Bosk

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RRP £44.99

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From majestic Maples to ancestral Oaks, players nurture their trees aiming to thrive over the course of a year in a beautiful National Park. In the spring, players carefully grow their trees, scoring as hikers enjoy traveling the trails in summer. When autumn comes, leaves fall in the ever-changing direction of the wind, guided to cover the terrain and other players’ leaves. Point…
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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-FGGBK01 Availability 3 in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Real table presence
  • Thought-provoking area-control game
  • Excellent components
  • No vindictiveness

Might Not Like

  • Sometimes difficult to identify tree values
  • Theme may not appeal to everyone
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Description

From majestic Maples to ancestral Oaks, players nurture their trees aiming to thrive over the course of a year in a beautiful National Park.

In the spring, players carefully grow their trees, scoring as hikers enjoy traveling the trails in summer.

When autumn comes, leaves fall in the ever-changing direction of the wind, guided to cover the terrain and other players’ leaves. Points are awarded in winter for the most coverage of each region in the park.

Gain your ground in the park to be victorious in Bosk!

Bosk Board Game ReviewBosk. What a strange name for such a colourful game. I must confess it was the theme and box cover that really appealed to me. So, what is Bosk all about? ‘Bosk’ means a small wood or thicket of trees. It is derived from the Spanish word bosque meaning forest. According to an urban dictionary, one of the other meanings is ‘good, agreeable or great’. So, the question is whether Bosk is a good game about woods and trees. As we wander through these tree-lined paths, let’s explore what the game of Bosk is about. Prune away all of the colourful components and Bosk is an area-control game. Floodgate Games are known for bright and vivid games such as Sagrada and Bosk is no exception. It is a 2-4 player game that will take about 40 minutes to complete. Although the box states it is suitable for 13-year-olds and older, most children of secondary school age should be able to enjoy this.

Bosk Gameplay

The game is set in a National Park, represented by a grid of intersecting paths. These cover a varied terrain. There are two distinct phases of the game, which play out during the four seasons of the year. During spring and summer, you plant specimen trees at key points on pathways and intersections. Autumn and winter will see those trees lose their leaves to cover the terrain around them. The game is designed to play for up to four, each player taking one tree species: oak, maple, copper beech and sycamore.

Spring & Summer

During spring, players have eight trees to place in the National Park. These each have different values (1 to 4). By placing the trees along a route, players try to have the highest value of trees in any direction along the path. In the summer months, all of the individual tracks in the park are scored. The value of each species of tree along each North to South and East to West pathway are added up. Points are awarded to the player who has the highest value of trees for each row and for each column. An extra bonus is given to the player with who has the sole tree species along any particular route. Bosk Review The second part of the game is dependent on the trees placed during spring, and on the wind direction. The orientation of the park needs to be determined at the start of this phase. This is important because, when the wind blows, the leaves will fall across different parts of the park. The choices you made in the first phase have an impact here. The player with the fewest points after summer scoring becomes the first player in this phase and can choose the initial direction of the blowing wind. This also fixes the pattern of the wind changes in the subsequent turns.

Autumn & Winter

In each of the next eight turns during autumn, the wind direction swirls and changes. This will cause the falling leaves to blow in a different direction. Only one tree may drop leaves each turn. For rounds one to four in autumn, only the tree corresponding to that number may be selected. For rounds five to eight, any of the remaining trees can be chosen. Play starts in autumn with the person who scored the fewest points during summer. However, the order of play varies depending on the number of leaves placed during each turn. The person who placed the fewest leaves in the previous turn becomes the starting player in the following turn. The leaves are placed in the middle of the squares formed by the vertical and horizontal paths. The aim is to put leaves in the different regions, covering the terrain in order to have dominant coverage for as many areas as possible. Leaves may only be placed one at a time and in the wind direction, or diagonally in the adjacent space. Leaves may be placed on top of other leaves, but at the cost of one leaf for each leaf covered. Once a tree has dropped its leaves, you remove it from the board and cannot use it again. During the autumn, instead of dropping leaves, a squirrel token may be placed on the board. This will fix a square in the park in that player’s colour. Squirrels can be placed on any number of leaves in a pile. Leaves cannot be placed outside of the park, so this autumn season involves looking ahead to ensure there is room for your leaves to blow and to see what areas are best covered. The winter phase involves scoring the number of leaves in each of the separate regions. Only the player with the most leaves - or the one in second place for that terrain - will score points. This means it is better to concentrate your leaves where you are certain to score instead of spreading yourself too thinly. Bosk Trees

