The publisher gifted me a copy of this game; however, I always strive to provide fair, honest opinions.
Game at a Glance
In Tumble Town players compete to build the best town in the West! This is accomplished by rolling dice and constructing buildings on Main Street with those dice. Whomever is able to build the most impressive town wins the game and is declared the Mayor of Tumble Town!
The game takes place over several rounds which are divided into 4 phases: claim a building plan from a shared drafting pool, take the dice associated with that plan and roll them, construct the building (if you can) using your dice pool and dice manipulation powers, and finally strategically place the building on your Main Street. Points are earned from buildings, set collection of icons, and meeting the town layout requirements shown on the players’ town mats.
- Gameplay: Good (with a caveat). With less than 4 players the game may seem too short. I played several rounds at the 2p count and we both were left feeling a bit incomplete, like we barely had a chance to get our dice manipulation engine going and build many buildings. In the traditional ruleset the endgame condition is triggered when 2 of the 4 dice pools are near empty. In 2 and 3 player games, quite a few dice are removed which can lead to a rapid end of the game. Fortunately there is a variant in the rulebook that does not call for removal of dice and changes the endgame condition. Using this variant the games are still very quick, but feel more satisfying. Other than our issues with the short length, I found this game to be engaging and fun without a lot of complication.
- Art & Style: Adequate. It takes place in the Wild West so there are plenty of earth-tones in the color palette. I was not a huge fan of the brown dice at first, but they have since grown on me. The artwork seems a bit disjointed as well. The bold, blocky buildings in in the foreground of plan cards don’t seem to match with the Western painting look of the background. But the graphic design and iconography convey the information needed to play, and ultimately that is what matters the most.
- Accessibility: Good. The rulebook lays out the necessary information efficiently with a bit of Western flavor added in for fun. There’s also a handy quick start guide on the back of the rulebook. The ruleset is fairly straightforward and the turns are quick, which make it an easy game to get to the table on a weeknight. Tumble Town is a fairly lightweight making it accessible to beginner gamers as well as older children.
- Components: Excellent. The box includes 100 dice, a wooden first player token in the shape of a saguaro cactus, dice and penalty tokens, a score pad, 52 building plan cards, 4 starting horse cards, 3 plan end cards, and 8 double-sided player mats. It also comes with a themed dice tower in the shape of an old Western building. Everything fits into the box nicely along with the included functional insert.
- Replay-ability: Good. There are 4 different town player mat configurations to choose from with varying difficulty levels and scoring conditions. Every player has a different starting horse card that has a small hidden objective. This doesn’t change the strategy a whole lot, but it does give you a symbol to work towards in your set collection goals. In addition, there are more building cards than will be played in a single game, therefore you will always have a fresh set of building plans to draft from.
Tabletop Mom’s Opinion
* This rating is for Tumble Town played with the “Surplus Variant” when less than 4 players are at the table.
Tumble Town came to us at a very chaotic time in our lives. The kids were getting ready to go back to school and sports and other extracurricular activities were starting to ramp up. By the end of each day Tim and I were completely wiped out – the very thought of getting a complicated Euro game to the table was exhausting. Fortunately Tumble Town was short and sweet, and offered just enough decisions to give us a bit of competition without activating mind-numbing Analysis Paralysis.
There is an aspect of luck to Tumble Town – this is a game that comes with 100 dice after all. But bad luck can be counteracted. Tumble Town has a light engine building mechanic. As you add buildings to your town you unlock more dice manipulation powers which can allow players to mitigate a lot of bad rolls. If you build a decent engine a lot of the tension added by bad luck so often present in dice-based games is all but eliminated. This leaves the game feeling a lot more cozy than it has any right to be. I found Tumble Town to be… dare I say relaxing? I never thought I’d use the word “relaxing” to describe any sort of game featuring dice, but here we are.
The game has a lot of charm. Even the name Tumble Town is a cute play upon dice tumbling and tumble weeds. Despite my initial reservations about some of the presentation, it does provide a unique Old West atmosphere that has grown on me. The components are very well-done. I always appreciate when the box includes a functional insert. This game has even managed to include a thematic dice tower that fits quite snugly in the box next to the insert. Speaking of charm, the wooden saguaro is a new front runner for my favorite first player token of all time.
As I mentioned above, I felt that with less than 4 players, and especially at 2 players, Tumble Town is much too short of a game. The entire point is to construct buildings, however my husband and I were barely able to add anything to our main streets before the dice pools ran low and the game ended. If this game was presented without the “Surplus Variant” I would have to rate it much lower than 4 stars.
Fortunately, the “Surplus Variant” allows the game to go on a bit longer when playing with less than 4 people. In this version all the dice are played with, and the end game condition is not dependent on the dice resources running low but on running through the building plan decks. It’s still short and sweet this way, but we felt like we had more opportunities to build our town up. It felt much more satisfying to play a slightly longer game and build up our towns, and I will always recommend anybody playing with 2-3 people to skip right to the variant. (Please note, I do not play solo and cannot speak to the Solo Play rules).
Overall I’m extremely pleased to add Tumble Town to our shelf. It is a game I can see us pulling out when we are feeling a little too run-down for a brain burner. I am excited to introduce this one to my kids – I know my eldest will take to it right away and in a few years my daughter should be able to play as well. We will revisit Tumble Town a lot in the future, I am positive of that.
Tabletop Mom Recommends this for anybody looking for a light dice-chucking engine builder to fill some time on a weeknight. This would work well for families with older children as well as for people newer to gaming. If you are only interested in lengthy, heavy strategy games this will probably not satisfy you.