Bloom Town – Hope is in Bloom
Who’s ready for spring?
It may be a “dark winter” out there, but now you can bring your family’s joy back to life with Bloom Town, a fresh tile-laying game from new publisher Sidekick Games. In this light strategy game, players compete to create the most beautiful town through the clever placement of buildings and the most effective use of bonus actions.
Bloom Town manages to combine a nice balance of strategy and elegant gameplay in a 30-minute filler that will have you asking for a rematch. It’s enough to scratch the itch for both little engineers and seasoned city planners (that’s you, Dad).
Give each player a Town board, one Bonus token, and two random Building tiles.
Shuffle the Community tiles and Building tiles together and place them in equal stacks on the Town Square board. Reveal the top tile of each stack and place them face up in the Market. Select a start player.
Each turn players place one of the two Building tiles in their hand onto their Town board, scoring Bloom points and constructing a bustling city one promising square at a time. There are five different kinds of Building tiles in the game—Parks, Offices, Subways, Shops, and Homes.
Each type scores in its own unique way, and several types score points based on what’s around it. For example, Offices score in rows and columns. The more adjacent Offices you play according to this pattern, the higher your score will be.
As Players build up their towns, the ability to string together clever combinations for maximum points offers an endless array of strategic options.
Before that sounds too much like every other tile game you’ve played, take another look. There’s a subtle strategic twist here that I absolutely love. Where you place a Building tile determines which new Building tile you will receive for your next turn. Wrestling about whether to maximize points now, plan for the future, or disrupt your opponents is where a lot of satisfying decision-making lies in this game.
A player’s turn is over once they place a Building tile, score Bloom points, and receive their new tile. The final step is to reveal the new tile on the stack. The new tile is often a new Building tile, but sometimes a Community tile will show up. These tiles trigger a special scoring round based on the specific Building type shown on the Community tile. This adds another little strategic wrinkle to the game that keeps players guessing.
At first glance it seems advantageous to simply build one Building type and really maximize points in one category. However, if you ignore the Community scoring bonuses, you might be sitting on your hands while you watch your opponents rake in a bunch of points you missed out on. I’ve seen this tilt the game to the winner more than once.
The final thing to note are the bonus actions. Play your Building tile on a Blooming square (the ones with the green grass), to choose a bonus action: take another turn, trigger Community scoring for one Building type, or double your points. Actions are precious in this game, so choose wisely. You also have a Bonus token you can use once during the game, which functions similarly to activating a Blooming square.
The game ends once two stacks of tiles run out (or three stacks for two players). There is a final scoring round and the player with the most points is the winner!
The game designers describe Bloom Town as a “meaty filler” and I think this is fitting. With simple yet effective mechanics, turns move quickly and I often find myself wishing the game was longer. The simple cure for that is to play again, which my kids often ask.
It feels exciting to see your own little town develop before your eyes. Players who enjoy “sandboxing” their own world will like Bloom Town, but the game certainly rewards competitive play.
As I noted above, deciding where to play based on what tile you will receive next is probably the most important part of the game, and a great mechanic that sets Bloom Town apart from other tile-laying games.
The production value for Bloom Town is pretty good but nothing too extravagant. You’ll get plenty of heavy cardboard tiles and Town boards, but not many other bells and whistles. The art is attractive and supports the theme well, but feels a little basic to me.
Mechanically, I think this game is near perfect. I haven’t encountered another 30-minute game that we’ve put on the table as often as Bloom Town. Easy to play and surprisingly deep in strategy, it’s a great game with unique mechanics and a variety of paths to victory.
Finally, our little builders love this one. Parents won’t mind the rematches either.
The designers have packed a lot of fun into this one. Given the state of the world right now where we’re all itching to get back outside, I highly recommend this one to keep your hope and joy alive as you look forward to spring once again!
Sidekick Games provided The Family Gamers a promotional copy of Bloom Town for this review.
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Number of Players: 2-4
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 30 minutes