An adorable game of building the perfect tiny town
Tiny Towns is one of those beautifully simple games that is perfect for beginning or ending a games night, whatever the group of people you have around the table. It’s been one of our main go-to games for a well over a year now so I thought I should probably give it a review!
You are the mayor of a tiny town, hoping to use any building resources that come your way to construct buildings and score points to win the game! Beware though, wasted resources cost you points at the end of the game…
Space is tight in your town, with just a 4×4 grid to work from, so plan carefully to avoid getting yourself stuck with nowhere to build!
How the game works
You score points by constructing different buildings in your town, and each building has a different resource cost. You lay out the necessary resources in the correct pattern in order to place the building. For example, a Cottage requires an L shape of wheat, glass and brick in order to construct whereas a Fountain just needs a stone and a wood.
How do you get resources? You get to pick them! Well, you take it in turns to pick them. At the start, the first player picks a resource and everyone then places that resource somewhere in their 4×4 grid tiny town. Then the next player picks, and so on. After you’ve placed a resource you might find you’re able to construct one of the buildings on offer, so you swap the resources for the matching building. Place the building somewhere in your town (it has to be on one of the spots the resources were on), and then get back to placing resources.
Placement is key as you can no longer place resources on a square that has a building in it, so chucking a church in one of the middle four squares early on might not be the best move! Also, most of the buildings score points depending on where in your town they are placed, so think about that too.
The buildings change each game so that you always have one of each type in the game. Cottages (light blue) are in every game and score lots of points as long as they are “fed”, but every other building type changes.
You keep taking it in turns to place resources, constructing buildings when you can, until your town gradually fills up. Once you can’t place any more resources, you’re out and everyone else continues until they’re unable to go. Then you score points for your buildings and lose points for every space without a building. Sounds simple! And it is- that’s why its so fun!
I instantly loved Tiny Towns- it’s an easy game to learn and it’s really fun to play. Because there are four of each type of building there’s a tonne of replayability, which is increased by the fifteen purple Monument buildings. Each player gets their own secret Monument at the start of the game, and once built it either provides points or an ongoing ability to that player. For example the Shrine of the Elder Tree gives you points depending on how late in the game you build it, and the Cathedral of Caterina means your empty spaces don’t cost you points at game’s end. This asymmetry really adds to the game experience for me, trying to second guess what your opponents’ Monuments are.
We found that the Crescent of the Obelisk Monument card was overpowered as it allows the player to place future buildings wherever they want in their town, freeing them up to move awkward buildings to the corners and sides no matter where the resources were placed.
The artwork on the box and cards is very charming and appealing, and the building miniatures are wonderful! It’s a really pleasant game to look at.
There’s a really nice balance to the game, between picking resources you desperately need, and not picking resources your opponents desperately need. For example if you’re building a cottage and you need glass, wheat and brick, you look at your neighbour and if they desperately need glass and brick to finish off their Tavern, you could pick wheat to force them into placing it somewhere, hopefully clogging up their town!
If the “take that” nature of Tiny Towns doesn’t appeal, you can play the alternate variant where a deck of cards dictates the resources you all place (every third placement can be the resource of your choice). This can be infuriating as “yet another” stone comes out when you have no use for it in your town!
We’ve found this is the perfect game to teach people who are relatively new to gaming due to its simplicity and its good looks!
A major positive for me in this game is there’s very little downtime. It’s simultaneous play so you’re all doing something all the time. The only occasions you might be waiting is if some overly-analytical player is scratching their head over where to place a resource (I’m looking at you Joel!), but generally it’s super quick and the 45 minutes on the box is an overestimate. If you’re out first you have to wait for the other players to finish, but unless you’ve completely messed up (Jack’s all-time low score of minus 1 has gone down in Tiny Towns history), you all generally finish your towns at the same time so you shouldn’t have long to wait.
Tiny Towns technically can be played solo, but it doesn’t really change the rules (you have to play the variant rather than picking your own resources every turn – for obvious reasons), so it’s not particularly exciting as you’re just playing against yourself (there’s no way of winning or losing, just beating your own score).
I’d struggle to find a better 30 minute game that appeals to such a wide range of gamers, especially one that plays up to 6. Do yourself a favour and grab yourself a copy!
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