Spring Meadow is the third and final piece in the tile placement trilogy from popular designer Uwe Roseburg. Like the predecessors, you fill a grid with polyominos, angular pieces that would be at home in Tetris-land.
Perhaps following people's comments on Cottage Garden and Indian Summer, Uwe heard people say “Oh its like Tetris” and (finally) implement a board game that is fairly close to it. Whilst the others were more a race, in Spring Meadow, you take a tile from a gorgeous 5x5 grid (which has contours, terrain and likes identical to an Ordance Survey map).
Playing Spring Meadow
Once they have placed a tile (they can place the circular compass in its spot whilst you test out the shape), the “Signposts” move on one space clockwise and the next player (clockwise) chooses a piece. The game is German, with no text, the only thing telling is the compass. NO instead of NE as "Ost" is East in German.
When someone cannot take from the grid the round ends. You count up how many squares you have filled in your grid (always starting from the bottom row -the row being 10 squares across). If you missed a square you do not score that row (hence a penalty to miss, and therein lies the similarity to Tetris). You can play your pieces anywhere on the grid, but you want to start at the bottom. The person with the highest score wins a picnic basket. Win two and you win Spring Meadow.
From row two upwards there are burrows, which count as points so you don’t want to cover these. You also have holes in some of the pieces. You can play these over burrows or generally anywhere on the board. You receive bonuses if you have a hole next to another hole on board. If you have two, you receive one rock (one square) that you immediately place wherever you like.
If you have say three or more, you take a rock piece equal to the holes minus one and place it like above. You can chain and build up a long string of holes next to each other (so you place a piece with a hole next to another hole, then on your next turn placed another piece with a hole next to the prior piece, or the original piece, to make a flow of three - it doesn’t have to be in a straight line).
As mentioned above, when you cannot go, you get a 2+ bonus point token that you use to find your score. After the picnic token has been awarded, the tiles are replenished and the player who couldn’t go, gets to start.
Something that happened in one round, Emma and I tied for points, the tie break is player who hasn’t placed a tile most recently (they used a long definition to describe that).
If you are victorious in a round, you have to cover over any burrows you have which appear through holes. In my case, I had three, so when we score next, I cannot include those in my score. This helps extend the game so one player cannot run away with it.
Final Thoughts on Spring Meadow
Whilst similar to the other two games, Spring Meadow makes it seem that Uwe could have done away with the other game as they felt like draft versions, and he has picked up what he needed for this.
The game, as a four-player title (first game) took about an hour, which was in line with the guidance. Turns were smooth. You look ahead to what you could pick, but you can’t predict more than one turn ahead as it’ll depend when others take.
The compass is useful as, whilst you might take, for example, North to South, next turn you are taking West to East (or up down, left right). Unlike Indian Summer, as the pieces aren’t in front of you, you can’t easily take a piece to see if it would work, partially as someone might want it.
The scoring works in Spring Meadow, you simply need a higher score then the other players, and predicting what they’ll get might not be too tough, I think seeing how high up from the first row of the grid is what you should do to gauge competition.
However, there isn’t anything you could do to stop it. Maybe taking a tile with an area of four squares is better than the six tile one as it may have a hole in it….placed next to other ones will give you a bonus of perhaps two area anyway.
The grid boards are subtly unique and had a 50, 100 and 150 marker. Presumably to help with scoring, but you cover them up as you place that rows worth and thus aren’t ideal.