Where Our Story Begins
Everdell is now a very vast game, there are so many big box expansions, and the collectors box that holds all the content is the size of a small car. But this one Newleaf is my favourite expansion, I might even go so far to say that it could be considered the essential expansion if there can be said to be one.
This is an expansion to Everdell. Although Newleaf is one of the newest expansions, there is no need for you to buy them in any particular order and in fact I would say you would be well-served to start with this one.
Everdell is a beautifully illustrated worker placement game. Your workers are woodland animals (initially in the base game until non woodland critters such as axolotls started to appear). You will be placing workers to gain resources that will allow you to play cards from your hand. Each card is worth end game points, but more importantly each will have a one time or ongoing ability that will aid you in your strategy as the game progresses.
There are broadly speak two “flavours” of cards. These are the construction cards and the critter cards. Construction cards are generally more expensive, and cost resin, pebbles and/or wood to build. The critter cards will always cost berries. Generally you will find these a little easier to come across than perhaps pebbles, but I will say that scarcity of resources is a constant feeling when playing Everdell! These could be things like an ongoing discount of a berry when playing critter cards, or perhaps gaining two twigs each time you activate the green cards in your city.
As well as being two broad types of cards there are also five colours or “suits”. These suits of cards all work slightly differently, the green production cards will activate giving you resources periodically through the game. The purple cards will just help you gain points whilst the red ones can offer you different unique worker placement spots in your city. Blue cards offer ongoing abilities whilst the brown cards will give you powerful one time events.
The card’s ability is often not related to the type but broadly speaking the constructions tend to have more “game breaking” abilities or strong ongoing effects compared to the critter cards. Additionally, if you have a construction already in your city, you are able to play the matching critter card for free. For example if you have the twig barge built in your city then you can subsequently play the barge toad card down for free rather than paying two berries.
This expansion is modular, meaning you can add in whichever things you like. There are the new cards for the meadow deck, the new board with the station and visitor cards, the tickets and the reservation tokens. Just like every single expansion to Everdell, Newleaf brings new cards. In terms of the new cards, all of them come with the trademark amazing artwork of cute critters doing “people things”. Some of my favourites are those that do not take up a space in your city, things like the main road and the hot air balloon that just give you a bit more freedom to score those big points and create those synergies. There are a few new green cards added to the deck which will beef up your production as well as scoring bigger points using the new purple cards.
Everdell Newleaf brings to the table a new board which includes a station that has visitor cards that act almost like the basic events in the way they offer points to you, but these are much easier to claim as you only need to have completed them by the end of the game. Also by picking up a visitor, you can also gain a resource from one of the train cars as well.
The station also has additional cards which you may use similarly to the Meadow. This offers you much more flexibility throughout the game and tackles the issue of a stagnant meadow at the lower player counts.
The tickets will allow you to move a worker, this gives you a bit more flexibility and will allow you to get more done in the early game. These are a perfect addition to the game when you have new players at the tables with more seasoned Everdell-ers. Everdell is usually won by experienced players over newbies, but this can give the newer ones a significantly improved chance at victory. For me this is probably an essential module to play whenever teaching the game.
The reservation tokens allow you to claim things in the meadow or station as your turn. You subsequently get a one resource reduction in the cost of the card too. This can help you claim the sweet cards that you need to get those synergies. For me this module is take it or leave it, it is so small that it can be easily incorporated but I don’t miss it if it is not there.
The components and artwork in Everdell are always brilliant. And so, Everdell Newleaf does not disappoint. This game comes with a deluxe velvet bag which is quite honestly a bit superfluous, but so is that beautiful Everdell tree, so I am here for it. This game offers a new board that sits to the right of the main board and it has the same beautiful graphic design that we have come to expect.
If you are looking to bring a bit more variation to lower player count games of Everdell, then Newleaf is really a need rather than a recommend. This expansion brings the station which gives you new focus to gain big points other than the basic and special events, as well as three more station places which behave like the meadow so you will have more choice as the game goes on.
For me this is my top rated expansion for the beautiful game that is Everdell. There are a bunch of small modules that you can mix and match in. But I think the reason that I like this expansion so much is because there are more cards that allow you to play more cards in your city above the standard 15 cards. The other thing that really sings for me is the increased balance in experience/newbie mismatched games that comes with the tickets.