Beginner-Friendly Family Games Reviews

Tiny Towns – Board Game Review

Construction management has never been this cute - and tough!

Game at a Glance

A review copy of this game was provided by the publisher; however, my opinions are my own

Skip to Review; Skip to Final Thoughts


In Tiny Towns you are the mayor of a tiny forest village in need of construction. Resources are scarce so be prepared to accept everything offered to build a thriving town. Good mayors are careful planners but must also remain flexible. If things go wrong, your town will be filled with waste instead of buildings.

Each player receives a 4×4 grid to build their town in. Players take turns choosing a resource cube for the group – everybody must add the resource to their own grid. When these cubes are placed in the correct pattern, a building can be constructed in the area (which then clears away the cubes).

The objective is to earn the most victory points from building placements. In each game, there are seven primary building types. Other than the blue cottages, each building is variable game-to-game and all provide different scoring options. The cottage earns victory points if the building is fed, which is done by the orange barn-shaped buildings (Farms, Orchards, Greenhouses, or Granaries). There are also buildings for entertainment, business, the arts, etc. and each has unique scoring conditions that often interplay with other building types. Players must work out a plan for their city, but also maintain enough flexibility to alter it if the resources they need aren’t in abundance.

The board eventually gets filled with cubes and buildings. When you run out of room for materials and/or buildings, you’re eliminated. When all players are out of placement options, the game ends and scoring begins.



Tiny Towns is an abstract strategy game that is easy to learn and tough to master.

Everybody starts with a blank 4×4 grid and plenty of possibilities; however, the limited building space fills up quickly. It’s wise to size up the available blueprints and determine which building combinations you’d like to create, but the best strategists will learn to remain flexible to make the most out of their ever-shrinking building space. Purposefully or not, your opponents aren’t likely to choose the resource type(s) you need most. You may be forced to erect a building you didn’t initially want to clear up some space.

There is very little randomness in Tiny Towns. Other than the secret monument cards, players work with the same resources and buildings, and that is entirely player-dependent. Despite this balance in opportunity, in my experience, the towns come together very differently. Much of this has to do with the unique monument cards that often set players on different strategic paths. And with seven building types, there are several viable strategies to pursue each game.


Tiny Towns is incredibly easy to learn with straightforward rules. This is the type of game that is accessible to less-experienced gamers. The ruleset may be simple but the in-game decisions are not. The depth of the game comes in the form of the personal puzzle that plays out on the 4×4 grid. The push-and-pull of filling up the board with resources and then clearing some away to place a building creates a lot of tension.

This is a fairly puzzly game that plays out lightning-fast. The box says 45 minutes but I would wager that many games fall below this estimate.


There is plenty of variability in the game. Six of the seven main buildings have four different modes, and although they will have similar functions, they all score differently. In addition, there are 15 unique monument cards, most of which offer special scoring conditions. The mix-and-match of buildings creates new interactions in each game. This helps to keep Tiny Towns feeling fresh to me from game to game.

This is not a game many will be able to master after the first play. Executing a strategy is often difficult due to the spatial puzzle. Building construction is messy – resources take up a lot of grid space before building placement. If you plan on filling your board with large blueprints, you will run out of space very quickly. Poor spatial planning will result in a town full of unusable resources which equates to negative points.

Managing the push-and-pull of the building phase is further complicated by the resource choice mechanism. When you cannot get what you need to finish a building due to competitors’ choices you will quickly pollute your town with useless cubes. After some experience players often learn to avoid obvious inefficiencies, but this game is not “solvable” by design.

Theme / Aesthetics

The box art hints at a game full of cute woodland creatures bustling about. Aside from a few small illustrations of squirrels and similar critters on building cards, they are absent from the game. Tiny Towns is abstract; however, the theme of managing resources in a small building space does come through pretty well.

The large building cards have beautiful, colorful illustrations but art is pretty absent from the rest of the game. That’s not to say that the game is not beautiful. The high-quality components are lovely, especially the bright, chunky wooden buildings. The grid board is fairly plain but provides a nice foundation for the buildings without adding visual clutter. The scoring pad is large, easy to understand, and helps with teaching the game. Everything fits into the included box insert neatly. This is a fantastic production!

Interaction / Fun

Players will spend the majority of the game utilizing resources chosen by their competition, so despite each player working on their private puzzle, there is a good amount of player interaction, even if it is somewhat indirect. The resource selection by others seems impersonal at the beginning of the game as players tend to focus on their own needs. That can certainly change towards the end of the game when buildings begin filling the towns and strategies become apparent. At this stage in the game, it is tempting to avoid choosing resources that benefit others. Forcing other people’s boards to remain gummed up with incomplete building resources falls squarely into “take that” territory. Whether a player finds this fun or not is entirely subjective but I think it’s a clever mechanic.

Every turn is meaningful, and I find that enjoyable. Where the resources and buildings are placed will impact the town’s future. Poor decisions will haunt you – players need to take that into account each time a resource is placed. This can be stressful and I have found out the hard way that people who struggle with spatial puzzles sometimes have a bad time with this game.

Turns are simultaneous with virtually no downtime. This tends to work well in games that can accommodate up to six players, and Tiny Towns is no exception. Once everybody understands the flow, things move quickly.

It is important to note that at high player counts there are fewer opportunities to choose your resource. The difference between choosing 1 in 3 resources vs. 1 in 6 is significant. Fortunately, the game includes the Town Hall variant that alleviates this issue by combining a resource deck and personal choice, and I would suggest it for larger groups. This variant would also be a good option to remove the “take that” element for players who do not prefer any meanness in the game and wouldn’t mind losing out on some of the interactivity.

Towards the end of the game, players will begin to be eliminated. In my experience, most players go out within a few turns of each other, and players aren’t left waiting for the game to finish up for an obscene amount of time.

Final Thoughts

I think Tiny Towns is pretty fantastic. The ability to mix and match buildings in each game boosts replayability. It looks inviting and gorgeous with distinctive wooden components and bright colors, and it combines simple mechanics with a depth of strategy that makes it both accessible and tough. The game seems simple but it can be incredibly challenging to achieve a good score.

The lack of downtime makes this an excellent choice for larger groups and families, with or without the Town Hall variant. It is enjoyable at low player counts as well, as the interaction and take-that tend to come out strongly with fewer players. If you enjoy spacial puzzles and don’t mind a bit of light negative player interaction, definitely check out Tiny Towns.

My Personal BGG Rating: 7.5/10
Good – usually willing to play


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