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Lowlands is a fascinating Euro-style game set in the Netherlands, and a storm is coming! You play as rival sheep farmers, located along the same coastal shoreline. But while you want to compete with your opponents for the title of best farmer, you all share one common enemy. And that’s the ever-rising tides that threaten to flood your land and livestock…At a glance, you might lo…
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Golden Pear


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

You Might Like

  • Part-Agricola, part-semi co-op!
  • The feeling of shared concern for the rising tide…
  • …While ticking all the Euro boxes for efficiency management
  • Lots of Building Tiles provide different methods to score points on your farm
  • Feels like every player plays a big role in the dike construction, even if they shun it

Might Not Like

  • Poor paintwork on the wooden components
  • Punchboards didn’t punch well
  • It can be brutal if you get left behind on the Dike Track
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Lowlands is a fascinating Euro-style game set in the Netherlands, and a storm is coming! You play as rival sheep farmers, located along the same coastal shoreline. But while you want to compete with your opponents for the title of best farmer, you all share one common enemy. And that’s the ever-rising tides that threaten to flood your land and livestock…

At a glance, you might look at Lowlands and mistake it for an Uwe Rosenberg game. With individual player mats, farms, fenced pastures, building tiles and and animeeples, it looks like Agricola. (Well, supposedly Rosenberg assisted with Lowlands, but the design itself is from C & R Partenheimer.) But Lowlands differs in a dramatic fashion. Here, there’s an unspoken element of semi co-op mechanisms that lurk beneath the surface. Because unless the farmers work together, it’s likely that the tide will destroy their farms.

Your turn consists of worker placement-meets-action selection. Hand management plays a big role in Lowlands, too. You’ll spend these cards – different resources – on asymmetrical buildings to help boost your modular sheep farm. But you can also opt to invest these cards into the construction of a communal dike. A coastal dam of sorts, which stretches along your farm, and that of your neighbours’ farms.

If you fail to work together to build the dike, your hard-earned efforts could get washed away! Lowlands is not ‘another farming sim’. It provides wonderful levels of negotiations and cunning, alongside standard Euro-style decisions. Ewe can’t afford to miss this one! Lowlands is one of many superb mid-weight strategy games from Z-Man Games.

Player Count: 2-4 Players
Time: 50-100 minutes
Age: 14+

This is Lowlands, a Euro-style farming simulation by Z-man Games. At first glance, I’d forgive you for assuming Lowlands is an Uwe Rosenberg design. In fairness, you’d be somewhat correct. Rosenberg played a ‘creative consultant’ role in Lowlands’ design journey. The designers on the box, though, are Claudia and Ralf Partenheimer. But this isn’t an Agricola 2.0 – this has a different trick up its sleeve. Lowlands features a semi co-operative mechanism thrown in among a traditional farming game, and it’s engrossing.

There’s A Storm A-Brewin’

The aim of Lowlands is to turn your small, humble farm into a thriving points bonanza. The problem is there’s a storm brewing, and your farm is on the vulnerable Dutch coastline. As the name suggests, your land’s beneath sea-level. And if you’re not careful, the incoming flood will wipe out your farm, sheep and all…

The answer lies in the form of building a communal dike along the coast, holding back the water. This flood barrier sits along yours and your rivals’ farms. Is the best philosophy to take in such circumstances ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’? Should you team up with your opponents and contribute towards building this dike? Or should you let those other farmers fool around with the dam, and focus on your own land, instead?

If Agricola And A Semi Co-op Had A Love-Child

Each player has their own farm board, comprising of a 4×5 grid. Six starter fences form a 2×1 bordered pasture, with two ‘sheeple’ (sheep meeples!) inside. So far, so Agricola. And true: over the course of structured, formulaic rounds you’ll aim to build up this farm. You’ll try to buy more fences from your limited stock. You’ll want to take advantage of animal husbandry as sheep multiply. You’ll look to construct building tiles for points, as well as their unique, ongoing benefits. You can point to the aspects of gameplay where Rosenberg’s influence seeps in.

