Mine for valuable gems to turn into beautiful pieces of jewelry in this dwarven mining game that will find you helping and hurting your opponents in turn as you vie for the most valuable treasure.
Published by IDW Games, Mine All Mines is a 30-minute board game for 2-5 players with lots of take-that elements.
Each player has an identical hand of seven cards, but at the start of each round they each randomly remove two and set them aside face-down, so you’re never sure exactly what cards the other players will have. Cards include mining dwarves associated with each of the five gems in the game, a blacksmith, and a dealer.
Players take turns each round until they have no cards left in their hands, at which point they take back all their cards and start a new round. On your turn, you play one of your cards. The dealer allows you to trade one of your gems with one of the five gems in the marketplace, while the blacksmith allows you to take any one gem from the supply.
The five mining dwarves can each be played on the mine of the gem type associated with that dwarf, and you get to collect one gem of that type. This is called starting a mine, and each round only one dwarf can start the mine for each gem type. So, if a player has already started the diamond mine, for example, you cannot play your diamond dwarf to start that mine.
However, each mining dwarf also has one type of mining dwarf that is its friend, and one that is its foe. You may play a dwarf on its friend, and if that friend belongs to an opponent, you get to collect both your card’s gem as well as the gem shown on the opponent’s card. If the opponent’s card was also played on a third card as a friend, you also get that third card’s gem. When playing a dwarf as a friend, you take all gems you earn from the supply.
If you play a dwarf on its foe, then you take your card’s gem, and may steal any one gem from the gem collection of the person who controls that foe. This ability does not stack, so if that foe card was in turn played as a foe on a third card, you do not get to steal any more gems from anyone.
There is a limit of three cards in any line, so you cannot play a dwarf as a friend or foe on a line of cards where there would be three cards already above it in the line. If you ever do not have a legal card to play on your turn, you must discard a card instead.
After you play your card, you may trade any three gems with the supply to take any one gem of your choice if you wish. You may also buy a card, spending the required number of gems. There are two types of cards you can buy: jewelry and support. Both are worth a certain number of points, although jewelry cards tend to be worth a little more, while support cards provide helpful abilities such as allowing you to take two gems when performing the friend action or giving you different ways to earn points such as earning a point for each support card you collect with a certain symbol. When you buy a card, it is immediately replaced by a new one from the respective decks.
Finally, you may check the achievement cards. There are five available for each game. You may only claim one each turn, and only if you meet the requirements such as collecting specific jewelry cards or specific gems. Unlike buying cards, you do not discard anything when claiming an achievement card.
The game ends once you have played a number of rounds equal to the number of players (or four rounds in the case of a two-player game) and players count up the points on all their cards. The player with the most points wins.
Mine All Mines is an interesting game with some quite interesting choices. The key is always when to play a card. Starting a mine ensures you get that gem you need, but it also allows other players to play off that dwarf, potentially gaining more gems for themselves or outright stealing from you. Also, if you play a dwarf to start a mine you can’t in turn use that dwarf to potentially play as a friend or foe later in the round. However, because you never know exactly what cards each player has that round, it’s possible you won’t get the opportunity to play that card as a friend or foe. So use a card too early, and it’s a risk, but wait too long and you might lose the opportunity.
Trying to decide when to play a card, and how to use it, is the crux of the game and is a clever challenge that’s fun to try to balance against what cards are available to buy, what achievements are on the board, and what other players do on their turns.
It can be quite a heavy take-that game as you steal gems from each other, further enabling yourself to beat an opponent to a particular card they had their eye on. The friendly action might get you more gems, especially as there are some tool cards that make it even more valuable to take the friend action instead of the foe, but you are going to steal gems if you have your eye on a particular gem type, or your cards just don’t give you the option to be friends.
On the downside, the rulebook is not good. There are several instances it doesn’t describe or details you have to parse out for yourself. For example, are achievement cards replaced once one is claimed? You can find the answers online, but you shouldn’t have to do that. There are a number of situations like this, which the rulebook leaves murky at best. Some of the support cards also are a little confusing in the way their abilities are written, and there’s no text on the cards to remind players what the dealer and the blacksmith do, and the rules for them are another point that the rulebook makes quite unclear.
Mine All Mines is a very solid, enjoyable game if you like those take-that elements, and it offers some great choices and interesting game moments. It’s a shame the rulebook and some presentation issues are present, making the game more confusing, but you can find the answers to your questions online if you enjoy the game enough to go searching.
Pros: Interesting choices in when and how you use your cards, lots of player interaction, simple and easy-to-learn scoring system
Cons: Rulebook is poor, some card abilities could be clearer, amount of take-that will not appeal to everyone
Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.
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