Cottage Garden

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In Cottage Garden, you compete in the art of gardening and are working two beds with a variety of flowers. Whenever no unplanted box is visible on a bed, you have completed it, then you count your points and replace it with a fresh, unplanted bed. You gain points for all of the visible plant pots and planting bells. In more detail, players select various polyomino tiles of flower be…
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Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Beautiful artwork.
  • Clever theme.
  • Great solo gameplay.
  • Brilliant scoring mechanism.
  • Good production Quality.

Might Not Like

  • Minimal player interaction.
  • Can feel like multiplayer solitaire.
  • Will be compared to Patchwork.
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Description

In Cottage Garden, you compete in the art of gardening and are working two beds with a variety of flowers. Whenever no unplanted box is visible on a bed, you have completed it, then you count your points and replace it with a fresh, unplanted bed. You gain points for all of the visible plant pots and planting bells. In more detail, players select various polyomino tiles of flower beds from a central market grid, depending on the location of the "gardener", then place them on one of their two personal garden boards. Each board has several garden elements that are worth points when not planted over, and these are scored on two different tracks as soon as a garden has been finished. Crossing over a line on each track awards bonus tokens that can fill in empty spaces or give you a better selection of the flower bed tiles. Whenever a garden is finished, you receive a new one to complete. After the gardener completes her fifth lap around the market, the game enters its last round. The player with the most points from their completed gardens at the end of the game wins.

 

The main concept behind Cottage Garden is deceptively simple. You are a gardener working on creating the most beautiful flower beds while your rivals do the same. Whenever you complete a flower bed you get paid (score points) and start on your next magnum opus.

Unlike real life, even the soporific sedated cats can be your best friends. Choosing to sleep, taking up those difficult to fill spaces. As opposed to the real life version who dig up the garden to poop everywhere.

Who is Uwe Rosenberg?

Uwe Rosenberg is a name synonymous with pattern building, thinking, puzzle element style games. Some of the most notable games he has produced in recent years include; Agricola (2007), Le Havre (2008), Caverna (2013), Glass Road (2013), Patchwork (2014) and most recently A Feast for Odin (2016).

In fact he is so prolific that he has designed approximately 60 games in the past 25 years. As well as contributing to other notable designers works such as Viticulture (Stonemaier Games). So even if his name is not immediately familiar (shock gasp) there is an extremely good chance you have played one if not several of his games.

What’s in the box?

Inside the Cottage Garden box you will see:

  • One Nursery Game Board.
  • 36 Flower Tiles (polyominoes:- think Tetris shapes).
  • Nine Flowerbeds, all double-sided light and dark.
  • One Large Green Gardener (die).
  • One Parasol Token.
  • 30 Cat Tokens.
  • 16 Flowerpot Tokens.
  • Two Beehive Tokens.
  • Four Planting Tables (score tracks).
  • One Wheelbarrow.
  • One Rule Book.
  • 12 Orange Scoring Cubes.
  • 12 Blue Scoring Cubes.

What’s in the box?

Inside the Cottage Garden box you will see:

  • One Nursery Game Board.
  • 36 Flower Tiles (polyominoes:- think Tetris shapes).
  • Nine Flowerbeds, all double-sided light and dark.
  • One Large Green Gardener (die).
  • One Parasol Token.
  • 30 Cat Tokens.
  • 16 Flowerpot Tokens.
  • Two Beehive Tokens.
  • Four Planting Tables (score tracks).
  • One Wheelbarrow.
  • One Rule Book.
  • 12 Orange Scoring Cubes.
  • 12 Blue Scoring Cubes.

So, Multiplayer Patchwork then?

No.

Despite the obvious similarities between Patchwork and Cottage Garden, with both using poly...Tetris like shapes and you needing to fit them together on what is effectively a square grid. That is more or less where the similarities end.

Uwe’s latest offers you no time penalties, you can freely “miss” a go to obtain a often valuable Flowerpot. And who doesn’t love the idea of a 3D cardboard wheelbarrow.

Do I have to get my hands dirty?

Play throughout this game is easy to learn and easy to follow. You have two flowerbeds in front of you and on your turn you take the following straightforward actions:

  • If the row of the main “Nursery board” containing the “Gardener die” has three or four empty spaces you refill that row with the plants from the “Plant Queue” using the Wheelbarrow to follow the correct order.
  • Choose a piece from the full/ almost full row and plant it in one of your Flowerbeds (there is no saving it till later) - If there is no suitable piece OR you just don’t fancy any of the shapes you are free to do the following instead.
  • Take and place a Flowerpot which takes up one square of your flowerbed.
  • If you complete a Flowerbed you immediately score it and replace it with a new Flowerbed from the communal pile.
  • You may at any point use one of your Cats to fill up a single space which can be very useful but will not score you any points. Obviously tile placement is going to be restricted somewhat and the rules are very straightforward on this. No overhanging pieces and no putting tiles on top of another piece.
  • Move the Gardener (big green die) along the track and if he reaches the turn marker you rotate him up a number. He effectively doubles as the game timer or turn marker.

