Mint Control - Five24 Labs - $10
Game title: Mint Control
Game description: Mint Control is a refreshingly light area control game. Competition is heating up. Keep your company in the sweet spot and don’t get pushed around!
Assert your influence in the various locations in Mintopia City. Secure loyalties, dominate the market share, and become the richest Mintopia Magnate!
- Portable, Quick Gameplay
- Easy to Learn Rules
- Strategic Action Selection
- Simplistic Artwork
Mint Control is a 2-4 player game of area control, and action selection game developed by Five24 Labs and designed by Justin Blaske. Coming to Kickstarter March 3rd!
In Mint Control you will be taking on the role of a rival mint making company seeking to gain influence in the Mintopian Empire. Make your presence known in the city and gain control of key locations. Earn resources and powerful abilities to ensure your dominance over the entire city!
Components and Artwork
This cinnamon red tin contains all the components you’ll need to make a name for yourself in Mintopia City. Contained within you will find:
- 5 Action Tiles: To determine which action you will take on your turn.
- 12 Location Cards: They provide resources, abilities, and points.
- 20 Influence Tokens: Use to influence and control locations.
- 20 Mints: A minty currency!
- 1 Start Player Token.
The graphics on the cards and tiles are crisp and clean. Each section of the location card is visually called out and separated from each other. The icons represented are meaningful and clear. Although there is no artwork on theses cards to represent the locations themselves, the design used is pleasant to view and easy to understand.
Setup and Gameplay
Setting up the game couldn’t be easier. Shuffle the location cards, and lay out enough cards so that the number of influence token spaces is at least 5 per player (the remaining cards will not be used). Lay out the 5 action selection tiles. Give each player 5 influence tokens of their color, and 2 mints. The remaining mints will form a mint supply. Choose a starting player and begin!
The goal of the game is to gain control of high scoring locations to earn the most points. Once any single player has placed all of their influence tokens on locations the game ends. Each player who has solitary control over a location will gain the amount of points listed for that location and whoever has earned the most wins!
The 5 action tiles run the game. On each player’s turn they will select a tile and perform the action(s) associated with it. Every other player will also perform this action, however each tile also has a bonus ‘Perk’ that is only given to the person who selects the tile. The five actions are; Earn, Scavenge, Influence, Oust, and Presence.
Earn and Scavenge are pretty straight forward. You gain mints! Both of these will be used pretty often early in the game, but later on you may gain more mints from other action choices, depending on your presence in locations.
- Earn: Gain 1 Mint (Perk: Gain 1 Mint)
- Scavenge: Nothing! (Perk: Steal 1 Mint or Gain 1 Mint)
The Influence action is how you get your tokens on the board (and how you win the game). Each location has a cost to influence it, ranging from 1 to 5 mints. By selecting this action you get a discount of 1 mint (the perk). This discount can get you into locations that others may not be able to. Always check to see how rich your opponents are before choosing this. You may be better off earning some mints instead, and letting someone else select this action later.
- Influence: Pay Mints to Influence a location (Perk: Pay 1 Mint Less)
The Oust and Presence actions are a bit more complicated. Before we get into that, it’s important to know a few key terms: Presence and Control. Presence is having at least one if your influence tokens in a location. Control is having more influence tokens at a location than any other player. So a location with 2 Red, 1 Green, and 1 Blue token on it, each of the players have influence at the location, and Red has Control. If green also had 2 tokens on it, no one ould be in control, but all would still have presence.
- Oust: Gain 1 Mint (Perk: Pay 1 Mint to remove 1 Influence Token, Optionally pay 3 more Mints to remove another Influence Token)
- Presence: Gain Presence Bonus from locations you Influence (Perk: Gain Oust Bonus from 1 location you Control)
When choosing the Oust action, only the player who selects the tile gets to oust someone (this is the Perk). On the bottom left corner of most locations you will see an Oust Bonus reward. Many times they will give you mints, and other actions such as influencing elsewhere, or ousting someone else. Whenever a token is removed from a location (ousted) the owner of the token receives this bonus. Although the goal of the game is to get your tokens on the board, being ousted can often be beneficial to you, if the rewards are great enough. And remember, you can oust yourself as well!
The Presence Action rewards all players depending on where they have presence, and the perk for the person who chose the action gets the Oust reward of a single location they have control of. The bottom right of most locations shows the reward gained for this action. Each player will check where they have influence tokens, and earn the mints or actions indicated on all of these cards. The perk requires you to have Control at a location. If you do, carry out the Oust reward of one location as well.
Strategy and Player Interaction
Using these actions effectively and strategically is the core of the game. You may choose to influence a few locations to build an early mint engine, or you may want to get a head start on gaining control on a more lucrative locations for points. Both choices are good, but the other players won’t let you stay anywhere for too long. Ousting is a tricky Action to take. You need to do it to prevent the game from ending and crowning a winner, unless that winner is you of course. But doing so may give your target a reward that could allow them a better action on their turn.
You’ll find that you’re always weighing your choices, depending on the state of each players resources. Giving one player a much needed mint at the wrong time could set up nice opportunities for a future turn. The mint supply can also be used strategically. As it is a limited resource, you can time a good Earn or Oust action so that no one gains any mints (if there’s none to be gained!)
Depth and Complexity
Mint Control is a low complexity, high depth game. The game is easy to teach, and the rules (mainly contained within the 5 action tiles) are easy to remember. The choice of which action to take and how to best carry it out is where things get tricky. As each action chosen allows other players to also carry out that action you really have to think about what advantages and opportunities you may be giving the other players. If you take an action that gives the next player enough mints to influence a good location, it may be better to take a less useful action instead.
Locations also have varying strategic value. Those that give better rewards and abilities often give lower points. You may benefit well from locations with better rewards, but without the higher point locations, you may fall behind in score when that last influence token gets played.
I find Mint Control to be a very approachable game. It’s small size and simple rules make it a great game for teaching new players about area control games, as well as bringing new people into the gaming hobby. Experienced players will appreciate the strategy and depth offered in the combination of area control, action select, and action following mechanisms. I’m quite impressed with what Mint Control has to offer in such a small package. A worthy addition to any collection.
A copy of Mint Control was provided free for preview by Five24 Labs.
Brad Taylor has been an avid board gamer for over 20 years. Recently he has been involved in play testing board games, reviewing and editing rule books, and writing review and previews. In his spare time, he organizes a large local gaming group and is involved in board game related meetups and events.
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