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Subject: A review of the latest offering in the microgame craze rss

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Chris
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Though here at journey's end I lie in darkness buried deep, beyond all towers strong and high, beyond all mountains steep, above all shadows rides the Sun, and Stars forever dwell: I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell.
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Originally published on menwithdice.com

This is the most biased review I’ve ever authored. The designer of Mine All Mine happens to be a close personal friend of mine. So I am admittedly slanted in wanting to see his game succeed. Fortunately, it is very easy for me to find praiseworthiness in his creation. Mine All Mine is the latest offering in the microgame trend. These small, short, portable games inherently have potential for enormous return on investment in regards to both money for entertainment as well as complexity for depth. Mine All Mine yields high returns in both.

If you’re like me, there are many many empty minutes in your life not filled by gaming. The more you can reduce those non-gaming minutes, the better your life will be. Mine All Mine contributes to humanity by converting non-gaming minutes into gaming minutes. All microgames boast portability, small footprint, and short playing time, but Mine All Mine maxes out all of those features.

The contents totals fewer than 20 cards and two counters per player. It all fits into a slim zip lock bag. You couldn’t ask for better portability. This game will not only fit in your pocket – it won’t even cause a bulge. You can discreetly bring this game to even a funeral without risk of someone asking if that’s a game in your pocket or if you’re happy to see them. And yes I have brought this game to a funeral. The opportunity to play did not arise, but that’s not the point. The point is, I was prepared for such an opportunity.

Not only is it portable, but the footprint is so minimal, it can be played without a table. Granted, a surface to play on is certainly preferable. There’s 3 cards in your hand, and just 3 cards sitting out on the table.



There’s an official “standing” variant where the game goes even more minimalist so that it could be played while standing – such as in line for The Hobbit Part 7. The player’s counters are clips, allowing them to fasten to their respective cards even when not on a flat, stable surface.



Mine all Mine is also super short. It plays in 10 minutes. Really just 10 minutes. It’s not like other games where the advertised time is a bit of a stretch. This really is just a 10 minute game. Rarely do you just play one session. The game is so short, that you can usually do back-to-back sessions, even if you’re just looking for a filler to finish out the evening.

So any microgame can make portability, footprint, and playtime boasts. Although Mine All Mine gets top scores in all those microgame features, none of that matters if the game play isn’t engaging and the decisions aren’t interesting.

Mine All Mine gameplay is structured into a planning phase and an execution phase. Players make all decisions secretly and simultaneously, then reveal their selections to see how it all pans out.

Each round a planetary system will randomly be selected. The planet is broken down into different spots. Each spot has a value that represents how many resources are available for the taking. Each resource you collect is worth a point. The most points at the end of 3 rounds is the winner.



At the start of each round you are dealt 3 random cards. Each card has a front and back, and each face is split into two sides. This means each card has 4 possibilities. Think of them as “four sided” cards. 3 of the options are a ship. The other option is a text ability. So out of this hand of 3 cards each with 4 options, you have to assemble a fleet. There’s a planet out there, and entrepreneurial astronauts are going to fight for the loot.

Each ship has 3 stats: Speed, Attack, and Cargo. Speed is going to determine who gets to the planet first. If you’re fastest, it means you’ll get to collect at the first spot uncontested. If you really spank your opponent’s speed, you may even get the first two spots uncontested. After the fastest fleet collects his loot, then he proceeds to the next planet spot. While there, he will encounter the player with the next highest speed. Now there’s two people squabbling over one spot. The highest attack will get to collect the points. The player with the lower attack is knocked out and won’t collect anything else for the rest of the round. The surviving player will then proceed to the next spot and encounter the next fastest player. Attack is compared again, repeating the process until all 6 planet spots have been resolved.

There’s also a cargo limitation. You can have the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, but if it has trifling cargo capacity, you won’t be able to haul away many victory points. So if you have 4 cargo, the most points you could score is 4. Attack and speed is what determines who is going to get spots, cargo is the balancer that caps the total score you can get per round.



You could go high speed, and collect on the first and maybe second spot, but then get kicked out by the strongest guy and have no chance at the remaining 4 planet spots to collect on. If you somehow manage to go high attack and high speed, you will do this undoubtedly at the expense of cargo, meaning you’ll have first pick of the loot and a high chance of being the biggest bully, but only be able to collect paltry points from your weak cargo.

While selecting from 3 little cards, you are faced with 64 different combinations if you choose to launch all 3 cards. And the 64 possible combinations to choose from this round are going to be different from the 64 possible combinations you are going to have next round. There are 12 total of these “4 sided” cards, each of them different. So each round you are going to have a different menu of 64 options. This is the heart of the game, and where you find the meat of your decisions.

The selection of each use of each card comes with it the opportunity cost of the other 3 options on that card. Only one side of each card may be used, so selecting one comes with it the rejection of the other 3 options. This can make the fleet assembly decision interesting and challenging. It’s not a brain burner, but it's a very satisfying amount of depth considering the game has a 10 minute investment.

And there’s always guessing and second guessing what your opponents might do. Will they go strong? Will they go fast? Can you go slow and try to sweep up at the end? How worth it is it beefing up your attack and speed at the expense of cargo? Is having spacious cargo going to undercut your entire operation since you get left in the dust and get beat up by the power ships? Is having the text option worth having one less ship in your fleet?

But you don’t have to pick all 3 of your cards each round. It can be a winning strategy to hold back in one round in order to play 4 ships the following round. If there are unplayed ships, when used cards get shuffled and redistributed, the lowest scoring players get preference. It’s a viable strategy to take a hit in round 2 in order to have a huge round 3. So even in a short game like this there’s opportunities to make “long term” strategy.

As I write this the game is on kickstarter. Even though I have admitted bias, I can offer a perspective that no other reviewer can – and that is of the trustworthiness of the designer. If you pledge on kickstarter, you are doing so out of faith. I can assure you that you are placing your faith in trustworthy hands. He’s a normal gamer who’s obsessed with designing games. He left a successful career in the US and uprooted his family to go to Thailand to fight human trafficking. I guess somehow going all Liam Neeson on traffickers somehow frees up time to allow someone to publish a game. Buy the game because it’s worth buying – but feel good about your purchase because you’re also supporting a family that’s helping women victimized by the sex trade.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1994321553/mine-all-min...
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