Tiny Towns is a town building/spatial relations game for one to six players. In it, each player takes on the role of a town planner collecting and placing resources on their player board in order to add buildings to their town, granting them additional in-game abilities, and scoring victory points. For the majority of the game, players will alternate calling out a resource to collect and place on their city boards. Whoever most efficiently places resources to build buildings wins.
To set up a basic game, take the deck of Building cards and separate them into building types based on the pictures on the back. Draw one card from each deck and place them face up in view of all players; return the rest to the box. All cards have the name of a building, a colored-square pattern, and an ability and/or victory point description—the benefit a builder gains if that building exists in their city. Then, deal each player two Monument cards. These are unique, secret buildings that typically require more resources but provide a more powerful benefit than standard buildings.
To play, determine a starting player and give them the Master Builder token. On their turn, they call out one of five colored-cube resources (wood, wheat, brick, glass, or stone), then all players must collect one of those cubes and place it on any empty square on their 4×4 city board. If, after placement, resources on a player’s board match the pattern of an available building card, they can choose to construct that building. To construct, remove all resources required by a building, then place the appropriate building token (it’ll match the icon on the front and back of that building card) in one of the spaces that held one of the collected resources used to make it. If that building has any immediate effect, resolve it immediately. All players can do this simultaneously, making playing with the full player count quick. Pass the Master Builder token to the next person in player order and repeat.
During a player’s turn, if they can’t place a resource, their game is done, and they can begin scoring. Play continues for all players who can still place resources and doesn’t end until all players choose to stop building or can no longer construct buildings. Whoever has the most points wins.
The components for Tiny Towns are great: lots of little wooden cubes and a bunch of wooden building tokens for player boards. Player boards are decent chip board and the cards are of good quality and cleanly illustrated and designed. One of the greatest parts of how this game was physically designed is that right out of the box the only things to punch or unwrap are the decks of cards. All buildings come pre-separated in tiny resealable bags, and the insert does a wonderful job of holding all components in place, even if the box is stored vertically. Additionally, the game comes with a variant resource collection deck and rules for solo play.
Tiny Towns is a quick, surprisingly deep town builder that rewards multiple playthroughs and comes with a decent amount of variation to keep games and strategies interesting. It’s very quick to learn, get to a table, and complete a game without putting a huge dent in an evening’s playtime. It’s really a great gateway game, or a game to start a night while waiting for more people to show up (if we can ever play games with multiple people in person again).
Designed by: Peter McPherson
Player Count: 1–6
Playtime: 45–60 minutes
Time to Learn: 10 minutes
Am I happy I bought it?: Yes! This is one of those rare games that plays well at two players while also accommodating a large group without significantly increasing play time.