Get up, get ready, go to work, come home, cook some dinner, watch tv. Stuck in the same daily routine, do you find yourself dreaming of a more exciting life, one where you are the tycoon of a theme park empire, building the tallest rollercoasters and attracting queues of customers and their pockets full of cash? Well, dream no longer. Get ready for the heady heights of theme park management with Meeple Land!
Blue Orange Games brings us this tile placement game, created by Cyrill Allard and Frederic Guerard, where players build an amusement park offering the best rides and services, whilst making sure plenty of little happy 'Meeples' come through your doors - but remember an unhappy guest could damage your reputation! The tile placement aspect has similarities to another Blue Orange game Kingdomino, where you assemble your own empire, and Lookout Games' Baren Park, where the perfect bear zoo wins you the game. It can be played by 2-4 players, from age 10 and up and it lasts around an hour.
Roll Up, Roll Up!
You start off your journey to becoming a mogul of the theme park world with a 7 x 6 piece of land bursting with potential. You're handed a small pot of money - around $15 dollars in the first round - but in Meeple Land that's enough to buy you some sweet rides and services. Laid out in front of you are small, medium and large tiles, ranging from tall rollercoasters to smaller attractions (think bumper rides and carousels), and services such as fast-food outlets (you don't want your meeples going hungry) and toilets (you don't want your meeples… well you know). However, don't fall into the trap of just plonking a ride here, there and everywhere. In Meeple Land there must be some order, and each tile has a path that must connect to another segment of path. Meeples wandering off the beaten track will not be good for customer experience!
Each ride tile has icons of different coloured meeples. Once you have spent all your dollars in the first round, you get to choose a coach full of meeples of different colours to drive to your gates. They then toddle off to their assigned spaces on your rides and collect you a dollar for the next round for each correctly placed Meeple. Some of these meeples have demands and need certain amenities nearby so you may find yourself requiring a gift shop or a toilet tile connected to your ride to get their custom.
If the coach loads of meeples aren't enough customers, you could plaster up a billboard by buying a promotion tile and bringing meeples of a certain colour to your park to fill spaces. If you back yourself into a corner with some poor tile choices, you also have the option of buying more land or additional entrances.
So how do you bag the winning theme park? Fill it up a variety of different rides, lovely little Meeple visitors, and those all-important connecting paths to gain reputation points. But beware, your reputation will be damaged for every dead-end path and Meeple left at your park gates with no ride to go on.
Please Keep Your Arms And Legs Inside The Ride
There is something endlessly satisfying about tile placement games, juggling to make everything line up, but of all the tile placement games Meeple Land is one of my favourites. Unlike Baren Park, there is more mechanics and strategy to Meeple Land, including managing your money, targeting the right coloured Meeples and making sure your paths line up nicely. Yet despite the extra logistics, the game is still easy to learn and easy to play.
Scoring is simple and has all that fun of finishing a game of mini-golf, with building tension as you tot up the points on your score sheet and see your numbers go up or penalties taken off. Will someone snap the game up with the bonus for getting every type of ride or will the coveted 2point Meeples (Yellow and Pink, obviously) push someone over the finish line.
It has tons of playability, with every game playing a little different depending on what tiles are drawn and which coaches of Meeples are waiting to come in. The artwork is colourful engaging (who can resist those cute Meeples) and the pieces are of good quality and feel well made. As someone who plays a lot of board games, there is a priceless quality to a game with a box that fits each piece perfectly and Meeple Land has that too.
Remain Seated Until The Ride Comes To A Complete Stop
The game only has four rounds which can feel limiting. It's great when you want a quick game, but sometimes the game comes to an end just as you are getting to grip with your theme park and leaves you wanting more. There isn't a lot of player interaction as you all play on your own boards, however, there is a good amount of competition for buying the right rides and choosing your Meeple coaches.
Meeple Land also lacks any expansions. Whilst it's a game you can play again and again, it would be great to see some extension to the playability of the Meeple Land universe. More land to build on, different rides, differently shaped tiles or perhaps a new type of theme park altogether would pique my interest further.
For Thrill Seekers And Adrenaline Junkies
Overall, Meeple Land is a strategic game whose fun and engaging design makes sure it doesn't feel too heavy. Lining up those paths and placing your ride tiles is addictive fun, and with its easy to learn rules, it's a great game for any board game collection. Throw yourself into the dizzying world of theme park management, enjoy the intoxication of watching Meeples pour through your gates but remember, don't leave any Meeples behind.