Following Patchwork, the sequel to Cottage Garden (Patchwork isn’t part of the Uwe Rosenberg polyomino trilogy), Indian Summer came out earlier this year. The aim of the game is to be the first to cover your forest floor (the player board) with leaves (the polyominos) the quickest.
Whereas plant pot were a hindrance (and traffic cones in Barenpark– fun fact the designer is Australian not German!), the extra items on the unique individual player boards of Indian Summer help you.
Indian Summer - The Game
Berries, nuts, mushrooms and feathers are your friend. To obtain these (you start with one each apart from a feather) you need to place your piece on the board where the area with a hole shows the item through it (then leave it on that space on the board). Complete a section (there are six) and you can take and use the piece immediately or when you like when it is next your turn.
The items are useful as, like in Patchwork, where a leather patch lets you fill in a single “patch” a squirrel token (used as an alternate main action to playing your leaf) can be used… collecting nuts let you place a square squirrel token for free. Berries let you replenish your available leaves (taken from the next one after the bush). Mushrooms let you take a piece from your opponent (you must have a “newest-oldest” order, whereby you can take the oldest piece, if you prefer it to your own, you then place that instead of yours. Lastly, feathers let you place two leaf pieces.
You can play the food items (regarding feathers, some animals eat feathers!) before and/or after your turn. You can only use the mushroom and feather options once a turn, berries and nuts you can use as many as you like. You can upgrade or downgrade 2:1 berries->Nut->Mushroom->Feather (and vice versa, ratio doesn’t flip e.g. Two nuts for one berry).
The game is gorgeous. I really like the box and love to have it out on top of our new wooden gaming cupboard, seeing the grain of both! I’ve carried it in my small laptop game and fit, although you wouldn’t be able to bend your back whilst cycling! As the game progresses, it becomes more appealing, both in game play and in looks.
The components fit better than the other games mentioned above (only a couple weren’t perfectly slotting into place). The food items are small but fit well on the board, the sizes make sense as the leaves are similar in size to the other polyomino titles. A nice touch is you can have the pieces looking realistic, or as a line drawing, which is easier otherwise they blend perfectly into the leaf litter!
Indian Summer is engaging. Whilst you never know what an opponent is going to do next (they might have a war chest of mushrooms), this game is a race and you must ensure you complete first, food is a side issue.
Separately, you can get animals if you complete a shape of an affiliated animal which gives you an extra food item – but I haven’t seen this happen much. There is little downtime between turns, you can faux-place your next piece(s) on the board to practice, which keeps game play short.
I’ve found it replayable, there are eight different board configurations, you can start wherever you like and the only starting leaf similarity is the fact everyone starts with 2x3, 2x4 and 1x5 polyomino, helpfully and thematically colour-coded, green, yellow and red). I’ve played this as a two, four(outside! see picture) and solo. The solo works well, you have 10 turns (but remember you can keep using the food actions you accrue), I’ve only tried once and only had one space remaining.
Closing Thoughts on Indian Summer
You might like the design and designer (Uwe fans? There are plenty!). Compared to the other titles I think I do prefer Indian Summer, it looks better than Cottage Garden, there are no obstacles which can reduce fluency and whilst Patchwork is lush – it’s only two player. This game shines, 1-4!
Bärenpark is fun but it’s a little thinky and I preferred the lower tension in Indian Summer. The time to play scales based on the number of players, but is still under one hour with four players. You might not like the size of the box, it’s larger than Patchwork due to the amount of pieces, and it's less cartoony than Bärenpark, which seems to do it for some, as does the thinky point above, and on the same point arguably less fun depending if you prefer interaction to a race