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Is Tiny Towns a good solo game? - First Impressions

Owner
Review

It's already been a year since I've played Tiny Towns with my friends. I happened to have 's copy of the game at my place since my wife is doing photography work for us, so I thought I might as well take this opportunity to try out the solo mode.

Quick overview:

  • In Tiny Towns, each player builds his/her own town on a 4x4 grid
  • There are 7 building types and each building type has a number of variations (there are 25 buildings total, plus another 15 Monument cards that each player starts with that give special powers once it's been constructed). Each building scores VP's in different ways
  • Each building is represented by a card, and you can build one once you have placed the tetris-like pattern of cubes on your town (red=brick, brown=wood, gray=stone, blue=glass, yellow=wheat).The pattern can be mirrored/flipped/rotated. When you choose to replace a pattern with a building, you remove the corresponding cubes and place your building on any one of the squares that a resource cube had previously occupied. This frees up precious real estate!
  • In a typical round, one player (the Master Builder) calls out one of the colors matching that resource type. Then all players will simulatenously place that resource cube on any of the open spots in his/her own town. Once everyone has finished placing their cube and possibly building one of the structures, it's the next player's turn to be the Master Builder
  • At any point in the game, if you aren't able to place down the resource cube that's been called out, you're out and will have to wait until everyone's done
  • Once everyone's completely done building their town, count VP's and determine the winner. All unused resource cubes in your town is removed from the board and you get a -1 for each of these empty spaces.

First Impressions:

I love it when I see a short rulebook - Learning the rules tends to be one of the biggest barriers in board gaming. A short rulebook makes it that much more likely for me to get over my laziness, and so much less daunting to think about teaching others. In fact, I immediately thought I should introduce this on our next family game night.

I love it even more when the solo variant doesn't involve a whole another rulebook - You know what I'm afraid of more than seeing a long rulebook? A long rulebook where the solo variant rules are just as long and tedious, if not more complicated. The biggest difference for the solo variant there's a deck of resource cards where you can pick 1 of 3 choices in each round. So in the picture below, I can choose to place a blue cube and replace that card by drawing from the resource deck.

A spatial puzzle that's worth pulling out vs. just another puzzle app - I remember thinking this when I first tried out the game. But it's a surprisingy thinky game. You have highly limited real estate to work with and you're just trying to fit in these jigsaw puzzles in your head. It's very satisfying when you're able to replace a pattern with a bullding and you're magically left with more space to work with. There's also the thrill of luck where you're relying on a specific color to come out, and each game feels different because the buildings synergize in interesting ways and you can try out different strategies. Plus, the tactile fun of this and the charming buildings are a joy to play with. It also helps that it's quick setup. The combination of all these factors lead to a highly replayable and fun puzzle you can pull out without pressure.

With that said, this is different from the multiplayer experience - A big part of Tiny Towns' feel of multiplayer gameplay is a dash of "meanness". Beginners will likely get tunnel-visioned and focus on their own board and the strategy that he/she is going for, but more experienced players will watch out to see what other players are going for, especially toward the late game. So as a Master Builder, you have total freedom to call out a color that a certain player is desperately wanting to avoid placing on their town. So if you like this aspect, know that it will be missing in the solo variant! But, this also means that rather than dealing with someone trying to directly mess you up, you'll be leaving it to random chance sometimes.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy spatial puzzles but often find yourself going for phone apps instead, try Tiny Towns. It has everything you want in a simple puzzle and has all of the pluses that only board games can bring to the table.

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2 months ago

Tiny Towns is a lot of fun. Agree with this assessment. If you like spatial puzzles, it's worth checking out.

2 months ago

I'm a sucker for spatial puzzles. I think my wife may like this one too. You've got me thinking about it for sure!

Owner2 months ago

Now, it's a different game, but do you think #Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale could be something the two of you might like?

2 months ago

I've looked into Cartographers and I think I would really enjoy it at least. As far as my wife, probably not as much. She's still trying a lot of the games just for the themes lol. That's why I think she'd like Tiny Towns for sure.

Supporter2 months ago

It sounds sorta interesting, but it doesn't sound like it would be worth buying for solo only. 

Owner2 months ago

Yeah, I'd agree with you there, I wouldn't get it strictly for solo either since my preference for solo-only purchases are for something more "involved". But good that it's such a good game for larger groups, given that it supports up to 6 players and you play simultaneously. For me, it's thinkier than another puzzle game like #Azul, has a little bit of that meanness, and has more replay value in my opinion.

Supporter2 months ago

It is a very nice bonus to be able to play it solo as well. 

Premium User2 months ago

My first reaction when reading the title to this post was "Tiny Towns has a solo mode?" Then I remembered I tried it once when I first picked up the game lol. Clearly I thought very highly of it!

I think when I tried it, I used a variant that I couldn't tell you where I got it from...maybe Rahdo? Not sure but he's coming to mind. Basically the only change I made was for every 3rd resource, instead of choosing one of the three cards, I'd choose whatever resource I wanted. It made it a little easier to negate potential bad card draws without making it too easy. I'm almost to the point where I've given up on Tiny Towns totally, but I want to try it with a higher player count before I get rid of it.

Owner2 months ago

Hahaha do you have any idea what exactly didn't work for you with #Tiny Towns?

Premium User2 months ago

I think it's a great game actually. Might be a little too mean as you pointed out but not intentionally. I honestly don't think we really have anything that isn't working..just a combination of not getting it to the table enough and needing the shelf space.

Owner2 months ago

Gotcha. I'm not sure how my wife will feel about it. I enjoyed my first several plays of #Azul with the family, but because I always avoid making too many "mean" plays, it got a little stale. I wonder if the same could happen with #Tiny Towns but not sure. I feel like it's be more replayable for me since it's a thinkier game

Premium User2 months ago

I think being mean in Tiny Towns is unavoidable lol. Definitely a lot more replayable than something like Azul if for no other reason than the random combination of buildings you get each game. And your own personal monument doesn't hurt in that regard.

2 months ago

We have this game but I have not tried the solo game. I will have to add it to the list of solo games to try!

Owner2 months ago

Go for it! If you like it multiplayer, then I feel like you'd enjoy the solo mode. It's pretty relaxing and great to not feel hurried like when I'm playing with others haha (or to feel the glare from other players trying to figure out which color to avoid calling out lol)

Supporter2 months ago

This games looks like fun but IDK if I'd play it solo

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