But that’s where Lowlands’ similarities to Agricola end, though. How you reach the above destination is a different journey. The game focuses on hand management, alongside a blend of action points and action-selection. Lowlands has a series of cyclical phases to it, and you play a set number of phases until the Storm Surge finale. It’s at this point where it’s established if the dike truly holds, or breaks. The outcome of this has a major impact on end-game scoring.

Before The Flood, There’s Work To Be Done

Rounds start with the reveal of how many Flood Markers get added to a growing tide. Quantities range from 1-6 Markers. Given a number range on the card’s reverse (1-3, or 4-6) you can guesstimate this. The reveal is always dramatic, with either communal cheers or gritted teeth. They join a tessellating row on the main board, representing the visual, shared threat: ever-rising tides.

There’s six Work Phases and Upkeep Phases that intertwine. The Work Phase is the beating heart of Lowlands. Players each have three farmers, of value 2, 3, and 4. You take turns placing these, one at a time, onto action spaces on your own farm board. In Upkeep, you earn income, and your sheep breed (if there’s room to house them). A new flood card gets revealed too, meaning more Flood Markers. After the second, fourth and sixth Upkeep Phase, a High Tide Phase occurs. This is tension personified. This is when you check if the dike holds back the water, or if it doesn’t.

Shear Strategy: The Work Phase

The Work Phase is where you weave your strategy. You’ve got five actions to pick between constructing buildings; contributing to the dike; gaining fences; buying/selling sheep; or taking cards. Each farmer’s number (2/3/4) represents how many action points it provides. You don’t block or deny your opponents actions during this phase – you block yourself, instead! You can overlay a farmer on top of your own (to repeat that action), but it costs you a coin. Money counts as points, so is it a worthwhile investment?

This system indulges gamers that thrive upon efficiency management. Your ‘4’ farmer is your most valuable. Where best to spend it? Three of the five actions (buildings, fences, and the dike) involve spending resource cards in different manners. Hand management is crucial. The claim-cards-for-action-points space becomes nigh-mandatory, particularly during the early stages of the game.

Building tiles have both a stated cost in action points as well as resource cards. Think of these like the unique buildings in, say, Caverna. Buildings score points, offer discounts, let you house sheep, and more asymmetrical features. Again, it’s the Rosenberg Factor. There’s a quota of public buildings available, which get replenished. Considering there’s 46 ‘Farm Expansion Tiles’, you’ll build a different farm ‘engine’ every game. You won’t always get to build your ‘favourites’. Some tiles relate to trees or ponds on your farm board, offering further decisions regarding tile placement.

When constructing buildings (or any other action), you spend leftover action points as ‘change’ by picking up more cards. There’s a public flop here, too. There’s an even mix of stone, wood and brick cards in the 66-card deck. If none of the face-up cards appeal, draw blind from the deck. You’ll want to pick specific resource types if you have your eye on paying for a building. Tiles are first-come, first-served, though. Eagle-eyed players pay attention to which resources you pick! Lowlands offers lots of player interaction in this regard.

No Offence, But Lesson 1.01 In Sheep Farming Is…

More fences create larger bordered pastures, so you can house more sheep. (One sheep per square on your grid.) Every pair of sheep mate in the Upkeep Phases and sheep are worth end-game points. Left a gap between fences? Sheep will run away! Come on; that’s lesson 1.01 in sheep farming…

It costs one action point and one card to build one fence. Moving a previous fence still costs an action point, but no card fee. This action is a great way to spend cards you have no need for right now. Some building tiles have ‘walls’ around them, which act the same as fences. Smart placement of buildings help you create pastures for fewer action points, then. Once buildings get placed, they’re placed for good. Place with care! Fences offer flexibility, though.

When you construct fences, you remove them from your Income Board. (The same occurs when you construct building tiles – you place a building marker on them.) Removing these reveals income beneath, a bit like in Great Western Trail. You earn this income – extra cards or coins – later, in Upkeep. Gaining regular shots in the arm – particularly free cards – is crucial. Other income are Labourers, tokens you place on action points to increase their output. They’re powerful, and opting where to place them is gratifying.

Buying or Selling sheep costs one action point per sheep bought/sold. This is like a mini commodity speculation market. The value of sheep can rise and fall throughout the game, which is a direct correlation to the state of the dike. (More on this, later!) Timing when to buy and when to sell can prove lucrative. However, I always found this to be my least-used action space. This is the one action that doesn’t involve cards. You need cards for the final action, though: contributing towards the dike. Let’s dive into the compelling semi-coop nature of Lowlands…

Three Little Pigs Make A Dam Out Of Sticks

This is the biggest, most intriguing decision you have when playing. Contributing towards building the dike? Pay as many same-resource cards as your action points allow. Then you must ask an opponent if they’d like to contribute on your turn. That player can then pay the same resource type, and up to as many cards as you did.

Once the players contribute a quota of identical resource cards, you place a dike segment. These blocks sit in front of the Flood Markers, attempting to keep the water at bay. It’s a striking, stark visual. Once placed, the next person to contribute towards the dike gets to pick the next resource type. It’s like a warped version of the three little pigs building a flood defence mechanism against the Big Bad W… erm, Water. These segments start out large, but become smaller and smaller. You have to work much harder to keep up with the water’s pace in the latter stages. This might frustrate, but early-game it feels like you make loads of progress.

Every card you contribute here moves you that many spaces along the Dike Track. If someone agrees to help after your request, you gain a bonus movement along this track. Will they begrudge you a bonus movement, if it means they too can progress along it? Advancing along the Dike Track has an array of meanings. There’s modular threshold bonuses when you reach certain spots. You can earn points off of your final position on it. There are also major benefits to leading this track during the three High Tide Phases. There’s penalties for falling behind, too…

High Tide And Squeaky Bum Time

During High Tide, you check: do the Flood Pieces exceed the length and height of the Dike Segments? If the dike’s above/beyond the water: hooray! It holds, and the player furthest along the Dike Track earns coins. (As many coins as spaces ahead they are of the player in last place on the Dike Track.) Everyone else earns coins in this manner, with the player at the rear of the Dike Track earning nothing. They’ve contributed the least, after all.

If the water’s above/beyond the dike: uh-oh! It breaks, and the player furthest back along the Dike Track gains Dike Breach Tokens. They receive as many Dike Breach Tokens as spaces behind they are of the leader on the Dike Track. Same applies to everyone else too, if they’re spaces behind the leader. The leader takes no penalty. After all, they’re the shining example in the community!

Depending on success or failure, the Value Marker moves. This causes the cost (and end-game points value) of sheep to either rise or fall. The more the dike holds, the higher in value sheep become, but Dike Track points decline. The same occurs vice versa. The more the dike fails, the value of sheep declines, but your position on the Dike Track pays out more.

End Game Points Teetering On A Fulcrum

This has a monumental swing on points at the end of the game. If the dike holds in all three High Tides, for example? That results in your Dike Track points getting multiplied by: zero. All those potential points lost! But hey, your sheep are worth 5 points each in that scenario. Better hope you extended your fences to hold lots of sheep, and that they bred at every opportunity!

In some twisted way, you might even want the dike to fail. Contributed to the dike a lot, but your opponents haven’t? You’ll want to earn points for your work! Also, at the end of the game, Dike Breach Tokens come back to bite players. If the dike breaks in the final High Tide, for every Breach Token you have, you lose a sheep. Ouch. But if it holds? Throw all your Breach Tokens away. Phew! There’s a devious ace in the hole, in the form of one Building, the ‘Dwelling Mount’. The owner of this can omit up to six Breach Tokens at the end, even if the dike breaks. So they might try to sabotage proceedings so this occurs, knowing they alone are safe! (They’re in trouble like the rest of your if they’ve got seven or more Breach Tokens, though!)

This all provides a keen incentive for participation towards the dike. In some ways, it’s not about leading the Dike Track. It’s about not getting left behind. The genius mechanism at play is the mandatory requirement. You have to ask another player if they’d like to contribute on your turn. This becomes a psychological battle. Have you been paying attention to which cards the others have picked up? If you ask them, can they contribute by paying the current resource? Would they want to? Do they have their eye on spending those resources elsewhere, on buildings or fences, instead?

The Dike Track leader sometimes becomes a ‘target’. Players might not ask them to contribute. Players might not want them to extend their lead, even if they could be an asset to the communal flood barrier. It’s a conundrum in the area of cutting your nose off to spite your face! One thing’s for sure: if you gauge that the dike’s in trouble early on, you can plan for that. Don’t go super-hard into sheep farming, if they’re not going to pay out the points (per effort you’re putting in). Focus on progressing along the Dike Track to earn points that way. But not too much, so the dike holds!

Paint Jobs, Punchboards, And Final Thoughts on Lowlands

The card stock in Lowlands is decent and chunky, but I have to be honest. I had one of my worst-ever experiences trying to punch this without it tearing. I needed a knife to prise every single coin, token and tile out of the punchboards. If you’re like me and take great pride in your components, this is a wincing, non-relaxing task. It’s not a great first impression.

Also, the wooden components had awful coatings of paint. As if they’re faded, or aged, in a deliberate ‘hipster’ manner. But no. It’s more akin to zero budget or care having gone into the paint on the building markers or discs. They’re some of the cheapest quality paint I’ve seen for a modern game in this kind of price bracket. This might not matter to some gamers, but as a passionate hobbyist, it matters to me. I felt let down by Z-man Games in this regard.

The artwork offers a muted colour palette, but that works in the theme’s favour. There’s a lot of agriculture-green (sounds like a Dulux paint!). The iconography is digestible for seasoned Euro-gamers, the target market, after all. Player reference sheets explain it all, anyway. For your first few games, you’ll refer to the rules for what certain Building Tiles mean, but that’s not unusual.

If you can look beyond the initial poor punchboards and wooden components, then you’re in for a treat. The gameplay on offer in Lowlands is so unique for a Euro-style farming game. It takes the animal husbandry side of Agricola and breeds it with a Dead of Winter-esque semi-coop vibe. Only, there’s no hidden traitor roles, here. You decide which path to take as the game unfolds. But picking your side as the Storm Surge closes in? Seeing the rising tide encroaching, threatening to undo all your hard work? Lowlands is a captivating game of keeping your friends close, but your enemy closer. And there’s no greater power than Mother Nature, when she’s hell-bent on destruction.

Lowlands is an intriguing Euro-style game for 2-4 players from Z-Man Games. There’s a semi co-op undertow running through its veins in the form of a communal enemy. This villain threatens all players, who are competing to score the most points. (Euro games gon’ Euro, after all.) This Big Bad takes the form of rising tides threatening to flood the precarious coastline. At any moment, the waters could wipe out your sheep farm by the sea!

The constant consideration in Lowlands is ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Will you work together with your rivals to hold back the tide? Or will you turn your back on the storm and go it alone? Better pop on your wellies and get the sandbags ready. It’s time we learned how to play Lowlands!

What’s The Aim Of The Game?

Lowlands has a series of phases to it, with a suggested playing time of 50-100 minutes. At the end of the game, you score points across many areas. These include your sheep, buildings, money, and your position along the Dike Track. The player with the most points wins. End-game factors feel the impact of a successfully built communal dike (or not). But first: let’s set up the game.

Setting Up The Big Main Board

Before we learn how to play Lowlands, let’s learn how to set up. Place the main board in the middle of the table. Shuffle the Flood Deck. Have the Flood Pieces and Dike Segments nearby. Keep the excess sheep close to hand, along with coins, Dike Breach chits, and other tokens.

Assign player colours. Each player places Dike Point Markers on zero along the Dike Track. Place the five circular Progress Tokens in a random order along the Dike Track. Put the neutral-colour round marker at the start of the Phase Track (in the bottom-right). Along the sheep/Dike-Value Track, situate the framed marker in the middle (on the 1|3 values).

