TINY TOWNS

Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser

 

TINY TOWNS (Alderac Entertainment Group [AEG], 1- 6 players, ages 14 and up, 45-60 minutes; $39.99)

 

Darwin was right:  the world really is a matter of survival of the fittest.  That’s why those poor little critters near the bottom of the food chain had to do something. Survival is at a stake!  So, these critters have banded together to find secluded locations in the forest to construct “safe town – towns without predators.  However, resources are scarce, so building materials are at a premium and none can be rejected.  Their (and the players!) challenge is to construct the most efficient and prosperous town.

Peter McPherson’s Tiny Towns is unique in that players take turns naming a resource and all players MUST place that resource into their towns,whether it is beneficial or not.  Players are trying to form specific patterns on their town grid so as to construct buildings that will earn them points – provided those buildings are placed correctly.  The game requires spatial visualization and planning, but this can easily be upset when the needed resources are not named or when undesired resources clog one’s board.  The game can be both challenging and frustrating.

Each player receives a small 4 x 4 board whereupon resources will be placed and buildings constructed.  Seven buildings are revealed, one in each of seven different categories.  Each of these cards lists the resources needed to construct that building, as well as the exact pattern in which these resources must be present on a player’s board.  When a player gets the resources positioned on his city grid in the matching pattern, he replaces those resources with the matching building. Buildings can score points if the conditions listed on the building are met.  More on this later.

Players each receive two “monument” cards which are special buildings only they can construct. They choose one and discard the other.

Each turn the start player—known as the “Master Builder”—announces one type of resource (wood, wheat, brick, glass or stone).  Every player must take one of the matching resource cubes and place it somewhere on their board.  A resource can be placed on any square unless it already contains another resource or building.  The idea is to arrange the cubes into a pattern that is required for the building one is hoping to construct.  Of course, since every other player gets to name a resource which you then must place into your city, accomplishing this is no easy feat!

If a player does successfully arrange the resource cubes in the required pattern, he may remove those cubes and place the matching building onto one of the locations occupied by one of the resources.  This, of course, also frees up the other spaces for more placements. 

Why construct buildings?  Well, as mentioned, those buildings can earn the player victory points, provided the restrictions listed on the card are met.  For example, abbeys, just like in real life, prefer some seclusion.  Each abbey a player constructs will earn the player three points, unless it is located next to certain buildings (almshouses, bakeries, trading posts, etc.), in which case the abbey is worthless.  Cottages earn the player three victory points but only if their occupants are fed which requires a farm.  One farm feeds four cottages but do not earn points by themselves.

So, the challenge is to not only arrange resources in the proper fashion so as to construct buildings, but also acquire/arrange the buildings in the proper format so as to maximize the points earned.  Again, this is no easy task.

There are 25 different types of buildings in seven different categories.  One from each category will be revealed for each game so the variety of buildings and how they interact is likely different every time.

Each round the “master builder” role rotates clockwise so a player will have the occasional opportunity to name the resource he desires.  The rules also suggest using the “Cavern” rule wherein, twice per game, a player can set aside two resources that he does not wish to place. This does give players some wiggle room but use it wisely at it can only be exercised twice per game.

A player’s monument card may also be constructed once the player assembles the required resources in the required pattern.  Monuments tend to be more difficult to complete but potentially earn the player more points. 

When constructing buildings, care must be taken to position them properly not only to score points based on their requirements and restrictions, but also to allow space for other buildings to be constructed.  Each building occupies only one spot on the 4 x 4 grid but improperly placing one can make it difficult or impossible to assemble resources in the proper pattern to construct other desired buildings.

When a player can no longer legally place a resource or building, his game is finished.  Play continues until all players reach this position at which point scores are calculated. Players examine each of their buildings and their respective card to determine the points—if any—they earn.  They also lose one point for each spot on their board NOT occupied by a building.  So, having leftover resources present on one’s board will penalize the player.  Of course, the player with the most points emerges victorious and is celebrated by small creatures everywhere.

Tiny Towns is a clever, albeit frustrating, game.  The game requires some spatial ability, not unlike the classic game of Tetris.  Required patters can be rotated,which can prove challenging to some.  Understanding and carefully managing the restrictions and requirements of the building cards so as to maximize points is critical and also challenging. 

All of this careful assessment and planning can be wrecked, however, if opponents consistently name resources you do not desire.  Since players are forced to place every resource named (save two if using the suggested Cavern rule), these resources often foil a player’s construction plans, particularly in the later game stages. While frustrating, this is also part of the challenge.  Some buildings allow for the storage and exchange of resources so, if in play, they can potentially help mitigate this situation.  Players can also plan ahead and try to place these seemingly undesired resources so that they may prove useful in the construction of a future building.  Only in the very late stages of the game can a resource prove completely useless.

Tiny Towns plays quickly – usually in 45 minutes or so.  The rules are straightforward and easy to grasp.  Yet, the game is demanding, particularly in the proper placement of resources and buildings.  Flexibility is the key in the resource placements, giving oneself numerous options.  This, of course, is easier said than done!  While I am do not possess an abundance of spatial acumen (I scored a -3 in my first game!), I still find the game fun and challenging.  It is the type of game that should appeal to a wide spectrum of gamers and families.  Give Tiny Towns a try … and save those little critters! – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Greg J. Schloesser


Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Have a comment?

