Skip to main content

Tiny Towns (Acquire-To-Zendo)

🐰 They're Furry, They're Funny...



2019, 1-6 players
Complexity: moderate

You are the mayor of a town of small woodland creatures, and you've found a patch of land to develop. Now it's up to you to turn it into a bountiful little burg that is safe from predators.

Let's See It In Action


In Tiny Towns, you and up to five friends will take turns naming resources and using them to flesh out the 4x4 grid in front of you.


Each player will take a turn as the Master Builder. That player calls out a resource and each player must take a cube of that color and place it on their board. You must place it, and you cannot move it once it has been placed. Each player may then build--taking cubes from their board and replacing them with a building whose pattern they have matched. "Matching" is loose--the arrangement on your board can be rotated or mirrored from what's on the card and still count. The newly-placed building only takes up one space, so building things frees up squares on your board, allowing you to place more cubes and build more buildings.


Every building has a unique way in which it contributes to your score. A cottage is worth three points, but only if it's fed by a farm-type card, like the orchard pictured above. Wells are worth one point per adjacent cottage. Inns are worth two points, but only if there aren't any other inns in the same row or column. And so forth. Players are working from a common pool of buildings, although the exact composition will change every game, as there are several different buildings of each type, apart from the cottage.


Additionally, each player has a unique monument card that only they can build. This card remains secret until constructed and will confer a sizable benefit. Eventually you will run out of space on your board and be unable to keep playing. Once that happens, you drop out of the game. When all players are unable to continue, the game is over. Everyone tallies up the points from their buildings and subtracts a point for each space that does not contain a building. The real-estate developer with the highest score wins.


As in real life...

What Makes It So Good?

AEG is kind of notorious for taking a simple game mechanic and then just blowing it up by filling the game with all sorts of permutations and complexity. With Tiny Towns they seem to have resisted this. While the changing building cards and monuments do add some complexity, the fundamentals of the game are very grokkable. You're adding pieces to your board in order to build buildings, aiming to maximize points and minimize waste in an environment where you don't have a ton of control over what pieces are going to come out next. In a way, it's kind of a spiritual hybrid of 2048 and Tetris.

The components are pretty nice. I like the wooden buildings, which are identifiable by both shape and color. The art on the cards is lovely, and the player boards are pretty hefty. This game also has a dedicated solitaire mode that uses a small deck of cards to help randomize what materials come into play--and it can be used to add a little challenge to a lower player-count game. Because most of the action happens simultaneously, you don't have a ton of downtime, which is another bonus.

What's Not To Like?

This relies pretty heavily on spatial reasoning, so if you don't care for that, you're not going to love this game. The cubes are a little dull in color, and I feel like they're not terribly friendly to color-blind players.

Is It Expansible?

There are two expansions out as of now: Fortunes adds a money mechanic that allows you to ditch unwanted resources at the cost of victory points, and it's definitely worth picking up. There's a micro-expansion called Tiny Trees that allows you to plant a seed and get points for it at the end if you never build over it. There's also a forthcoming expansion called Villagers.

Final Thoughts

If you like pattern-matching, then this is a pleasant and challenging game with a charming aesthetic.

Tune in next week when we find the path in Tsuro...

In Acquire-To-Zendo, Kurt is going through his favorite board games in alphabetical order. Read the explainer or see more posts.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Alexandra Rowland And Bad Faith Accusations

This morning, writing twitter was blown up by a post from Alexandra Rowland accusing Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear of some nasty manipulative behavior. I have reason to believe that Rowland is acting in bad faith. Seven or eight years ago, Rowland and I were in the same writing group. I didn't know them well, but we became Facebook friends because that's what you do. At some point after we fell out of contact with each other, they made a post about an affair with an influential older male who had lied about being in an open marriage and proceeded to manipulate and gaslight and emotionally abuse them. I didn't know any of the people involved other than Rowland, but I was affected enough by Rowland’s post that I can still recall reading it all these years later. So when I saw Rowland's blog this morning, I assumed it was the same situation... except the dates weren't right. The Bear/Lynch events took place in 2016, but the post I remembered was older than that. So I

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Ramin Djawadi Title:   Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack Released:  2013 Genre:  DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld  has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned  catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above. While all of the soundtracks for GoT  are very listenable, this is m

On Getting Laser Eyes

Last week I got Lasik. I was looking forward to not having to deal with glasses getting smudged by my kids or slipping off my face. I figured that not needing them would be pretty convenient. However, the words I heard over and over from other people who'd already done it were: "life-changing." That seemed to be overstating a bit. Convenient, yes, but life-changing? I didn't get it. I get it now. I've had some kind of vision correction, either glasses or contacts, for the last thirty-odd years, which is nearly as far back as I can remember. And what I hadn't realized was the extent to which this had become part of my identity. It's not that I thought glasses were cool because I wore them--although I did and they are. It's that the ability to see was, for me, artificial and temporary. And my vision was pretty bad, so my natural state was one of... not so much "blindness" as "isolation." There was a layer of vagueness that sat bet