My Thoughts About Bosk

It was the front cover that first drew me to Bosk. The picture shows the magnificent Sequoia National Park and a family dwarfed at the foot of these majestic trees. The box needs to be large, to accommodate each player’s trees along with the leaves and tokens. The inserts are colour coded and can be removed to provide a place for gamers to store their pieces. The rule book is colourful and clear. The explanations about how to place trees and score for trees and leaves is concise. It usefully gives examples of how to score certain rows that contain trees. There is a nice clarification on the back of the rule book that contains a single page snapshot of the rules. This is an aide memoire to those who haven’t played Bosk for a while. The components are all made of thick card. The pieces punch out from their boards cleanly and without tearing. The shape and direction of the grooves in the tree pieces ensure that, once constructed, the trees keep their 3D form and do not seem to come apart easily. The four species of trees are sufficiently different in shape and colour to be distinguishable, even for players with colour difficulties.

Trees

At the top of each tree is a small number indicating its value. This is printed on just one side of the card. In playing the trees (during the spring phase) it is important to know the value of the opponent’s trees. This can be difficult to see depending on the tree’s orientation. Similarly, scoring each pathway could be clearer. My suggestion to Floodgate Games would be to print each species of tree in four different heights. This would make it much clearer to see the relative values of the trees placed along the pathways. Similarly, during the second phase in autumn, it would make it easier to understand which of the opponents’ trees will need to be harvested. (My suggestion is to have trees of different sizes that are similar to those in Photosynthesis). The leaves are all made of wood. They are nicely painted and fit with the colours and types of trees. Usually, oak leaves turn orange in autumn; copper beach often has a blueish or purple hue. Having wooden leaf tokens shows the thought and attention to detail, giving Bosk a premium feel. Bosk Gameplay

Gameplay

Bosk makes a wonderful thinking puzzle. The board is double sided with different sizes for games with two, three and four players. This ensures that the area of control remains tight. During spring, with tree planting, it is often useful to place trees on intersections that add value to rows and columns you already control. Again, it is probably wiser to concentrate on dominating a few paths rather than spreading the trees too widely and not coming first or second during the summer scoring phase. Playing last has no disadvantages, which is quite refreshing during a strategy game. At the end of spring, the final player can mop up any empty North/ South or East/ West pathways and claim them for themselves, scoring highly. The clever part of Bosk is that there is almost a “game within a game” during the spring season. At a superficial level, you might want to score well for a few paths. However, to do so would prevent the claiming of the terrain during autumn. Placing all of your trees in one area could allow others to place a line of leaves, almost hemming you in. This would mean that expanding out of that corner would come at a greater cost and limit your scoring ability. A few turns into autumn is when Bosk really comes alive. At this point it is very eye catching. The tall trees give the board depth. The colours of the board’s terrain and scattering trails of leaves mean that anyone walking by  mid-game is sure to be drawn in. It is at this point where the game might be won or lost. I love the way that the swirling wind affects leaf placement. You can start to plan how you might get good leaf coverage and work out the order of trees to be shedding their leaves. Bosk almost becomes like a game of chess where you might see your opponent’s strengths and choose to neutralise some of their pieces. This then gives space for you and your trees to expand.

Squirrels

The use of the cute squirrel token is a clever angle to leaf placement. Foresters normally consider squirrels as a pest, but here they can come to your aid. The squirrel can be placed within three squares of a selected tree in a windward direction, covering any number of leaves. It is best to keep the squirrel towards the end of autumn. It only adds one square to your terrain, but this may be sufficient to tip the balance in your favour. Bosk Squirrels Scoring in winter is much tighter than in summer. There are just eight regions (instead of 18 available routes to be scored during the previous phase of the game). These areas vary in size yet have similar scoring opportunities. Again, the key to playing Bosk well is understanding the “game within a game” during spring planting or early in autumn leaf placement. It is often strategic to consider dominating a smaller area using fewer resources. Similarly, the variable turn order can be extremely useful. This requires forward planning so that playing just the squirrel (one leaf equivalent) or dropping two leaves in a certain direction might give you the first player token for the next turn. Depending on wind direction, you might then drop several leaves to cover a huge swathe of the park. Once all of the trees have shed their leaves (and have been removed from play) the board almost resembles a game of Risk, with coloured leaves advancing like armies into different regions of the park. Games seem to be won by the smallest of margins. More points are available during winter, especially if one player achieves complete coverage of a particular area. Here is the key to success- remembering that winter comes after summer.

