Mint Works Board Game Review (Justin Blaske)


Mint Works -- the worker placement game you can put in your pocket! If you've ever wondered just how much you can reduce a game to its base components, Mint Works has the answer to you. In a small mint tin lurks a worker placement game with streamlined gameplay and even a few little tricks up its sleeve.

Mint Works is most ideal for those who are exceptionally fond of worker placement games, as it leans into the mechanic extremely hard (in fact, that's pretty much the only mechanic there). If you do enjoy worker placement games, though, it can be a great filler.

Mint Works Game Details

Players: 1 to 4

Game Time: 20 Minutes

Age: 13+

Genre: Worker Placement / Building

How is Mint Works Played?

At the beginning of the game, put out setup four "core" locations, two "deeded" locations, and two optional "advanced" locations. These locations are where you can place your mints, of which you'll get three. To start, you'll have:

  • Supplier. Place a mint here to pull a Plan from the Plan supply.
  • Producer. Place a mint here to gain two mints.
  • Leadership Council. Place a mint here to gain leadership the next round (and a mint).
  • Builder. Place a mint here to build one of your Plans.

Setup takes about a minute once you know how to play the game.

Every round goes until every player at the table has passed. During the round, on your turn, you can place an available mint on any open space in order to take that space's action. Your goal is to purchase and build plans, which give you victoy points. Once anyone has seven victory points, the game is over. Play is extremely fast-paced; a single game lasts anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.

A Worker Placement Game Distilled Into a Tin

Mint Works has a couple of interesting things going on. First, the ability to get additional mints (actions) is built into the cards you're building. After the first round, each player only gets a single mint back. They get additional mints based on the cards that they have built. One card gives a mint for each building the player owns, while another card might just give a single mint. Many cards that do give mints don't give victory points.

A lot of Mint Works is based on luck -- which cards come out.

There's also the "producer" core location, which lets you get an additional mint, but also delays your actions. And though you want additional actions, you also need to balance the fact that there are very few spaces open to go to; you can easily end up with more actions than you can really use.

A final interesting component to Mint Works is its solo play, which is well-developed and includes a set of AI players.

AI cards can be used to control additional "players" in solo play.

What Isn't Minty Fresh?

It's a game that comes in a mint tin. There isn't a lot that it could do. Anyone can learn it within a couple of minutes, and it makes a very good introductory game for the basic concepts of worker placement. Really, it feels bad to pick on a game that comes in a tiny tin. 

The most notable downside to the game was that it felt fairly generic. And that's probably intentional. The flavor text is bland and unremarkable, and there really isn't anything very memorable about the game. Everything in the game is so streamlined and straightforward that it won't really surprise you.

What do you really want from a game that fits in a tin?

And while it is a worker placement game, it's also a very random game. You're primarily buying and building plans, but there are only a few plans out at any given time, and they are completely random. It can happen that it can become very difficult to get cards that work well together, through no fault of your own strategy.

Finally, there were some minor issues with the rules, which were vague in some areas -- likely a consequence of having to make a mini-sized manual.

Ultimately, Mint Works is a very well-done game, but it also isn't a memorable game; it's a filler game that you can throw in your bag and keep with you. And in that respect, it's very good at what it wants to be.

Mint Works Board Game Review
  • PRO: A light and streamlined worker placement game that can be picked up and played in ten minutes.
  • PRO: A compact format that can be tossed into a bag, kept with you, and played practically anywhere.
  • CON: Some minor rules issues, and there isn't a lot to the game once you've played it a few times.