Creature Comforts by Kids Table Board Games (KTBG) is a brilliant game. It’s all about utilising your family members to prepare your home for the upcoming winter months using a combination of worker placement, push your luck, dice placement, set collection, engine building and resource management. It is a 1 to 5 player game and takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the player count.
There is already an excellent review of this game in the blogs so this will be a guide to getting the game set up and how to play, but if you haven’t guessed by now, I love this game whether playing solo or with someone else.
Whoa, That’s A Lot Of Components
When you first open the box, you will think it is Mary Poppins’ bag as there are so many components. I have the retail edition and I was still blown away by the component and card quality. Thankfully KTBG also provided enough plastic bags for all of your components to be stored in. Once you have finished sorting through your components you are ready to set up the village for your first play.
What A Pretty Village
Place the game board in the middle of the table and put the Hilltop and River dial in the pictured spaces. The river dial should be placed so that 3 of the lines meet up with the gaps in the surrounding planks.
Place the Goods in 6 supply piles (Wood, Apples, Mushrooms, Wool, Stone and Grain) to the right of the board. Next place the Lessons Learned, Coins and Stories (all of which are not goods) below the board in their own supply piles. This is to help you differentiate between goods and non-goods.
Shuffle the Comfort cards and deal four cards face up in the slots of the Owls Nest at the bottom of the board. Place the remainder of the cards in a pile face down next to the board.
Also, shuffle the Improvement cards and place them face down next to the board at the top left in a pile. Place one card face up next to the 6 dice positions alongside the left of the board.
Shuffle the Traveller deck and place them face down at the Inn. Also, place the Almanacs and Wheelbarrows next to the board.
Sort the Valley cards face down into separate piles of Forest and Meadow locations in season order starting with spring at the bottom, followed by summer and then autumn. You then flip these over and place them at to the top of the board so that the first spring cards are showing.
Place the 4 Village dice (white dice) on the Hilltop and give the Worm token to the start player.
Give each player a Home Board, 4 Workers, 4 Cottages and two Family dice of a single colour. Place the Cottages on the 4 spaces at the top left of the Home Board. All players receive 3 Comfort cards from which they choose 2 and discard 1 in a face up pile next to the board. Finally, depending on the number of players and length of game (8 rounds for a normal game and 6 for a short game) Coins will be distributed to some of the players.
So Many Places To Visit
Each round of Creature Comforts plays the same, first you reveal a new Traveller at the Inn by turning over the top card (more details on the traveller below), then you roll your two Family dice, next you place your 4 Workers at the available locations on the board, lastly the start player will roll the Village dice. Now in turn order, you will use a combination of your Family dice and Village dice to activate your placed Workers.
One of the great things about this game is the fact that you have the maximum amount of Workers from the start so every round you will hopefully be able to activate all four of them. You can activate your Workers in any order and get the best scores you will need to think carefully about this and plan ahead.
Each location allows for any number of Workers (but only 1 per Family) to be placed there and they will either have a numerical requirement or will allow for any number. So a space may say it requires two dice equalling 7 in total, in this case you would need to allocate 2 of the 6 dice in any combination equalling 7.
So, as you can see, every round you will have 4 Workers placed on the board with only your two Family dice rolled therefore you are pushing your luck when placing your Workers hoping the Village dice provide the numbers you require.
The Valley has the Forest and Meadow locations which normally provide Goods and sometimes Stories and Coins. Certain seasons stop providing some Goods which are shown on the side of the board. When a worker is activated here take the Goods / Coins / Stories into your possession.
The River provides Stones, Coins or a combination of the two.
Visiting The Owls Nest will allow you to either take 1 face up Comfort card, or 1 or 2 Comfort cards from the deck depending on where the Worker is placed and the number used to activate them. Whenever a card is taken from the 4 available you move all cards along and place a new card face up.
The Workshop allows you to build an Improvement. When you activate a Worker at this spot you may build any of the Improvements up to the number on the dice you allocated (as long as you pay the required cost in Goods, Coins and/or Stories). Once built you place the Improvement next to your Home Board and put one of your Cottages (starting from the bottom Cottage) on the Improvement.
