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Subject: Is It For You? A Mint Works Review rss

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Ryan Chrisco
United States
Missouri
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Intro (skip if you've played before)

This was the first game I ever backed and received from Kickstarter. It's appropriate, then, that this was one of the best Kickstarter campaigns I have ever witnessed or heard about (much less supported): constant backer updates, a reasonable price, meaningful stretch goals, a true indie designer (his only other credit is Area 1851), and a product that was released 2 months early. I am glad that this was the first game to come out of Kickstarter for me, but I do worry it will set an unreasonably high bar for my future investments (looking at you, Dark Souls...)
Not that I knew about it at the time, but this game actually came out of a BGG contest to develop a game that could fit inside a mint tin. The designer here took that rather literally, and after winning third place in that contest he put the product up into a Kickstarter campaign that went on to make $90k. Unfortunately, as far as I know this game is not going to retail (correct me if I'm wrong, Mr. Blaske). However, the game was relatively cheap, which means it will probably remain available on the secondhand market.
The game itself is a minimalistic Euro. Specifically, it distills the worker-placement mechanic down to a tiny footprint. In the place of workers, there are (unsurprisingly) mints. In the place of action spaces, there are Location cards. The overall goal of the game is to purchase Plan cards, which after being built (an action on a Location card), give a player passive benefits or victory points. This is achieved through clever manipulation of the Location cards. The game is divided into rounds, which consist of two phases: player turns and Upkeep. During the player turns, players pass or play. Playing involves placing a mint on a Location card to perform some kind of action and passing involves doing nothing, and if all players pass, you go to the Upkeep phase. If any player has 7 or more victory points at the start of the Upkeep phase, they win. Otherwise, mints are cleared off of Location cards and Plan cards are restocked (if any were purchased).
There are 10 Location cards, 6-8 of which you play with in any given game. Each one has several "action spots" on it, determining how many players can utilize it in a round. These range from basic economic actions "turn 1 mint into 2 mints" to more elaborate plays like "swap a build plan you own with one in the buying area". There are 21 Build plans, which add a satisfying level of variation to the game. There are definite themes and tactics that permeate the Build plans, like synergizing all of the "gardening" type cards, or enhancing your economy considerably to the point that you can buy whatever you like. While I haven't played with the full 4-player count yet, I can see how different strategies would emerge.

Summary

This game serves its purpose perfectly. It is a portable, 15-minute Euro that doesn't leave you bored. If you're lucky enough to have a significant other who will occasionally indulge you in a board game, this is the ideal game to pop out while say, waiting on your food at a restaurant. Honestly, there isn't too much to say about it mechanically beyond that, as it doesn't add too much fluff to distract you from its core mechanics. It's certainly not the greatest Euro to ever be created, and there are other Euros that I would play before it if I had more time, but for a game that fits in the palm of my hand and can be played in less time than a sitcom, I'd just be greedy to demand that it matches ACBAS or Luna in depth. For example, some of its cards don't feel perfectly balanced and there's the occasional dragging moment where your choices feel obvious and/or forced, but this is rare enough to keep the game fun.
Thematically, the game is a mixed bag. The idea of "mints" is well-represented in the components, but they really have nothing to do with "Building" your "Neighborhood" (your player space). It's in a bit of an odd place, really, because the components are high quality (you could believe it's a case of mints, which depending on the age of your children could be a bad thing) but the tie-in with the game mechanics is practically nonexistent. My one complaint about the components is the tin itself. I know it must have been really tough to source that, and perhaps the designer felt beholden to the original size-constraints of the contest that inspired this game, but the tin is just ten percent too small. The rulebook has to bend its corners to fit in, and every single mint has to lay flat for the lid to close. It's a tiny, tiny critique on a game that already fits a lot into an impressively small space, but it did frustrate me when I first had to dig in my fingernails to pop out the rulebook.
Finally, the designer added in a single-player mode. I don't know what to say about this. It reminds me of Flip City or Harbour. They're fun, light games that also inexplicably include a single player mode. I will never decry a designer for adding extra content into their games, but I can't imagine the solo gamer who wants to sit down and play a 10-20 minute game that, for as well-designed as it is, isn't all that deep. This is coming from a guy that loves solo gaming. I mean, if you're out there, I'm happy for you... I've just never met you.

Is It For You?

