Category Archives: Reviews

Here you will find all of the Boardgame reviews I have written. For either older games or up and coming releases and Kickstarters. If your game is not yet listed get in touch and we can arrange something.

CARCOSA

CARCOSA

From

One Free Elephant

A Review by

Mawihtec

 

Players: 2-4,

Age: 14+,

Duration:  45-60 minutes

NOW LIVE ON KICKSTARTER

Carcosa KickStarter

This is the second game from One Free Elephant. The first was the successful Ore-Some

 What’s on the box?

First Impressions count for a lot and with this box those first impressions are going to be “WOW” and “OOH”. This box has, in this reviewer’s humble opinion. One of the nicest bits of artwork I have seen in a very long time. It is not over the top and in your face. It is calm tranquil and otherworldly. Yet at the very same time it conveys a sense of foreboding as an eclipse occurs.

Turn the box over and you are greeted with some thematic text.
“Summon the city of the Tattered King, one tile at a time.”
“Use your cultists to control the leylines, Conduct rituals, and Influence districts of the city of Carcosa itself. If they displease you, you can sacrifice them to the dark waters of Lake Hali for the pleasure of the king.”
 

  • Recruit Cultists
  • Gather Power
  • Perform Rituals
  • Go Mad
  • Die
  • Please the King 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

84 Carcosa Tiles
4 Hastur Tiles
Cult Mat
4 x 10 Cultists
24 Ritual Stones Tokens
4 Chapter House Cards
4 Forbidden Lore Cards
Rulebook

It is at this point we must address the ‘elephant in the room’ When you first look at the back of the box the main picture art will immediately make you think of a certain other well known tile laying game. This is the curse of any tile laying game that has a worker placement mechanic within its folds. While not an inherently bad thing as it gives you a sense of immediate familiarity with the game mechanics. It will no doubt also give a feeling of “been there, done that” Let me be one of the first to assure you that Carcosa offers so much more than that. After all the back of the box does say “Go Mad, Die”.

This is not a light box for its size. Upon opening you realise the reason it is heavier than you expect is because it is crammed full.

First there is a really nice quality Rulebook which at approximately 16 pages is chock full of clear instructions and beautiful illustrations. Making it an easy game to understand (despite the hidden depth once you get under the hood).

This is followed by a compulsory handful of baggies to allow separating the different player components making set up even quicker.

The cultist player meeples in each colour come next and they are again not your box standard shape. Care has been taken to make the shape fit with the theme. There is then the bag containing the 4 Chapter House and Forbidden Lore cards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are treated then to the lovely looking Cult mat which is double sided with one side aimed more at the 2-3 player game. While the other having more spaces on the power track allowing for the 4 player game.

 

Finally you have the 11 punchboards with the Tiles and the Ritual Stones Tokens. N.B. I received a pre-production copy for review which is similar to the basic copy of the game. The quality of the components was to a very high standard.

And so it begins!

To start playing you begin with the 4 Hastur Tiles in a 2×2 square. This is the heart of Carcosa. What is immediately apparent is the designers have thought hard about Replayability. Because as long as you obey the basic rules of land to land, water to water, leylines to leylines. You will have a large number of starting set-ups to choose from ensuring games play out differently every time. Once play begins it continues until either 2 stacks of tiles are exhausted or one of the cults summon The King in Yellow.

On your turn you have several options available to you.

Cultists in recovery become ready and those in the asylum move into recovery.
Choose a tile placing your prophet on top the remaining stack stopping other cults from accessing those tiles.
Place or replace a tile (replacing tiles is only for replacing unstable tiles) remembering of course to obey the normal rules of tile placement games everywhere. Any replaced tiles are placed on the bottom of the smallest stack.
Place a cultist onto any tile placed if able (not always possible). Your cultists are your source of power generation.
Resolve tile/tiles when completing leylines. This involves stabilising the tiles connected to avoid them being replaced in the future. Be careful though as this can also generate power for the Rival Cults.

Sometimes you will be able to imbue a ritual stone with power. These can be extremely powerful as they can be used at any point on your turn.
It is at this point that the game can really come alive. Will you ‘Don the Mask’ to instantly recover mad or recovering cultists?
Or will you use ‘A Mask Betrayed’ allowing you to remove a prophet from a stack of tiles? You might even decide to use one of the other cleverly thought out abilities to swing momentum in your favour at a crucial moment.
Once the end game events occur the cult with the most power wins and can rightfully wear the Pallid Mask. Or will you bring about the Rise of the King in Yellow to survey his new domain?

