Hidden Gems - A Fistful of Meeples by Jonny Pac

Hey everyone!  This week in Hidden Gems, we’re takin’ a gander at a fun little game I was recently introduced to that’s turning me on to small box games in a big way.  So saddle up, pard'ner! It’s time to mosey on down to the saloon and partake of some further Wild West cliches as we explore A Fistful of Meeples by Jonny Pac.


A Fistful of Meeples is a 2-4 player worker placement game utilising a Mancala mechanism wrapped in a wonderfully illustrated Wild West theme.  Players score points by placing their meeples in various locations in a sleepy settlement in the Old West; notable points of interest include the bank, the saloon, the jail and of course, what jaunt to the Wild West wouldn’t be complete without an old fashioned shoot out in the main street of town?

Players gather resource cubes from a bag by picking up all the meeples from their chosen location and placing them sequentially at each of the following locations.  Each coloured meeple represents a different character type with their own unique ability which is triggered when placed at a location depending on which other meeples are there. For example, if you place blue deputy meeple at a location with a red robber, the robber goes to the jail space and the player can draw resource cubes from the bag. 

A Fistful of Meeples makes for a fun, lighthearted and thematically rich abstract worker placement experience.  The Mancala mechanism is used to great effect, replacing the traditional stone with meeples and setting the action in a familiar theme makes the game accessible and a joy to play.  The ability for players to effectively own and upgrade certain stores in the town provides and elevates the game to include more strategic thinking and allows players the chance to benefit from their shops if used by their rivals. Other flavourful twists sell the theme as well, for example, the Madame who when placed on a space sends all the builder meeples from that location to the saloon, and the dynamite, which can facilitate a prison break. Hands down though, one of the most rewarding aspects of this game is duelling!  If two players have a meeple on opposite ends of the town, those two meeples become gunslingers and must engage in a shootout, the winner sashays his way to the saloon to celebrate his victory, while the dude who finished second goes to the graveyard.  The game ends when all the grave sites are filled or when all 6 gold bars have been “liberated” from the bank.

Games take between 30-45 minutes and there’s plenty of variation here to justify a second game making A Fistful of Meeples more than just a filler game. I’d have no problem making this the main event of any game night. The rules take only a few minutes to explain, then everyone is into it. My only complaint is that I would have liked to see the meeples with different sculpts as well as different colours to further differentiate them, but that’s just nitpicking at this point. A Fistful of Meeples is a solid little box filled with flavour, colour and a rewarding gameplay experience!

That’s all for Hidden Gems this week. Have you played A Fistful of Meeples before?  If so, share your take on the game in the comments below. Likewise, if you have any recommendations for a future Hidden Gem you can let me know at brian@gamekings.co.nz and I can consider including it in a future blog! For now, thanks for joining me and have fun. Now run off an' play now, ya' hear?

Hidden gems