Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game. This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.
I don’t know if this is a thing everywhere, but my favorite day every year in elementary school was StarLab day. They’d bring in a portable planetarium and set it up on the school’s stage. We’d all climb in and they would point out where the various constellations are in the sky.
Today we are building constellations of sorts on our gaming table. In Twinkle, players will be replacing stars with dice and trying to build the most beautiful night sky.
Twinkle is a dice drafting game for 2-4 players. Each player will have two starting stars on the game board and 7 connectors. Each turn you’ll draft a die and connect it to a starting star or an already placed die. That’s it.
There is a d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12 die in each of the colors in play (which changes based on the number of players). During setup, you’ll roll all the d8s and place them on the game board. On your turn, you can select any of the d8s—without changing their value. If you don’t want any of those you can choose any three dice, roll them, and select any one to add to your constellation.
You can only place a die connected to another die if it is lower in value. You’ll score additional points for “twinkles” if you have a lower-values die that has more sides. For instance, if you roll a 1 on a d8 and play it under a 4-value d6, you’ll score bonus points. Each die can only have two other dice connected to it.
Of course, each different colored die scores in a different way. Here are some examples:
- Yellow dice score more points if you have more of them.
- Green dice want dice with the same number of sides in their constellation.
- Black dice score based on the sum of the values of the black dice.
There are also additional scoring cards you can add in once you become more familiar with the game to add additional scoring opportunities.
Once all players have added a total of 7 dice to their constellation (or they can’t add any dice legally) the game ends. Players score points for each dice color and additional scoring cards in play. The player with the most points wins.
Dice drafting is one of my favorite mechanisms. It’s a great method to even out the randomness of die rolls by having players choose from a shared pool. The interesting bit of Twinkle, however, is that not all the dice are shared. The d8s will always remain on the game board and you can choose one without rolling it. But, if you want to roll it you can and it will go back to the game board if you don’t choose it.
The whole thing takes just minutes to explain and is over in just the blink of an eye. It can be about 15 minutes from beginning to end but packs plenty of decisions in those minutes. Most of that comes from trying to decide which dice to roll. Going for the bigger dice, d10s and d12s can pay off with bonus “twinkle” points, but you might get a roll of high numbers you can’t use.
Of course, it also depends on which scoring cards are in play. With less than 4 players you don’t use all of the dice colors so you can mix up what dice are in from one play to the next. Even if you always play with the full complement of players you can add in the additional scoring cards to give you plenty of variety in scoring options.
Twinkle is a unique take on dice drafting that gives a slight twist without overcomplicating things. Partially shared dice pools and a huge variety of scoring cards all in a super quick playing game. Not to mention that once you have the connectors and dice branching out around your tabletop, it really becomes a neat presentation on the table as well. While I try to avoid talking about games being “filler,” Twinkle is certainly that length but has plenty of risk/reward type of decisions to keep things lively.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review. This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.