We hope you’ve been enjoying the multitude of gift guides we’ve been rolling out over the past few weeks. Yesterday I shared part two of our list of family games which included Meeple Land from Blue Orange Games. Although we’ve covered other amusement park games including Tiny Park, Unfair and Scream Machine as well as several circus and carnival games, we haven’t written an overview of Meeple Land! Since we’ve recently featured it in our gift guide, I figured now is a good time to offer more details of how to play.
Despite what seems to be a lot of tiles and pieces in the box, there really isn’t much to set up for a game of Meeple Land. Start by placing the parking lot board in the center of the table with the round marker on the top space. Shuffle the bus tiles to make a draw pile alongside the board. Then load the parking spaces with buses equivalent to the number of players plus one, loading the buses with the meeples depicted on that tile. Give each player a plot board, park entrance, scorecard and pencil. Create a general pool of meeples, coins, plot extensions and entrances. Sort the attractions by size then shuffle and form piles for each one with room to create a row of revealed tiles. (Three large tiles as well as five each of the small and medium attractions.) Select a starting player then give everyone money based on their (first round) turn order. See, not so bad, right?
The game takes place over four rounds with each consisting of disbursement of grant funds then each player taking turns. The amount of the grant is determined by the round and is indicated on the round marker. Turns in Meeple Land are very simple since you only have a few options. You can purchase ONE tile from the market, advertise or pass. If you choose to pass, you are out until the next round.
Should you opt to purchase a tile, you utilize the funds you have available to select one of the face-up attractions in the grid and pay the cost indicated on the tile. Immediately reveal the next tile so the players following you can see all their options. Regardless of how much money you have, you may only purchase one tile during your turn. On your scoresheet, cross out the box for the matching attraction so you know which other ones you still need. You’ll earn points based on how diverse your property is. In lieu of an attraction or service, you may purchase a secondary park entrance or property extension, but players may only have one additional of each.
As you might expect, you cannot move or rotate an attraction once it is placed. But that’s not the most difficult part of adding it! You actually need to make sure the paths line up. A new attraction may only be added if you’re able to line up the path to one already existing that leads back to the entrance. In addition, it needs to fit within the grid on your property board. While it is okay for the path to dead-end into another tile, that will cost you points at the end of the game.
Each tile displays what types of visitors it will attract so you’ll want to pay attention to the types of meeples waiting patiently on the buses in the parking lot and at your entrance. For each single meeple icon, you may place the corresponding piece there from your entrance. If the tile displays a meeple plus another image then it means that visitor will only come if that type of service is immediately adjacent and connected by a path.
Instead of purchasing a tile, you may opt to advertise to the meeples displayed on the back of the top attraction tile on the draw pile. Pay the priced noted to entice those specific meeples to your park. Take the designated meeples from the general supply and either add them to your attractions or put them at the entrance to your park. Move that tile to the bottom of the draw pile.
When you pass, you may take the Bus card of your choice and place it in front of you. Players continue building and advertising until everyone passes. Gain income based on how many meeples and bonus spaces you’ve placed in your park. The player who has the least money becomes the first player for the next round. New buses are added to the parking lot and the process begins again. After the fourth round, players calculate reputation points based on how many different attractions they have. Earn one additional reputation for each green and blue meeple at an attraction while subtracting one point for those left at the entrance. Earn or lose two reputation points each for each pink and yellow visitors at an attraction (+2) or left at the entrance (-2). Subtract an addition 2 points for each path that dead-ends at another tile. The player with the highest reputation is the winner!
Meeple Land will make you think differently about the layout the next time you visit an amusement park. Think about how frustrated you get when you find yourself on a path to nowhere, you cannot get onto a ride or the service you want is not nearby. The puzzle-like nature of this game is what I love most about it! It is great for players who love puzzle or tile-laying games so be sure to pick up a copy of Meeple Land in time for the holidays. Visit Blue Orange Games on Facebook and Twitter to see what other attractions they have to entice you to the game table.
What’s the first amusement park you plan to visit once travel is back to normal?