Mini BrilliAnts – Lead Your Colony to Victory
An ultra-lite euro in a small box –
A great stepping stone game for kids.
“The long hot summer is coming to an end, and the ant colonies in the quiet forest glade are increasing their efforts to prepare for the coming winter. Queens are hatching ants to grow their colony’s population, farmers and hunters are scouring the area to stockpile food, and diggers are excavating tunnels to extend their territory.”
In Mini BrilliAnts designed by Maxime Tardif, up to four players will collect resources, dig tunnels, and hunt other bugs, while racing to complete six objectives. Sphere Games is the publisher and it’s rated for ages 8 and up.
Create separate piles of objective cards and reveal the top two cards of each type (or three in a four player game). Under objectives, place the hatching cards – either three or four depending on player count.
Sort the resource cards into individual stacks, each with three cards per player. Each player takes nine ant cards of a single color to form their supply.
Then deal a random role card along with a Predator to each player, and the first player card to whoever most recently ate fruit.
How To Play
Mini BrilliAnts plays over several rounds. Each round has an initial “draft”, followed by succession of phases where players take actions, complete objectives, and perform cleanup.
To draft, players select one ant from their supply (a farmer, digger, or hunter) and place it into their active zone. Each player continues to draft one ant at a time until all have three ants.
After drafting, proceed to the action phase. Now players take turns to gather resources, hatch an ant, activate their predator or use a role card.
To gather resources, place an ant card above the resource stack you wish to obtain. Hunters gather lady bugs or caterpillars, farmers pick raspberries or blue berries, and diggers clear dirt or rocks.
To hatch an ant, simply take one of the hatching cards, place in your active zone and take the matching ant from your supply (to use on a following turn). This action can only be used once per phase.
When activating a predator, place it next to any resource in the collection zone. Then discard one of those resources, removing it from the game.
There are two free actions that a player can perform on their turn: use role cards and complete objective cards.
Role cards describe your special player power. Some abilities are one-time only, while others can be used more than once.
Objective cards can be completed anytime on your turn. Turn in collected resource cards and earn victory points! Objectives range from 3 to 11 points.
Once a player has performed their action, play passes to the next in clockwise order. Continue until everyone has exhausted their actions. Then it’s time for the clean up phase. Players collect their ants and predators. Return hatching cards back to their respective spots. Pass the first player maker to the left, and start the next round.
Continue playing until someone completes six objective cards, or when no more resources can be collected at the end of a phase. Before final scoring takes place, bonus point cards are distributed to the players with the most completed objective cards in each category.
Now players tally the points from their objective cards, along with bonus points and one point for each unused resource card. The player with the most victory points wins.
Mini BrilliAnts is a quick fun play that challenges players to make quick decisions and pivot strategies. Since it is possible to collect an objective card within the first round, Mini BrilliAnts is immediately satisfying – scoring points right out of the gate. Keep a keen eye on other player’s activities to predict what they might do and plan ahead.
Depleting resource cards serve as a countdown timer. Adding urgency to gathering are the predator cards that can chew away at resources. The highest resource requirement for an objective card is three – and if successful, nets 11 points.
The game scales well from two to four players, with no noticeable differences. The addition of the fourth (multi-ant) hatching card in four player games ensures the that everyone has a chance to hatch an extra ant. Taking a hatch action early on will provide an extra turn that round, and necessary flexibility to meet changing objectives.
Role cards offer a neat twist, giving each player a way to bend the rules of the game. They do seem decently balanced. Hunter, Farmer, and Digger roles offer a two for one resource grab, whereas others like the Breeder (activate a hatch action for free) don’t count towards the one action per term limit. The Strategist is my favorite – it allows a player to peek at a objective card. With this extra knowledge, they can plan ahead accordingly.
Mini BrilliAnts is a family friendly game that works well across multiple generations. It feels like an ultra-lite euro in a small box; a great stepping stone game to introduce the genre to kids. The game has vibrant artwork, clear iconography and zero text on cards, making it great for kids that are still learning to read.
Ready to lead your colony to a brilliant victory? Find Mini BrilliAnts at Sphere Games or at your friendly local game store!
- Family friendly at ages 8+
- Entry level Euro
- Quick games
- Variable player powers
The Family Gamers received a copy of Mini BrilliAnts from Sphere Games for this review.
Number of Players: 2-4
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 15-20 minutes