Kickstarter Preview Reminder! – We were sent a near-finished version of Twinkle for our consideration and possible preview. As per our standard preview policy, we reserve the right to request a finished copy of the game, but weren’t otherwise compensated.
From a thematic perspective, Twinkle has its players as ‘stellar creators’ who are building constellations in the night sky. Or something. Look, what we have here is a pure abstract, and that’s absolutely not a bad thing whatsoever. The game in no way suffers for its lack of theme, and instead benefits from the brevity of its rules.
Each turn, players will add one die to their constellations, with the main restrictions being that, moving out from the center, each die added must be of a lower numerical value than the die it’s connected to, and that each die can only have 2 other dice directly connected to it. When you are deciding what dice to add, you have 2 options – you can either form a pool of 3 dice of your choice, roll them, and add one to your constellations, or you can take a single 8-sided die from the center and add it without rolling it (anytime a d8 is rolled as part of a player’s turn, it gets returned to the center with its new value).
Each color of polyhedral scores differently, and its trying to fit each die into your constellation in such a way as to set yourself up for points that is the delightful puzzle of Twinkle. Blues want to be in pairs, while Yellow just want to be present. Black cares about the sum total of its faces within a constellation, Purple wants to connect other dice together, Green scores more by being grouped with dice of the same size (not value), and Red will score based on how many odd or even dice it’s connected to.
Depending on player count, you will play with 4, 5, or all 6 of these scoring mechanisms and their associated dice. But no matter the player count, you will also use the ‘Twinkle’ scoring rule. This one is a welcome wrench in the gearworks of the rest, simply giving you bonus points every time you chain a smaller die to a bigger one, for example when you connect a d10 to a d8, or a d12 to a d4, etc. These bonuses tantalize, but one must keep in mind that the value of your dice must always decrease, so using smaller dice earlier in your constellations will probably limit your ability to add subsequent dice, since smaller dice have higher maximum values…and you might not even roll those values when you’re looking to place regardless!
But what if you look at those core scoring rules and think ‘bah, too easy. I can spreadsheet that stuff out in my brain, no problem!’ Well, firstly, good for you, that’s an admirable trait. But secondly, Twinkle has an answer for you – bronze and silver mission cards!
Mission cards add additional scoring opportunities to Twinkle, stacking on top of the existing scoring mechanisms. These cards offer an even wider variety of ways to bump up your score, from the relatively simple (have at least one of each color die in your constellation) to the considerably more challenging to coordinate (score points every time the sum of two dice connected to the same third die equals the value of that die). By adding or changing up mission cards, Twinkle will give you just enough to chew on each game so that, while its gameplay remains exactly the same, you’ve got a different challenge on the table.
What we enjoyed about Twinkle is how it’s a jigsaw of small pieces that snap together to make a tight little game that feels just perfect for its weight. The multiple scoring options and the randomness of the dice make every turn a tiny puzzle of its own, and the length feels perfectly suited for its complexity. Check out Twinkle on Kickstarter now!