This is a game that the creators have put a lot of thought into over accessibility. I say this because getting used to the Asylum-> Recovery->Ready movement of your cultists takes time to remember and they start your game with cultists in each position so you start to learn it from turn one. Learning how to best utilise the ritual stones and use of the leylines power will take time and encourages repeated plays as you keep spotting different ways of doing things. One Free Elephant and creator Nigel Kennington have obviously put a lot of effort into getting a surprising amount of depth into Carcosa so while it feels nice and familiar to start with you will find yourself wanting to play it again soon after as you think of different tactics. This is after all no French town but feels like it belongs in the Arkham universe.

Strategy Shmategy. Is it good?

After several plays at varying player counts I am still thoroughly enjoying this game and the fresh dark and foreboding breath of air it brings to the table.The strategy combination of when to recruit more cultists or sacrifice them combined with the ability to block a tile stack to potentially stop rival cults from forcing an end game while you generate more power Is very cleverly done.

I genuinely look forward to seeing this on Kickstarter and watching it reach the stretch goals as I know some of them are going to be upgrading the already high quality components and making the game even more luxurious (cultists into prophets is one Stretch Goal I know of).
There is a lot of game in this box and it is one I can honestly recommend very highly. Even if tile laying or worker placement is not normally your ‘cup of tea’ I urge you to give this one a look you will thank me.

 Rate me up then
 Ratings are tricky because they are subjective.

So instead I will say
Replayability – Yes lots
Portability – Yes fairly easy as box is not huge
Content – Top Quality from my experience
Theme – Nice clever twist on the cultist dynamic
Depth – Surprisingly deep and worth scratching the surface

Overall – 100% Back this on Kickstarter.
Carcosa KickStarter

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Downsize Review

DOWNSIZE by BRAINCRACK GAMES

A review by Mark (mawihtec) Capell-Helm

Players 2-6
Playtime <30 minutes

The Origin Back-story
Ever since Downsize first launched way back in March of 2016, I have watched this project from Lewis Shaw of Braincrack Games develop from a “midnight scribble” as he calls it. Into a fun, filler game, all about the hiring and firing of employees. Using the traditional big business ways of thinking i.e. “MORE PROFIT!” When the Kickstarter finished in April of 2016 it had raised over £31,000 a WHOPPING £26,000 over its humble £5k target. It had grown in size and quality adding linen cards, larger stronger box and an expansion to add extra wrinkles to the fun gameplay.

Ok so far
Here was a game that provided you with
66 Employee Cards
18 Return Cards
20 Market Movement Cards
6 Rules Reference Cards
An Employee Handbook
And in a moment of brilliant premonition,
1 Trump Card

Keep talking
So onto the aim of the game. A very simple premise get rid of all your staff while maximising your profit to make the biggest amount when the recession hit (end of the game). After all in big business, people don’t matter profits do. But, fire them all too quickly and you risk allowing other companies to step in and steal some of your profits. Leave it too late and lose profits as you pay off the workers in redundancy payments. Downsize at the right time to make the biggest payoffs while causing other companies to hire and fire in response to your actions.

Game on!
You start with 10 employees (8 in 6 player games). Then you take turns in which you can
1) Hire 1 employee (draw a card)
2) Fire 2 employees from compatible departments. This allows you to take a special action. For example, Fire extra Staff; force other companies to hire and fire staff or even to gain a profit boost with additional returns.
3) Fire 1 employee with a special ability, Will your marketing campaign force additional hiring from your rivals or maybe you will send in the Auditor to inspect rivals books and reduce their profits through taxation?
If you ever find yourself with no employees left you have 2 simple choices either of which can potentially help you win or lose the game. You can either, hire 1 new employee (draw a card) OR you can DOWNSIZE (pass) your company mothballing it for that turn hoping a rival corporation does not step in and steal some of your profits. A neat twist is that whenever you gain a returns card for profits. They are drawn blind. Will you get a small $1million or could you get big bucks with a $6 million payout?
The game ends when either all companies have laid off all of their staff or all the returns cards have been used. In the first instance everyone just counts their profits highest total wins. BUT find yourself with employees left and you have to cash in some of those returns cards to lay them off. Potentially ruining your chance to win.

