#001 Mini Park (2017)
Designer: Hsu Wun Hao
Artist: Rich Kuo
Publisher: Soso Games
Mini Park is a quick 2-5 player tile placement game. How quick? How about 21 minutes learning game quick. The amount of time it took me to enjoy a cup of tea while waiting for our fourth party to show up and play a bigger game.
Players take turns building a park of 30 tiles in an effort to maximize points gained from park patrons including: the stray orange cat that derives happiness from bushes and people, an unsupervised child obsessed with potentially dangerous playground equipment, the lone cyclist forever doomed to never cycle his way out of the park, the man-sized goldfish lurking in the depths of a pond, a creepy man in black destined to be on the receiving end of game group jokes, and a lonesome dove in a tree.
On your turn you have two choices: choose a character or place a park tile.
- Congratulations! You decided to place a park tile. Choose between one of the two revealed tiles or draw an unknown tile. Place the tile and receive a point for each tile the recently placed tile touches. (FYI: There are six of each kind of tile: 6 ponds, 6 trees, 6 playgrounds, 6 bushes, 6 creepy men on benches)
- Congratulations! You decided to pick a character! Each of the 6 characters uniquely gain points at the end of the game. When you pick a character, you gain its scoring token (only the player with the scoring token scores off this character), and an objective tile (which gives you half the points of another character). Players are restricted from taking this action by player count. In 2-3 player games, each player can take this action twice. In 4-5 player games, each player can do this action only once.
Play continues until every park tile has been placed. Final scoring occurs and the player with the most points is allowed to gloat for a brief period of time.
I like it, and I believe I’ll like it more as time passes. Most tile placement games quickly degenerate into point denial games after numerous play throughs. The small and simplistic tile count allows players to math the game fairly quickly, and as a result the once light choices gain some much-needed meat. This game will become more and more rewarding with multiple play throughs and familiarity with tiles. However, I feel where this game truly shines is the unique scoring. Each of the 6 characters will be present for every game, but you’ll only be able to score one (or two if a 2-3 player game). It creates this nice, light tension between playing a park tile to deny points from someone else or getting the bonus points from a character. You want to boost their scoring points, but you don’t want to miss out on getting the right character at the right time. The fact that each character scores uniquely engages each player in every one else’s turn. It’s especially nice that for each character you choose, you get half the points from another character. (If it’s a 4+ player game, you want to make sure your get ½ points from a character in play. If you get ½ the points from a character that didn’t get picked, it can be quite brutal.) It shines best at 3 players.
It’s not my favorite tile-laying game (Taluva), but it is my favorite tile-laying filler (if that genre existed before this). If you’re looking for meatier fillers, this may not be for you. There are heavier fillers out there. However, not every game needs to be heavy to be worthy of shelf space. Mini Park is a light little filler that is a welcome change of pace from Carcassonne. At 20 minutes, it in no way outstays its welcome. The point tokens do become scarce when it comes time for final scoring; you will have to do the math in your head or on your phone. I don’t love this game, but I do like it and expect to like it more and more as time passes. There are gamers who really enjoy tile laying games and building something with these tiles. This game is for them. This game is quite photogenic by the end. Enjoy your tea and your stroll through Mini Park.