Okay that sounds easy enough?

Do not allow yourself to be fooled. The simplistic gameplay hides a nice amount of strategy and can require quite a bit of forward planning. The Flowerbeds are not just blank areas to fill, there are randomly placed Flowerpots and Plant Covers (think Cloches) printed on them - requiring you to think much more carefully about the placement of your flowers.

These can count as filled spaces and will both score you very valuable points so you will definitely try not to cover too many of them. Cats can be handy gap fillers but do not score any points.

That brings you onto the scoring, which in this reviewer's opinion is a stroke of genius. You will find you have six (yes 6) scoring cubes. Three in orange representing your Flowerpot scores and three in blue relating to your Plant Covers. When you score a Flowerbed you move the score cubes along your track BUT you can only choose one cube to move in relation to the Flowerpots (orange) and Plant Covers (blue).

If the cube reaches the end of the track before all points are added, tough luck you lose the rest of the points. Considering though that the score track jumps from 15 (14 blue) to 20 on the last space this can sometimes be worth while.

Additionally, mid-way along the score track there are some mice and a red line. Each cube that passes this earns you a Cat Token which you can choose to use straight away or save till later, you can however only store two at one time.

Just when you think you have a handle on all of this, once the last round is triggered your sole aim is to complete your remaining Flowerbeds. You will start to lose points for every turn you make. This in turns makes every decision critical. At the end of this phase the player with the most points wins the game and ultimate gardener bragging rights.

That brings you onto the scoring, which in this reviewers opinion is a stroke of genius. You will find you have six (yes 6) scoring cubes. Three in orange representing your Flowerpot scores and three in blue relating to your Plant Covers. When you score a Flowerbed you move the score cubes along your track BUT you can only choose one cube to move in relation to the Flowerpots (orange) and Plant Covers (blue).

If the cube reaches the end of the track before all points are added, tough luck you lose the rest of the points. Considering though that the score track jumps from 15 (14 blue) to 20 on the last space this can sometimes be worth while.

Additionally mid way along the score track there are some mice and a red line. Each cube that passes this earns you a Cat Token which you can choose to use straight away or save till later, you can however only store two at one time.

Just when you think you have a handle on all of this once the last round is triggered, your sole aim is to complete your remaining Flowerbeds. You will start to lose points for every turn you make. This in turns makes every decision critical. At the end of this phase the player with the most points wins the game and ultimate gardener bragging rights.

Shh here's a secret.

Cottage Garden is about clever tile placement, looking ahead for future moves and thinking about your opponent's possible plans. That is not all however. You will also need to plan for the final round. You do not want to have to lose too many points while you complete that final Flowerbed.

This brings in the whole subset strategy of score management. Getting those helpful Cats but at the same time getting into the Target Zone and the points boost that will give you.

The Summer-y

You will here lots of people comparing this game to Patchwork. This is very unfair! Cottage Garden is a puzzle about shape placement, whereas Patchwork was more about “economic button management.” Despite the simple gameplay mechanism, this is a game that is very think-y. This can lead to some analysis paralysis while a player tries to work out their optimum move.

For once I am going to say a bit of AP is okay though. Here we have a game that much like flowers in a garden, it should not be rushed but time should be taken to think, sit back and enjoy. In matter of fact sitting back will allow you to admire the gorgeous artwork that adorns the whole game thanks to the amazing talents of Andrea Boekhoff.

Oh and did I mention it has a 3D Wheelbarrow?

Final Thoughts on Cottage Garden

I really like Uwe Rosenberg’s style of games and this is no exception. What this does mean however is that player interaction is next to none and the game can feel a bit “multiplayer solitaire,” but the cleverness of the scoring and the look of the game more than make up for it.

It is going to suffer from unfair comparison to Patchwork. So is there room for both of these games on the shelf? Simple answer is yes and no. If you predominately play two player games then you will be fine with Cottage Garden or Patchwork.

If however you have 3-4 players available as often, then both should have a space on the shelf. This is a game that will play as well with both family play and board game groups equally.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Beautiful artwork.
  • Clever theme.
  • Great solo gameplay.
  • Brilliant scoring mechanism.
  • Good production Quality.

Might not like

  • Minimal player interaction.
  • Can feel like multiplayer solitaire.
  • Will be compared to Patchwork.