 

Other Fall 2019 GA Report articles

 

18XX and the 1822 Family of Games by Eric Brosius In 2016, designer Simon Cutforth’s game 1822 was released.  1822 belongs to the “18XX family” of railroad games, which began ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy CARAVAN (Rio Grande Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 45 minutes; $49.95) Trade is the lifeblood of civilization and that was certainly true ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy CENTURY: A NEW WORLD (Plan B Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, 30-45 minutes; $39.99) Not that long ago, Emerson Matsuuchi came up ...
Read More
[Not only is Joe Huber a frequent contributor to the pages of Gamers Alliance Report, he is also a noted game designer. His latest, Caravan, is, in fact, featured this ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy ECOS: FIRST CONTINENT (Alderac Entertainment Group [AEG], 2 to 6 players, ages 14 and up, 45-75 minutes; $59.99) The familiar formations of planet Earth had to ...
Read More
M-ESSEN AROUND As game players and devotees of the art of game design, many of us post about these passions, talk about them and, if we're lucky enough to have ...
Read More
THE GAMER'S BOOKSHELF: TORTURED CARDBOARD by Philip E. Orbanes (Permuted Press, softcover, 294 pages, $16.99) Tortured cardboard? That's the term used by Philip E. Orbanes that refers to the process ...
Read More
[With this issue looking ahead towards the upcoming Essen Game Fair in Germany, Gamers Alliance contributor Chris Wray looks back, now that the dust has settled, and offers his views ...
Read More
Reviewed by Kevin Whitmore GLORANTHA: THE GODS WAR (Petersen Games, 3 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 90-120 minutes; $129) Glorantha: The Gods War was launched on Kickstarter in ...
Read More
[Ragnar Brothers consists of three friends who share a passion for board games and board game designs: Steve and Phil Kendall  and Gary Dicken. Starting in the 1980s by recreating ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy IMHOTEP: THE DUEL (Kosmos, 2 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; $19.95) Back in 2016, Phil Walker-Harding designed Imhotep: Builder of Egypt, a game set ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy LETTER JAM (Czech Games Edition, 2 to 6 players, ages 10 and up, 45 minutes; $19.95) In the world of word games, you have Scrabble, you ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy PARKS (Keymaster Games, 1 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 30-60 minutes; $60) One of our national treasures is also our natural treasures: the national ...
Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue RED ALERT: SPACE FLEET WARFARE (PSC Games, 2 to 6 players, ages 14 and up, 60-90 minutes; £99.95) Since the publishing of Battle Cry back ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy SAILING TOWARD OSIRIS (Daily Magic Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 60 minutes; $50) The Pharaoh has died. Now, his funeral barge will ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy SIERRA WEST (Board & Dice, 1 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 40-60 minutes; $50) In the 1840s, the American West had a certain cachet: ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac STAR WARS: OUTER RIM (Fantasy Flight Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 2 to 3 hours; $64.95) In this game, designed by Corey ...
Read More
Reviewed by Pevans THE ROMANS (Ragnar Brothers, 1 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 90-150 minutes; £50) The title of this game designed by the Ragnar Brothers (Gary Dicken ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser   TINY TOWNS (Alderac Entertainment Group [AEG], 1- 6 players, ages 14 and up, 45-60 minutes; $39.99) Darwin was right:  the world really is a ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy VILLAGERS (Sinister Fish Games, 1 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 30-60 minutes; £20) Life could be hard for folks living in the Middle Ages ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy WATERGATE (Capstone Games/Frosted Games, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 30-60 minutes; $35) In the June heat of 1972, in the midst of a presidential election ...
Read More
[For gamers like us, Essen, Germany is one of the vibrant hubs of the gaming world - and it's been that way for years! As this issue is a special ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy WINGSPAN (Stonemaier Games, 1 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 40-70 minutes; $55) One of the glories of nature is the abundance of different species ...
Read More

Facebook Feed

1 week ago

Gamers Alliance
We all know the world has been turned upside down lately. Despite everything, we keep on going and have just published the Spring 2021 issue of Gamers Alliance Report (#78). This issue is filled with more quality reviews and perspectives on games for you to enjoy! You will want to check out Dune: Imperium, High Frontier 4 All, Kohaku, Monster Expedition, Paris, Res Arcana, Tawantinsuyu, The Great Race, The Red Cathedral, The Road to Canterbury, Valletta, insights into 3D printing, the impact of Brexit on board games and more written by the finest writers in the gaming world including James Davis, Chris Kovac, Herb Levy, Andrea “Liga” Ligabue, Pevans, Greg J. Schloesser, Selwyn Ward, Kevin Whitmore and Chris Wray!Join Gamers Alliance for full access (details on site). Plus, get $10 to spend on any GA purchase - and more! https://gamersalliance.com/membership/new-member-registration/ ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

1 week ago

Gamers Alliance
During the Golden Age of Baseball, NYC had THREE Major League Baseball teams - each with a future Hall of Famer playing Center Field: Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees and the great player of the New York Giants who is celebrating his 90th birthday today: ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook