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Everdell: Newleaf

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Everdell’s bustling city Newleaf has just opened its first train station, and many new critters and big ideas are rolling in. Newleaf introduces brand new critters, constructions, and exciting events to draw Visitor cards to your blossoming city! It also features the Train Station Board, resource-delivering Train Cars, travel-worthy Tickets, and Reservation Tokens!
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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-HPGSTG2660EN Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Makes resource gaining easier
  • More cards!
  • More available cards
  • Modular expansions to choose some or all of
  • Higher scores with visitors

Might Not Like

  • Space hog
  • Makes Everdell a touch easier
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Description

Everdell’s bustling city Newleaf has just opened its first train station, and many new critters and big ideas are rolling in. Newleaf introduces brand new critters, constructions, and exciting events to draw Visitor cards to your blossoming city! It also features the Train Station Board, resource-delivering Train Cars, travel-worthy Tickets, and Reservation Tokens!

 

Where Our Story Begins

Everdell is now a very vast game, there are so many big box expansions, and the collectors box that holds all the content is the size of a small car. But this one Newleaf is my favourite expansion, I might even go so far to say that it could be considered the essential expansion if there can be said to be one.

Basic Gameplay

This is an expansion to Everdell. Although Newleaf is one of the newest expansions, there is no need for you to buy them in any particular order and in fact I would say you would be well-served to start with this one.

Everdell is a beautifully illustrated worker placement game. Your workers are woodland animals (initially in the base game until non woodland critters such as axolotls started to appear). You will be placing workers to gain resources that will allow you to play cards from your hand. Each card is worth end game points, but more importantly each will have a one time or ongoing ability that will aid you in your strategy as the game progresses.

There are broadly speak two “flavours” of cards. These are the construction cards and the critter cards. Construction cards are generally more expensive, and cost resin, pebbles and/or wood to build. The critter cards will always cost berries. Generally you will find these a little easier to come across than perhaps pebbles, but I will say that scarcity of resources is a constant feeling when playing Everdell! These could be things like an ongoing discount of a berry when playing critter cards, or perhaps gaining two twigs each time you activate the green cards in your city.

As well as being two broad types of cards there are also five colours or “suits”. These suits of cards all work slightly differently, the green production cards will activate giving you resources periodically through the game. The purple cards will just help you gain points whilst the red ones can offer you different unique worker placement spots in your city. Blue cards offer ongoing abilities whilst the brown cards will give you powerful one time events.

The card’s ability is often not related to the type but broadly speaking the constructions tend to have more “game breaking” abilities or strong ongoing effects compared to the critter cards. Additionally, if you have a construction already in your city, you are able to play the matching critter card for free. For example if you have the twig barge built in your city then you can subsequently play the barge toad card down for free rather than paying two berries.

Advanced Gameplay

This expansion is modular, meaning you can add in whichever things you like. There are the new cards for the meadow deck, the new board with the station and visitor cards, the tickets and the reservation tokens. Just like every single expansion to Everdell, Newleaf brings new cards. In terms of the new cards, all of them come with the trademark amazing artwork of cute critters doing “people things”. Some of my favourites are those that do not take up a space in your city, things like the main road and the hot air balloon that just give you a bit more freedom to score those big points and create those synergies. There are a few new green cards added to the deck which will beef up your production as well as scoring bigger points using the new purple cards.

Everdell Newleaf brings to the table a new board which includes a station that has visitor cards that act almost like the basic events in the way they offer points to you, but these are much easier to claim as you only need to have completed them by the end of the game. Also by picking up a visitor, you can also gain a resource from one of the train cars as well.

The station also has additional cards which you may use similarly to the Meadow. This offers you much more flexibility throughout the game and tackles the issue of a stagnant meadow at the lower player counts.

The tickets will allow you to move a worker, this gives you a bit more flexibility and will allow you to get more done in the early game. These are a perfect addition to the game when you have new players at the tables with more seasoned Everdell-ers. Everdell is usually won by experienced players over newbies, but this can give the newer ones a significantly improved chance at victory. For me this is probably an essential module to play whenever teaching the game.

The reservation tokens allow you to claim things in the meadow or station as your turn. You subsequently get a one resource reduction in the cost of the card too. This can help you claim the sweet cards that you need to get those synergies. For me this module is take it or leave it, it is so small that it can be easily incorporated but I don’t miss it if it is not there.

Components

The components and artwork in Everdell are always brilliant. And so, Everdell Newleaf does not disappoint. This game comes with a deluxe velvet bag which is quite honestly a bit superfluous, but so is that beautiful Everdell tree, so I am here for it. This game offers a new board that sits to the right of the main board and it has the same beautiful graphic design that we have come to expect.

Replayability

If you are looking to bring a bit more variation to lower player count games of Everdell, then Newleaf is really a need rather than a recommend. This expansion brings the station which gives you new focus to gain big points other than the basic and special events, as well as three more station places which behave like the meadow so you will have more choice as the game goes on.

Round Up

For me this is my top rated expansion for the beautiful game that is Everdell. There are a bunch of small modules that you can mix and match in. But I think the reason that I like this expansion so much is because there are more cards that allow you to play more cards in your city above the standard 15 cards. The other thing that really sings for me is the increased balance in experience/newbie mismatched games that comes with the tickets.

