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How To Play Mariposas


Following on from the well-known and well-loved game that is Wingspan, Elizabeth Hargrave has graced us with yet another fun and challenging nature-based game called Mariposas. At its core, Mariposas is a meeple movement and set collection game for 2-5 players. The box says it takes about 45-75 minutes to play but if you’re a tactical strategist and spend your turns aiming for maximum scoring potential, then the game can easily lean towards the longer time frame.

The theme of the game is based on the amazing 3000-mile migration that the millions of monarch butterflies embark on every year. Similar to their journey, the game spans across 3 seasons - beginning in Spring - in which you play as butterflies travelling up across North America and returning back to Michoacán in the fall. Just like their real-life migration, no 1 butterfly ever makes the round trip, and you will spend your turns hatching up to 4 generations of butterflies which all play their own part in the journey – each one continuing on from the previous generation until they are ready to start the next.

Players take a set number of turns each season, with goals to achieve and points to score at the end of each. Players also score points for butterflies that they manage to get back to Michoacán by the end of fall. The player with the most victory points at the end of the third season wins the game.

How to set up


Main game board:

1. Place the main game board in the centre of the playing space.

2. Shuffle the 16 waystation tokens and randomly place them face down on the empty location spaces on the board.

3. Separately shuffle each stack of seasonal goal cards and deal 1 face down to the appropriate spring, summer and fall sections on the board, return the rest to the box. Turn the spring card face up.

Waystation board:

4. Place the smaller waystation board somewhere to the side of the main game board (wherever there is room on the table).

5. Sort the life cycle cards face up onto the matching colour and picture sections of the board.

6. Shuffle the 6 life cycle ability cards and randomly select 3 to place at the end of each row on the waystation board.

7. Sort the 15 bonus move waystation cards into their three different groups and place them within easy reach next to the waystation board.

Player pieces and tokens:

8. Have each player choose a colour and collect all the butterflies and the score marker of that colour.

9. Place each players score marker at the start (top) of the score track on the main board.

10. Each player now places one of their generation 1 butterfly markers in the Michoacán start/end space at the bottom of the game board. (Generations can be identified by looking at the numbers on the butterfly player pieces)

11. Each player should also place a generation 2 butterfly markers on top of the facedown summer goal card, and two generation 3 butterfly markers on top of the fall goal card.

12. Sort the flower tokens into groups and place them at the side of the game board along with the flower dice.

13. Shuffle the 36 action cards, deal each player a hand of 2 action cards and place the rest face down in a pile near the game board.

14. Randomly choose a starting player and you are ready to begin the game!

On your turn

Turns are simple and consist of the three following steps.

Step 1: Play a card from your hand and take the action(s) shown on it. The action will be your butterfly movement for the turn.

Step 2: Land on a space and reproduce. Reproducing is an optional action, but you may only do this if your butterfly lands on a space next to a milkweed symbol.

Step 3: Draw back up to 2 action cards in your hand. (If you ever have 2 of the same cards, you may trade in 1 or both for replacements)



Playing action cards is how you move your butterflies each turn.

Each action card tells you how many of your butterflies can travel and how far. The number of arrows above a butterfly tells you how many spaces one can travel on the board. They must always move by travelling through adjacent spaces. The number of butterflies tells you the total amount of butterflies you can move. You can choose to either move 1 butterfly this number of times or split the movement up between multiple butterflies.

For example, if a card shows three butterflies all with 1 arrow, then you can choose to either move 1 butterfly three separate spaces, or you can split the movement up between 2 or 3 butterflies.

Each season, players have a set number of turns and so can only play a set number of action cards. To keep track of how many turns you have had, place the action cards you’ve played in a row in front of you. These will be discarded at the end of each season. In Spring players get 4 turns, Summer 5 turns and Fall 6 turns (the numbers are printed on the board under each season to remind you).

Landing and reproducing

When you finish your movement, each butterfly you moved lands on a new space and collects the flower or waystation card shown. However, a butterfly cannot collect flowers from the space on which it started or from the same space twice in a turn.

Multiple butterfly markers can occupy the same space including those of different players.


If the space a butterfly lands on is next to a milkweed symbol, then that butterfly may also reproduce and hatch a butterfly from the next generation. To do this they must be able to pay the cost by discarding the appropriate amount of flower tokens depending on which generation you are hatching. You begin the game in Michoacán with a generation 1 butterfly and so the next butterfly you hatch will be a generation 2, which costs either two of the same flower tokens or three of any. The cost for each new generation increases each time but there is a visual reminder on the board for reference throughout the game.

If your action card shows multiple landings (such as move 1 space three times), you can collect the flowers and waystation cards on each landing space, as well as reproduce each time if you land next to a milkweed symbol.

When hatching a butterfly, take one of your butterfly markers from the next generation and place it on the same space as its parent. The two butterfly markers can now move completely separately and are counted individually towards any end of season goals. When hatching a butterfly, you must always take the markers placed on the season goal cards before you take any from your supply. When the last butterfly is removed from a season goal card, flip the card over and reveal what the scoring goals for the next season will be.