The Expansion pack “Market Movements” is best saved until you are very familiar with the base game because it adds in a raft of different abilities and some fun wrinkles to shake the game up.

In short
This is definitely one game I would not hesitate to recommend. It is a quick set-up/ tear-down game which is quick to play with some fun take that elements. In general a light filler for up to 6 players which is good for a bit of family fun or while waiting for the rest of the game group to arrive. We often end up playing 5-6 games back to back. To me it is a little like the breadsticks before a meal in restaurants. Nice to snack on, you end up having several but it won’t ruin your appetite for the main course. This is not a stat heavy slog-a-thon but more a gentle ride in the sunshine. It is staying firmly in my collection.

Rate me up then.
Ratings are tricky because they are subjective. I will use a rating out of 5 where 1 is not for me/ I did not like and 5 is I will play this a lot.
At a games night for some serious game time? 3/5 (lightweight filler)
Family game time with younger players, or less experienced gamers? 5/5 (quick and not too heavy)
Portability 4/5
Content 4/5 (would like to see more card varieties)
Replayability 5/5
Theme 5/5 (novel theme not represented that I can think of)
Depth 3/5 (it is lightweight fun)
Overall 4/5

Where next then?
So following that campaign what is next for Lewis and Braincrack Games? They have already had a successful follow-up campaign entitled Mined-Out. You can view the details and pre-order here:-
https://www.kickstarter.com/…/mined-out-the-pocket-sized-mi…

They also have a new game currently active on Kickstarter entitled FARSIGHT and it is well worth a look. It has already surpassed its target and is on until June 2017 I urge you to have a look and enjoy the artwork.
https://www.kickstarter.com/…/farsight-corporate-warfare-in…

Exposed Review

EXPOSED BY Overworld Games

A review
By
Mark (mawihtec) Capell-Helm

Age 12+ (some pretty small bits of cardboard)
Time 30-45 minutes
Player count 2-6

Over-who?
Exposed is the brainchild of Brian Henk and Clayton Skancke of Overworld Games. It was originally launched onto Kickstarter in April of 2016 and funded at almost 3x its $5,000 target in May of the same year. During the campaign, as well as the usual excess funding stretch goals they also introduced some fun social media goals which helped to generate buzz around the project. These included things like “pictures of 5 people wearing scarves as belts” or “pictures of unusual cakes”. During and following the campaign they were very communicative keeping backers updated and even shipping the game with people receiving the game from July 2016 onwards.

EX-what now?
The $24 pledge on Kickstarter got you the game and all the unlocked Stretch Goals with free shipping worldwide. For your money you get
36 Identity cards all of whom have a special ability for that character
36 Double sided Guest Tiles
56 Wallet Tokens
4 Target Tokens
6 Reference Cards
1 Clear concise and well written Rulebook
Also exclusively for the Kickstarter there were unlocked some alternative identity cards with different abilities (see later)
This was all packaged in a thoughtfully designed box which on the sides of the lid had images of some of the guests but on the base sides had them pictured in their “exposed” state.
Graphically the game has a look of a children’s game with simple art in a friendly cartoon style which is consistent for the full game. This is thanks to Adam Foreman who illustrated the game.

So it is for kids then?
Do not let the cartoonish look to this game put you off. This is a game that while easy to play and very much suitable for children as young as 7 or 8. Has a good level of hidden identity strategy that totally belies its cute exterior. The setting and theme for Exposed is you and your fellow players are all pickpockets sneaking onto a luxury cruise ship party and planning to steal whatever you can and get away with the most loot without being discovered. As is the want with thieves, they have no honour and will expose you and snitch to get the wealth for themselves.

