Tiny Towns

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Tiny Towns is a box full of that IKEA furniture woody smell, and that’s because it has a huge array of wooden shaped buildings and coloured cubes in it. On top of that you have a couple of decks of cards and some player boards containing a 4×4 grid. Each player starts with their player board empty and a card is dealt for each type of wooden building. The cottage only has one …
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Exceptional Components
Dice Tower


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Simple rules.
  • All players are involved on every turn.
  • Decent replay-ability with the building/monument cards.
  • Quick playing time.

Might Not Like

  • Other players' resource selection can kill your plans.
  • Fairly abstract.
  • Spatial/puzzle element might not be for everyone.
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Tiny Towns is a box full of that IKEA furniture woody smell, and that’s because it has a huge array of wooden shaped buildings and coloured cubes in it. On top of that you have a couple of decks of cards and some player boards containing a 4x4 grid.

Each player starts with their player board empty and a card is dealt for each type of wooden building. The cottage only has one card but the rest of the buildings have four cards each with a different variant and effect on it, giving the game a huge amount of replay-ability and variety.

Each card shows what pattern of cubes you need on your board to build that building. So a cottage needs a yellow cube, a blue cube and a red cube, arranged in an ‘L’ shape. The shape can be rotated, mirrored, flipped and so on, but the colours must be in the correct order. The card also gives an effect and/or scoring stipulation that you have to meet to get points.

On your turn you will call out a colour of a cube and everyone will add that to their board. If someone has completed a building card pattern they may also build that building by removing the cubes and placing the building on one of the squares a cube was on.

Tiny Towns is a game about efficiently planning and using the space available to you. While in the early rounds players may go for the same building types, where they place them varies wildly and therefore the cubes they need start to become different. If you aren’t careful you can quickly narrow down your options and find yourself praying to the board game gods for your opponents to choose a colour your need. For a game that is quite solitaire in nature it’s surprising how dependant on the other players you will become!

For those who want a more random or difficult experience instead of players choosing cards there is a deck or 15 cards to randomly choose the cubes for you, with the exception that ever third cube is a free choice. Both ways work really well and Tiny Towns works well at all player counts. 

Player Count: 1-6
Time: 45-60 Minutes
Age: 14+


You are the mayor of a town, a tiny town, located in a secluded forest. The town is populated with small woodland creatures hidden away from nasty predators. You don’t have a lot of space and resources are scarce, so you take what you can get and accept any building material offered to you. Plan the construction of your town careful to ensure it thrives and doesn’t get filled with wasted resources. Tiny Towns is a one to six player pattern building game designed by Peter McPherson and published by AEG.

As the mayor of your town you are collecting resources and placing them on your four by four town grid to match the patterns of various buildings. Once the resources have been collected in the correct pattern you place your building on the grid. There are various buildings that score in a variety of ways, but once resources and buildings are placed they can’t be moved so careful planning is key as any unused resources at the end of the game score negative points.



At the beginning of Tiny Towns each player is given a four by four grid that they use to place their resources on. Each player is dealt two monument cards that only they can build and are kept secret. The players select one of these monuments and put the rest back in the box. All the resources are laid out and one from each set of the building type is selected with the cottage being used in every game.

Round Structure

The Master Builder (active player) names one type of resource (Wood, Wheat, Brick, Glass or Stone). All players now take the named resource and place it on to an empty space on their board. Note that resources are not removed from a square once placed unless they are being used to build a building and only one resource may occupy a single square.

If any of the patterns on the building cards match a pattern on a player’s board, they may choose to build the respective building. They remove all the resources from the board that are used to build the building and return them to general supply. The relevant building being is placed on one of the spaces that was occupied by the removed resource. Once this building is placed it can’t be moved.

The Master Builder token is passed to the next player and play continues with players calling out resources, placing resources and constructing buildings. When a player can’t place any more resources or construct any buildings (due to the patterns not matching) they are out of the game and no longer participate in calling resources.

Game End

A game of Tiny Towns ends when all players have completed their towns. All unused resources are removed from the board. Players calculate the score based on the scoring requirements from the constructed buildings and deduct one point for every empty space. The player with the most points wins the game.

Final Thoughts on Tiny Towns

Tiny Towns….what can I say? Tiny on the rules, tiny on the available space, not so tiny on the choices. What a game this is. One of the things I admire in the hobby is when someone has the creative genius idea to design a game such as this.

The rules are about as straight forward as you can get. Call out a resource, place, check to see if you can build a building by matching a pattern. That’s it. The rules are covered on two pages, with most of that dedicated to examples. Yet the choices and decisions that you need to make in this are not so simple. This a real puzzler of a game.

You need to plan carefully and have an idea in your head of what buildings you are going for. Randomly throwing down cubes will be your undoing. However, the other players might be calling out resources that you don’t want/need so these need to be placed so they don’t interfere with your plans and can be utilised in other ways.

