Tiny Towns: A Small Den of Paradise

Modern life has become so chaotic. Have you ever wished you could get away to a sleepy little town in the woods, away from the hubbub and the chaos of the city?  In Tiny Towns, your wish becomes reality. This board game makes you the mayor of your own tiny town in the forest. Tiny Towns combines abstract strategy with city building to give you a game that’s both easy to learn and fun to play.

The creatures of the forest have decided to find their own little safe haven hidden away from predators and the woes of civilization. Because the land is so small and resources are few and far between, you’ll need to do the best with what you have to build a town that you can be proud of. Collect resources, construct buildings, and watch as your tiny town becomes its own little civilization.

Creating Buildings Out of Resources

In Tiny Towns, each player is given their own little 4×4 grid that represents their tiny town. Players will collect resource cubes to lay out on the board in order to construct buildings. At the beginning of the game, players get to choose one of two monument cards with which to begin building. Everyone will also be able to share from seven randomly drawn building cards, which are public buildings that any player can build.

The board game is played in turns, with each player beginning their turn by calling out one of five resources for all of the players to collect. If any player has collected the right kind of resources to match a pattern on one of their building cards, then they can choose to construct a building on their grid in the place of one of the resources. However, they must discard all of the used resources from their board.

Earning Victory Points

As the turns roll along and players begin to add new buildings to their grids, tiny towns do indeed begin to form. These buildings are for more than just show, however, as players will earn Victory Points for each building they create. Players will want to try to collect the right kinds of resources in order to construct buildings on their grid without filling it up with needless materials.

Once every player has filled their board with buildings and resources, then the game ends. Players will then tally their scores, adding up their Victory Points and subtracting one Victory Point for every square without a building on it. Whichever player has the most Victory Points wins the game and the title of most prosperous mayor!

Tiny Towns Expansions

Tiny Towns has released a couple of expansion board games that expand the mechanics of the original game and make it even more complex. In Tiny Towns: Fortune, the creatures of the forest who populate your little town have added a new element to the game: money. These shiny bits of metal have the power to radically alter the gameplay, giving you a new way of gaining resources from other players and building your town.

Tiny Towns: Villagers opens the world of Tiny Towns up just a little bit bigger. New and talented creatures have come to your tiny little town in order to earn a place and use their powerful skills. These engineers and merchants can transform buildings, revolutionize the influx of resources, and perform other impressive feats that make the game much more dynamic.

Tiny Towns: One Building at a Time

Tiny Towns is playable by 1-6 players, so it can just as easily fit both small and large groups of friends or family members. You can even enjoy building a tiny town all on your own! This board game is suitable for ages 14 and up, although some kids as young as 10 may be able to pick up the mechanics without difficulty. Playing time lasts around 45 minutes to an hour, so you can easily fit in a game on a weeknight or a Saturday morning.

Tiny Towns is a fun little game that celebrates the simplicity of small-town life without sacrificing any of the fun of big city living. Buy Tiny Towns today and enjoy the simple life!

 

Takenoko: It’s Hungry Hungry Pandas

Takenoko is a board game that shines with its cute backstory and beautifully painted game pieces. The pastel-colored pieces of bamboo and the adorable little panda figurine more than set the stage for this fun and strategic board game. 

Players will have to balance growing bamboo and tending to their garden if they want to feed the hungry panda and win the respect of the Japanese Emperor. If you’re looking for a game that’s as aesthetically pleasing as it is mentally intriguing, then you’ll love Takenoko.

Growing Your Bamboo Garden

Takenoko has a colorful backstory and setup that paints this board game amongst a beautiful backdrop. Years ago at the Japanese Imperial court, the Chinese Emperor offered the Japanese Emperor a symbol of peace: a giant, cuddly panda bear. The Japanese Emperor has entrusted you, the members of his royal court, with the task of caring for this sacred animal and feeding it from the bamboo garden.

There’s just one problem: the panda is hungry beyond belief! Players will have to work with the help of the Imperial gardener to maintain the bamboo garden and grow enough to satiate the panda and win the game. Each player is given their own player board and one of each type of playing card with which to grow bamboo, irrigate, and feed the panda.

