Tiny Towns is the definition of a family game. Easy to teach? Check. Easy to play? Check. Plays quickly? Check. Plays the whole family? Check! And with gorgeous family-friend art and lots of awesome little building pieces to collect, Tiny Towns is a great way for a family to have fun together.
The variety and quality of board games has never been better, and families that like to spend time together benefit the most from this. There’s lots of fantastic options for every kind of family out there. Some families are larger than others, and luckily there are some very good family games that support a high player count. Our favorite for this is Tiny Towns, which also recently received an expansion.
The original Tiny Towns is a light strategy game with a deceptively simple design. Players have a board of 4 spaces by 4 spaces, and must build the buildings of their town on it. In order to build a building, players need to make a very specific arrangement of resources on their board. For example, an arrangement of two stone resources, a glass resource, and a wheat resource in a T shape can be used to build a Tailor. The Tailor has its own rules for scoring points, and deciding which buildings to build is where the strategy comes in.
The challenge comes from getting those resources. Every player gets one resource a turn, and kinda like a Tetris or Match 3 style game, have to decide where to place that incoming piece. When these resource pieces make a meaningful arrangement, they disappear and the player scores points. When it’s a player’s turn, they get to pick their own resource, but otherwise the incoming resources are kinda random.
Unless you want to take your strategy to the next level. There’s no hidden information in Tiny Towns, so perceptive players can see other players’ towns and anticipate what resources they’re going to call for. This reduces the randomness of incoming resources and makes planning a little easier.
So the rules for building buildings is simple, the turn order is simple, and the rules the buildings provide for scoring are pretty simple. So Tiny Towns is an easy game to win, right? Well, not exactly. There’s many layers to the strategy in Tiny Towns. Planning which buildings to build, where to build them, in what order, and anticipating what other players are doing all contribute to the surprising depth of a game.
Depth is great for games - it makes them very replayable. The more you play Tiny Towns, the better you get at it. So if Tiny Towns has simplicity, depth, and an appealing presentation, which more could you add to it?
Tiny Towns: Fortune
Tiny Towns has another fantastic feature, something that people don’t often consider. Tiny Towns is very expandable. The base gameplay in Tiny Towns is basic enough that additional mechanics can be easily added. The first expansion for Tiny Towns is Fortune, and, in true Tiny Towns fashion, is simple. It adds Coins to the game. A minor addition to the rules awards players with even more flexibility, but at an interesting logistical cost.
Coins as victory points at the end, so there’s an intrinsic value to coins already. But they also allow players to change what resource they get for the turn. When the Master Builder calls a resource for the turn, players may spend a coin to take a different resource. Obviously, this gives players a little more flexibility during the game. But savvy Master Builders can use it to deliver more noise to the other players, when they call for a resource no one wants, and use their coin on their own turn.
So players are going to want all the coins they can get. How do we get our hands on them? Clever building, of course. Players get one coin on a turn that they build two buildings. Sounds simple, and again, this belies a deep little challenge.
Space is of utmost importance in Tiny Towns. Sometimes the resource arrangement for certain buildings have a large, unwieldy footprint. They can take up four or five or even six spaces on a 16 space board. Clearing off those resources to place a one-space building, is like, coming up for air. You can breathe again. In the late game, reclaiming those open spaces is critical.
So dedicating almost half your board to unbuilt buildings for a coin can be a pretty big hoop to jump through. For seasoned players, this is a fun challenge - and can be rewarding too.
In addition to the coins themselves, Fortune comes with a stack of new building cards and monument cards, which naturally interact with the coin mechanic. These increase the already large amount of variety in the game, providing new options and opportunities.
More On The Way
Tiny Towns’ rules are so sleek, and Fortune adds on to the game so easily, it seems like these are pieces of larger, cohesive game. It seems like there’s a large, complex town-building game that was initially developed, then stripped down into easily-digestible expansions. With a second expansion, Villagers, coming out so soon after Fortune, it appears that we can expect to see a grand version of Tiny Towns emerge when all the expansions come together. Just like a good family game should do, Tiny Towns is a game that grows up with the family. New expansions and challenges await as younger family members grow into them.
A Good Family Game For Large Families
Even if depth of strategy and series of expansions don’t appeal to everyone, the base Tiny Towns has plenty of easy going gameplay out of the box. Tiny Towns is such a good family game because of this, and the fact that it supports more players than many other family games makes it more attractive. Tiny Towns, in its expanded and basic forms, should become a family classic in upcoming years.
Find out more about Tiny Towns at BoardGameGeek!