This game is straightforward with what it offers: a light Euro experience that can play quickly. If you're a serious gamer looking for some filler, this is for you. If you're a casual gamer who wants a novel game, this is for you. If you like to game-on-the-go, this game is for you. If you just want to prank your friends into popping a fully-featured board game out of a candy tin, then this is definitely for you. There's a bevy of casual, quick games out there on the market, I know. If you're just looking to compare it with the under-30-minute crowd, then I can promise you it's above-average. Most games in that grouping are either social deduction or push-your-luck: fun in their own way, but they lack the brainy satisfaction of a Euro. If you've ever felt that way, then secure yourself a copy of this game and keep it in your pocket at all times. I guarantee you'll find a time to use it.

Hope I've helped you to reach a decision about the game. If you want any advice in the future, be sure to check out my metalist and future Is It For You? reviews!
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Mel Primus
United States
Lincoln
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Thanks for the review! Glad you are enjoying the game.
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Mr Yorga
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Ownerofthescythe wrote:
I can't imagine the solo gamer who wants to sit down and play a 10-20 minute game that, for as well-designed as it is, isn't all that deep. I mean, if you're out there, I'm happy for you... I've just never met you.

HI!

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Claudio Coppini
Germany
Frankfurt am Main
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Nice review!

Quote:
I can't imagine the solo gamer who wants to sit down and play a 10-20 minute game that, for as well-designed as it is, isn't all that deep. This is coming from a guy that loves solo gaming. I mean, if you're out there, I'm happy for you... I've just never met you.


LOL, that would be me as well (along with Mr Yorga!).

I love soloing both heavy strategy games and very light euros like this, it just depends on the mood and available time when I want to play something.
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Mr Yorga
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Yep on both points (it is a great review!). Sometimes I have 20 minutes to kill before something else happens and this is ideal.

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Ryan Chrisco
United States
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Haha I'm glad to have met all of you!
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Chris Cullen
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Ownerofthescythe wrote:
...but I can't imagine the solo gamer who wants to sit down and play a 10-20 minute game that, for as well-designed as it is, isn't all that deep. [...] I mean, if you're out there, I'm happy for you... I've just never met you.


Hi from me too!

This now competes with Onirim for play-time during my lunch break - both are quick, small-footprint solo games, so I can through a few games (and eat) without over-running.

The aesthetics of the theme are brilliant and make this a lot of fun to get on the table (and has attracted a lot of attention from colleagues).

It's also VERY simple to learn, but has enough depth and variation to keep it interesting. Both my step-son (16) and daugher (8) absolutely love the game and keep asking to play more of it; neither of them are boardgamers other than the occassional game of Love Letter. Step-son even wants a retail copy for himself to introduce to his dad.

It's climbing up The Hotness, and I hope it continues to get the attention and recognition it deserves.

Also.. 2 months early for Kickstarter fulfilment - it's unheard of!
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Andrew Palmer
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Currently it's actually my #1 solo game, and #2 is Pentaquark, which is even smaller. I like my solo games to last about 10 minutes. Any more is overstaying its welcome - I'm usually a party gamer personality who prefers playercounts closer to 10 than 1, so a solo game about the length of a "phone game" one might pull up on their mobile device in the same situation is perfect for me. I just want to kill a little time, and Mint Works is great at that.
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Christopher Peters
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Barberton
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Yep. It's just a quick puzzle, and 10 minutes might be a long game.

I also really dig the solo variant in the forums for Easy Breezy Travel Agency as well.

"Solo games I can play standing at the counter waiting for my kids to get ready for bed"

Would be a nice geeklist.
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Chris Klarmann
United States
Staten Island
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Yorga wrote:
Ownerofthescythe wrote:
I can't imagine the solo gamer who wants to sit down and play a 10-20 minute game that, for as well-designed as it is, isn't all that deep. I mean, if you're out there, I'm happy for you... I've just never met you.

HI!

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Austin Slade
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Ownerofthescythe wrote:
... but the tin is just ten percent too small. The rulebook has to bend its corners to fit in, and every single mint has to lay flat for the lid to close. It's a tiny, tiny critique on a game that already fits a lot into an impressively small space, but it did frustrate me when I first had to dig in my fingernails to pop out the rulebook.


I had to do that too, so I used my fingernail clippers to cut the corners of the rulebook so it fits into the tin (and no, it didn't cut out any of the words).
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