GAME REVIEW: Minuscule

Minuscule got its official U.S. release at the end of last month by Asmodee.  It plays 2-6 players and takes about 10-15 minutes depending on the number of players.  The age range on the box says 7 and up, and that sounds about right.

Minuscule is sort of a racing game between a bunch of insects, including a ladybug, snail, caterpillar, fly, and 3 others.  Before the game begins, you set up 7 cards marked from 1 to 7, each with their own symbol on it (olive, cherry, acorn, ect).  This is the race track.

Deal 2 goal cards to each player (3 in a 2-player game), which tells you which creature(s) you want to have at the head of the line when the game ends.  Then in clockwise order, each player chooses where to place a bug for its starting position.  Each player is then given 5-8 move cards (depending on the player count).  The game now begins.

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On your turn you play a move card, and then move whichever bug it affects, to its new spot.  That’s it.  Play then proceeds clockwise and when everyone has played all of their move cards, the game ends.

A move card can have one (or two) symbols that are on the seven cards the bugs are placed upon; or it could have one of the bugs on it, each with a number.  Some cards will have a +plus by the number, some might have a -minus by the number, and some may contain both.  If the card contain both a plus and a minus, the player gets to choose which direction the bug moves; backwards or forwards.  If it only contains one direction, then that’s the direction it must go.  If the move card contains two symbols then you choose ONE direction and both bugs on those symbols move that ONE direction.  When you move a bug onto it’s new spot, all the bugs get shifted either forward or backward (depending on which direction you played).  Only one bug is allowed on a space.

There are also 2 special cards.  One has the cherry symbol with an arrow pointing to the rock symbol, that means you move the bug on the cherry space all the way back to the rock space (which is last place).  The other special card can either have you or another player exchange one of your goal cards with the top card of the goal card deck.

And that’s it.  Once everyone has played all of their cards, the game is over and you proceed to scoring.  Everyone reveals their goal cards and scores their bugs according to where they are on the track.  On the back of each goal card is a scoring chart.

Like I said earlier, this is “sort of” a racing game.  But what you’re really doing is just manipulating a line of bugs, trying to shift bugs to where it’s going to benefit you.  And….. I really like it.  It’s swift, easy to learn, portable, and contains a small amount of strategy too.  Sure, there might be some bad luck if you don’t have good cards to choose from, but sometimes if you wait until another player shifts one of your bugs onto a symbol for a card that you have, it could benefit you.

A great positive for me about this game is that even when it’s not your turn, you really want to pay attention to what the other players are doing, because every card played affects you.  So there isn’t much downtime in this.  The players are involved the whole time.  Since everything you do in this game affects the other players, it’s a surprisingly confrontational game, despite its cute theme.

Speaking of cute, the artwork is adorable, even if you’re not a fan of bugs, you can’t help but admit that the bugs look cute.  It almost has a Pixar-ish look to the art.

There is also a variant that contains a push-your-luck element (which I’m always a fan of).  The first player gets a choice to take an ant token.  If he passes, in clockwise order, all the other players get a chance to take it.  Having the ant token means you’re betting on the last place bug to be in the first three spots at the end of the game.  If it is, you get 5 more points.  If not, then you lose 3 points.  There are either 1 or 3 ant tokens in the game depending on the number of players.  I like this variant and prefer to play with it, as it doesn’t really complicate the game up at all.

Minuscule is a great filler game that I can wholeheartedly recommend.  It’s easy to play with younger kids, but can also be a lot of fun to play with gamers in between the bigger games.  There is a fun confrontational element that I enjoyed quite a bit, and with the low price point, you really can’t go wrong here.

If you’re looking for a fun little game to play with the kids, or a short filler with some bite to it, check this game out!

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