Everdell is perhaps one of the most beautiful games ever made. It’s certainly one of my favourites. This year (2020) Everdell received not one but two new expansions, Bellfaire and Spirecrest. Both share the beautiful art of Andrew Bosley and sky high production values of the base game. These additions however are in fact very different to each other. Spirecrest is more like the original Everdell expansion, Pearlbrook, in that it adds a single gameplay module that raises complexity appreciably. Bellfaire on the other hand is a veritable smorgasbord of small modules and variants that can be added into your games however you see fit! Sound good? Then read on Everfan!
Bellfaire includes a new board that extends above the main Everdell board. It replaces the Evertree with somewhere to put the deck and all the workers you unlock each season, as well as housing each Bellfaire gameplay module. The board is entirely optional though as each module comes with its own mini board/tile which can be used instead to save space. The board is, as you’d expect, gorgeous and functional if a little large. As beautiful as it is I’ll mostly use the mini board/tiles purely because with any of the extra content Everdell is a table hog extraordinaire!
Also included in the Bellfaire box are 6 double sided player boards. Festooned with Andrew Bosley’s mega cute art style, these boards provide a home for your resources and unused workers. They also create a right angle from which to start your city construction. The vast majority of your personal tableau though will still be on tabletop making these player boards not exactly an essential addition. They feel more like a further deluxification of the base game.
Powers to the people
Bellfaire includes rules for adding a fifth and sixth player to your games of Everdell. I prefer lower player counts if only to save on time and table space. Having said that I do have a regular 5 player gaming group so adding the facility to play above the original 4 player max is very much appreciated. It also makes this one of the more versatile games out there with an incredible solo to 6 player range.
Asymmetry has come to the land of Everdell! One of the most interesting modules added by Bellfaire are the unique player abilities. Each critter type, including all those from the collectors editions, get their own critter card with a totally unique ability or power. If you like asymmetry in your games or just fancy a bit more variation this is a really nifty way to achieve it. Each set of rules are concise enough to fit on a very small card but can change the way you play appreciably.
If like me you can’t get enough of the adorable little critter meeples from Everdell then you’ll be pleased to note that Bellfaire adds two more. The red cardinals and the green toads come with their very own Critter power cards obviously. They also come with the frog ambassador meeples that make them compatible for use with the Pearlbrook expansion.
Tucked away in the Bellfaire box is a brand new basic event, the Flower Festival! This event, worth a respectable 4 vp requires one of each card type in your city before you can claim it. The expansion also offers 9 new special event cards. These new special events boast a fresh and I think superior alternative to the original special events. The Bellfaire events have much more general pre-requisites compared to the base games very specific ones.
Where the original specials required a player to have 2 specific cards in their city, the new ones require things like ‘4 unique critters’ or ‘4 blue cards’. In a game with a large deck like Everdell (especially with Pearlbrook) these new events are much more likely to be achievable. They also give all players a better opportunity to qualify rather than one getting lucky on the draw. Personally I prefer to play with the Bellfaire special events only now. A modest 4 forest location cards are included also. Though few these new worker placement locations are a welcome addition. They offer some powerful and interesting new possibilities.
The final modules of the expansion are the Garland Award and the Market. There are 7 Garland awards but only one will be used each game. They award endgame points for players with most and second most of something. It could be most critters or most production cards, something like that. Garlands are simple, don’t take any learning and could decide particularly tight games. I see no reason to ever leave them out.
Now, the Market! I think this is my favourite part of Bellfaire. The Market is an open worker location, but each player can only have one worker on it per season. 4 tiles populate the market each with a different mix of resources and cards on them. There are two areas, the Gain row and the Trade row, all tiles start in the Gain row. When you visit the Market you may take the resources and cards printed on any card in the Gain row, then that tile gets moved down to the Trade row.
Now players have a choice when visiting the Market to either collect stuff from tiles still in the Gain row OR pay the marked items of a tile in the Trade row to gain 3 VP and any two resources. Then the used tile in the Trade row returns back to the Gain row and is available to collect again. I think it’s really nifty that in one simple location you can not only get more cards and resources but also have a way of turning surplus into VP. The Market is a neat location and I’ll always add it in to every game of Everdell from now on.
I was really pleasantly surprised by Bellfaire. Like all Everdell content it has top notch production quality. Unlike the other expansions though there’s not a Collectors edition of Bellfaire, only the single retail edition. This means you know you’re getting the same components as everyone else, you won’t open the box to find a load of missing components because you missed the Kickstarter! All of the modules in Bellfaire are simple, rules light and self explanatory. It adds more strategy and choices without increasing the complexity much at all.
For these reasons I think it’s the perfect place to start expanding your Everdell games. There’s plenty enough content to add a fresh feel to the game and improve on the base game. The Market, special events and player powers are a highlight. The player boards enhance its table presence even further too as if this beauty needed it! There’s also 5 new solo variant rules which is appreciated by avid solo moders like myself. All in all Bellfaire is a delightful buffet of little additions that will allow fans to tailor their games to the experience they most enjoy. It gets two thumbs up from this particular Everfan!