A very clever pal of mine recently told me that peacock feathers are unlucky. Having never had a reason to doubt her superior intellect in all things, I accepted the statement as fact. Being an eternal learner, however, I wanted to find out why. It seems that the superstition traces back to the “evil eye” markings that were thought to belong to the female demon, Lilith. Fortunately, I had already fallen for Enchanted Plumes.
Super simple to get to the table, the first step is to prepare the tail feather deck which has 100 cards in sets numbered 0-9 in ten beautiful colours.
- Two players: use only 0-6 cards (note: publisher official solo mode uses this deck set also)
- Three players: use only 0-7 cards
- Four players: use only 0-8 cards
- Five to six players: use all the cards
Shuffle them up and deal each player nine cards. Everyone gets to choose 6 and the rest are returned to the feather deck. These then get reshuffled and the top 7 are removed. The Peahen card is then shuffled into those 7 and these 8 cards go at the bottom of the feather deck. Finally, flip over the top 5 cards and place them in a row to the right of the feather deck, this is the feather train.
Taking A Turn
The mechanics of a turn are just as straightforward:
Play 1 or 2 cards from your hand to start a new plume or add to an existing one you are already building. The cards can both go into the same plume or split up. Then replenish your hand by either drawing 2 cards from the feather deck. Or by swapping two cards from your hand with those in the train. Then draw one from the deck and swap one from your hand with a card in the train.
But, remember! you can never hold more than 6 cards, so if drawing a second card would give you a hand of 7, you must swap one of the feather cards in your hand with one in the train instead.
Plumes Assemble! I mentioned building plumes. Well, as you may have guessed, you’ll be parading your plumes in triangular form, with the widest part at the top. The widest row of each plume actually scores you negative points at the end game. But of course, you need a big wide base in order to fit as many other point scoring layers in as you can. If you start a plume but only get as far as one card, that’s always negative too. Crunchy and we haven’t even begun yet!
The layers aren’t just a Jacob and his Technicolour Dream Coat affair either. You can only add a feather to a lower layer if the same colour is represented in the previous one. So, in effect, your widest row also sets the available colour palette for that particular plume.
If you get to the bottom of any plume, the single card is flipped over to show the stunning peacock side. This is something you will want to do as it will reward you an extra point for every card used in your plume at the end game. Good for mitigating those negative nellies you are likely to earn at the start!
When the Peahen card is revealed in the deck, it’s cards down. Then everyone counts up their points (remembering to deduct those on the top row of each plume), and the player with the most plumeriffic points is the peackockiest player of them all!
Like another in-house favourite of ours, Arboretum (which we call “rage trees”), this small box is very misleading. Well, get your sledgehammers ready because this game can turn walnut tough in the space of a few turns! Its beauty and simple rules belie a big thing, and for us, that is the golden spot.
Every time you lay a card, you are taking a risk. Are you collecting a colour somebody else is gunning for? With plumes appearing on the table in front of you, it becomes a race to collect the juiciest of each. But of course, you want to make big wide bases with the lowest value cards you can. So, do you sacrifice higher ones now? Or do you risk a big negative hit to stop someone else stockpiling it for a later layer?
Same with pick up. Do you swap for something good, knowing that you are laying a card that someone else is going to snap up? Maybe you chance a blind draw from the deck? Do you hate draft but sacrifice a better card for your own plume? Decisions, decisions!
We adore Enchanted Plumes. For us, it is teeth gnashingly glorious. The playtime, the tension, the level of crunch. It just sings to us. The tightness of the gameplay might not appeal to someone looking for an easy card game to mellow out over. But having played the publisher approved solo mode, I actually find it relaxing (even when the AI trounces me!).
The look and process make it such an easy game to bring to the table. Whether you are 9 or 99, the chance to make beautiful plumes is likely to appeal. But believe me, you’ll be spitting feathers by the end if your plumes are less than parade worthy!
Whether there are 2, 4, or 6 players around the table, the tension remains balanced by the addition of more cards into the feather deck. There may be a bit more downtime as more deliberation happens, but we haven’t found that it slows the game by any appreciable amount.
The deck itself is beautiful. Those 10 colours are almost hypnotic. My favourites are deep blue and teal. On that point, the designer and publisher have made each feather colour a slightly different shape/pattern which will hopefully help players with colour vision deficiency play the game without any disadvantage.