Everdell is one of the first board games I purchased and part of the primary reason for this was due to it having a solo mode. Yes I know the artwork is gorgeous and huge props to Andrew Bosley for this. If you are a solo Everdell player and are looking at expanding your collection, is Newleaf the game for you?

Content

The first question to address is what does it add to the game and the answer is quite a lot. 59 new critter & construction cards; nine special event cards; three forest cards; two new basic events and a whole new area for the Everdell train station that slots onto the right hand side of the Everdell game board. The station introduces a visitor card mechanism for end game scoring as well three extra slots that are part of an expanded meadow area. There are also additional and optional rules enabling bonus critter movement and card reservation.

Gameplay

One of the biggest complaints about the Everdell solo mode is that special events are really difficult to complete due to specific named cards being required to achieve them. Allied to the fact that each one not completed scores an additional three points to the AI opponent and some solo games can become an exercise in frustration, knowing that you are effectively starting with an (up to), twelve point handicap. The special events in Newleaf are achieved with a combination of two of the card types ie: have three green (production) cards and two purple (prosperity) cards in your city. This makes for a much more even game and a fighting chance of grabbing one or more of these.

The other biggest complaint in Everdell is card churn due to the sheer size of the deck and this can also be an issue with multiplayer games as well. Newleaf increases the deck by 50% but because of the additional three “meadow” slots in the station this partially mitigates it. What completely changes everything is the knoll spot in the station expansion board. You place a critter there, discard three of the meadow/station cards; replenish and then draw three of the meadow/station cards. For one placement you are creating a twelve card churn of the deck and this makes achieving basic/special events a lot more realistic.

Newleaf also introduces visitor cards at the station. There are 32 of these cards with two of them on display at a time. When placing a critter on the station spot you discard one of the visitors; refresh and then choose one. In addition you also take one of the three train car (resource) tiles, which can be a specific resource; a free choice resource or a one point token. The visitor cards only score at the end of the game and you can only have a maximum of three of them. They vary between four and eight points and in effect are mini achievements with completion dependent on the amount of card types and/or colour in your city. I find this helps you to focus on your strategy.

The solo AI will take the highest scoring visitor card each time you go to season and does not have to fulfil the criteria in order to score them at game end. On face value this could be a frustration, but as you have the ability to manipulate the two cards they can take by utilising the station spot yourself it doesn’t feel like this.

Newleaf has introduced a new occupied token, “golden” of which you have three and only three to use. These can only be played onto the Newleaf construction cards and are really powerful. Whereas the base game pairs constructions and critters the Newleaf constructions specify either a card colour or card type ie: unique or common. Again this really changes your ability to play high build and point value cards easily.

The solo AI gains a two point token when the second golden token is used and a three point token when the third and final one is used. This balances out your ability to use them whilst still making the AI a competitive opponent.

There are a couple of optional rules in Newleaf of which the Train Ticket is the best. You start the game with one of these and it has an outbound and inbound side, just like a real train ticket! The outbound action allows you to move a deployed critter just once anytime between the start and end of the game. The ticket is flipped and the inbound action allows you to do the same after you’ve moved to summer and until game end. It’s two extra critter placements during the game and allows you to grab those extra resources or claim an event that you maybe wouldn’t have had the chance to do.

The solo AI naturally tries to gain a benefit when you use your ticket and rolls an eight sided die. The score may give them additional point tokens or an extra card in their city, however roll a score of one and it gains nothing. I really like this as the reward the AI gains isn’t too high with the shout of joy when I roll a one feeling like a big win for me.

Newleaf v Bellfaire/Pearlbrook/Spirecrest

So how does Newleaf compare against the previous expansions for the solo Everdell player?

Bellfaire added player power cards giving you an ongoing effect throughout the game; the market giving you a resource boost and a much better (read achievable) set of special event cards. If you are looking for more of the same with a bit more variety then Bellfaire is great, but it doesn’t add a lot to the solo experience other than those special events cards.

Pearlbrook is my personal bete noir and rarely gets an outing in solo mode. It is by far the worst expansion to play solo with the AI so stacked against you, I’ve quit a game several times halfway through. In my personal opinion, unless you like to play games in extreme difficulty mode, Pearlbrook is not the solo experience for you. The Mistwood (solo player) expansion appears to have been designed to specifically make Pearlbook a playable game as well as introducing a whole new solo game mode, but more on that another time.

Spirecrest adds the mountain trail with traveller rabbit critter and expedition tiles; the discovery cards with the wonderful big critters and weather effect cards. As a solo experience Spirecrest is a tough challenge and adds a lot of moving parts into the gameplay. The weather effects are mostly negative events or gameplay penalties and message boards often reference how players have either dropped or modified these cards. The offset are the discovery cards with big points & rewards and who doesn’t love to see a critter in a saddle on the back of a big critter. For me it’s the best of these three expansions in solo mode, but will add a chunk of time to a game.

Final Thoughts & Replayability

Newleaf adds so much to the Everdell solo experience and has really balanced the game out. I now look forward to a game and go into it looking at a challenging but enjoyable game. My games against the AI are higher scoring than previously and with a 60/40 win record but, and this is the key so much more fun. If you are a solo Everdell player and looking to expand from the base game Newleaf is an essential purchase.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Makes resource gaining easier
  • More cards!
  • More available cards
  • Modular expansions to choose some or all of
  • Higher scores with visitors

Might not like

  • Space hog
  • Makes Everdell a touch easier