MINT WORKS. Published April 2017
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
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.
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
Authors 2021 Edit: No ratings have been updated As I feel it is better to let the review sit as it was written in 2017. I no longer rate games (out of any number or percentage) preferring now to recommend or not to different groups of players.