Shuffle the large deck of Resource Cards and deal four of them face-up at the bottom. Leave the deck face-down next to this flop. Use the correct Sheep Market Board as per player count. Place sheep on the silhouettes. Put the three resource cubes (brown/orange/grey) on this board too.

Stack the square Farm Expansion Tiles into their own piles. (See icons on their reverse; green Features, and Sheep/Action/Storm Surge tiles.) Draw three Sheep, Action, and Feature tiles. Arrange them face-up beneath their stacks. Pick as many Storm Surge tiles as there are players, plus one. Sit those face-up too. Return excess Storm Surge tiles to the box.

Individual Player Set-Up: Your Farmyard Board

Give each player a Farmyard Board. (It’s double-sided, but for aesthetics alone.) Each player gets an Income Board and their own Reference Sheet. (The latter helps with iconography and reminders about the Phases.) Give each player three coloured Farmers (numbered 2, 3, and 4), and four Buildings. Place the Buildings on your Income Board, covering the four Building silhouettes.

Each player takes 16 fences; they line 10 in a row on their Income Board. Use the remaining six fences to create a 2×1 portrait pasture in the middle of your Farmyard Board. Place one sheep in each square within this Pasture. Give each player two Labourer chits and four coins. Then deal each player four Resource Cards. Players keep their hand secret. Hand someone the First Player Marker. Everyone else gains an extra coin as recompense. Now you’re ready to play Lowlands!

Storm A-Brewing – The Turn Of The Tide

Lowlands has a series of formulaic phases. They’re easier to digest once you’ve seen them in action. The first is the Turn of the Tide. This circular arrow symbol is on the bottom of the Phase Marker Track. Players discard back down to eight cards if they have more. (This doesn’t apply at the start, since you begin with a hand of four cards. It has a greater impact later in the game.)

Deal out the top three cards from the Flood Deck, face-down, at the top of the board. Each card has either 1-3 or 4-6 on its reverse, meaning it is one of those numbers. Reveal the left-most Flood Card. Place the corresponding number of Flood Pieces on the Flood Spaces, left-to-right.

Note: among the 12 Flood Cards, there’s one ‘6’. For your first game, consider removing this from play. All done? Slide the Phase Marker up one notch.

Lowlands’ Labour – Work Phase

Next along the Phase Track is ‘Work’ – the green I. This is the crux of Lowlands: sending Farmers to work. Your ‘Number 2’ Farmer provides you with two action points; your ‘3’ Farmer provides three action points, and so on. On your turn, you place one of these Farmers on an Action Space on the left-hand side of your Farmyard. Perform the action, then play continues clockwise.

There are five different Action Spaces, each with a Farmer silhouette. This is like an individual worker placement. No one else can visit your board, but in essence, you ‘block’ your own spaces once you place a Farmer on it. You can revisit an Action Space, but you have to pay a coin to do so. Let’s break down these actions one at a time, top-to-bottom.

If Ewe Build It… Build A Farm Expansion

Placing a Farmer here lets you build one face-up Farm Expansion Tile. The number in the top-left of each tile shows how many action points it costs. You’ll also see the number of specific resources needed to build the Farm Expansion. (Brown/orange/grey being wood/clay/stone respectively.) Pay the required cards from your hand into a discard pile, then place the tile on your Farm board. Short of a Resource to meet a payment? You can spend 2x resources of the same type to substitute for missing resources.

Once placed, you cannot move a Farm Expansion. Some are green (Features) and the rest are beige (Buildings). Some Features have to sit on top of a stated terrain type, such as a tree/bush/pond. Beige borders around Buildings are akin to fences, acting as a barrier to house sheep in pastures. (More on this, later.) When placing a Building Tile, remove your left-most Building Marker from your Income Board. Sit it on the tile. You can only get four Buildings during the game. (You can build as many Features as you can afford.)

