Full Disclosure: A review copy of Mint Delivery was sent to me by Five24 Labs.
What is this game about?
Mint Delivery is a follow-up to Mint Works, a pared-down worker placement game that fit into a mint tin. Mint Delivery is a highly streamlined pick up and delivery game, scaled down to fit into a slightly larger mint tin. In Mint Delivery, players will race for the most victory points by racing around the city to pick up orders, acquire the mints necessary to complete them, and jet to the correct locations to fulfill them. Once players want to move beyond the base game, there are some additions they can play with, like road blocks and special abilities.
How does it play solo?
Mint Delivery has a solo mode that plays differently from the multiplayer game. Solo mode does not, however, include road blocks or abilities—only the basic solo game.
There is a solo-specific city map, where players can face off against one of five AI opponents, each of which has a special ability and has an easier time getting mints. (To acquire mints, solo and AI players pull mints off of one of two conveyor belts, and then return them after fulfilling orders—ideally in ways that are disadvantageous to the opposition!) The AI's priorities will shift based on whether the AI needs to acquire more orders, pick up mints, or fulfill current orders, and it's possible to use what you know about those motivations to block your automated opponent or slow it down. Much of the strategy of the game is advancing your own interests while throwing a wrench into the AI's plans.
I definitely appreciate that Justin Blaske put so much work into creating a solo-specific mode of play for Mint Delivery. It's nice to be catered to, and it was great to have five different opponents to play against, right out of a small mint tin. The game is also easy to set up, easy to carry around, and easy to learn—in that regard, it is definitely doing what it set out to do.
However, Mint Delivery just doesn't do it for me. I enjoyed my first few plays well enough, but I got less interested in it as the games went by. It may be that the game is too streamlined—the actions quickly start to feel repetitive, especially in solo games, where you are unable to use the special actions and roadblocks that are included to spice up multiplayer. In some ways, it feels as though Mint Delivery is straining hard to fit the mint tin constraints. Unlike Mint Works, which really was the size of a box of Altoids, Mint Delivery's tin is deeper and straining under the weight of more and more varied components—all of which are tiny. It might have been better to just let it grow into a fuller, and full-sized, game.
My other quibble with Mint Delivery is that while the game is simple and the AI rules are pleasantly streamlined, there are ambiguities that players will have to resolve for themselves when managing the AI turns. For example, how would the AI player put mints back on the conveyor belt after fulfilling an order? According to the rules, the player may return mints "as they see fit." There is a lot of room in that rule for players to be easier or harder on themselves, depending on their choices. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can frustrate players who want to play a game "correctly" or who want to be consistent when managing the AI.
Do I recommend it?
Personally? No. There are other small-box games that I'd prefer to spend my time with. (For example, Sprawlopolis, any of my top 5 roll and writes, even an aging classic like Friday.) That said, Mint Delivery is a fully functional game, and if it seems like your kind of thing, it's entirely possible that you will enjoy it.
Overall Rating: 2.5 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.