Sunday, August 24, 2014

[Review] Coin Age By Tasty Minstrel Games: The Area Control Game That Fits In Your Pocket

One of my favorite genres of boardgames is the "capture the most area and win"-type games. (Risk is my personal go-to game.) Late last year, I stumbled across a Kickstarter for a new area management boardgame, and the second I saw the video and the pitch for the concept, I tossed right in. The selling point to me was the portability. After all, how many boardgames can fit into your wallet and are played with the spare change you have in your pocket? Folks, I present "Coin Age" by Tasty Minstrel Games.
(The Coin Age coin purse shown here was a separate purchase I made and is not included with the game. But it's a keen carrying case for everything!)

Coin Age is played on a single world map about the size and shape of a credit card. If you already know the rules, you can stick the board in your wallet and -- with $1.56 in change -- you can play this game anyplace. The Coin Age Kickstarter bundle came with a bunch of additional stretch goals, but the only thing required to play is the map, the rules, and a handful of coins.
The Kickstarter ended with the two double-sided game boards (with a total of four different maps to play on); a plastic "credit card" of the original map for wallet portability (as I discussed above); some cardboard double-sided punch-out coins (not pictured here as I don't use 'em); stickers to apply to real coins if desired (which I've done here, though you can play heads/tails rather than silver/gold if desired); and the rules booklet. The game arrived the other day (though the original estimated delivery was April) and my friends and I have been getting a lot of gameplay out of it already. Waiting for our meal to arrive at a restaurant? Play a few games of Coin Age. Between frames during bowling league night? Play a few games of Coin Age.
To begin, each player gets 1 quarter, 2 nickles, 3 pennies, and 4 dimes. One plays heads, and the other is tails. (I prefer the gold/silver stickers supplied with the game as shown here.) Larger coins (in size, not denomination) are worth more points, but the smaller coins are "stronger" strategically. Smaller coins can cover/capture areas held by larger units, but they're worth less at the end. The map is divided into regions of different sizes. (On this map, there are four regions of 1, 2, 3, and 4 spaces each.) If you hold all or a majority of an area, your coins score double at the end. Game goes until all areas are covered or someone runs out of coins. The points are then totaled. And that's about it.

On your turn, you take one of each coin you have (a quarter, nickle, penny, and dime), shake them, then slam them to the table. Coins that show your side up are playable that turn. And the number of coins that are "your side up" gives you the actions you can perform. If you match all four, you can place two or pay one coin to your opponent to place three coins. If you match two or three coins, you can place two on the board. Matching one coin allows you to place that coin then move any stack on the board to a neighboring area. And finally, if none of the coins are yours, you can capture any opponents piece from the board, then move a stack on the map. So you can see, there are a lot of strategic options. On the turn shown here, gold played a nickle (3 points) and a penny (2 points) and the two "silver coins" were returned back to his pool.

On silver's turn, he turned up a nickle and a penny. He placed the nickle and, since his penny is smaller than gold's nickle, he used it to "cover" gold's nickle, taking that area away. He returns his unused coins to his pool, and the game goes on from there -- place coins, moving them, covering your opponent's coins when possible, and on.

Once the last area is covered, or someone's coins are all used, the game ends, and the points are totaled. Here, silver wins with 25 points, barely beating gold's 20 points. Scoop up the spare change and play again. A game takes about 5 minutes to play.

Coin Age was just sent out to the Kickstarter backers, though Tasty Minstrel had copies available at Gen Con, so I'm uncertain of the commercial availability at this time. (A few overpriced copies have popped up on eBay if you feel like paying triple.) But once you can get your hands on this clever little game, I suggest you grab it. You never know when you might find yourself with some downtime, a handful of change, and a conquering opponent!


  1. Tim, I haven't read back on the blog here so I may be wrong, but if you saw this way back (and it's iffy to get ahold of now) why didn't you put up a blog entry about it when the Kickstarter was still running?

    Just sayin...


  2. One KS I ballayhooed and promoted turned out to be a dud. I feel pretty bad for everyone who jumped in on my recommendation, so I refuse to do that again. So I'll review, but I won't promote.

    And Coin Age will be available in stores/FLGS soon.