Bosk: Final Thoughts

Bosk is a strategic game. It requires as much thought as any other area-control game. The theme is unusual but works very well. This gives the board an appeal during play. The clever part of Bosk is the balance of short-term point scoring during summer against the need for terrain coverage in autumn. This tension, coupled with the tight space available, means that your moves are sure to affect others’ play. There is no “take that” or vindictiveness to the game, but if players wanted to play hard there is scope to do so. The two phases of the game are sufficiently different, but each influences the other. With only eight trees to play in each phase, the game moves quickly. There is little scope or need for over-analysis of any position. The predetermined wind direction forces the leaves to blow in a single direction. Bosk is quick to setup and fairly quick to play. Like many strategy games, the rules and setup are easy to understand, but to master the subtleties of the tree and leaf placement will take much longer. This means that it can be played at almost any level. With younger teenagers and children, it is a game of colours and leaves. For those who want more, there is depth and complexity available. So Bosk not only is a “game within a game” but it can be varied depending on the mood of other players. For this reason, it has become a popular game for us at home.

The life cycle of a tree is a beautiful journey across four seasons. Planting in spring, shining bright in summer. Leaves tumble and cascade in autumn, carpeting the woodland floor come winter. But what if this process got the board game treatment, fleshed out in 3D cardboard form? Well, wonder no more, my gaming friends! That’s the course of action in Bosk by Floodgate Games.

The word ‘Bosk’ means a wood comprising of small trees. (There’s your daily nugget of pub-quiz knowledge for the day.) Bosk is an abstract-strategy/area-control game by Daryl Andrews and Erica Bouyouris. Andrews also co-designed Sagrada, a popular, beautiful, dice-drafting game, also by Floodgate Games. Bosk is beautiful, thanks to its gorgeous array of 3D trees and colourful, wooden leaf tokens. It boasts wonderful art from Kwanchai Moriya (Dinosaur Island, In The Hall of the Mountain King, Prêt-à-Porter, among others). But there’s more to Bosk than beauty; it’s got brains to boot, too.

Lets’s kick up some leaves ’neath the trees. It’s time to learn how to play Bosk…

First Things First: How Do I Win?

The main concept in Bosk is area control. The game’s split into four seasons. In spring, everyone ‘plants’ their trees. In summer, everyone scores their trees, according to their locations. In autumn, everyone’s trees shed leaves, which get blown by the wind. In winter, everyone scores their leaves, according to where they fell.

Four phases then, but two of them comprise of scoring alone. The meat of the game occurs in ‘spring’ and ‘autumn’. On paper, it might feel like a game of two halves. Smart placement in spring, though, can prove a double-benefit come winter scoring. I’ll talk you through each season in detail, but first, let’s set up the game.

Setting Up’s As Easy As Bish, Bash, Bosk

Place the main board in the centre of the table. It represents an abstract national park of sorts, but you can rotate it any way you like. It’s double-sided, according to player scale. The side with the larger squares (8x8 grid) is for a two-player game. The side with the smaller grid squares (12x12) is for a four-player game. Play inside the white border (so 10x10) for a three-player game.

Have players pick their colour (purple, orange, red, yellow). Give each player eight 3D trees of their colour. Each has a number; there’s two 1s, two 2s, two 3s and two 4s. Also give each player eight large Leaf Tiles of their colour. They’re numbered 2-8, and one has a squirrel icon on it. Give each player a squirrel meeple (squeeple?) of their colour. Last of all, give each player 36 small wooden leaf tokens of their colour.

Bosk comes with four foldable cardboard boxes/containers, one in each colour. The eight trees, eight big Leaf Tiles and 36 small wooden leaf tokens fit in each. Set-up can be as simple as passing out the four different boxes!

