- For ages 8 and up
- For 2 to 4 players
- Approximately 15 minutes to complete
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Pattern/Color Matching
- Strategy & Tactics
- Risk vs. Reward
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Create constellations for fun and profit
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
American actress, model, and singer, Marilyn Monroe, said: “We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.” But not all stars can be the brightest. In this game, players will build constellations, using dice to represent stars. While one of the goals is to shine the brightest, it isn’t the only path to victory. Build your constellations with purpose, and you’ll end up owning the heavens.
Twinkle, designed by Theodore Karvounis and published by V Games, is comprised of 30 polyhedral dice in five types and six colors, 28 connectors, one two-sided game board, seven Scoring cards, 20 Mission cards, four Solo Campaign cards, and four Scoring markers. The game component quality is excellent, with thick cardboard, wood components, and very durable cards. Illustrations by Thomas Kestis and Giorgos Vassos are minimal but do a good job conveying information to the player.
Observing the Night Sky
To set up the game, first place the game board in the middle of the playing area with the “galaxy” side face-up. Next, have the players position themselves, facing two of the “Starting Stars” of the same color (this makes it easier to play the game). These colored stars belong to the player for the duration of the game. Give each player seven connectors at this time and a Score marker that matches their “Starting Star” color, as well.
Second, randomly select a number of Scoring cards based on the number of players in the game. Scoring cards represent one of the six-colored sets of dice. Place the selected Scoring cards face-up in a row, allowing all the players to see them easily. Place the Twinkle card at either end of the row. All other cards remain in the game box unless you are playing one of the variants.
Third, place all the colored dice (except the eight-sided die) next to their corresponding Scoring card, leaving any dice not used back in the game box. No dice will be placed under the Twinkle card.
Fourth, roll the eight-sided dice that were set aside. Place these dice on the game board without adjusting their rolled value.
That’s it for game set up. Determine who will go first and begin. Good luck, and remember to reach for the stars!!!
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star…
Twinkle is played in rounds and turns for a total of seven rounds. Each round is comprised of selecting dice and building to the player’s personal constellations.
Step One: Choose Your Dice
A player may take up to three dice on their turn or just one.
Now hold up, buttercup. Don’t go reaching for those dice just yet. While this seems like an easy choice, the player must think it through. Dice in constellations are “locked” and cannot be rolled or moved. So before reaching for those dice, consider your current constellation and what dice colors and values would be useful to score points. Remember, players only have seven rounds which make each turn pretty important.
If the player wants to roll three dice, they can combine any of the available dice on the game board (the eight-sided dice) or the dice under their matching colored Score cards. The player then rolls the dice, selects one to keep, and places the other two back to their original location. Note that the eight-sided dice should stay on the value rolled by the player once returned to the game board.
If the player sees an eight-sided die of the color and value they want, they can take that die from the game board. This die will not be rolled.
Regardless of the player’s decision, they will now have one die to work with.
Step Two: Building Your Constellation
All constellations start from one of the two “Starting Stars” on the game board. The connectors are used to separate dice, identify groupings, and provide a visual path on which the dice are placed. While dice cannot be changed in their position or value once placed to the constellations, it’s perfectly fine to make small adjustments throughout the game to the overall constellations to account for needed space. Just make certain not to change the dice values or the connecting points for the connector pieces.
The objective for each game is always the same: score points. How points are scored is shown on the Scoring cards. The player needs only complete the patterns and connections to score the points shown using the dice colors and values. Here’s hoping the player put some thought into what dice they selected because they must now place the die regardless of how they personally feel about it.
There are a few rules when placing the dice, of course.
- Each “Starting Star” and dice in the constellations may have no more than two connectors attached to them.
- Each die placed to a constellation and connected to another die MUST have lower numerical values. So, if I want to connect a die to a die value of “8”, I can only do so if the die placed has a value of “7” or less.
- Players must always place a die to their constellations if possible. If a player cannot, they skip their turn for the round.
This ends the player’s turn. Then, the next player takes their turn, starting with step one noted above.
The game comes to an end after the seventh round. All players should have used their connectors, which is also a great way to keep track of the number of rounds in the game.
With one exception…
Remember when I said a player must place a die to their constellation on their turn if possible, but if they cannot (due to the placement rules), they skip their turn? Of course, you do. This means that one or more players at the end of the seventh round might still have connectors to use. For those players who do have connectors, they continue to play while the others watch. The game comes to a true end when all the players have placed their connectors.
On to the scoring! Place any unused dice back in the game box, carefully pick up the game board without upsetting any constellations, and flip it over to reveal the scoring side. In turn, order sequence, count the number of points each player has earned, recording the sum using the players’ Score marker.