Each tile is unique; their descriptions/icons are all in the Appendix. They all provide benefits to your farm in various ways. Some are immediate pay-offs; others are passive traits or discounts throughout. The number in the blue shield states its end-game points value too. (An ! instead of a number scores via a certain end-game factor.)

Placed a Farmer here, but didn’t spend the full quota of action points? No drama. You get to draw one Resource Card for every leftover action point. This can either be from the face-up flop of cards or blind from the Resource Deck. (Spending remaining action points like this applies to all five of these actions.)

Hold Back The River – Contribute To The Dike

You can contribute to building the dike. Spend as many action points as your Farmer allows by paying resources of the same type, one per action point. Move the corresponding resource cube one space along the Construction Yard Track (above the Sheep Market) per resource you pay. If a resource cube is mid-way along this track, then you too must contribute the same type of resource. (Or pay 2x cards of the same type as a substitute.)

Once the resource cube reaches the end of this track, place a Dike Segment on the left-most Dike Space. (Start with the largest piece – one of the 3x brown segments – which is ‘four’ spaces long. After that, one of the 4x dark green segments: ‘three’ spaces long. Then the 6x light-grey segments: two spaces long.)

These act like a physical barrier, holding back the flood. If you have points remaining after a Dike Segment gets placed, you can then play more cards to contribute to the next segment. In such an occurrence, this can be any resource type. Then move your Dike Point Marker along the Dike Track as many spaces as cards you contributed. Did you land on (or pass beyond) a Progress Token? Immediately pick one of the two rewards on it. Hooray!

Finally, you must ask an opponent if they want to help contribute to the dike. (You cannot ask if they have the matching resource beforehand!) That player can then provide resources – up to as many as you did. They too could finish a dike segment, and then start a new segment, should they wish. They move as many spaces along the Dike Track as resources they contribute. You move one bonus space if they pay at least one resource. (It’s possible – via three specific Buildings – that players may contribute without paying a Resource Card.)

Take Offence – Build/Move Fences

Place a Farmer here to spend action points on buying or moving fences. (One action point per fence.) Buying a fence costs you one card; moving a fence doesn’t. When you buy fences, remove them from your Income Board, left-to-right. You place/move fences on your Farmyard Board on gaps between squares to form pastures. If a pasture has a fence running around it without gaps, you may house one sheep per square within it. Building Tiles act as substitute fences. Gaps in pastures mean sheep will escape and cannot sit there. You may relocate your sheep at any time for free.

Fleecing The Market – Buy/Sell Sheep

Send a Farmer here to either sell your sheep or buy more – one transaction per action point. If selling, remove sheep from your Farmyard Board and place them in empty spaces on the Sheep Market. The value of each sheep equates to the current Value Track. At the start, this is three coins per sheep. (This fluctuates though, flood-depending.) If buying, remove sheep from the Sheep Market and add them onto your pasture(s). Pay the value per sheep according to the Value Track. Whether buying or selling, you may only perform this in one single row of the Sheep Market. (Even if you can afford more.)

Hand Management Ahoy! – Draw Resource Cards

The final option is to draw Resource Cards – one card per action point. Either take cards from the four in the public flop and/or blind from the deck. When taking cards from the flop, don’t replace them until after your turn.

Lambing Season – The Upkeep Phase

After the last player places their third worker, move the Phase Marker up one notch into the orange II. This is the Upkeep Phase of Lowlands. There are six mini-steps to obey here, but don’t panic. They’re simple and listed on your Reference Sheet, so you won’t forget them.

1) Your sheep breed. Every two sheep on your Farm board do a ‘happy sheep dance’ and create another sheep. Take x sheep from the supply and house them on your Farm board. You can house one sheep per square within a fenced-off pasture. (Note: certain Building Tiles/Features allow you to break this rule.) If you cannot house the sheep, you forfeit the offspring.

2) Check your Income Board. When you remove Buildings and Fences from your Income Board, you start to reveal Income icons. These include gaining cards and coins. Players receive these in turn order. (The other icon here is the circular Labourer. As soon as you uncover this, place one of your Labourer chits next to one of your Farmyard actions spaces. This boosts their productivity: gifting you +1 action point, a -1 resource discount, or a better exchange rate at the Sheep Market.)

