Mine Your Business Review, Looking at a single box and also combining both boxes

Mine Your Business is a tricky spatial puzzle about mining gnomes that features many modes of play, including solo, cooperative, and competitive versions.

There are two different sets available for Mine Your Business. Each is a standalone two player experience, but they can also be combined so you can play with three or four players.

Disclosure: Thanks to Envy Born Games for hooking us up with review copies of both boxes of Mine Your Business. Links below may be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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What is Mine Your Business?

Mine Your Business was designed by Gabi Naftaly and features artwork by Art Casey. It was originally funded on Kickstarter in October 2022 by then new publisher Envy Born Games. It is now available in retail and through most online stores.

There are two distinct version of Mine Your Business, but the only difference is a single symbol on the cards and the colours of the playing pieces. Alone each set plays one or two players or they can be combined to play with three or four.

A single game of Mine Your Business can be rather quick, around twenty minutes, or can go quite long if playing with four players or with anyone who feels the need to analyse every option.

Board Game Geek has this game listed as age twelve plus, but I can see playing it with younger players. The basic game mechanics are not complicated and there’s minimum reading required.

In Mine your Business the mine is represented by a grid of square cards. Each gnome has a mine cart at the edge of grid that moves clockwise around the board. Each turn, the gnomes will move around the mine swapping, rotating, and manipulating the cards in an attempt to load chains of matching resources into their carts. Competitively, gnomes are just trying to outdo each other, but when working solo or cooperatively, players also have to deal with nasty goblins who are wandering the mine and eating up any gnomes, or resources, that they catch.

For a good look at the components you get in both versions of this game, and what sets the two versions appart, I encourage you to check out our Mine Your Business Unboxing Video on YouTube.

The two different versions of Mine Your Busienss

I found the component quality here to be mixed. The wooden silk screened gnomes and goblins look fantastic, even featuring both front and back artwork (though they are the strangest goblins I’ve ever seen). The card quality is good and the rulebook is clear and well organized. The problem is the brightness and contrast on the cards themselves. The cards are overly dark and rather uniform in colour. I don’t think this was intentional. It seems like the kind of thing that looked great on screen but once printed came out darker than intended.

It was good to see that this quality (and brightness issue) was matched in both sets, as you wouldn’t want the cards from one set to stick out from the other when combined.

How Mine Your Business is Played

Set up for a four player game of Mine Your Business using both sets!

Mine Your Business can be played a variety of different ways, but the most basic way to play is with two players, which requires one copy of the game.

Start by shuffling the mine cards and creating a four by four grid. A minecart card for each player is placed under the bottom right card on their side of the mine (players should sit opposite each other). Their gnome meeples go on the card above their cart.

The summary cards are shuffled and dealt to the players and each player takes one each of the three special action cards. All other cards get returned to the box and aren’t used in a basic two player game. The player with the star on their reference card is the start player.

Each turn is broken into four phases. The first phase has players taking up to three actions.

Actions in Mine Your Business include moving orthogonally one spot on the map, rotating the card they are on any amount, swapping the card they are on with one that is orthogonally adjacent to it, or doing any of those three actions to a campfire card as if they were standing on it, or loading their cart.

A look at one of the Gnomes and the mineshaft cards from one of the copies of Mine Your Business

Each card features one to three types of mineshafts on them (gold, gems and/or coal). These shafts follow different paths. Some curve, some go straight through. There are dead ends and crosses. What you won’t find is any type of split or T-shaped intersection. When loading a cart, you collect all of the cards that a form chain of matching mineshafts of the same resource.

After a player has taken their actions they then check the card their gnome is on to see if there’s a signpost there. If there is they may activate the ability listed on it. These include things like teleporting your gnome to a campfire or to a corner of the board, letting you swap two adjacent tiles, letting you rotate two adjacent tiles, loading your cart (which can include one non-matching resource type), and more.

Next the board is refilled from top to bottom, right to left, with cards drawn from the mine deck. Finally the player moves their minecart one spot clockwise.

Players can interrupt these four phases by using one or more of their three special cards.

