Earlier this year I utilised my connections, which are many and varied, to obtain a copy of Planted on import. It was a supposed exclusive to an American superstore brand, but I wasn’t about to let international waters stop my pursuit of great games. Planted is by designer Phil Walker-Harding, a master at the light but deep game, as his previous games Barenpark, Sushi Go and Imohep suggest.
However the patient among you have been rewarded with a Uk release of Planted at an incredibly reasonable RRP too! Planted is a hand drafting resource management game of growing house plants, and it is pretty darn good.
The first thing you will notice upon opening the box is the fresh earth soil smell, actually that’s a fib. But you will notice the quality of the components. Both good and ok. Firstly the resources are fantastic and all come in their own hessian bag. The standouts are the translucent plastic suns and water tokens which are gorgeous and fun to fiddle with. The wooden components are no joke either. With growth, plant food and green thumb tokens being screen printed too.
The player boards are… ok but they fold in a way that makes me worry they will tear/separate eventually. As for the cards, well I’m not sure. They simultaneously feel thick yet cheap. It might just be me but they feel grainy and I don’t like it and refuse to wear gardening gloves while playing!
To start a round each player draws 6 resource cards and 2 item cards. In a similar fashion to Sushi Go you will select a card then pass the remaining cards to a player on the left or right depending on which round it is. You then repeat this with the 7 cards you have been given by the player on the other side.
Before the passing though, everyone resolves the card they have chosen. Resource cards are dead easy – you simply grab that amount of resources plus any bonus resources from previous chosen item cards. Item cards themselves are placed to the bottom left or right of your player board depending on their type.
Tools give you bonus resources when you choose other resource cards and decorations give you some scoring conditions to work on. For example a tool might reward you with a green thumb when you choose a double water resource card. Green thumbs can be used as a wild resource as long as you have two of them. A decoration might reward you with points for collecting certain types of plant.
Players start the game with one plant card and can gain five more over the course of the game. Plants come in various types and can score various amounts of points should they be fed with the correct resources (sun, water and plant food). To gain another plant you can trade in your chosen resource or item card to pick a new plant from the central row. If more than one player does this they check the number on the card traded in and lowest number chooses first.
Plant cards have a mix of resource on the bottom and up to three ‘growth’ spaces down the left hand side. At the end of each of the four rounds you can feed each of your plants up to once, covering the lowest space with a growth token. You will gain the points under this token at the end of the game.
This means you spend the card drafting phase balancing grabbing the resources you need with being tempted by those handy item cards. There are only four rounds so you will have to more quick if you want to feed all your house plants. Resources that are left over at the end of the round can be traded in for points at a rate of two for one.
Planted comes together as a delightfully experience. The card drafting and resolution is done mostly simultaneously so there is hardly any down time and your choices are clear but require some thought. It is a perfect ‘first game’ for new players or younger players while still providing a huge amount of fun for more seasoned players.
I was super happy I imported Planted but I’m even happier than more people will now get a chance to experience this wonderful game. If you were being harsh you could say there is a level of fiddliness with the grabbing and spending of resources. I would counter that with the fact that this is a tactile game and there is a joy in spending what you got to achieve your ends.
Planted is not going to blow you away with new unique mechanisms, but it does what it does with confidence and aplomb! I highly recommend Planted whether you are new seedling to the hobby or a great oak tree!