Meeple Circus review


02 August 2018
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meeple-circus-main-39908.jpg Meeple Circus
Big fun in the Tiny Top

Roll up! Roll up! Witness one of the most stupendously entertaining uses of meeples you’ll ever see! WATCH as the miniscule acrobats assemble into a teetering tower of precarious placement and brilliant balance! GASP as wooden animals, planks, clowns and more come tumbling down at the last second! LAUGH as your friends desperately try to appease their audience with daring arrangements!

Meeple Circus is a delightfully fun dexterity challenge with a lot of heart. It’s an idea so simple and brilliant we can’t believe it’s never been done like this before: each round, players stack a selection of performer meeples into particular arrangements, hoping to achieve a random selection of public demands to earn points on the clap-o-meter.

There’s a small element of planning first, as players take it in turns to hire various performers – each of which has a unique way to score points that must also be taken into account, the best being the expert acrobats that score based on how high in the tower they can perch. In the second of three rounds, these turn into individual guest stars, each complete with a distinct meeple that comes with its own benefits and challenges, whether it’s the long shoes of the upside-down clown or the Bertie Bassett-like top hat of the headstand-fond ringleader.

The already amusing task of getting diddly wooden pieces to balance on top of each other is given the right level of pressure and amusement by the required background music (from a web browser or mobile app), which gives a very precise two minutes and four seconds for all players to create their spectacle. (There's a selection to stop one tune driving you mad.)

The final act steps things up in a way that might divide opinion, introducing meta challenges for extra points that must be performed one at a time as the rest of the players watch, from building your tower one-handed to drumming as you place the final piece (other tasks take the music into account). The points awarded for each task seem to be strangely distributed, rewarding easier objectives above much tougher tests, and the rigid nature of the public demands means that boring but efficient constructions can outscore adventurous arrangements, which can be a bit deflating, especially as the objectives change little over a single playthrough.

It’s not one for people with wobbly tables (things are unstable as they are) or a hatred of circus music. If you’re just up for a laugh and don’t mind seeing your hard work come tumbling down, though, get yourself a ticket to one of the silliest spectacles in town. 

MATT JARVIS

Get your copy here

Designer: Cédric Millet

Artist: Angelina Costamagna, Mathieu Leyssenne, Sabrina Tobal

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Time: 45 minutes

Players: 2-5

Age: 8+

Price: £36

This review originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

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