Put the Wind Board and white Wind Direction Marker to one side for now. They’re not needed until autumn. Place the Score Board in a visible position. Each player puts one of their small wooden leaves to one side; they’ll act as ongoing score markers. Now you’re ready to play Bosk!

The Root Of All Tree-vil – Spring Placement

Pick a start player. This player places any one of their eight trees onto the board. At this point, I should explain: the board represents a national park. It’s split into eight separate sections, all colour-coordinated. This means there’s a clear divide where one ends and another begins. If you’re learning how to play Bosk, don’t worry too much about the terrains right now. It’s important for autumn placement and winter scoring, but one thing at a time! Let’s focus on spring first…

I’ve already mentioned the board has a grid overlay on it. The first player picks any one of their trees and places it on any vacant intersection on the board. (As in, the point where two grid lines meet to form a +). This cannot be on a point on the edge of the board. Your tree needs to sit ‘above’ four squares that surround that +. In a three-player game, this cannot be on the white borderline. Using the three-player board size as an example, there are nine grid rows within the white border. There are also nine columns. This means, in a three-player game, there are 81 possible intersections!

Players take turns, clockwise, placing one tree at a time onto the board in this manner. In a three-player game, using our example, 24 trees end up on the board. So why would you opt to place a tree in one spot over another? And why do your trees have numbers 1-4 on them? That’s all to do with summer scoring. So, let’s move on to summer…

Trees A Crowd – Summer Scoring

All your trees now sit on the board. Go through each row of the board. You’re looking for the sum of the values on each of the trees of a particular colour, rather than the quantity of trees themselves. Let's look at an example. Let’s say a row has two yellow trees in it (both of value ‘1’), one red tree (of value ‘3’) and one orange tree (of value ‘2’). In this example, red wins the row, because their sum (3) beats yellow (1+1) and orange (2).

There’s a table on the back of the rulebook that explains how to score this. You’ll award points to first place and second place for the row. Here's how the summer scoring works:

  • If there’s a clear-cut leader and runner-up for the row, they score 2 points and 1 point respectively.
  • If there’s a clear-cut leader and a tie for second place, they score 2 points and 0 points respectively. (This would be the case for the example I wrote above, with the red tree winning the row.)
  • If there’s a clear-cut leader and no trees in this row to take second place, the leader alone gets 3 points. You cannot claim second place if you don’t have trees in the row!
  • If there’s a tie for first place, the tied leaders score 1 point each. Any runners-up in this case score zero.

You do this for every row and every column in the grid. So, sticking with our three-player example, that would be nine rows and nine columns. That’s a lot! One person could check the sums, while another concentrates on the leaves on the score track.

Wind In The Willows – Autumn Leaves

Check the score track after summer. The player with the fewest points becomes the new start player. Give them the Wind Board. This player has a decision to make. They place this Wind Board on one of the four edges of the main board. (The flat edge sits flush against the board.) This decision is important because it dictates the direction the wind begins to blow.

There are eight arrows in a row on the Wind Board, left-to-right. Place the Wind Direction Marker – the white arrow – onto the left-most arrow. (This arrow has a number ‘1’ next to it.) The arrow indicates which direction the wind’s blowing in the current round.

The active player triggers one of their trees that matches the number stated on the Wind Board. You have two trees of each number, and you placed both of them on the board during spring. To begin with, then, you pick one of your ‘1’ trees. Leaves fall from this tree of choice, in the direction stated by the wind. You have eight Leaf Tiles numbered 2-8, and one has a squirrel on it. If you pick one numbered 2-8, you take that many wooden leaf tokens from your supply, matching your colour.

Remember, you placed each tree on a + intersection? Imagine its canopy of branches ‘covering’ the four grid squares beneath it. Place one leaf token in one of the two squares beneath that tree, in the direction the wind’s blowing. You place the rest of the leaves leading away from this first leaf, in the wind’s direction. The next leaf sits in one of the three squares – either parallel or diagonal – away from the previous. This means you could drop them in a straight line, a total diagonal, zig-zag, or a blend of all three.

