Imagine you’re settling a provincial town with your family. There’s a nice little harbor, vacant tracks of land and plenty of natural resources. With a little elbow grease and determination, it’ll all be yours.
But what's this? A rival family has arrived and set its sights on the very resources you’re after. That just won’t do.
It’s time to crush that other family.
Welcome to Province, the tabletop and iOS game from Laboratory. It’s a two-player game that takes about 25 minutes to play. Laboratory suggests Province is for players ages 13 and up, but my nine-year-old enjoys it quite a bit.
In this article, I’ll compare the tabletop edition to the iOS version of the game (iPad only). Let’s get started.
Province on the tabletop
Province on Amazon, about $14.
Province is a “micro game,” meaning its pieces are very small. The game board is about 3.5” x 3.5” square. The rear features a charming pastoral scene while the front contains all the iconography you’ll need to play. It looks a bit busy at first, but you’ll understand everything once you begin to play.
Province also ships with several building tokens, coin tokens, a “labor indicator,” meeple tokens, goal tokens used for scoring and more, including an instruction sheet. Each piece is made of study cardboard and the images are well-printed. It's a nice-looking little game.
If you want to pimp out your copy of Province for the tabletop, replace the meeple tokes with some mini meeples. They look great on the tiny board and are more fun to use than the tokens.
Each player starts out with some money (first player gets two coins, second gets three) and three green worker meeple tokens. The meeples are placed on the “work cycle,” or collection of three large circles on the center of the board.
At the start of your turn, you move your meeples around the work cycle -- one circle at a time, always clockwise -- to gain either money or labor. Next, you spend those resources to construct buildings that offer benefits like additional workers, bonus labor or coins. Be the first to construct a given building and reap its rewards and victory points for scoring at the end of the game. Be the second to build that structure and you’ll get the immediate benefit but no victory points. Womp, womp.
As you play you’ll have opportunities to earn goal tokens worth one victory point each. The game ends when: 1.) A player has built seven structures; 2.) All of the available structures have been built; 3.) all goal tokens have been claimed or removed.
The Province Experience
I like this game a whole lot. It’s fast, fun and just strategic enough that you aren’t board or fiercely concentrating the entire time. Plus, its components are so small that you could easily fit the whole thing into a Ziploc bag and be fine. Province is a solid game on the tabletop.
Now, what’s it like on the iPad?
Province on the iPad
I’m very happy to report that, for the most part, Province on the iPad is a delight. First, it looks fantastic. The art and components are identical to their cardboard countertops, and the feel of the game is intact.
Province’s soundtrack is nice too, as chirping birds mingle with the sounds of dropping coins and a hammer striking metal. If you’d rather not hear the sound effects, they’re easy to turn off.
There are a few niceties here that are inherent to an electronic game. Province for iPad keeps score for you, flips game pieces over and announces when you’ve unlocked a goal token. The AI is a good opponent, if not great. It offers a decent challenge though I’ve noticed it likes a certain opening move a lot.
My gripe is that it’s impossible to abandon a game in progress. Let’s say you tapped two player when you meant to hit one. Unfortunately, there’s no way to abandon that game; you’ve got to play it out. Also, while two-player pass-and-play is great, I’m wishing for an asynchrones online option, too.
Province is a fun, family-friendly game at the table and on the iPad. The feel is the same in both iterations and the iPad's tracking and soundtrack add to the experience. At $4.99 (iPad) or $7.99 (tabletop), you really can’t go wrong.
Now go and crush that other family.