Hidden Identity! Oh-No!
If the thought of hidden identity leaves you cold and you have all the poker face of a goldfish out of water. Never fear. It is not that sort of hidden identity. The game is played by laying out the appropriate number of tiles into a square based on the number of players. Players are then dealt a face down identity of one of those characters. That becomes their pickpocket for the game. Once all the guests have their valuables assigned, play begins. The gentle easy access for this game does not stop now you have 4 simple options.
1) Steal a wallet from a guest in one of the adjacent tiles (orthogonal and diagonal)
2) Swap the position of 2 orthogonally adjacent tiles twice (think of it as the guests circulating)
3) Expose someone in the same row or column as yourself
4) Snitching. This involves revealing your identity to another hidden thief (dangerous but potentially game winning) to expose any tile on the board.
All of these options will obviously give everyone clues to your whereabouts. This is where the strategy and hidden identity comes in. Do you steal a wallet potentially revealing your position to other thieves? Do you try to move closer to a more valuable target risking giving more clues as to who you are? Or do you try to misdirect by stealing your own wallet or moving another guest.

Sounds simple enough.
But wait there is another layer on top at the start of the game certain guests are identified as “marks” think of them as high profile targets. This is where their special ability comes in. If you manage to steal from a targeted guest you get to use that guest’s special ability. This can be extra wallets, additional movements, looking at identity cards or extra steal actions and more. So as you can see more to it than the pretty cover would lead you to believe.

Anything not 100% then?
Unfortunately yes I like the whole concept but do think sometimes you can be short changed from the start with a bad draw on the identity. If you get dealt a corner spot you’re going to be giving big clues from round one. This can be eliminated with a house rule of a re-draw allowed if you’re in the outside rows. The wallet Tokens are very small indeed and I would have really liked them to be bigger say double the size they are in the Kickstarter version (this would have made the game more expensive so I can understand the decision there). Finally having had and played this game for best part of a year now some of the cardboard target chits and wallet chits have lifted their stickers (easy glue but… still?)

Summary Time
Do I like this game in short the answer is a resounding yes. Will I play it all the time no. BUT I will not say no to a game. I definitely feel it lacks something at the lower player counts of 2 & 3 but when you get up to the higher player counts there is so much to think about it becomes much more interesting. It is definitely suitable for younger players and my 8 year old son really enjoys playing. This will be staying in my collection; it is a good quickish light game

Rate me up then.
Ratings are tricky because they are subjective. I will use a rating out of 5 where 1 is not for me/ I did not like and 5 is I will play this a lot.

At a games night for some serious game time? 3/5 (we prefer a bit more depth)
Family game time with younger players, or less experienced gamers? 5/5
Portability 4/5 (easy to take n play)
Content 4/5 (good amount of content)
Replayability 5/5
Theme 5/5 (not a run of the mill theme I like that a lot)
Depth 3/5 (some thinky but not brain hurty)
Overall 4/5

Fields of Green Review

Come bye lad, Come Bye!

FIELDS OF GREEN

a review
by
Mark (mawihtec) Capell-Helm

Come-bye lad come-bye put the wellies on
Fields of Green Is set in the 1950’s-2000. Where the players are playing the part of a small farm holder trying to expand property and business. This is achieved by purchasing Fields, Livestock, Buildings and Construction cards and laying them in a tile laying format, thus each player creates their own custom farm. This in turn allows the player to build up an economic engine to gain the valuable VP’s needed for victory.

Each game is played out over 4 years (rounds) with the player drafting cards to add to their expanding farm. All the while ensuring that they will have enough food and water to feed livestock and water the fields during the harvest. The player has several methods of converting wealth to the required VP’s (victory points). OK I hear you say so what do I get and how do I get it?

Contents
33 field cards, 33 livestock cards, 33 construction cards, 33 building cards
20 water tower cards, 14 silo cards
4 player aid cards, 1 general aid card
30 equipment tiles
61 money tokens, 20 victory point tokens
44 wooden food tokens, 32 wooden water tokens
4 card stack label tiles, 1 first player token, 1 year track and of course the ubiquitous baggies.

All good so far then.

Game play is fairly straight forward with each player starting with a Water Tower and a Silo 15 coins 3 water and 1 food. All the basic requirements for the budding successful entrepreneurial farmer. You take it in turns to draw 6 cards each from Fields, Livestock, Buildings and Construction cards, ensuring a minimum of 3 decks drawn from. Fields focus on food production, livestock = money, constructions= special abilities and buildings are end game VP focused. Once you have your hand of 6 cards you move into the action phase where you can choose one card to play or discard to allow you to build more silos or water towers or even get some money if you’re running short (easy to do). All players do this action simultaneously (when playing with new players or younger players a good tip is each player selects a card and places it face down in front of them to allow more thinking time in how to progress). Once all players have completed this action you pass your hand to the left (yep I hear you say card drafting/sushi Go mechanics) you do this until all cards are used.