Possible points on the Score cards include the following:
- Blue dice: score points for every paired (connected) blue die or blue die connected to the player’s “Starting Stars”
- Yellow dice: score points based on the number of yellow dice in the player’s constellation regardless of their location
- Black dice: score points based on the sum of all the black dice in the player’s constellations
- Purple dice: score points for every connection they have to other dice (but not the “Starting Star”)
- Red dice: score points based on the number of red dice in a “line” (dice connected together), but the player decides if they count dice of odd or even number values
- Green dice: score points for each green die in the constellation, plus additional points if the dice are the same type
Each game will also include the Twinkle card. This awards players points if they place a die in the constellation with more sides than the previously played die.
After all the players have counted their points, the player with the most wins the game.
For those looking for additional complexity and options to score points, “Bronze” and “Silver” Scoring cards can be introduced in addition to the normal Scoring cards and Twinkle cards. Note that introducing these special Scoring cards doesn’t make the game any more difficult, but they give players more to think about.
Using the above image, the “Bronze” Score card will award the player with the highest sum by adding their three highest dice in their constellation three victory points. The “Silver” Score card awards the player one victory point every time one die connects to another die of the same color.
Twinkle can be played solo if no friends and family are around to get into the fun. A solo game consists of 40 levels of difficulty (also referred to as “campaigns” in the rules). Cards are provided that show the player what Score cards to use. The objective is to score at least 20 points and fulfill additional requirements determined by the current level. If the player can complete both challenges, they advance to the next level. Beat the 40th and final level, and the players have successfully kicked the game’s ass. Booyah.
Using the above image, the player to beat level one will use the green, red, yellow, and purple Score cards and the “Silver” Score card with the number “11”.
To learn more about Twinkle, visit the game’s webpage.
The Child Geeks very much enjoyed themselves, having fun rolling the dice and the challenge of placing them to their constellations. The only point of frustration was the scoring, which made several Child Geeks feel like they didn’t know what they were doing. According to one Child Geek, “I like everything but the end of the game when you score you points. I don’t understand how that works yet, but I think the rest of the game is fun.” Another Child Geek said, “I needed help from my mom and dad when placing the dice so they could help me pick the right dice for points. I liked it better when I was given help.” Given help or not, new to board games or not, all the Child Geeks gave Twinkle a gold star for fun.
The Parent Geeks found the game to be casual, fast, and, most importantly, entertaining. According to one Parent Geek, “I found the game to be very engaging. The dice you pick and then roll always left me excited about the result and where the players would place them. It kept me interested from start to finish.” Another Parent Geek said, “Great little game. Easy to learn and to play. Some thought is needed throughout, but this game didn’t burn my brain. More about right choices at the moment and then doing what you can with the result. Just the right amount of pressure and fun.” When the last die was rolled, the Parent Geek stepped back and saw that the constellations they made were in the shape of a trophy, which they immediately awarded to the game for being awesome.
The Gamer Geeks also found Twinkle to be a good time. They saw it as casual, light, and best used as a filler. According to one Gamer Geek, “A good game with lots of different ways to score and subtle strategy and tactics to be used and abused. I very much enjoyed the challenge and the fun it provided. I would play this again.” Another Gamer Geek said, “The game never puts you in a corner, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t think from the very start the dice were against me. Luck plays a big part in this game, but not to a point where players are victims of it. I wouldn’t like the game if it was longer, but since it is short and fast, it was easy to forgive the randomness and enjoy the game’s challenge.” When the night was bright, and the stars shone, the Gamer Geeks all proclaimed that Twinkle was the brightest star of all.
Twinkle is a fun game. Challenging and frustrating at times, but also a good time. I liken it to other dice and tile drafting games wherein you need to make patterns and connections. Sometimes players will be stuck and have to use what they don’t want or need. But that’s the point. It’s about having goals and then adjusting accordingly to do all you can to meet them in an ever-shifting realm of possibilities. You’d think that would frustrate the hell out of folks, but not in this game’s case. Since players pick the dice and roll it, they feel they have a great deal of say on the outcome. Or, at the very least, total control of all the choices up to the point where randomness plays a part. But even then, players are still given a choice, selecting one out of three dice. Great stuff.
The scoring for this game can be a bit of a bother for new and younger players. The Score cards provide a visual summary that makes little to no sense. You’ll need to read the rule book for the full explanation. After you do so, you’ll look at the Score card and say, “Oh, I see it now.” But do expect to remind new and younger players – often – how dice will be scored. Failure to build constellations with intent to score will result in a disaster. While I have yet to play a game or have heard of a game played that didn’t score a few points, a player who builds with a purpose to the Score cards is going to dominate.
Overall, I very much enjoyed Twinkle and count it as a keeper for my collection. It’s casual and fast, full of interesting decisions without burdening the player to a point where there is just too much to consider. The outcomes of the die rolls keep everyone engaged, and the building of the constellations is visually appealing. Throw in the extra Scoring cards, and you have a game that can be played again and again without ever feeling old. So do play Twinkle when time allows to determine if this rising star brightens your horizon.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.