Review – Tumble Town

Wild West dice stackin' and city buildin'

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Designer Kevin Russ

Artist Katy Grierson, Katie Khau, Kevin Russ

Publisher Weird Giraffe Games

Category Engine Building, City Building, Dice Rolling

Length 45 minutes

Release Date 2021

Player Count 1-4

In Tumble Town, 1-4 players vie for the position of Mayor as they plan out the streets of their Wild West town. Over several turns players acquire building plans and dice, attempting to construct the best town they can. They can earn bonuses at the end of the game for matching plot requirements, hidden icons, and finished buildings. The player with the most points (stars) is the winner!

Several game components are laid out. The market is three rows of cards, with 4 cards plus a draw pile. The dice tower is in the corner, and at the bottom of the photo you can see the 2nd player's player board.

The market, dice tower, and 2nd player’s board.

Review

Once setup for Tumble Town is done, players will have 3 tiers of cards to choose from, denoted by the number of cacti on the back. On their turn, players will:

  • Claim a building plan
  • Take the associated dice and roll
  • Construct the building (if able)
  • Use any powers they wish
  • Place buildings on their street and extra dice in their supply

Any dice that don’t fit into the supply are discarded. Play continues until at least 2 colors of dice have 2 or fewer left in the supply, then play goes until everyone has had an equal number of turns. Points are then totaled, including any negative Penalty tokens, and the player with the most points wins!

Two rows of four market cards are show close up. They are (starting on the top row) Courthouse, Church, Bath House, School House, Mercantile, Post Office, Train Station, and Town Hall.

Some of the market cards.

Generally, the buildings in the first row only take 2-3 dice and have fairly easy requirements. Once players have built a couple of these smaller buildings, they should have a storehouse and a couple powers to draw upon that will let them keep their town growing; this is where the engine-building kicks in. It feels good rolling that last die needed to finish a building, but it can be equally frustrating not being able to complete anything that turn. There are rules for building so called “poorly constructed buildings,” however; these earn a player a penalty token for each die that doesn’t meet the building requirements. This might be worth it in some situations to get a specific building’s ability, but these negative points can add up fast. 

A player's town is shown close up. They have three built buildings - two made out of wood (brown dice) and one made of stone (black dice).

Players are encouraged to place new buildings thoughtfully on main street, as they will get bonus points for placing them next to certain plots, or for leaving a single plot between buildings. While I liked this level of strategy, there is no player interaction or take-that element at all, outside of taking a building someone else was eyeing for their turn. Players will want to have the reference cards out and handy early on, as the buildings have a lot of symbology for both their building requirements and powers. 

A pile of grey, gold, brown, and black dice, representing half the dice in the game.

This is half of the dice in the game.

The game has a lot in its favor, including: a large supply of dice in gold, grey, black and brown (I suppose to represent gold, concrete, stone, and wood, but only gold is explained), an included dice tower that fits nicely in the box, a handy quick-reference guide on the back page, and a solo mode. Unfortunately I felt like the heavy leaning on knowing the symbols and different shorthand slowed me down enough that it hampered my enjoyment of this Wild West city building roller. The game reminded me a bit of Blueprints, though on a larger scale, or Kingsburg on a smaller scale.

Three cards are shown: the Turn Reference, and the two sides of the Icon Reference card.

Overall there’s a lot to like about Tumble Town. The variety of cards and variable difficulty modes will give players a reason to keep coming back, and after several games the symbology will feel more natural. If this slight learning curve doesn’t bother you then Tumble Town might be a game to check out. See if you have what it takes to be the best Wild West Mayor!

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

The Bottom Line

There's a lot to like about Tumble Town if a heavy reliance on symbology doesn't slow your quickdraw.

 

7.5