Following on you enter the Harvest phase where you activate the actions on the cards (this is where some thinking time could be useful for newer/younger players) as you get to choose the order you follow the actions (you could pay some water to card a to collect food to pay card b to collect coins to pay card c to gain VP’s) Some cards allow you to claim equipment tiles which given you extra abilities. Then you move forward to the next year and begin again After 4 years the farmer with the most VP is the greatest farmer of the 20th Century.

Summary in some ways there is very little to no player interaction other than the card pass but even so this is an enjoyable resource management game which blends mechanics and theme together very well.

Now to rating the game.

DISCLAIMER FIRST let me say I enjoy this type of game so my rating is based on that standpoint. Second Artipia have offered every review positive or negative some free promos. So there are a lot of positive reviews already out there. While I am posting this review to receive the promo cards I am not making it a positive one because of that point.

Mechanics While not being revolutionary the game mechanics are solid in the multiple plays up to my writing of this I have not come across any major issues. They all seem to work well together. Being a successor to Among the Stars it will be very familiar to many. This is not a bad thing They have improved the style of play since AtS came out (have not played judged on reviews of that game) The Water Tower puzzle that you encounter trying to make sure you can use each card/tile ability is a good think-y exercise making the draft decisions have much more bearing.

Replayability I would say this was definitely above average. This is due to the number of options available to each player and the different permutations of cards that can come up. This along with the decision of when to go for buildings means that no 2 games will play out in quite the same way and you will want to try different layouts to maximise point scoring.

Strategy Bit more difficult to quantify here as overall with virtually no player interaction this can be a bit multiplayer solitaire. That being said the fact that cards give different action options. Choosing where to draw cards from and forward planning on the farm layout. Does give a lighter weight strategy feel (not all games need to melt the brain)

Component quality. OH dear this is where the game really fell down for me. Let me list it down
Cards-These were and are excellent very happy,
Add-on premium sleeves bought again very happy,

Water tokens-OK a little smaller than ideal making them fiddly to pick up but nice shape

Food Tokens- Good nice shape and size for picking up

VP, Coins, Equipment tiles etc (basically all cardboard bits)-Very Poor the quality of the card used for the chits was well below what you would expect from a $50 game with off centre printing very poor punching leading to lots of damage to tokens on removal and in the copy I received the card actually felt a little damp and soft

NOTE
ARTIPIA did respond quickly to me and supply replacement equipment tiles where needed
but this was not a one off incident the KS is littered with complaints about the quality of the tokens.

Box/ Insert/ Packaging-mixed.
Box is lovely very nice indeed nice art and good construction.
Insert Rubbish plain and simple virtually no one received their game with an intact insert totally unfit for purpose there (apparently similar issue happened with Above the Stars).
Packaging all held up nicely on my copy (others were not so lucky).

Overall
Mechanics 7/10
Replayability 8/10
Strategy 6/10
Quality 4/10

I do recommend this game but that is due to me enjoying the math-y think-y aspect of this style of game if you want player interaction or conflict look elsewhere. If you want a nice looking game that plays gently with some good think-y elements you could do a whole lot worse.

EMBER Review

EMBER by District 31

By Mark (mawihtec) Capell-Helm

The Origin Back-story
Ever since EMBER first appeared on my radar way back in March of 2016, I have enjoyed watching this project develop over the past 12 Months into something that is now greater than the sum of its parts. Initially I was attracted to the bright graphical style and the simple set collection mechanics to conjuring the creatures. All of whom were lovingly drawn, rendered and then given special powers to help you and / or hinder your opponent. Using the magical equivalent of a deck of cards to control the forces of Earth, Air, Fire and Water meant creatures like Fairies, Eagles, Griffins, Bunnies and even the Great Cthulhu were at your command.

Ok so far
Here was a game that had strategy and simplicity yet retained variety and Replayability. It was a game that was equally at home with the game group as it was with the younger player. In fact my son who was 7 at the time insisted on playing 10 games straight and loved every one of them. And at just £13 for 110 cards (56 core conjuring deck and 54 creatures) there was a lot of game for the money.

