As a child, I spent many hours playing SimCity. I was always fascinated by constructing all the unique buildings. And even though I was often constricted by the amount of money needed in the game, what was even harder was finding buildings that complimented each other. Plus it just seemed like a waste if the in-game structures didn’t play off of each other like a real town.
Tiny Towns solves that issue. Play with up to six players in this roll-and-write style puzzle game by Peter McPherson. Fill your player card for the most Victory Points. But sometimes when space is limited, construction can be tricky.
To strategically improve your chance of victory, you’ll want to pick the best monuments, use effective building combos and adapt to the unique game situations every time you play.
Even with a straightforward game, it can cause you various problems. Some of the most common constraints include:
- Time Commitment – It will take a few playthroughs to fully understand how best to set up your town.
- Planning – Think about the resources needed for the buildings and the placement.
- Element of Chance – Your rivals may start playing the same way as the others around the table. This causes the boards to have too many of the same buildings making it hard to score well.
- Player Count – More players cause greater gaps between choosing the resources you need. You’ll end up with spots covered in stuff you don’t need.
- Balance – Strike a balance between forming a strategy and being flexible. Too much strategy can lock your ability to build effectively. Too much flexibility can end up ruining your score.
Despite these issues, there is a number of things you can do to counter them. All of these strategies are more like tips designed to be used together and layered in different ways. It will take time to get the handle on this game and play your best.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
Every game is a time commitment of some sort, but if you practice on your own, the game will be faster the next time you play. To cut down on learning time consider playing solo mode or with just one other player. Just focus on getting the general idea of the rules. Try to partially memorize the materials needed for each structure and remember how the building is built.
For example, an L-shaped build of glass and stone would be for the Chapel. How can this building be shaped on your map? Try your best to figure out how it can work alongside the other resources you’ve already placed.
2. Resource Placement
Once you get a good handle on how everything is built, see how they affect each other based on placement. In order to score points, certain buildings need each other.
For example, the Cottage needs a building from the Farm category to feed it. Unfed Cottages score no points.
Or going back to the Chapel example, in order for it to score any points, it’s based on how many fed Cottages are on the board.
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3. Break the Status Quo
With a larger group, people might start calling the same resources. For example, a heavy trend towards cottages or wells. This is fine overall, but if every player makes the same building over and over again, there isn’t much room for your score to break out.
Break this trend by calling for pieces that no one else needs. Build different structures that compliment your cottages rather than focusing on one building. Not only does this mess other people’s strategy, but it also will net you more points in the long run.
4. Cap Player Limits
So this might be controversial, but even though a game allows up to a certain player amount, doesn’t mean it should be played as such. For beginners, it’s better for two players or to play solo mode. Most experienced players find that the four-player amount is the sweet spot and six players can be chaos.
Playing with fewer players is one of the ways to counter the struggle of getting the pieces you need for your town. Another counter is using the Cavern Rule. If you can convince the other players to use this rule, you can discard resources you don’t need on any two turns.
It’s not perfect but at least you have a delete button when you really need it. The drawback is you don’t get any replacement resources that turn, but at least your town is safe.
Town Hall mode removes the Master Builder aspect. For two turns the players draw random resources from the pile. On the third turn, you can call a resource. This continues until the end of the game.
Playing this mode will help you hone the ability to deal with any resource thrown at you. Plus it removes the strategy aspect of ruining other players’ boards.
When you start the game, your board is full of potential. But it won’t last. Look at the cards that have been dealt, and start planning how many of each building you want. Figure out how they could all reasonably fit before you place any resources.
Look at the monument card you have. Decide now whether you want to build your monument at all. If you want to build it, you should try to build it as early as you can in the game. They usually require a lot of space or have weird configurations so it’s to your benefit to build it early. The bonus benefit is when it’s built, all that space is yours again.
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6. Balancing Act
Plan ahead as much as you can, but don’t get locked into a specific strategy. There are two schools of thought on the best way to fill out your board.
Some players swear by filling out the center early and working their way out. Starting in the center can be a good move because it frees up the most spaces to still build various configurations.