On every turn, you’re given the option of choosing two of five available actions as well as rolling a wooden die to determine a random third action. One action is to place a tile in your bamboo garden, which helps make it bigger so that you can grow more bamboo. You can also move your Gardener any distance within a straight line, allowing him to lay down bamboo throughout your garden to grow.

You can also choose to lay down blue irrigation channels along your garden, supplying the bamboo with water to help it grow even further. In order to feed the panda, you can choose the action of moving the panda any distance in a straight line, feeding the panda with the piece of the bamboo on which the panda lands.

Collecting Target Cards

The last action you can choose to take each round is to collect a target card. Players will begin the game with three target cards that assign them various goals for earning victory points. These can be things like arranging tiles of a certain color in a particular way or even growing bamboo of a certain color to particular heights. More difficult goals result in a higher amount of victory points when achieved.

Takenoko ends once one player has successfully completed seven goal cards. Once this has been achieved, that player will lay down the goal card, and the players will continue until the last player has finished their turn. The player with the most points is then crowned the winner of the board game.

Takenoko Expansions

There is an expansion of Takenoko called Takenoko: Chibis that adds a second female panda to the mix. But with more pandas comes more mouths to feed, so you’ll have to contend with not only mama panda but nine different baby pandas as well! 

Takenoko: Chibis comes with a miniature female panda, nine baby panda tiles, as well as new plot tiles, cards, and bamboo pieces. The addition of extra pandas to the game makes this expansion a bit more fun and complex than the original.

Takenoko: You Won’t Like a Panda When He’s Hungry!

Takenoko is playable by 2-4 players, as it only comes with up to four player boards. This board game is well-suited for one on one games as well as small groups, as the turns go relatively fast. It’s suitable for ages 8 and up, so younger players should be able to quickly pick up the rules. However, it does come with a cute little comic that describes the backstory of the game as well as provides a refresher on the rules.

Playing time of Takenoko lasts around 45 minutes, so you should get a decent amount of time to dive into its world. Buy Takenoko today and enjoy the cuddly cuteness of this hungry hungry panda!

Dominion: The Deck-Building Game of Kings

Dominion begins with a simple premise: you’re a power-hungry monarch looking to turn your small kingdom into a vast dominion you can call your own.  To capture the anarchic lands around your kingdom before your monarch rivals have an opportunity to steal them out from underneath you, you’ll have to build a deck of cards so powerful that no one stands a chance.  https://youtu.be/csQ6Vu-pqpY

Collecting Cards

At the beginning of the game, each player begins with a small deck of identical cards.  During each round, players will have the opportunity to grow their deck from a common pool of cards to help them gain Victory Points and win the game.  There are four different types of cards you can collect in Dominion.  The first type of cards are Victory cards, which are useless except for their Victory Point value. Curse cards are the opposite of Victory cards, taking away Victory Points from your total score.  One of the most useful types of cards is a Treasure card, which gives you Coins for purchasing more cards.  Action cards are also useful, which give you certain effects such as the ability to draw or get rid of cards or even hurt other players.

Action, Buy, and Clean Up Phases

Each turn contains three phases that every player must go through.  The first phase is the Action phase, where a player can play one Action card (unless otherwise specified by the card).  The second phase is the Buy phase, where a player can play their Treasure cards and earn Coins for buying more cards.   After these two phases are done, the player discards their used cards and replaces their deck with 5 new cards.  One of the most interesting parts of Dominion is that you must use your non-Victory cards in the turn after you receive them, otherwise you’ll have to give them up.  This gives everyone an equal opportunity to succeed each round, leveling the playing field and making it that much more difficult to ensure victory.

Winning the Game

Throughout Dominion, each player is trying to amass the greatest number of Victory Points while preventing their competitors from doing the same.  The game will only end when either all of the Province cards have been drawn or when one of the three Supply stacks is empty.   You have to collect Victory cards to succeed, but the more Victory cards you collect, the less room you have in your deck for useful cards that can help you fight the competition.  Success requires you to skillfully balance collecting Victory cards while leaving yourself enough room to maneuver the purchase of powerful Province cards.

Dominion Expansions

Dominion was released in 2008, and since then there have been several standalone expansions as well as some that you can integrate with the original game.  The Intrigue expansion allows you to use powerful Hybrid cards that earn you Victory Points in addition to giving you useful abilities.   Dominion: Seaside adds in Duration cards, which create effects that last far beyond their initial appearance and can throw a game-changing wrench in the works.  No matter which expansion you choose, you can open up the world of Dominion and turn a simple deck-building game into a complex menagerie of cards.

