I've kept my eye on Mint Works ever since I first saw it as part of a PnP contest. I've been interested in micro games pretty much since I got into board games but Mint Works manages to be something different from other micro games I've seen.
It does that just by being a worker placement game and a pretty straight foward one at that. The actions are pretty simple. Get more workers, get building plans, building buildings from plans. Whoever gets seven points in buildings first wins.
The original version of the game consisted of two pages of cards, plus whatever tokens you used for workers. I know the Kickstarter version will have more cards but we are still talking tiny. Smaller than any other worker placement game I've come across.
One difference from most worker placement games I've seen is that you don't get your workers back. They as effectively currency and you need to get more through a very limited income or actions or buildings. Still, since everyone is competing for a limited pool of actions so the basic mechanic of worker placement holds true.
The placeholder for simplest worker placement game for me used to be Sticky Fingers. That's a game where you play rival thieves and you have to gather up tools, use those tools to steal stuff and then fence the stuff off for money which is called points in the game.
And I do like Sticky Fingers. While it is simple, it has enough tension and complexity to keep it interesting. However, what it is not is an engine builder. The board is effectively the engine and you are fighting to use it the most efficiently.
Mint Works is in the running to be my new simplest worker placement game. It is honestly simpler and it is a worker placement game. And, as a micro game, it feels a different role as far as gaming needs are concerned.
And, unlike Sticky Fingers, Mint Works is an engine builder. The powers of the buildings give you are awfully simple but they are there. You definitely have to build up your infrastructure as well as going for points.,What I am uncertain of is how strong it's replay value is. The Kickstarter version, with more cards, does add promise for replay.
Mint Works is definitely a fascinating work of minimalism.