As lamented in the famous song, it was once a long way to Tipperary. However, thanks to designer Günter Burkhardt, Tipperary can now be as close as your tabletop! We all know Tipperary is famous for its horse breeding so you can guess what this game is all about… oh no, guessed wrong, it’s all about sheep and whiskey! Anyway, let’s raise a glass while wearing a wooly jumper and settle in for a review (without any horses) of Tipperary!
For your first game you need to set up a spinner, but it stores away complete so that is a one off. Obviously there is some polyominos to punch too.
To set up the game, give each player a starting hometown and one barrel token. Set the round tracker to the relevant side depending on player count and set a barrel in the first space. Remove tiles from the bag so that each section of the spinner points to two tiles.
Players will be competing for the most victory points in Tipperary. Points will come in a variety of ways as you build your township. Over the course of the 10 to 12 rounds (depending on player count) you will be taking it in turns to spin the spinner. Where your city arms points, dictates what two tiles you can choose from. Once placed, the market is refilled and you spin again.
You will score one point for every square in your biggest rectangle that has no gaps. Points also come from your largest flock of sheep, how much whiskey you’ve produced, enclosing your starting hometown, and also from stone circles
Players will also be comparing their largest conjoined flock of sheep at the end of each round. The person with the largest, gets the five point marker, but that will travel around the table. The person with the marker at the end of the game gets the additional points!
What it’s like
With all players taking their turns simultaneously, Tipperary feels quick, regardless of player count. The largely solo experience of building your own town gets punctuated by counting your adjoining sheep at the end of each round. I like the pace and weight of it.
Only having two tiles to choose from also helps hinder analysis paralysis. There will often be an obviously better option for you but every tile, offers some possibilities. This mitigates the luck of the spinner to a satisfactory level.
It’s a straight-forward game and a straight-forward puzzle. I wouldn’t say there is anything particularly new and exciting here, but I actually like it because of this familiarity. The warm cosy feeling is akin to a hot toddy on a cold winter’s night.
It’s enjoyable to teach. Although I always fumble when it comes to explaining how certain tiles can be used twice when joined and how others can’t. This is me not the game, but just a pitfall where I reach for the rulebook every time!
With the different ways to score points, I think some of the options, such as having the largest flock of sheep, or encircling your entire home board can be a distraction from the bigger point scoring opportunities. Having a large rectangle and progressing around the distillery track seems more bountiful and players need to know this to stay competitive.
In terms of the eight plus age rating, my board gaming eight year old can be competitive, but I imagine some of his friends might find it a bit tricky. I find it tricky remembering to move the round marker along the board, but that vexes me in every game that uses one!
The box art tart in me was satisfied looking at the lid of this title! Inside the box, the tiles continue a similar feel of calm as your towns sprawl across the table. Tipperary is good looking for sure. The components are good quality too, the barrels are particularly adorable and I wish I could buy bags of them to use in other games. Quirkily the barrels have a slightly domed top so can wobble if placed upside down.
There are a couple of things that are a slight let down. Firstly, I find the iconography on the tiles that grant you an additional sheep is too small or often obscured. Most games a player has exclaimed that they forgot to get the sheep for a tile as a result. I have counterbalanced this by asking my kids to be shepherds and announce whenever a new tile with a sheep on is drawn from the bag!
While the sheep iconography is small it’s not as small as the bag that holds the tiles. I have to say this is as tight as a tourniquet! The publishers have addressed this as a manufacturing fault and it will be addressed in later printings. You can just about squeeze the tiles into the bag or get round it by using the box lid, still not ideal. Finally, some of the towers go together easily, others want to fall apart and unfurl at any opportunity. A bit of glue soon fixes this! I’m pleased to report that the positives do outweigh these minor negatives.
I was originally taught this game, but scanning the rulebook subsequently I must say it does a fair job of getting you up and playing quickly.
Tipperary’s tidy up is to put it in some baggies and throw it in the box, You certainly won’t get excited about the insert, there isn’t one! Equally there isn’t too much air in the box which pleases me.
What the kids thought
Max (8): I love the artwork. I also like the sheep and barrel tokens. It’s good that you take your tiles all at the same time so you don’t have to wait. I enjoy it when it is my turn to spin the spinny thing. I really like how you get bonuses from some of the tiles too.
George (12): I really like it a lot. I like the puzzle of working out where your tiles go, and the spinner showing what tiles you can take. Scoring sheep is fun. I also think it looks cool.
Harrison (15): I enjoy how there are different ways to get points. Competing for the sheep bonus is fun too. I like arranging the tiles and the puzzle of that. It’s a great game that I really enjoy!
Final thoughts on Tipperary
Tipperary offers twelve rounds of tile-laying disport. This has already got to the table often and as I am a family of five, I can see plenty more to come. That’s not to say it doesn’t play well at less players, more that it is a lovely option for us because of it.
The smooth and quick play is great. This board game will never outstay its welcome at the table, especially as it is pleasing to look at! While it is a lighter family weight, there is plenty to tempt me into playing it with other board gamers. It is nice that I can include a child or two too if they want to get involved.
Tipperary certainly has an Irish charm!
Number of players: 2 to 5
Board Game Review Recommended Age: 9+
Publisher’s Recommended Age: 8+
Playing Time: 25 minutes
Setting Up and Take Down Time: 1 minute
Designers: Günter Burkhardt
Publisher: Lookout Games
I am a sucker for a polyomino tile-laying game so it’s no surprise I really like Tipperary. In the family category it is a lovely relaxing game to play. Playing up to five with little downtime is a real boon too.
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- Relaxed game
- Plays up to five people
- Fast paced and quick
- Spinning the selector
- Not much interaction
- Sheep icons small
- Draw bag even smaller!
- Towers need gluing
Need more games?
If you already own Tipperary and enjoy it, or are looking for other inspiration, you might also like these similar games:
- Planet Unknown
- My City
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