If you don’t have any butterflies from the next generation available, then you can’t reproduce. Generation 1 butterflies can only hatch generation 2 butterflies, generation 2 butterflies can only hatch generation 3 butterflies and so on.

Once you have a generation 4 butterfly, these can only reproduce one more time. Instead of hatching into a generation 5 butterfly, you flip the butterfly marker over to the other side to show the x2 number and these count as two separate butterflies. However as this is only one marker, both butterflies can be moved and count as one movement action.



Waystations are habitat areas that people have created to help the monarch population, providing nectar plants for butterflies and milkweed for caterpillars – the only plants that they can eat! These areas are represented in the game by the named location spaces which have facedown tokens on them at the start of the game.

If you are the first player to land on one of these locations, flip it over and collect the item shown there. As the first player to land there you may also roll the flower die as an additional bonus. The token is left face up for the rest of the game – other players can still visit the location but do not get to roll the dice.

Waystation tokens may show an image of one of the life cycle cards or bonus move cards which you can collect, but you can never have more than one copy of each.

If you collect a bonus move card, this is added to your hand as a third card and can be used as a normal action card on your turn, or to increase the movement of a butterfly on a different action card. The increased movement is represented by arrows with a ‘plus’ icon. These can be played in combination with another action card on any future turn and allow you to move one of the butterflies 1 or 2 spaces further. These cards can only be used once and are discarded as normal at the end of each season after they have been played.

Life cycle cards are collected as sets, once you have all 4 cards of either the green, pink or blue set, then you receive the bonus life cycle ability listed at the end the relevant row. These may be either an immediate bonus or points to score at the end of the game.

End of season


The end of season goals encourage players to travel up and around the map to achieve extra points throughout the game. The goals represent some of the changing factors such as wind, weather and temperatures that affect the monarchs migration each year.

The monarchs never know in advance what is going to happen each year, which is why players have to wait until all of the butterflies placed on top of the summer and fall cards have hatched, before finding out what the scoring bonus will be for that season. If you ever reach the end of a season without the next season goal card being revealed, move any player markers on top to their owner’s supply and reveal it immediately.

Once each player has taken all their turns for the season, total up the points from the season goals. Goals may include points for having butterflies above, below, left or right of a certain location, having butterflies on certain coloured spaces, hatching butterflies in between certain locations and more. There is a handy reference guide for each individual card inside the games rule book.

Most cards indicate points to be scored at the end of each season, however when there is an exclamation mark next to a points symbol, that represents points to be scored immediately. All points can be counted and scored on the score track by placing each players marker on the appropriate number – do this at the end of each round as well as when points are needed to be scored immediately.

The rules are very specific in clarifying parameters for end of season goals – particularly with geographical based goals. The cards normally say whether butterflies should be above, below, left or right of the location and show arrows stemming from two points on the hexagon shaped location. These arrows indicate an imaginary line that should be drawn when determining if butterflies are in the right space to be counted towards any goals. There is a more detailed guide in the game rule book that is useful to have on hand when playing.

At the end of each season, in addition to scoring seasonal goals there are a few other steps to take, including:

1. Discarding all action cards played this season.

2. Determining the first player for the new season – this will be the player with the fewest total points at the end of the previous season (ties go to the player that comes first in clockwise order, starting from the existing first player)

3. Removing and hatching butterflies. At the end of each season, older generation butterflies are removed from the game and new ones are hatched. This is to represent the short lifespan of the monarchs and the contribution that each generation makes towards their migration.

- At the end of spring, remove all generation 1 butterflies and hatch a generation 2 for free.

- At the end of summer, remove all generation 2 butterflies ad hatch a generation 3 for free.

End game and final scoring

At the end of the fall season, tally up the fall goals as normal then score additional points for the number of butterflies that are in Michoacán. The grid on this location space on the board tells you how many points you get for the amount of butterflies there. For having 1 butterfly in michoacán you receive 3 points, 2 butterflies = 7 points, 3 butterflies = 12 points, 4 butterflies = 17 points, 5 butterflies = 21 points and 6 butterflies = 24 points. Only generation 4 (or 4x2) butterflies can return and be counted towards end of game points.

You also score 1 point for each waystation life cycle card you collected and any bonus points for having any completed sets of these cards.

The player with the most points at the end of all 3 seasons is the winner!

Aiming for the best score.

It can be difficult to decide when the best time is to start travelling back to get your butterflies home - you obviously want to get the most points you can from end of season goals as well as butterflies in Michoacán, but it often seems like you must make a sacrifice between the two. I haven’t quite decided on the best strategy yet, but I know that I always get to the last season thinking my butterflies have so far to travel back home and how am I ever going to get them there in 6 turns!? If you leave it too late then

you miss out on those end game points, but on the other hand if you focus on getting your butterflies back early then you may miss out on points from end of season goals. Either way this is something to think about when planning your strategy.