Mint Works – Five24 Labs – Review

"Both beginners and experienced game hobbyists are going to enjoy playing. Mint Works is sure to keep your game nights fresh."

Theme and What is it?

Mint works is a quick moving worker placement game.  The tin the game is packaged in greatly resembles a certain brand of breath fresheners.  The worker pieces even look like mints.  Don’t chomp down on these little suckers!  They are made of wood.

Speaking of wood, this game is about building a better neighborhood than your opponents.  Use your minty fresh workers to buy building plans and then starting building.

Gameplay Mechanics

The mints are your workers and you send them off to locations to get work done.  Some mint more mint currency for you (did you get the pun?)….groaner eh?  Put one worker in and get two workers back. 

Other locations allow you to purchase building plans, play the lotto, or other interesting actions.  In fact, the basic game plays with 4 core locations but you can spice things up by adding 2 random locations for more challenge.  There are also two deeds which generate income when the properties are built.

It sounds insipidly easy to set down mints and get something in return, but there is a limit to what you can do.  Once the spaces are used, that location is closed.  Sometimes only one person can use a location.  The early bird gets the mint.

Each building plan has different effects once they have been built.  Some generate more income while others drive down costs.  Some give only 1 star towards the 7-point end of game wining condition while others give 3 stars.  One card gives 2 stars for every plan you own but don’t build!  I like that one.

The point of all these little details is that this game may be small but it packs a punch!  Like grapefruit juice after brushing your teeth with that minty toothpaste.  Punch!

Initial Impressions

I was afraid the small size was indicative of a gimmicky game.  I imagined it was going to be like one of those supremely frustrating puzzles with pegs in a triangle they leave in front of you at a restaurant to make you forget your waiting.  I really had no idea there was a full-on game in there!

Once I opened things up, I saw the little deck of cards and a bag of wooden mints.  I eyed them suspiciously wondering how a whole worker placement game could possibly be hiding in there.  But, everything was cute and clever.  So, I let my skepticism melt away and dove into the smallest worker placement game I had ever seen.  Low and behold a fresh perspective on tiny games opened up before me.  There is a lot packed in this little tin.

Game Build Quality

The metal can is sturdy and the same size as a certain kind of breath freshener you can buy at the store.  The cards feel good and capable of standing up to frequent use.  The mints are mostly white but a few are red.  Everything is solid.

Artistic Direction

The color scheme and simple stylized art is soothing and easy on the eyes.  You’re not assaulted by colors or abrupt images.  To me this added a really pleasant touch to the game.

Fun Factor

The solo play Artificial Intelligence (AI) characters in the box miffed me.  They had the audacity to beat me!?  So, I played them over and over so I could show them who was boss.  I got…ahem…put in my place a few times.  Bottom line I LOVED the solitaire version of this game.  There are 4 AI characters and they each have conditions that change the strategy in the game.  I took Mint Works with me when I traveled for business.  It was perfect when I was stuck at airports for layovers and delays for weather.

Mint Works was enjoyable to play with others as well.  It played a little differently each time.  This lends itself to some good replay-ability.  I like that I had to switch up my strategy based on the available plans.  Also, the 10-20 minutes play time is awesome for quick games.

Age Range & Weight

Mint Works is for ages 13 and up.  That’s about right but I bet there are some 8-12 year-olds that could handle this.  With a little teaching, this would work for the younger audience when you play the simplified version.

This game is easy to learn and easy to teach. It is a light worker placement game. This is a good starting place for someone learning to go deeper into games with this mechanism. There wasn’t anything fiddly going on. It was a nice straightforward game

Conclusions

I really like and recommend this game.  There are so many selling points.  It is a great size for travel.  I can see this going on our next vacation.  The game is great to introduce people to modern gaming.  I’m sure you will have them hooked. 

The short play time makes it a good filler game for experienced players in between longer games.  There are extra cards to make the game more advanced and the AI cards will keep you busy playing the solitaire version. 

Both beginners and experienced game hobbyists are going to enjoy playing.  Mint Works is sure to keep your game nights fresh.