There is also a fair amount of replay-ability with four different buildings to choose from for the six different types. There is scope for some interesting combinations by mixing and matching the different building types. Added to that are the 15 different monument cards making for a different play each time. There is also scope for Tiny Towns to be easily expanded. All it will need is a few new buildings or new building types and maybe another resource type.

Tiny Towns is a great addition to anyone’s collection who is looking for a lightweight game that has some depth of gameplay. It is quick, can play up to six players and has a lot of replay-ability.

Tiny Towns by AEG, became an instant hit with me from the moment I played it. It was a few years ago, back at the UKGamesExpo. After seeing numerous reviews on YouTube, I was excited to finally get around to playing it. Like with most popular games at the Expo, we had to wait a little bit to actually get to sit down and play. We eventually sat down, as a group of six I think, A few minutes later and with little time spent dwelling on the rules, we were off.

Simple & Addictive

As I mention before, learning the rules to Tiny Towns took such a short amount of time. It’s a simple game of placing resource cubes onto your four by four grid. When you get enough resources to match a pattern for one of the many buildings, you can remove all those cubes and add that building to your town. You must place it in one of the spaces where you removed the cubes. Each building has its own unique way of scoring, but I’ll get into that a bit later.

As your town builds up with more of these little buildings, you will slowly start running out of space to make the patterns required. This makes the puzzle of the game increasingly difficult, as you try to make buildings with the space remaining.

Sometimes you will end up with resources you do not want laying around in your town, there are a few special buildings that could help you get rid of these, but if you ever fill your grid and cannot build then that’s game over for you. Each space without a building (space with an unused resource cube) will score you minus one point.

Finishing early does mean you will have to sit and wait patiently for the other players, to find out who the winner is once everyone has completed their own tiny town. From my experience even finishing the game last doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to have the best town. It’s all about knowing what buildings will fit in well and score better with each other.

Ever Changing Town

Although you will always use the same little coloured wooden buildings, the actual buildings they represent will vary from game to game. This is achieved by having a variety of cards for each set of coloured buildings. The little dark green buildings for example could be a tavern one game, then a Inn the next. These do sound like small changes, but there is a lot more to it than just a simple name change. Each building will have its own unique pattern of materials you will need to match in order to build them. They will all score differently, and some will have abilities that will help you through the game. Each player will also have their own unique construction to build, that is only available to them. These are called monuments. Each one has its own unique pattern and special scoring ability and in-game bonus.

With the amount of different buildings available, it means no one game of Tiny Towns is ever the same. It is something that is so simple, changing the patterns and how the buildings score, but it makes for a fantastic amount of re-playability.

Doing It Alone

Tiny Towns have very minimal player interaction and as I mentioned earlier, you will keep playing until you fill your grid. This often means some players will end their game a lot sooner than others. Although that maybe a down side for playing with higher player counts, it actually makes for a great solo game.

The only real player interaction comes with players naming resources and you placing those resources on your board. How does this work with just one person playing the game? A small deck of cards, each featuring a different one of the resources, will replace the other players turns. This still gives you a random selection of resources you have to place in your town, which replaces the other players turns.

How Do You Win Playing Solo

With no one to compare scores to, how do you win at Tiny Towns solo? Well to be honest, like in most solo games there is not very much a sense of winning or losing. The idea is really to improve your score and to play the game better. In the Tiny Towns rulebook, the solo section has a set of scores to beat. These range from aspiring architect (scoring less than 9 points) to master architect (scoring 38 points or higher). I myself have never beat master architect, my highest score being 37, achieving a town planner score. Missing it by only one point, but if anything it just drives me to want to play it more. It’s a great solo challenge and I still strive to one day beat my high score and become a master architect.

Final Thoughts

Tiny Towns doesn’t have a whole lot of player interaction as it is, this makes it the perfect solo game. With a deck of cards easily replacing the role of another player, you will hardly notice the difference. You will still enjoy the same great puzzle of a game by yourself, as you would with other people. If anything, I honestly think I prefer playing Tiny Towns solo. There is no time spent waiting for other players trying to solve the puzzle of their own towns. You can enjoy it at your own pace. No rushed decisions because other people are waiting for you. There is also no waiting around when you finish your tiny town, I often jump straight into another game after scoring up my town. As a big fan of solo games, Tiny Towns offers so much that appeals to me. Set up is short and sweet. Gameplay is simple yet trying to decide where to place everything is challenging. A fantastic puzzle of a game, that has tons of re-playability. A must for the collection of any solo player!

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Simple rules.
  • All players are involved on every turn.
  • Decent replay-ability with the building/monument cards.
  • Quick playing time.

Might not like

  • Other players' resource selection can kill your plans.
  • Fairly abstract.
  • Spatial/puzzle element might not be for everyone.