3, 4 and 5) Everybody retrieves their Farmers from their Farmyards. Reset the Sheep Market, so it returns to its default starting capacity. Then the First Player Marker goes to the player furthest along the Dike Track. Tie-break? This goes to the player whose Dike Track Marker sits on top.

6) Last, reveal the next face-down Flood Card. Add the corresponding number of Flood Pieces. If a twelfth Flood Piece gets added to the row of Flood Spaces, start again in the left-most space. Sit it on top.

Shear Peril – High Tide

The blue space along the Phase Track, marked III, is the High Tide Phase. The Phase Track goes I, II, I, II, III, Reset, and then I, II, I, II, III, Reset, and so on. The High Tide Phase is less frequent than the Work and Upkeep Phases. This is the point in the game where you check the dike, versus the size of the flood…

If the Dike Segments sit higher than the Flood Pieces, the dike holds. Hooray! If the Flood Pieces sit higher than the Dike Segments, the dike breaks. Uh-oh… If there’s a tie in height, which row is longer at this moment? If it’s the Dike Segments, then the dike holds. Flood Pieces? Then the dike breaks.

If the dike holds, check everyone’s status on the Dike Track. You earn one coin for every Dike Point you are ahead of the player with the least Dike Points. (Dike Points equal one per two spaces you move along the Dike Track.) The player in the last place along the Dike Track, therefore, receives zero coins. Then move the Value Marker one space to the right. (Increasing the value of sheep, but decreasing the value of Dike Points).

Dike breaks? Check everyone’s position along the Dike Track. Take one Dike Breach Token for every Dike Point you are behind the leader along the Dike Track. The player leading the way on the Dike Track, therefore, receives zero Dike Breach Tokens. These are punishing when it comes to final scores! Then move the Value Marker one space to the left. (Decreasing the value of sheep, but increasing Dike Point value).

If this is the first or second High Tide Phase, move the Phase Marker up one notch and continue. You’re back to the Turn of the Tide Phase again. After the third High Tide, it’s time to move onto final scoring, in the Storm Surge Phase…

Wool It, Or Won’t It…? The Storm Surge

First of all, score and resolve all Buildings and Features with an ‘!’ in the VP shield. (One of the Storm Surge Buildings allows the owner to return six Dike Breach Tokens, providing they have six or fewer. This is massive, because…)

Then assess the dike. If it held, everybody cheers and gets rid of all their Dike Breach Tokens. If the dike broke, then your farm’s in trouble! For every Dike Breach Token you have, you must give up one sheep to the supply. Not enough sheep? Then pay coins equal to the current value of sheep that you owe. Not enough coins? Then you lose one point per coin you fail to pay. Ouch!

Players then score according to their position along the Dike Track. Check the Dike Point Value (above the Sheep Value). Multiply your Dike Points by the Dike Point Value. (If the Dike Point Value is at zero… you score zero points for this!) Also score your remaining sheep, according to the current Sheep Value.

Score the face-value of your regular Buildings and Features. Coins are worth 1VP each. Finally, you get 1VP per two remaining Resource Cards you have at the end of the game. Add them all up. The player with the most points wins and earns the title of Lowlands legend!

Off You Go-lands

Congratulations! You now know how to play Lowlands.

If you haven’t already picked up a copy, you can grab one right here at Zatu Games! However, if you’re on the fence about Lowlands, feel free to check out some similar games such as Carcassonne, Merchants and Marauders, and Pandemic: The Cure.

Zatu Score


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

You might like

  • Part-Agricola, part-semi co-op!
  • The feeling of shared concern for the rising tide
  • While ticking all the Euro boxes for efficiency management
  • Lots of Building Tiles provide different methods to score points on your farm
  • Feels like every player plays a big role in the dike construction, even if they shun it

Might not like

  • Poor paintwork on the wooden components
  • Punchboards didnt punch well
  • It can be brutal if you get left behind on the Dike Track