Keep talking
It would have been easy for District 31’s head Stuart Garside to rest on his laurels and move onto one of the many other projects that were bubbling away in the background. But he could not do that. He felt that the Ember universe was missing something? It did not feel complete. There was more crying to be let out. So after listening to suggestions and ideas from original backers, He locked himself away with his spell books and cauldrons. Until in September 2016 in a blaze of glory he burst back onto the Kickstarter scene with EMBER FROM THE ASHES. Here was a standalone expansion which did not need the core set but once combined became so much more. It consisted of all new Creatures, 3 Spectral creatures whose VP relied on what other creatures you had and what their state of play was, 5 Artifact cards, A special Promo Card, Elemental Gods, 3 part Dragon creatures each card of which had its own special abilities but when combined as Head-Body-Tail gave access to even stronger powers. Also introduced were Tutors which provided you with hidden abilities to help or hinder in the end game. This project doubled its funding goal and was met with great positivity by reviewers and backers alike when it finished in October 2016. After running two successful projects and delivering on his vision of a much improved game Stuart Garside and District 31 wanted to focus on their next project…..

And?
Until January 2017. When, following the clamours of backers for more of the EMBER universe and an inspired decision to shake up the rules. LIGHT & DARK was born. A short run-time project which smashed its £1000 target in 51 minutes and went on to achieve over 1000% over its target. This project introduced us all to a new rule set that completely turned the original game on its head (quite literally) and not only that it introduced us to more Creatures, more Artifacts, more Elemental gods three part dragons, more Promos and Postcard/ Player aides which when revealed added more powers and more twists and turns.

Phew
So here we are currently 3 campaigns over 200 cards Replayability by the bucket load untold numbers of combinations of cards. This is one game that will take a long time to master just when you think you have a great strategy along comes your 8 year old son (yes that same one who was playing EMBER over a year ago) and conjures a card then uses it in a way you had not thought of scuppering your victory dance and winning for himself. There is no 1 strategy wins all in this game. Do you try to conjure creatures to burn through the deck to get the cards you want? Do you set your sights on a Dragon God with which to destroy? Or do you just sit tight slowly building forces for a sudden surge using your tutor’s hidden power? All these strategies and many more are at your disposal. YET at its heart it is still that beautifully drawn and imagined gentle set collection game only now it has teeth and they can be sharp.

In short
This is definitely one game I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone. Be they 7 to 70 there is quickness and simplicity to the rules that makes it easy to understand but at the very same time has enough strategy for almost all gamers. There is also a very solid solo play mode which keeps me coming back for more.

Rate me up then.
Ratings are tricky because they are subjective. I will use a rating out of 5 where 1 is not for me/ I did not like and 5 is I will play this a lot.

At a games night for some serious game time? 4/5
Family game time with younger players, or less experienced gamers? 5/5
Home alone, ordered pizza delivery, solo blitz? 4/5
Portability 4/5
Content 5/5
Replayability 5/5
Theme 5/5
Depth 4/5
Overall 4/5

Mint Works Review

MINT WORKS.

A Review.
By Mark (mawihtec) Capell-Helm.

No of games played >15 (Inc >5 solo >5 2 player)
Tags: Lightweight, Filler, Worker Placement, Engine building, Quick Playing, Portable,
Small Space, Quick set-up/ Tear down.
Play Time: <20mins
Complexity: Light
Player Count: 1-4 (dedicated solo play)
Age Rated 13+ due to small “mint” components (7+ should have no trouble playing)

A Brief history of Mint Works.
Mint Works came into being all thanks to Justin Blaske’s response to the 2015 Mint Tin Design Contest created by R4D6 on BGG. The list of constraints for the competition were as follows:
The game must fit within a mint tin.
While it did not win that competition, Five24Labs continued to refine it further before launching a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016.

What is in it for me?
So just what do you get for your $10 (Approx £8)?
On opening the small, embossed, blue mint tin which measures approx 10 x 6 x 2cm (I said it was small). You will be greeted by a tin bursting at the seams. They have crammed much more into this tin than you would think was possible.
Your contents consist of.
A blue wooden Start player token, 30 wooden workers (designed to look like mints even down to the rough white surface texture so keep them away from the little-uns), A nice clear rule book, 2 Double sided AI solo play cards (4 AI opponents), 4 advanced play cards, 4 core starting cards, 2 starting deed cards, 21 deed cards and a card and turn summary reference fold out sheet. (Phew).


