Before I begin I was sent a prototype, and will receive a copy of the finished game if it funds. This is not a paid preview. If you would like to watch a video of this review you can check it out below. You can also check out a solo playthrough (this is paid content) You can sign up to be notified on the launch of this game here.
One of the coolest things that happens when reviewing games is when a designer reaches out to you asking if you will review their game after seeing content you have created on one of their other games. So I was pretty pumped when Dr. Finn himself reached out and asked if I would review Mining Colony for him, in the aftermath of the preview I did for Whatnot Cabinet. It helped that I, and my wife, enjoyed it.
Mining Colony is a polyomino drafting and placement game, with a bit of resource set collection mixed in. (Set collection is not really the right way to describe it, but its close.) The premise is that multiple companies have set off to mine another planet for resources we desperately need. The winner will be the company that sets up the best colony, and I suppose earns the contract for the entire planet.
The game is played over the course of 10 rounds. Each round will see you selecting one of your excavation cards to play as a bid for the polyomino and other resources available. When all players reveal their card whomever has the highest number will get first pick, then other players pick in descending order. I will point out here, that you would think this would mean that you always should just bid the highest, but each card you bid is lost to you, and at the end of the game the sum of the two cards you have left can earn you additional points.
You will then place your polyomino into your colony and place your resourcs: ships, workers, or space crystals. Based on how you place these resources you will earn structures that you can place in your colony, and there is a bit of a rush to get these out as there are literally, not enough of them for all the players to place them.
At the end of ten rounds you will earn points for structures, resources, your final two excavation cards, and then you will lose points for each space on your colony board that you are unable to fill.
So what do I think?
It is so fast to play, and simple to teach. Goodness. There is also an incredible puzzle that is created as you try to lay out your colony, you see it is not just that you are trying to create a colony that lets you cover all the spaces, but you have to try to have enough foresight when you are bidding to actually do it. You see it is VERY easy to just focus on resources and wind up with a lot of empty spots on your board. At the same time the collecting of the resources to build structures is its own delightful little puzzle. It takes a real master to manage BOTH at the same time.
The bidding system is also very well done. This lets you try to “out-think” your opponents. Maybe get them to blow a high number when you are burning a low one, or even better guess that they are gonna throw in a low card, and you manage to beat them with a slightly higher “low card”. It feels so good!
The artwork is thematic and cool, though the game is VERY orange. If you like orange you are going to be in heaven. The tiles look good, and the shapes are varied enough to really bring out the puzzle nature of the game. The excavation cards look good as well.
The solo mode works very well, it is lightning fast and simple to play. It is also quite challenging, in the best way.
Keeping in mind that this is a prototype, and it may change, I wish that there were more than ten resource cards, especially when you are playing with the same number of players. It does feel like, after a while, that you are able to start to count the cards, and have an idea of what may be coming. Admittedly you would have to be incredibly smart to really be able to count the cards, but I would love more variety there.
Bringing it all together
Mining Colony is a light polyomino drafting and placement game. The puzzle is simple to do, but very hard to master. The bidding mechanic adds a solid hint of player interaction, as you really have to pay attention to their colony as well as your own to try to out-think them. The solo mode is quite challenging but fun, and easy to manage. The art is good, and it looks good on the table…especially if you like orange. I do wish that there were more resource card options to keep the game from starting to feel predictable-even if in reality it isn’t really.
Less talk, more space crystal mining!
* Fast, light polyomino, drafting game
* Simple bidding mechanic keeps the game from devolving into multi-player solitaire
* Nice table presence
* Easy to play hard to master
* Challenging solo mode
* I wish it had more resource cards to really keep you on your toes