby. It would appeal to people who enjoy abstract games, or to players who enjoy puzzle based games. The game deeply encourages players to think ahead and consider what that are going to do next, but also ensures that players must be able to think on their feet and adapt. It has easily become one of my favorite games I have played this year due to the challenging aspects of the game and how accessible it is.