Size isn’t everything.
At this point I must point out a couple of minor niggles with Mint Works. As, with the tin being so small. What happens is that the cards can be tricky to get out without tipping it upside down and shaking it a bit. Which unless you have managed to use a small bag to hold the “mints” in such a way as to still be able to close the tin, means you are likely to have workers running away? This could have been sorted by either making the cards marginally shorter by 4-5mm or the tin slightly larger. The second minor niggle is again in relation to size this time of the rule book. Mint tins have curved corners yet the rule book does not. This means that the corners of the rule book will get damaged very quickly with putting in and taking out. A solution adopted by quite a few of the Kickstarter backers was to just trim the corners into a small curve (there is plenty of room) This is something the creator should have thought about and hopefully will be remedied.

Play time.
So just how do you play this game then? Mint works is at its heart a worker placement game with some clever strategic thinking. Your options at the start of each round are, Gain start player, Build a plan, Buy a plan and Produce workers. Optional actions available once you have the plans are Lotto (buy a plan unseen from top of the deed pile) and Wholesaler (produce workers but the plan owner also gains a worker at the end of the round). With having such a small number of actions available each round planning what to do correctly is vital. The starting player gets the choice of all the actions. So do you ensure you start first next round by claiming that? Or will that mean the building plan you want is gone? (You can’t build a plan until you have bought it) Do you need to be sure of getting the extra workers and risk missing the chance to build this round? Deciding when to go for what is surprisingly in depth for such a small form game. All the while trying to build your mini city with the aim of gaining enough stars (VP) to win the game. Because the game is won with just 7 stars choosing when to do what becomes even more important. In all the plays so far I have yet to determine a strategy that works in all cases. This is because you cannot be certain of taking a particular action when you want to.

Stars Shmars I want some.
The trick to gaining the required set of stars to win the game is the plans that you buy. Some of the plans will grant you stars just for building them. While others are worth more stars based upon the number of a certain plan class you have built. Some buildings will allow you to gain extra workers. Even more will reduce the cost to build plans. There are even some plans that will penalise your star count for having certain other plan classes e.g. Eco buildings do not mix well with heavy industry. You need to think carefully about the short term gain over long term plan.

Whoa sounds heavy man
Given all of the above information you would think this was a heavy game but it is honestly not. Once you have a grip on the rules (should take about 10 minutes, tops). You will find the play flows quite quickly. The various aspects of the game hold together very well and you will find yourself not having to over–tax your brain. This makes the game perfect for its target market. Out for a meal and waiting for the food to come? Sitting in a tent or hotel room? On a train journey? These are the times when this game will really shine its light the brightest. As I previously said this is a very portable game which takes up very little table space. In fact if you’re on a bus ride and you have an empty seat next to you, you have enough room to play this game with 3 people.

So it is the perfect game then?
With so much positive to say about this game you would think the easy answer to this question would be yes. Unfortunately life is never that simple. For a small lightweight quick to play game when you’re out and about the answer is most definitely YES. For games night where table space is not an issue as much and you want something more filling then probably not so much. The theme while nice does feel a little generic (place worker-get money/worker/build) and there are many games that offer more “meat on the bones” for the game night scene.

The long and the short of it then.
In summary Mint Works is a game of two halves. As a quick portable game, for solo or multiplayer with some proper thinking required. I love the massive amount of game that has been crammed into such a small tin. This is most definitely a keeper, and I will keep it in my bag/pocket almost all the time. For my family games nights with younger or less experienced gamers. This will come to the table from time to time. This is because it can teach worker placement in such a simple way that if you do mess up big the next game is only 10 minutes time. When I am at games night however, it will sit quietly in my bag. Not taking up valuable game space. For games night there are big box games that do what Mint Works does bigger and probably better.

Rate me up then.
Ratings are tricky because they are subjective. I will use a rating out of 5 where 1 is not for me/ I did not like and 5 is I will play this a lot.

Out and about? Need a quick gaming fix waiting for the food? 5/5
At games night for some serious game time? 2/5
Family game time with younger players, or less experienced gamers? 3/5
Home alone, ordered pizza delivery, solo blitz? 5/5

Portability 5/5
Content 4/5
Replayability 5/5
Theme 3/5
Depth 3/5
Overall 4/5

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