Tumble Town – Dice Stacking on Main Street
There’s gold in those hills!
150 years ago, boom towns sprung up all over American West as prospectors flooded the area.
In Tumble Town by Kevin Russ, you’re building a brand new town from the ground up. Can you impress the townspeople with your planning skills and be the best in the West?
Up to 4 players ages 8+ can build their Tumble Town in about an hour. Weird Giraffe Games publishes Tumble Town and provided us a copy for this review.
How to Play
The main focus of Tumble Town is using dice to create buildings according to plans that you draft from a central market.
Start by choosing from the four possible street layouts – easy, hard, cactus, or “dueling streets”.
Each player gets a Main Street mat in the same layout, a Horse card with a private scoring condition, and a few starting dice (roll them then put them in your Storehouse).
Put out the correct number of dice and Building Plan cards for your player count, and set up the central market of Building Plans.
On Your Turn
Start each turn by claiming a Building Plan from the market. You can take any plan you want; place it on the left side of your Horse to show it’s unbuilt.
Then take 3 dice from the supply. Which type(s) of dice you take is determined by the row your newest Building Plan came from. Roll the dice before moving them to your private storage.
Now it’s finally time to build! Using the dice you already have, build any (or all) buildings you have plans for. Match the dice color and value requirements on the Building Plan, or take a 2 point penalty for each die that doesn’t meet the requirements.
You do not get to re-roll the dice. But don’t despair; most buildings have special powers that you can use once they are built. And your Horse lets you change a die value by 1.
Your Main Street has requests for how you build on each plot. You can ignore these requests, but the more you fulfill, the more points you’ll get at the end of the game.
After you’ve built any buildings, move any unused dice to your Storehouse. If any dice don’t fit, return them to the supply.
When the dice supply piles begin to run out (2 or fewer dice left in 2 of the colors), you’ve triggered the end game. Make sure everyone gets an equal number of turns, then it’s time to score.
Your town gets points for:
- Constructed buildings
- Gold building bonus points
- Constructed buildings that match the style icon that was secret on your Horse
- Building placement requests on Main Street (+1 for each matching plot, +1 for a single plot space between buildings)
- Don’t forget to subtract points for Penalty tokens!
Whose Tumble Town will be the best in the West?
Tumble Town combines dice manipulation, resource management, and a spatial puzzle, with just a hint of engine building.
I love the art in this game. The Old West theme carries through without interfering with the symbolism and iconography. Some gold buildings even give bonuses for the presence of art on other cards in your town – which really gave me a reason to look closely.
Physically building the structures gives all these dice something to do – but they don’t always stack as nicely as I’d like. Sometimes I bump the table and the stacks fall over. But I still love trying to lay everything out on my street to maximize the points from the Main Street building requests.
The dwindling piles of dice forecast the end of the game a few turns in advance. Thankfully, you can put off the end a little bit: use the “gold pan” to return 2 dice in a color you don’t need in exchange for something else.
Hard to Get Started
The amount of setup needed is a pain, especially at 2 players. You’ll be counting out stacks for three different card types and four different dice colors. The rules specify how many dice to return to the box, rather than how many to take out. If you’re a family that has lost dice in the past, you’ll be doing math to make sure you get it right. And don’t forget to check that every player is using the same Main Street layout!
Packing up is thankfully faster than setup. Everything fits very nicely in the box, neither crowded nor rattling around. There’s even an included cardboard dice tower, which is a nice touch.
While we were playing, Andrew mentioned that Tumble Town felt a lot like Wingspan to him. Both games have drafting from a common market, and Tumble Town has a hint of the same engine building found in the popular bird game. But more than that, it’s the steep learning curve present in both, which we don’t normally expect in an accessible family game.
When playing for the first time, it’s hard to synthesize all the rules around dice, cards, and placement. Tumble Town could really benefit from a “quick start” guide to walk players through their first few turns.
Best in the West?
I enjoy the concept behind Tumble Town and watching my little Main Street grow. But for a family game, it just feels like it’s too much. It’s a lot for me to pull out and play as a solo game, and it’s too much setup and rules for my kids to stay interested when we play as a family.
If you want a new way to play with dice – not just manipulating their values but stacking them – you should try Tumble Town. If you love the American West, with its boom towns and ghost towns – you should try Tumble Town. If you’re not bothered by a lot of randomness in card draws and die rolls, and you’re ready to try a game that’s fairly short but takes some effort to learn – try Tumble Town.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Tumble Town from Weird Giraffe Games for this review.
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Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: 45-60 minutes