Build more complicated buildings using the center spaces and then use the perimeter to build smaller two square configurations like the Shed or Fountain. Alternatively, focus on buildings that make a straight row for completion like the Feast Hall or Almshouse.
Other players think this is setting yourself up for disaster. Cloistering the center squares prematurely with fully built buildings can make it impossible for you to build complex shapes.
Without the center squares, buildings like the Trading Post and Architect’s Guild will be impossible to build. Counter this by building them first. Focus on working from the outer ring of your board towards the center.
The center squares being filled only gains extra points for specific buildings. So if they end up empty at the end of the game, it’s not really important. The bonus benefit is that you maintain the flexibility of the center while filling in your town accordingly.
7. Best Building Combinations
- Use the Theater to stack points- If every building is unique in the row or column with these building, you will gain the points of the individual building plus the extra points from the Theater.
- Place Multiples of the same building- These buildings gain extra points when placed together: Markets, Taverns, and Tailors.
- Use Factories or Warehouses to change resources– The Warehouse can store three blocks of resources. You can change the resource called by the Master Builder to one in your Warehouse or Factory, but they must always hold a resource.
- Use the Trading Post as a Wild Card– If you’re trying to build something near this building, you can use it as whatever random resource you need.
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8. Use the Best Monument
Everyone gets a Monument card at the beginning of the game. Whether it’s worth it to build it or not is up to various in-game factors. The denomination of easier or harder is based on two factors: construction shape, and in-game ease of application.
- Grand Mausoleum of the Rodina
This has an easy four-square construction, and unfed cottages are worth three points each. Now you can build all the cottages you want without wasting resources with farm requirements. Build this early on, and then fill your board with cottages for maximum points.
- The Starloom
This building bolsters the score of the first player to complete their town. Prioritize building this and finishing your town before everyone else and you’ll earn six points. If you don’t think you can outpace your opponents, it’s not worth building.
- Cathedral of Caterina
Instead of an empty square being worth a negative one, it is now a neutral zero. This can be useful if you’ve managed to mess up your board early on and lock yourself out of building squares.
- Obelisk of the Crescent
Although you still have to gain resources and place them in the correct shape, now you have the option to place the finished building on any empty square instead of where the resources were placed. Aim for a corner for its placement. Then you have the rest of the board to slowly conquer every empty space.
- Barrett’s Castle
Not only is its shape challenging to create, but it also takes a lot of resources and you only get points if it’s fed. It takes six resources and makes a U-shape on your board. That’s a lot of turns for not much gain.
- Opaleye’s Watch
The ability to have three unique buildings to place wherever you want is cool, but it’s dependent on your opponents building them first. If no one builds any of the buildings you’ve chosen, then you’ve wasted space, time, and resources on a bonus you’ll never gain.
- Fort Ironweed
No. Just no. It may net you a lot of points, but the shape combined with an “ability” that sounds more like a penalty makes it a hard pass.
- Silva Forum
To gain the benefit of this card, you score points based on having up to five of the same type of building in close quarters. It requires you to use a large chunk of your board for a plus one point to each of those buildings. A grand total of six points. Not worth the time or resources.
What’s the Best Way to Win Tiny Towns?
The best way to win Tiny Towns is to pay attention to your opponents. Practice building different configurations on the board to learn the best way to build your town. Think about how to use resources that aren’t part of your plan. Don’t be afraid to break out of the norms of the board etiquette if you want to win.
Remember these tips:
- Practice Makes Perfect
- Resource Placement
- Break the Status Quo
- Cap Player Limits
- Balancing Act
- Best Building Combinations
- Use the Best Monument
Plan for the best and expect the worst. And who knows, maybe you’ll be the mayor of real town someday?
Veronica is a Green Bay-based freelance writer and editor with extensive experience with board games. When not busy scribbling her thoughts, you might find her in her garden, hiking out in the woods, or exploring new food joints.
Veronica is a die-hard board game and chess hobbyist by night. She likes to try out new games and is always on the lookout to recruit new players for her game night (so beware!). When not playing board games or throwing darts, she is usually busy painting miniatures (or doing other nerdy stuff).
She is the CEO & Content Writer of Indoor Games Zone. She shares her expertise from years of playing chess, board games, and darts.