Thursday, July 17, 2014

GJJG Game Reviews - Coin Age - by Tasty Minstrel Games

Coin Age
Designer: Adam P. McIver
Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games
GJJG Game Reviews - Coin Age

Game Overview:
Coin Age is a micro game that is small enough to carry in your wallet.  In fact, that's exactly what I'm doing!  I used the Print & Play version of Coin Age (available here: and also printed out the PNP Coin Stickers so that I don't have to carry $1.56 in change with me everywhere I go.  After printing the pieces I cut them out and laminated them and slipped them into a little zipper baggie left over from some other game.  So now I can carry a board game with me wherever I go!  The concept behind Coin Age is pretty simple.  On a map, about the size of a credit card, several regions are mapped out.  Then using coins (2 quarters, 4 nickles, 6 pennies, and 8 dimes - or use the printed versions like I have) each player tries to gain control of each area.  One player plays Heads and the other plays Tails.  Through an ingeniously simple mechanic of coin slapping (or tossing) players take turns placing, moving, or capturing coins on the board.  Larger coins are worth more points, but can be covered by smaller coins.  After all spaces have been covered or one player places all her coins the players tally up their points, doubling them for areas they control a majority of the spaces in.  The whole concept is super easy to learn and plays in about 5 minutes, but the strategy involved is pretty in-depth for such a small game.

Components & Packaging:
Unfortunately this game is no longer available for purchase.  It was available through Kickstarter a while ago, but I wasn't privy to that campaign and wasn't able to snag a professionally printed copy, so I can't rate that.  So really, the components and packaging is highly dependent on how each person prints and protects their copy of the game.  I printed my copy on a color inkjet printer and then laminated it.  I also printed the PNP Coin Stickers, but instead of putting them on a coin or matboard, I left them on paper, folded the page so the coins lined up, stuck the two sides together with rubber cement, then cut out each coin and laminated them, then cut each one out again.  This saves me the trouble of having to carry around $1.56 in change just so I can play the game, but it does make the 'coins' very light and thin.  So it's a bit of a tradeoff.  After everything was printed and laminated, I slipped it into a small zipper baggie and put the whole thing into my wallet.  I can't think of another game this cool that I can carry around with me everywhere!

Score: 4/10 x1

Rules & Setup:
The rules for Coin Age are printed on a folded sheet that is the same size as the game board (when folded).  The rules are printed on both sides of the sheet and they include a very nice, simple diagram that tells what actions to take based on the coin flips.  They are super easy to learn and I've taught the game to several people now and it only takes about a minute to explain the game.  For the most part the rules are perfectly clear, but I did find one small issue - when scoring at the end of the game, if one player doesn't have any pieces in an area and the other player has some pieces, but not more than half of that area's spaces covered (e.g. in The Copper Peaks if one player has two spaces controlled and the other two are empty), does the player with the pieces in the area get double points since they 'control' the area even though they don't have more than half of the area occupied?  I've been playing that no, a player has to control more than half of the total spaces, not the occupied spaces.  Anyway, it's a minor point and hasn't taken away from my enjoyment of the game, although it did cause a bit of puzzling over the rules the first time it happened.

Setup of the game is about as easy as setup for any game can be.  You simply lay down the board and then divvy up the coins so each player has half of each size, then decide who is heads and who is tails, and flip a coin to see who goes first.  Setup takes about 30 seconds.

Score: 9/10 x2

For a game that I can carry in my pocket, is super easy to learn, and sets up in 30 seconds or less, Coin Age is super fun to play!  Games go quick, so it's easy to play a few games while waiting for food at a restaurant or any other time you have a little downtime.  My friend Tony and I play while we are waiting for our wives to be ready for the main game night game.  We've even played while eating dinner on a camping trip.  It's just so easy to pull out and play when it's right there with you all the time!  The concept behind the game is very simple, but the strategy that comes with deciding where to place coins and which ones to move or capture can get pretty deep.  There is a fair amount of luck since you can only take actions based on the results of the coin flips, but then deciding what to do with the results requires you to really consider the board layout, what coins your opponent has left, and what you have left.  There are a lot of decisions to make and some can completely make or break you.  Most of the games that I've played weren't decided until the last few turns, although a few were runaway wins for someone.  Because the game goes so quickly there's no real sense of disappointment when you lose because you know you can jump right back in and play again.  I also printed out a laminated score card to keep track of points in multiple games, although I'm not sure it's really necessary (the card has spaces for all the sections so you can tally up points, but it's actually easier to just count the points on the board without the card).  But keeping track of the total points over several games gives the game a little more scope since a devastating defeat can take several games to recover from.  All in all, I really enjoy this game for its simplicity, quick play, and portability.

Score: 8/10 x3

I dare you to play just once.  OK, I triple dog dare you!  You won't be able to do it.  The game is so quick and easy to play that you'll find yourself saying "just one more time" about thirty times!  Each game is slightly different because of the variability of the coin flips and it's super easy to try out different strategies each time you play.  Sometimes they'll work, sometimes they won't, but you'll never feel stuck by a bad decision made early in the game because it'll be over soon and you can move on to trying your next tactic.  This isn't really a game that will take up a whole game night (although I can see how an hour could quickly disappear while playing this), but it's great to play during some downtime, while waiting for food or someone else to be ready to play a bigger game, or any time you have a few extra minutes.

Score: 9/10 x1

General Fun:
Even though the game is little, it's a blast to play.  I enjoy pulling it out because everyone is always surprised that such a small game can pack in so much strategy, variance, and fun!  Plus, it looks great, too!  Every time I've played it's been fun, however like I said, it's best used as a filler game.  Since it's only 2 players it won't do for an extended game night unless you have several copies of the game and do tournaments or something.  But it's definitely worth printing your own copy so you're never without a great game.

Score: 8/10 x2

Overall Value:
Well, for a free game (minus the cost of a few sheets of paper, ink, and optionally laminating the pieces) you really can't beat this.  Once everything is printed and cut out it all fits onto a single sheet of lamination, so I think my copy cost me about $0.31.  Even when it was on Kickstarter you could get a professionally printed copy with a few extras for as little as $3.  It should be a no-brainer that this is a game you need to get!

Score: 10/10 x1

Final Thoughts:
I am SUPER happy that I printed this out.  It's turned into a favorite to fill in small gaps of time, everyone I've played it with has loved it, and I can take it with me everywhere!  Everyone should go print a copy for themselves immediately!  Or maybe not because then I won't be able to impress everyone when I pull an awesome game out of my wallet =)  Tasty Minstrel Games should definitely consider running another Kickstarter campaign or selling this somewhere else so that it's easier to get professionally printed copies.  It's easily worth $10 and their $3 minimum, pay what you want campaign from last year was an incredible deal.  Go give Coin Age a try right now!

Overall Score: 81/100

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with his family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  A score of 1-10 (low-high) is given to each game in six categories: Components & Packaging, Rules & Setup, Gameplay, Replayability, Overall Value, and General Fun.  Rules & Setup and General Fun are weighted double and Gameplay is weighted triple.  Educational Games will have an additional category for Educational Value which will result in Gameplay being weighted double instead of triple.  Then the game is given a total score of x/100.

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