Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 7 January 2021

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Tiny Towns: Villagers

Game: Tiny Towns: Villagers

Publisher: AEG

Designer: Peter McPhersonJosh Wood

Year: 2020

When Tiny Towns first released, we played it once or twice, enjoyed the puzzle and then moved on. However, when Covid lockdown hit many nations around the world, AEG began to do live plays of Tiny Towns with an online audience who could play along if they owned a copy. We first borrowed a copy and then bought a copy because of how this game was helping me to feel connected during a very isolated time. After playing it so much, we tried added both the Fortune, and now the Villagers expansion to our copy. Now, aside from the 'Trees' promo, Tiny Towns is one of the very few fully expanded games we own, and it all fits into the base game box!

Tiny Towns is a puzzly game of town-planning for 1-6 players in which you will add different buildings to your own 4x4 grid. The game works a little like bingo, where a resource type gets called and all players take that resource and place it somewhere on their own grid. Players take it in turns to be the bingo caller. The buildings will vary from game to game, each needing a different layout of resources to be created on your board before you can build the building in one space of your grid. Each of these buildings then has its own way of scoring points, perhaps by adjacencies or based on other features you've created in your finished town.

The Villagers expansion adds three little critters to each person's town, in the form of squirrels, birds, hedgehogs, or other adorable meeples. Each game will have two villager powers available - one that needs you to spend one villager to activate, and a more powerful one that needs two or three villagers to activate. Villagers are only available for activations if they are working in a building constructed in your town. Villagers don't like to share spaces with resource cubes, so the only way to get them into a building is for them to be standing on the final square of a building when you place the last resource cube to build it.

Whilst Fortune added quite a simple gimmick to the game, Villagers really ups the complexity of Tiny Towns - it's not one that I would mix into anyone's first game of Tiny Towns. However, if you've played a lot of Tiny Towns and want to exercise your brain cells on a whole new level, then the Villagers expansion will certainly do that for you. It's a whole new level of planning ahead, being meticulous to make sure everything is lined up to make the most of the special abilities. If you throw in both expansions you'll get to enjoy even more crunchy goodness. I've never wanted to take back my own moves so much as in this game when fully expanded!

The other big joy to the Villagers expansion is the combos you can create. Some of the special abilities give you a bit of extra control, much like the core mechanism in the Fortune expansion. Once you have the ability to add a resource of your choice, or to 'cheat' and switch a colour or pattern when making a building, then you can make a few less mistakes and hopefully get some higher scores. There's even more opportunity if you pair up a strategy with one of the new monuments and the opportunity for combos and big scores is my favourite thing that an expansion can introduce.

If your favourite thing about Tiny Towns is quick gameplay and simplicity, then perhaps the Fortune expansion would be a better choice, but if you're craving more and love to have lots of puzzly choices and forward thinking in your game, then Villagers is great. Add to that, the fact that this expansion adds a heck of a lot more cards and therefore so many more combinations, it makes the amount of variability each and every game unbelievably high. Villagers is an expansion I'll always want to add for games where myself and Amy are the only two players, but probably one I'll leave out with other players, to keep the light and fun feel of the game. For the Yellow Meeple, it's a 7/10.

Tiny Towns: Villagers was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk  

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