Rule Your Kingdom with Dominion

Dominion serves 2-4 players, which makes it a great card game for small groups of friends.  Because it’s suitable for ages 13 and up, families with teenage kids can enjoy the world of Dominion, although it may be too advanced for younger kids.  Playing time is only 30 minutes, so it doesn’t have the same time commitment as other fantasy games such as Catan or Dungeons & Dragons. Dominion is a simple and fun deck-building game with a delightfully narcissistic premise and intriguing gameplay.  The continued element of luck requires you to be flexible throughout the game in order to win the most Victory Points.  Although Dominion was not inspired by Magic: The Gathering, anyone who loves that game will surely find a home with this game that inspired a whole slew of future deck-building games.  Claim your throne and expand your kingdom with Dominion—it’s your destiny!

 

How to Play Dominion

Terraforming Mars: Build a New World

Popular board games like Risk and Pandemic deal with the incredibly high stakes of worldwide catastrophe and war.  Terraforming Mars, however, leaves Earth behind completely in an effort to build a sustainable life on our closest neighboring planet.  In the 25th century, giant corporations seek to initiate projects to make Mars hospitable.  As players of the game, you’ll have to work together to achieve these goals while also earning points for your own commendable work.

Playing Cards

Terraforming Mars comes with over 200 different project cards that you can buy and use during each round.  These cards represent different projects that aid in your overall goal of terraforming Mars, including small things like introducing plant life or giant tasks such as mining the moons of planet Jupiter.  Some cards will also give you immediate bonuses or help boost your resource production.

While buying the cards comes with a small cost, the cost of putting them into play depends on the size of the project.  You’ll have to build up enough income to afford some of the costlier projects if you want to beat your fellow competitors and win the most victory points.

Terraforming Rating

Your Terraforming Rating is a special indicator that determines your victory point score, your income, and the amount of resources you produce.  Every time you perform an action that furthers the completion of one of the three main terraforming conditions, you’ll boost your Terraforming Rating and become that much more powerful.

Successfully Terraforming Mars

In each round, players go through three phases.  The first phase is the research phase, where each player is given the opportunity to buy randomly drawn cards.  Then, during the action phase, players can perform 1-2 actions such as playing a card, using the action of a card in play, or small tasks like converting heat into a temperature raise that slowly help to terraform Mars. 

While each player’s goal is to obtain victory points through buying cards and completing projects, the ultimate goal of Terraforming Mars is to complete the three terraforming conditions that make Mars habitable.  Once the oxygen level and temperature have both been raised to sufficient levels and enough of Mars has been covered by ocean, then the game ends.  Players will then count all of their points based on their Terraforming Rating and achievements, and the player with the highest score wins.

Terraforming Mars Expansions

Terraforming Mars comes with five unique expansions that add cool elements to the game such as the planet Venus or a Martian government.  With the Hellas and Elysium expansion, you’ll play with a new double-sided board that can make gameplay last for hours of fun.  The Venus Next expansion transports the game from Mars to Venus, as mankind’s colonization of the planets knows no bounds.

The Colonies expansion adds different areas around the solar system that players can use to produce resources without needing to play cards.  The Turmoil expansion adds the intriguing element of a Martian government that players can manipulate to achieve their own ends and earn elusive bonuses.  Several more expansions are currently in the works as Terraforming Mars continues to be a popular game for all kinds of players.

Terraforming Mars Is Out Of This World

Terraforming Mars can be played by anywhere from 1-5 players.  The fact that the game is so versatile means that you can enjoy it just as easily playing it on your own as you can with your entire family or friend group.  While there are many interesting elements and complex strategies involved with Terraforming Mars, it’s not too difficult to comprehend, and should be suitable for ages 12 and up. 

Terraforming Mars is a bit of an endeavor, as playing time usually lasts around 2 hours.  If you add one of the optional expansions to the mix, you may be looking at an entire night spent building cities and hurling asteroids.  Still, Terraforming Mars is certainly interesting enough that you won’t become tired of it before the game is over.  With a creative premise and endless potential for strategy, Terraforming Mars is one of the top strategy board games on the market.

 

 

How to Play Terraforming Mars

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