If you reach the edge of the board and you have leaf tokens remaining, return them to your supply. Try not to end up in this scenario! You’re not making the best use of your leaves. Once you’ve placed all your leaves according to your chosen Leaf Tile, remove the tree from the board. Then it’s the next player’s turn, clockwise. They pick a Leaf Tile of their choice and drop that quota of leaves leading away from one of their ‘1’ trees. Then they remove their tree. Then it’s the next player’s turn, and so on.

The Changing Breeze And Disappearing Trees

Once everyone has placed leaves for one of their 1 trees, the Wind Direction Marker moves along a space on the Wind Board. You’ll notice each wind arrow rotates 90° clockwise from the previous. Check the Leaf Tiles that everyone used last round. The lowest number played becomes the new first player for this round. In a tie, turn order moves to the closest player clockwise from the current first player. Then everyone discards the Leaf Tile they used. (You have eight Leaf Tiles, and there are eight turns in autumn, so you have to use each one once.)

In the new turn order, players take turns picking one of their remaining Leaf Tiles. They drop that many leaves from a tree. In round two, they have to pick one of their ‘2’ trees. In round three, one of the ‘3’ trees. Guess what happens in round four? You got it. One of their ‘4’ trees. In rounds five, six, seven and eight, the Wind Board doesn’t have numbers. The wind still rotates 90°, but the tree number’s replaced with an asterisk. This means players have the freedom to pick any one of their remaining trees to trigger this turn.

Leaf It Out, Mate: Overlaying

What if a rival’s leaf sits in your path? No problem; you can overlay one of your leaves on top of theirs. At the end of the game, the only leaves that score are the ones visible at the top of piles. So it’s in your best interests to cover your opponents’ leaves in optimal spots!

To do this, you need to ‘throw-away’ a leaf in hand for every leaf in the grid square you want to move into. Let’s say you’re red, but you want to place a leaf into a spot where yellow has a leaf. You have to return one leaf to the supply. Then place another of your leaves on top of yellow’s. On a later turn, the purple player might want to place here. In that case, they’d have to throw away two of their leaves in hand, and place the third leaf on top.

What if your own previous-placed leaves block your path? You don’t have to throw leaves away to overlay – you place one on top as if the square were empty, as normal. If an opponent wants to overlay there later, they still have to discard leaves equal to the number of leaves there.

In A World Of Leaves, The Squirrel Is King

What’s that squirrel Leaf Tile about, then? This lets you use your squirrel meeple. The squirrel is the only thing you’ll place this turn. You still have to obey the wind direction according to the round. But you can place it up to three spaces away from the tree, considering the same rules as leaf placement. A squirrel can sit on top of any stack of leaves, regardless. Nothing can sit on top of a squirrel. Choosing when to use it is a major question of timing! Your squirrel counts as a ‘1’ when comparing Leaf Tiles to work out turn order for the next round.

Winter Is Coming – End-Game Scoring

After eight rounds, you’ll have used all eight of your Leaf Tiles. You’ve removed your trees, one by one. The national park, by this point, will have a blanket of leaves covering it! Now it’s time to work out the winter scoring.

There are eight different terrains on the board. The player with the most leaves in each terrain ‘wins’ that terrain. The player with the second-most leaves claims second place. (Remember, a squirrel counts as one leaf.) You score this for each terrain, continuing your scores from summer. Again, like summer, there’s a scoring table on the back of the rulebook to help you settle tie-breaks.

  • If there’s a clear-cut leader and runner-up for a terrain, they score 5 points and 3 points respectively.
  • If there’s a clear-cut leader and a tie for second place, 5 points and 1 point respectively.
  • If there’s a clear-cut leader and no leaves in this terrain to take second place, the leader alone gets 8 points. You cannot claim second place if you don’t have leaves in the terrain!
  • If there’s a tie for first place, the tied leaders score 4 points each. Any runners-up in this case score zero.

The player with the most points wins Bosk! If there’s a tie for scores, then the player earlier in turn order for round eight wins the game.

And that's it. Now you know how to play Bosk, why not check out our full review of the game? Alternatively, take a look at our Top 4 Autumn Themed Games!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Real table presence
  • Thought-provoking area-control game
  • Excellent components
  • No vindictiveness

Might not like

  • Sometimes difficult to identify tree values
  • Theme may not appeal to everyone