Tiny Towns: A Miniature Masterpiece!

Tiny Towns game

You are the mayor of a tiny town in the forest, where the smaller creatures of the woods have created a civilization hidden away from predators. This new land is small and the resources are scarce – you take what you can get and never say no to building materials. Cleverly plan and construct a thriving town, and don’t let it fill up with wasted resources!

Tiny Towns is a town building game created by Peter McPherson and published by AEG. Tiny Towns plays 1-6 players aged 14+. It takes about 30-45 minutes to play through a full game.

4 player boards and a row of cards with corresponding wooden buildings: cottage, farm, chapel, theater, tavern, etc.
Let’s begin!

Setup

Setup for Tiny Towns is simple! First, give each player a player board.

Then, place the Cottage card in the middle of the table, to the left. Take the 24 cards representing the six different buildings. Shuffle the set for each building and choose one of each randomly. Place these six cards in a line next to the cottage and put the remaining 18 cards back in the box.

Mandras Palace: 2 for each unique adjacent building type.
Barrett Castle: 5 if fed. Counts as 2 cottages.
Monument cards

Place the wooden resource cubes in a general supply and place the buildings that correspond with each building card near their representative cards.

If playing with Monuments, deal two Monument cards to each player. They will choose one and discard the other.

The most recent person to have built something is the starting player. Give that player the Master Builder token.

That’s it! You’re ready to play Tiny Towns!

Gameplay

Players’ goal in Tiny Towns is to orient cubes on their player board to build buildings. Every building provides unique abilities, most of which provide victory points at the end of the game.

Rounds

To play Tiny Towns, the Master Builder selects a cube color (yellow, red, blue, brown, or gray) and announces it to everyone. Each player must take a cube of this color and place it in one of the 16 spots on their player board. Only one cube can ever occupy a space, and cubes cannot be moved once they’re placed.

cottage card (red, blue, yellow), tavern card (red, red, blue), and cube layout that matches both (red, red, blue, yellow)
Build a cottage or a tavern with this cube layout, but not both; each cube may only be used once.
Remove the required cubes to build a cottage

If at any point a player has cubes on their player board that correspond with a building card in play that game, they can build a building. Players do this by removing those cubes and announce the building they have built. The player places that building on one of the squares that was occupied by the resources removed. Players do not have to build a building immediately once the cubes are in place. This means players can construct multiple buildings at a time, but each resource can only be used for one building.

If playing with Monuments, each player also has a Monument building they may build. This can only be built one time and only by the player holding that Monument card. Monuments are special buildings that provide powerful and unique abilities to the builder.

Once every player has placed the cube and optionally built buildings, the round is over. The Master Builder passes the hammer to the left at the end of the round.

Game End

Filled Tiny Towns board and scorepad
Time to score

When a player is unable to place any more resource cubes on their board and unable to create buildings from the resource cubes on their board, they are out if the game. At this point that player can tally their score. They are no longer able to be the Master Builder.

Play continues until all players have filled their town boards. This may mean a single player is left with the ability to place cubes, filling their board in exactly the order they choose.

To score, a player should first remove all unused cubes from their board. Empty squares are -1 point each! Each building type scores according to the instructions on its card. The handy scoring pad (included!) helps guide scoring. Once every player has tallied their score, the player with the highest score wins!

Variants

To further enhance game variability, Tiny Towns features two variants in the box: the Town Hall variant and the Solo variant.

Town Hall

In this variant there is no Master Builder. One player, called the Mayor, is responsible for the 15-card Resource Deck. Shuffle these cards and discard five face-down. Then, instead of calling out a resource, the Mayor flips the first card off the deck, which reveals a resource all players must use. Play continues like a normal round of the game with each player placing their resource cube and optionally building buildings. When everyone is finished, the Mayor does this again. Finally, for the third resource, each player takes one resource of their choice.

The players repeat this resource selection (two cards, one player-chosen) until the game is over. When the cards run out, simply shuffle them together, discard five face-down, and continue.

Resource cards: Wheat (yellow), Glass (blue), Brick (red)
Resource cards

Solo Mode

This variant uses the Resource Card deck to support solo play. Certain building cards (see rulebook) cannot be used. In the solo mode, the player deals three cards face up. Choose one resource to build with and place that card face down on the bottom of the resource deck. Replace it with a card from the top, and repeat. Score the player board as usual when filled. The manual has score rankings to match up against when the game is over.

Impressions

We have loved Tiny Towns since the moment we laid eyes on it at PAX Unplugged 2018. We had the opportunity to have designer Peter McPherson on The Family Gamers Podcast Episode 127. I have raved about Tiny Towns to Anitra since then, and Anitra mirrored my excitement for the game after just a few plays.

The simple mechanics of the game left us to wonder how it was possible a game like this hadn’t already existed. Although the game is formally rated 14+, we are easily able to incorporate our 4-year-old into the gameplay with very little difficulty. He isn’t likely to defeat us with his score, but the idea of matching cube colors to create shapes that become buildings is absolutely enthralling to him.

We’ve played Tiny Towns extensively at player counts 2-6, and the game scales well at any of these player counts.
Despite the simple mechanics, strategic gamers can find a ton of depth here. Strategies change dramatically at different player counts and the game offers a ton of replayability with the varied building cards. Even without considering monuments there are over 4,000 configurations of the cards in this game!

4 cards with red barn symbol: Orchard, Greenhouse, Granary, Farm.
Options for the red “farm” building: only one of these will be used in any given game. Change it up and play again!

“I like it. But I think it’s a better game with more people, because there’s more variety.”

Claire

“I really like the Solo mode and how different amounts of points get you different rankings.”

Asher

“Tiny Towns is a really cool kids game!”

Elliot

Tiny Towns will be a fixture in our gaming repertoire for a long time as a fantastic family game. We absolutely love it and we know you will too. Get it today at your local game store and on Amazon starting 5/10/19.

Tiny Towns board and components

The Family Gamers received a promotional copy of Tiny Towns from AEG for this review.

Tiny Towns
  • 8/10
    Art - 8/10
  • 10/10
    Mechanics - 10/10
  • 9/10
    Family Fun - 9/10
9.5/10

Summary

Playtime: 45 minutes (Can go much faster for experienced gamers)
Age Range: 14+ (we say 4+. Seriously.)
Number of Players: 1-6

Leave a Reply