These provide a permanent bonus such as the ability to obtain more Goods, changing the value of your Family or the Village dice after they have been rolled, or scoring for each type of Comfort card in other players possession. Some of the Improvements require you to take the Almanac or Wheelbarrow into your possession for later use. Whenever an Improvement is taken the remainder slide down into any open position and then a new Improvement is revealed for the top (number 6) slot.
There are lots of different Improvements and they are all easy to understand from the writing on them. The only one that needs some explanation is the Glades. When you build a Glade, you place it at the top of the board (with your cottage to indicate you own it) above the Valley locations.
These then provide additional space for all players (except for the Guest Cottage which can only be used by players other than the owner) to use on future turns. However, you cannot place workers in the Glades instead it is activated by the Family dice only. They provide Goods or Stories for the player that uses them and a bonus for the player who owns them (if not activated by the owner).
The Market provides a way of exchanging Coins for Goods, Goods for Coins or Goods for other types of Goods.
Every month a new Traveller will visit The Inn. When revealed first read the bonus for that Traveller. Some will provide an immediate bonus such as obtaining Goods from the supply, others will provide a bonus all month such as obtaining additional Goods whilst visiting certain locations, a few will provide a bonus at the end of the month such as the ability to reuse the Village dice for an extra go.
In addition, the Traveller also provides a location to activate a Worker with options for all dice rolls. These could provide a way of trading Goods, obtaining Stories or Coins or even obtaining new Comfort cards.
Did You Learn Your Lesson?
This game does have push your luck as one of its central mechanisms therefore there will be occasions where the roll of the dice does not go your way. In the event that you cannot allocate a dice to a Worker (or you choose not to) when you bring that unsuccessful worker back to your Home Board they bring with them a Lesson Learned token. In future turns, this will provide a one off opportunity to modify a dice roll by +1 or -1. If you have two or more Lessons Learned, you can use them together.
Building Your Comforts
You have activated all of your Workers and placed them back on your Home Board, collected your Family dice and placed the Village dice back on the Hilltop being careful not to change the number on them. Now you can use your Goods, Coins and Stories to build the Comfort cards in your possession.
There are different types of cards such as Toys, Food, Lighting, Musical Instruments, etc. Some of these cards also work together to give bonus points such as Bread which gives 2 more points if with Soup or the Bookshelf which provides additional points for every Story placed there at the end of the game.
Time To Tidy Up
After all, the players have finished their turns it is time to prepare for the next month. To do this you remove the current Forest and Meadow cards, then turn the River dial one notch clockwise, discard the leftmost Comfort card at the Owls Nest (slide the others across and then reveal a new card), discard the bottom card from the Improvements (once again sliding the other down to fill the space and place a new card at the top), discard the Traveller from the Inn, and finally pass the Worm token to the next player clockwise. You can never carry more than 3 Comfort cards from round to round so discard cards from your hand until only 3 remain. You are now ready for the next month.
Who Has Prepared The Best?
Once all 8 months have been completed (6 for a short game) you proceed to final scoring. You will score all of your Comfort cards including any bonuses, Improvement cards and any Cottage spaces revealed on your Home Board. Leftover Goods (1 point per 3), Coins (I point per Coin) and Stories (2 points per Story) will also be scored but not the ones placed on Comfort cards as these are no longer left over. The player with the highest score wins and the game does not provide any tiebreaker options as it says it is better to win together than alone.
Preparing For Winter On Your Own
Solo mode is very easy to set up as you just need to remove a few Improvement cards and Travellers. Apart from that, the game plays in exactly the same way. At the end of the game, you compare your played cards, type of cards and final score with 4 questions to find your title. So, you may end up with the title of Deliciously Pampered Critter of Maple Valley if you played 10 Comfort cards the majority of which were food types with only 1 Improvement card and a final score of 66.
Ready For Winter
I hope this how to play helps you to decide if this game is for you. I would say it is very easy to play, looks amazing on the table, has so much variability due to the order cards are revealed at the Inn and Valley locations, so many options to choose from each turn and goes by so fast (as long as you don’t have any people who have serious analysis paralysis).
Some may not like the lack of player interaction, hence why the solo mode feels very similar to playing with other people, but this is a nice game about preparing for winter and you really don’t want your neighbours getting in the way.
If you are still undecided go and look at the cute animal meeples you get with this game and that will push you over the edge.