The special action cards in Mine Your Business

They can use their teleport card to swap their gnome and the card they are on with the card right in front of their minecart. They can have lunch and take an extra two actions that turn, or they can put on the emergency break and choose not to move their minecart forward at the end of the turn. Each card can only be used once per game.

The game continues until either the mine card deck runs out (we’ve never seen this happen) or the players’ carts go off the opposite side of the map, leaving after mining the card their opponent started on.

At the end of the game, players count up how many cards they have collected. The gnome with the most mine cards wins. Ties are broken by the player who has the most gems and if still tied the most gold.

To add some weight to the game there is a Resource Scoring Variant that I recommend any hobby gamers use, potentially even on their first game. This involves drawing resources cards from a deck to set the value of each resources type. You draw five cards and then if all three resources aren’t showing continue to draw more until you have a value for each type. Note this variant can’t be used when playing solo or cooperative.

Playing Mine Your Business Solo

Speaking of playing solo, there is a pretty neat solo campaign that introduces new rules over the course of three games. The first game plays the same as a two-player game but has you have your cart go around the entire mine once. At each corner you place a random event card. When your mine cart rounds the bend you activate the event.

None of the events in Mine Your Business solo mode are good. They include failed breaks on your mine cart, dangerous carbon monoxide, and cave ins, rockslides, and sinkholes that mess with the map, .

When playing solo this way your goal is to collect at least thirty cards, with your final rank improving with the more cards you collect.

The next solo game introduces a Gobblin’ Goblin to the mix. This is a card driven AI foe that will move around the map and gobble up resources (flipping cards over). The goblin movement and actions are determined through random card draw and if the Goblin ever catches your gnome, it’s game over.

The final solo game introduces a Mine Owner with a Pet Goblin. I’ll leave the details of this mode of play for you to discover on your own.

Cooperative play in Mine Your Business adds goblins!

Next we have Mine Your Business Cooperative play. This has two players working together and sharing one mine cart and one set of bonus actions between the two of them. There’s also a nasty Goblin who starts off asleep on the opposite side of the map. If they players manage to make it around the board with at least thirty cards they win, but if either of them get Gobbled by the Gobblin the game is over for both of them.

You can play both the standard game and cooperatively with three or four players if you own both versions of Mine Your Business. For the basic game the main change is that the map gets bigger. For three players you will be playing on a five by five grid and with four players a six by six grid. Each players mine card will travel along two sides of the map before the game ends.

Three or four player cooperative games also use these same mine sizes and have players facing off against two goblins. At the end of one of these games players must pay each gnome eight cards. If you can’t pay the entire crew the team loses. They also lose if any of them get gobbled.

Who should pick up Mine Your Business?

Mine your Business at Origins Game Fair

I discovered Mine Your Business at Origins Game Fair where it was one of those games where, when I saw it set up on a demo table, I had a really good idea of how it plays. Just looking at mine cards, laid out in a grid with minecarts on the edges, you can tell this game is going to be about moving around those cards to make a path of resources leading to your cart.

That is of course what the basic premise of Mine Your Business is, which is a good thing, as it’s always nice when the book does match the cover. What I didn’t expect is just how difficult the game is and how hard it is to actually get those cards lined up the way you want them to.

I had visions of moving and flipping and turning things to set up these big combos, and then loading half the board onto my cart. I expected to be looking ahead and trying to set things up so that I not only get to load a bunch of cards now, but also so I would be prepared for future combos.

While there is some of that in this game, and now and then you can pull of a big combo, in general there just aren’t enough actions to do what it would take to pull this off. Instead, with only three actions a turn you don’t manipulate the board much at all on your turns, and with loading being one of those actions many turns involve just moving and rotating one card or swapping a set or two and loading three cards if you planned well enough ahead.

Playing Mine your Business with my oldest daughter.

With this limited action economy, pulling off a big combo can be more a matter of luck than skill in Mine Your Business, and that was disappointing to me. What these limited number of actions do to improve the game is to really reward players who can plan ahead. It took me a bit to realize that you don’t necessarily want to load your cart every turn. You need to not worry about your loading cart so you can focus on a big move two or three turns ahead, and when you manage to pull this off it can be very rewarding.

