Designed by Cyrille Allard, Frédéric Guérard | Published by Blue Orange Games
2-4 Players | 45 Minutes
Designing the perfect amusement park for meeples will require a keen understanding of the meeple. What excites a meeple? What does a meeple look for in an amusement park? Unfortunately meeple people can’t tell you because meeple people can’t talk. But that shouldn’t stop you from building the most amazing meeple-friendly amusement park ever in this semi-abstract, tile laying game.
In Meeple Land, you’ll find yourself at the ground floor of a brand new amusement park. It’ll be your job to select rides, shops, restaurants and restrooms carefully fitting them efficiently in your park area. Bus loads of meeples are waiting to visit – can you successfully manage your park to earn the most profit and keep the meeples happy?
Meeple Land takes place over a series of turns based on the number of players. During your turn you can do one of three actions: Buy a Tile, Advertise or Pass.
When choosing to buy and play a tile, you’ll choose from a central tile pot featuring 3 different size tiles, each featuring different park attractions and at different prices. Once you choose a tile to purchase you’ll play the tile on your personal 7×7 amusement park grid. Each tile provides a specific number and color of meeple allowed to visit the ride. Each tile also features a unique arrangement of pathways leading off the title that players should attempt to align with your parks additional tiles as you continue to build (think Carcassonne). Failing to align your pathways will cause you to lose points at the end of the game. Certain tiles will benefit from connecting to various shops and facilities. Apparently pink meeples who ride the pirate ship like to be able to quickly go to the restroom afterwards (who does this level of meeple market research?) Successfully connect the necessary tiles to earn additional points from your visitors.
Players may also choose to advertise the park. Purchasing an advertisement tile immediately gives you a certain number and type of meeples to place on your park rides.
Players continue taking turns purchasing tiles until all players have “passed.” Once you choose to “pass” you’ll get to select one of the bus loads full of meeples just waiting to get into your park. Each bus features a different combination and amount of meeples. Once selected, the meeples make their way to the entrance to your park. You then pair the colored meeple with available visitor spaces on the rides matching that meeples color. Unplayable meeples wait patiently at the gate for a future opportunity to live it up in Meeple Land.
Finally, once everyone has selected a meeple bus and placed their meeples, players receive coins for any meeple able to attend their park. Turns continue until you’ve played the pre-determined number of rounds. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. Players earn points by building a variety of rides at their park. All meeples score points with certain colors being worth more. Your park loses points for any pathways that fail to connect as well as any meeple that arrived, but wasn’t able to enter your park.
COMPONENTS & ARTWORK
Meeple Land is colorful and beautifully illustrated. Amusement park tiles are sturdy and what you’d expect from a quality game. The 3-D park gates are a nice touch providing a fun entrance to your park. The plastic meeples are bright – maybe a little on the small size – but work just fine for the game. The personal park board and bus cards are a little flimsy, but I never ran into an issue with them. Overall a very well done production.
While buying a park tile and placing it seems very straightforward, Meeple Land is much more of an abstract tile laying puzzle. Working to properly align all your park pieces while attempting to maximize a number of end game point opportunities can turn into more of a brain burner than the happy, friendly guy on the cover would let on. While it says ages 8 and up on the cover this isn’t a kids game. My younger daughters quickly lost interest in this one while my wife and I found ourselves thoroughly engaged in the challenge.
Some of the lost appeal may be attributed to analysis paralysis. I didn’t really feel like it was an issue until maybe later in the game when the choices became a little essential causing more careful decisions. I honestly felt the game flowed pretty well. There are only so many choices so a player prone to deep thought and second guesses can only wonder for so long. But obviously younger children may start to waiver.
In additional to aligning your parks buildings and rides, you’re always considering ways to jockey for the perfect bus load of meeples. Gathering the right number and color of meeples for your park is essential for your success. Over drafting a certain color meeple can leave them stuck at your gate’s entrance… and seeing those sad meeples denied entrance is almost more than one can bear.
I often over drafted a certain meeple color without available places for them in my park, arrogantly thinking I could make up for it on a later tile phase. Or vice-versa, planning on gathering a certain color meeple… creeping closer and closer to nabbing that bus load you really want… When out of nowhere someone choses to pass with plenty of coins left to buy tiles – a completely illogical decision by my standards – swooping in and stealing your bus. Oh the agony!
Truthfully, in any good tile laying game, the perfect tile is rarely available forcing you to think on your toes. You’ll often find yourself compromising your perfectly planned park, leaving you floundering to fill the remaining spots on your park board with a completely different approach.
While the theme is bright and fun, I found Meeple Land to be a more welcome, adult-style puzzle. Working to gather the highest variety of rides didn’t feel like a typical set-collection chore, but a fun pursuit to add variety and build the best amusement park. Successfully tying in the secondary tiles such as the restrooms or shops to aid multiple attractions at the same time always gave me a feeling of major accomplishment.
In spite of the engaging theme, abstract tile laying games aren’t for everyone, so take that into consideration before purchasing Meeple Land.
That being said, I was pleased to find that Meeple Land provided much more substance than I was expecting. For the right audience, Meeple Land could be a big hit and one I would consider one of the better games of the year.