Out in the wild west it’s every person for themselves. You take what you need and build what you can. The people need a new mayor so they’ve started a competition to see who can make the best town. The trick is to control the flow of resources, build the best town, and put your buildings in locations that will make your citizens happiest. If you enjoy engine building, city planning, resource management, and controlling chaotic dice rolls, you should check out Tumble Town by Weird Giraffe Games.
Them’s the Rules, Pardner
In Tumble Town you are one of the competitors in the running to be named mayor. You must roll dice and construct buildings. You receive points based on building placement, building cards, and a secret goal card unique to you.
There are four colors of dice used as resources: black, gray, red, and gold. Whenever at least two of the dice colors get down to two or fewer dice this triggers the end of the game and you finish the round.
During your turn you will go through four phases: Claim, Take Dice and Roll, Construct and Use Powers, Place and Discard Extra Dice. During your Claim phase you choose any Building Plan card and place it to the left of your Storehouse. You can see in the picture below the Storehouse is next to the Horse, it’s where you keep your unused dice and is one of your two starting cards.
Next you Take Dice and Roll. Looking at the row you Claimed from, you take the dice indicated on the back of the Building Card and roll them, then add them to your Storehouse. Hopefully you’ll roll what you need to construct your buildings but that’s okay if you don’t. You’ll use these dice for the next phase where your engine really comes into play.
During the next phase you Construct and Use Powers. With your dice you may Construct any buildings for which you have Building Plans. Now is when you may use the powers of your Horse and any constructed buildings once to adjust your dice to match the requirements shown in the buildings. If you’ve constructed some good buildings you can turn some bad dice into exactly what you need. Each building has specific requirements that must be met in order to be built. There is a wide variety, but some examples include specific dice colors must be used, face up values of dice must be less than, more than, or equal to the number shown, or only using pairs of numbers. This makes it a challenge to build the buildings as you acquire them.
In the last phase you Place and Discard Extra Dice. Place the dice you constructed building with where you want it around the Main Street trying to match as many requirements given on the card, this earns you extra points. You can build whatever you want wherever you want, but you may lose out on points doing so. It’s a delicate balancing act, but if you plan well you’ll be proud of your beautiful town. Finally, any dice you have left over must be placed in the Storehouse spaces, if you have too many dice you have to discard some back to the supply.
In the end, you count up all your victory points from secret goal cards, building cards, and building placements and find out who the best mayor is!
Time to Acknowledge the Corn
Tumble Town is deceptively simple: pick a building, roll the dice, change what you can, build a building. Seems easy, but once you get into the thick of things you’ll make decisions that can affect the rest of your game. This is one reason I loved it.
Another reason I enjoyed it so much is the quick engine you can get going. This engine building is a fantastic way to mitigate chaos and randomness. It can be so frustrating to play games that don’t allow much control over that. Once you get a few buildings built, you feel more and more in control of the dice and, while the randomness is still a challenge, it becomes more of a puzzle to solve rather than just a frustration.
This game has a nice and simple look. While there are a lot of symbols, once you understand them, the cards are easy to read. The art is simple, the buildings just represent your stacked dice and just about every other thing on the cards may give you points from goal cards. Also, you can see in the picture above that you actually use the dice to build each building. It makes a really nice aesthetic as the game progresses.
Games don’t take very long (about 45 minutes); once a player has picked their dice and rolled, the next player can start their turn. You’re not waiting for each player to complete a full turn and run through their engine. You can go ahead and start while they are working, but it will be tempting to wait because you may want to watch everyone’s engine run.
Be sure to check out Tumble Town’s Kickstarter to pick up a copy for yourself.