On the back of the final cycle of Everdell expansions/complete collection big box, My Lil Everdell arrived with no hype or build up from Starling Games. It suddenly appeared on their website, noting that this was aimed at the family market and an introduction to the world of Everdell. So if you are a solo player and are looking at expanding your game collection, is My Lil Everdell worth purchasing?
For those used to the world of Everdell, it’s essentially a stripped-down version which incorporates some of the elements of its big brother. The game board is approx 30cms square so doesn’t take up a whole lot of table room. In addition, you get 58 cards with new artwork by Andrew Bosley; four sets of meeples (three of each and now called friends rather than critters); four cardboard crates to hold resin, twigs; berries and point tokens; parade tokens; resource & solo dice; and a double-sided solo mode card.
Visually and component wise the quality is very good, though I did have some minor issues constructing the cardboard crates. The rule book is 16 pages long, illustrated and written with clear examples of gameplay.
There are four rounds to the game as follows:
1: Roll Dice
For the solo game roll two of the resources dice and place one on each of the first two dice spots of the board. These allow you to gather two or three resources as shown on the die face as opposed to just one resin/twig/berry from the crate spots.
For those used to Everdell this is a simplified version of the basic & forest locations
2: Gather Goodies from green cards in your town
This only comes into play for rounds two - four. Activate any of the green cards in your town and collect resources. This mirrors the going to spring and autumn action from Everdell.
3: Place Friends and Collect Cards
On your turn you place one of your friends on either a dice spot or a crate spot. Only one friend can be at any of the dice spots whilst the crate spots are unrestricted placements. Use any resources that you collect and then use that to take one of the eight available cards on display below the main board; activating any abilities as appropriate. Finally check to see if you meet the requirements to claim any of the four parade cards. The parade cards are essentially the equivalent of Everdell’s basic events, but in My Lil Everdell you claim these without the need to place a friend on them. In addition multiple parade cards can be claimed at the same time.
Depending on the solo mode being used you will (Prince Pumpernickel AI), place a friend thus potentially blocking your use of the dice spots, then roll the eight sided dice to decide which card they claim and then replace the chosen card; alternatively (Princess Periwinkle AI), roll the dice to claim a card and place their meeple in that spot, but do not replace the taken card.
Turns continue until all three friends have been placed. It should be noted that you can only take one card after playing a friend and even if you have enough resources once all the meeples are placed you and the AI can only take a maximum of three cards each turn, thus twelve in total. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing and makes you carefully think about what cards to go for eg: do you take a one point scoring card with ongoing gameplay benefits now or do you not take a card and use resources for that six point card next turn, but reducing your maximum city size.
4: Return Home
Once the final friend has been played and any card or parade token claimed, meeples are brought back home. Again to those used to playing Everdell this is similar to the end of season action.
5: Advance the Moon marker to the next round
If using the Princess Periwinkle AI, fill the vacated meeple spots with three new cards from the deck. Play then continues using the steps above until the end of the fourth round.
Scoring is straightforward to calculate with purple (prosperity), cards giving additional points dependant on cards in your city. You even get a point for each two unused resources left over.
Final Thoughts & Replayability
If you are looking for a full Everdell experience or to see why so many gamers love this franchise, then this is not the game for you. It sits very much at the family end of the gaming spectrum and whilst that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the rules and solo experience reflect that in their complexity. If you are looking for a game that younger members of the family can play solo then My Lil Everdell is good, though Creature Comforts would be a better purchase with superior gameplay.
Having said all that, if you are a fan of Everdell and want a quick game that takes 20-30 minutes, then My Lil' Everdell is a welcome addition and one I enjoy playing. My games against the AI can veer wildly in scoring, with me winning about 70-80% of the time. There are additional rules for a more difficult challenge and I’ve added a couple of house rules to further increase the AI ability. One for Everdell fanatics and completionists only.