Here, click and play this while you read my preview. It’ll totally help you to get into the right frame of mind.
No, but seriously, do it.
Tumble Town is an upcoming title from Weird Giraffe Games, the company who put out one of my 2019 favorites, Fire in the Library. Players take on the role of mayors of small Western towns, hoping to construct the best town possible.
You may think this would involve getting wood, nails, tools, and other supplies together, as well as recruiting the best people around to construct and operate several small businesses around town. Well, shows what you know, because this town’s gonna be built the old-fashioned way: by rolling dice.
Players will be drafting building plans that they will construct with rolled dice in order to score points. But in order to make a good town, there’s lots to consider. Players obviously want to construct high point value buildings to increase their score, but there are other considerations.
Buildings have special benefits, like giving players more dice or helping them score points in different ways. Each player also has a secret building type for which they get bonus points. They also will want to pay close attention to where they place their dice buildings on their Main Street, as particular placement can get you bonuses. All of these factors can get you points, so you’ll need to keep them in mind as the game progresses.
Mosey on In
Players follow the same steps for each turn. First, they select a face-up building plan from one of the three different levels of buildings. Lower level cards are easier to make, but generally are worth fewer points, while the more difficult buildings are worth more points.
Depending on the type of card you select, you’ll then grab three dice from the pool. Dice represent building materials, like wood and stone. You’ll roll the dice when you receive them, then add those dice to your storehouse.
Players then can use dice to fulfill a building plan card that they have taken either that round or in a previous round. Each building requires certain types of dice that also follow a certain numerical pattern. Some are fairly straightforward and easy, like only using dice with values between two and five. Other requirements are a bit tougher, like using two pair of dice or only using dice that are in order (like 3, 4, and 5).
If you’ve got the dice, you’ll physically assemble them into the shape shown on the card. Congrats! You’ve got a building!
This Town Ain’t Big Enough
Once you create a building, you can move it over to Main Street, which is represented by two cards. These cards provide a layout that you can follow to earn bonus points. Some of the spaces on the map ask you to play a die of a certain color. Others want you to have a stack of one, two, or three dice at that location.
Players also get points if they properly space their buildings. For any buildings that are exactly one space apart, you’ll get a victory point. It’s always nice to get points for literally nothing, am I right?
Players continue to draft cards, roll dice, and construct buildings until two of the colors of dice are no longer in the pool. Once the round is finished, points are tallied up, and whoever ends up with the most wins!
We Keep Things Simple Out Here
When I first opened the box to Tumble Town, I was a little thrown off by the artwork. It seemed almost too simple and lacking in detail. As I paid more attention, though, I started to appreciate it so much more. I noticed that the buildings are actually constructed from dice. I noticed little details, like the occasional use of pips in decoration. I also realized that some of the seemingly extra components – benches, cacti, etc., – were actually scoring mechanisms for some of the more advanced buildings you can construct. While it’s still not my favorite art in a game, I certainly appreciate the work the care and detail that went into its creation.
As far as gameplay is concerned, I personally found the rulebook to be a little hard to follow at first. However, once we began to take turns, all the different elements quickly became clear. Each turn, players are trying to maximize their points, but there are several choices involved. The number of rounds is limited, so you can’t have too much of a long-term plan where you save up dice for one particular building. However, some of the higher level buildings can really pay off if you make the right decisions. Often, your major choice is deciding if you want to score a few points this round, or put it off with the hope that you’ll get a big point payoff down the line.
The Good, the Bad, and the… Also Good
Tumble Town was a pleasant surprise for our gaming group. While it was a little difficult to get started because of some confusion about the rules, we were able to really move quickly a few rounds into the game. There are good decision-making opportunities that help you feel like your playing the game without the luck of the dice making you feel cheated. I also appreciated the pacing of the game – it’s not so short that you can’t execute on a plan, but it also doesn’t overstay its welcome.
As I said, I’m a really big fan of Fire in the Library, and I like Tumble Town for a lot of the same reasons. Overall, it’s pretty easy to learn and then play. It’s something that new gamers can understand and enjoy while still giving more experienced gamers a challenging and fun experience. The game also plays smoothly and doesn’t outstay its welcome. I think that Tumble Town is certainly simple enough for kids 8 or older to understand, especially if you follow some of the recommendations to make the game easier (like getting rid of the Main Street element).
So overall, I would say that Tumble Town is a very solid game with a good theme and well-crafted mechanics, and one you should definitely check out on Kickstarter before the campaign ends.
Tumble Town is on Kickstarter beginning February 25th. Check out the campaign today!
Weird Giraffe Games provided us with a preview copy of the game in preparation for their Kickstarter campaign. This in no way influenced our opinion. Previews are a glimpse into an upcoming game with the pros and cons that we experienced prior to production of the game.