One downfall to these strategic depths is potential analysis paralysis on the part of the players. With a big grid of cards in front of you and the ability, no make that need, to plan for future turns, players can get locked into trying to figure out every possible combination of all of their moves. This was something else I didn’t expect when I first saw the game and heard it’s premise.

Mine Your Business very much fits on our list of Surprisingly Complex Games which we shared back on Episode 103 of The Tabletop Bellhop Gaming Podcast. The colourful artwork, the silly looking gnomes, and the overall tone of the game can lead you to think it will be more of a quick silly game, rather than the somewhat deep thinker it can be when all players take it seriously.

The cards in Mine Your Business are rather dark.

Another issue with Mine Your Business is the artwork. While the box covers are pretty bright with cute looking gnomes and colourful gems, the actual card artwork is very dull and has very low contrast. The is particularly noticeable on the back of the cards, which thankfully doesn’t impact play.

Where it does affect gameplay is on the cards with signposts. They are hard to read for no reason, and in most cases I find players having to pick them up to read them, which becomes a problem if they don’t remember what orientation they were in when they were picked up.

I honestly think this is a case where the game looked great on screen. All of the images on the Kickstarter page look great. Bright and easy to see and read. I suspect something happened with the printing that made everything dull. If that is the case I hope it’s something that can be improved on a second print run.

While I enjoy the basic game in Mine Your Business, I was surprised to find I liked the cooperative version even more. Heck, I even enjoyed the solo game more than the basic game and I’m not one to play a lot of solo games. One of the best parts of playing cooperatively is the addition of the Goblins. Adding a random factor and something you have to avoid added a fun new layer to the game.

Mine Your Business  features some of the oddest looking goblins I've ever seen

The big advantage of playing cooperatively is the fact that you have more brains at the table. In the end Mine Your Business is a puzzle game and having multiple people work on the same puzzle makes that puzzle both easier and more engaging. That said, the one big potential problem with playing a puzzle cooperatively is quarterbacking and that problem is very present in Mine Your Business.

Overall Mine Your Business isn’t quite what I expected, but it ended up being enjoyable for what it is. My one daughter really digs playing this one with two players and my other daughter loves a big four player free for all. All of us, except for my youngest daughter really enjoyed playing cooperatively, and we all agreed that when playing competitively, the game is better with the Resource Scoring Variant.

Two player Mine your Business at a Brewery

If you like spatial puzzles, especially ones where you have to plan your moves out multiple turns ahead you will likely enjoy Mine Your Business. It’s probably worth picking up just for the solo experience, especially with its short campaign. If you know one or more other people who enjoy these kinds of puzzles, this would be a solid purchase. That way you can explore competitive and cooperative play modes as well as enjoying it as a single player experience.

If what you want is a quick playing puzzle game, something like a phone app in board game form, you aren’t going to find that here. I was expecting Mine Your Business to be more of a quick playing pipe puzzle myself, but the action economy is far too tight for that. While adding a house rule where you can load for free once a turn or something like that would fix this problem, I’m here to review the game as published.

For everyone in between I recommend trying before you buy, or at least picking up the print and play version of Mine Your Business to see if the game is right for you and your group.

I always find it interesting when we discover a game that isn’t quite what we expected. That’s what happened here with Mine Your Business. While I predicted what the basic gameplay would be like just from seeing the game set up at Origins, that didn’t indicate to me just how thinking and punishing the game would be once you actually started playing.

What’s a game that shocked you by being much more involved than you expected? Tell me about it in the comments below! Better yet, join us on the Tabletop Bellhop Discord and let us know there!

Mine Your Business
  • Multiple Game Play Options: With Solo, Co-op, and Competitive Game modes, there is a version of Mine Your Business for everyone!
  • Mine Your Business can play 1-4 players when you combine both versions of the game (Pickaxe & Shovel Edition)
  • Unique Theme: Immerse yourself in the exciting world of mining with Mine Your Business, where you’ll navigate treacherous tunnels, manage a worker, and make strategic decisions to outshine your opponents.
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