The winter lockdown has had a catastrophic effect on countless people, but luckily the first signs of spring have sprung and winter, at long last, is on its way out. Now it won’t be long before our gardens start to erupt with colour and every British person complains about the heat. I personally cannot wait for shorts weather and for the hours of sunlight. We have a little while to go before we’re back to beer-garden catch-ups, but in the meantime why not bring spring into your board gaming? To help perk everyone up and get you all in the mood for spring, here are six of our favourite spring games we think you’ll love!
Spring is in the air… Everywhere I look around… Spring games
So it’s currently cold and foggy and John Paul Young wasn’t talking about the weather. But it definitely feels like it should be spring. A warm, sunny, funny, bunny-hopping spring!
And while it is lovely to see gardens, window boxes, and roundabouts resplendent in colourful blooms, spring is also a catalyst for some seriously yummy herb horticulture. With my appetite therefore very much in mind, it was an easy pick with Herbaceous the Card Game.
Herbaceous sees 1-4 players compete to plant and pot sets of herb cards from a shared deck. With four containers to fill (each one specifying a different objective), players must draw two cards on each turn and then decide which is going to be planted in their garden and which will be sewn in the community garden for their opponents to take. When a player is ready to pick the right medley of mint and other tasty morsels from their garden and that of the shared patch, they can plant them in a pot ready to score at the end of the game.
With a big bushel of push-your-luck and a herby handful of luck of the draw, this set-collection game becomes a green-fingered gamble to be the first to pack out those pots. And with one pot being the only home for special point scoring herbs, and a herby-biscuit-bonus up for grabs, players will be caught between wanting to wait for the peppermint payload and pot before anyone else does.
Illustrated by Beth Sobel, this game looks good enough to eat. It is easy to teach and fast to play. There is also a solo mode which can either be a relaxing ramble through the herb garden, or a more intense shot of saffron dusted decision making depending on your mood.
For a quick session of push your luck potting that inspires thoughts of delicious springtime salads, Herbaceous is a great choice.
After a long, long, long, long, long, long, long winter, spring is finally here! The world is getting warmer, and the days are getting longer. And longer days means more time for board games. Bring spring games to your table with Photosynthesis. Collect sunshine and spend it to grow your forest.
Photosynthesis is difficult to pin down in board-game terms. It is generally defined as being abstract and is definitely something different for your collection. The aim of the game is to progress trees through their life cycle and increase your score as the last leaf falls. A sun revolves around the board, each turn giving each people Light Points as the trees are bathed in sunshine. These points are spent to advance your botanical endeavours.
The bigger the tree, the more Light Points you acquire, but also the long shadow the tree casts. If you are stuck in another player’s shadow, you will not get your points. This adds in the thing that I like in a game: the ability to infuriate your opponent. Focus on furthering your own progress or hampering your rival, either way, is a viable strategy.
Visually, Photosynthesis has a very unique look. Each player has an army of 3D trees to place on the board. As the game progresses, it gets more cluttered and wooded. You have to battle for space and place your trees carefully. Your opponent’s trees look great as they tower over yours, but they will affect your gameplay dramatically.
Once you have done your spring cleaning and got rid of your old games, Photosynthesis is a great addition to your collection. There won’t be anything else like it on your shelves. It is aesthetically pleasing, distinctive and strange. You don’t have to be a tree hugger to love this game.
Spring has sprung and it won’t be long until that “Aprille with his shoures soote, the droghte of Marche hath pierced to the roote.” Soon the blossoms will be back in trees and gardens, and bees and jaspers will be lazily bobbing about on the summer breeze. But this spring idyll is about to be punctured by the cutthroat world of a village in bloom competition. Here's my Spring game.
In Peer Sylvester’s Village Green, 1-5 players will compete to win awards for the prettiest and best-designed community gardens. Rosettes are handed out for planting the biggest variety of flowers, or creating a thematic colour palette, or positioning your trees and gazebos artfully, or even letting it all grow wild!
To capture the esteem of the judges, players draft cards and awards they are aiming for and arrange them in their area according to strict placement rules. On your turn, you can be torn between taking cards to place in your green or prizes that will enable you to score at the end of the game. Leave a card for too long and a rival village may snap it up before you can.
The placement rules (cards must match neighbouring flower types or colours) add a level of forward planning and strategizing that creates a brain-burning puzzle. As with many of Peer Sylvester’s designs, Village Green is easy to pick up but difficult to master.
Special mention should also go to Joanna Rose’s pretty and charming artwork that layers on the theme in spades. Part of the fun is seeing your beautiful green slowly materialise before your eyes with each card played. All of this adds up to a witty and surprisingly deep play experience, that scales well to all player counts. Blooming marvellous!
Spring feels like it is on the verge of being sprung, so going out and getting exercise in the absence of gyms is feeling like a less arduous task. One of my favourite places to walk at the moment is Walsall arboretum, which is why ‘Arboretum’ is my recommendation for spring-themed gaming.
‘Arbor’ is the Latin word for ‘tree’. Inside the box of this game are 80 beautifully designed cards featuring yes, you’ve guessed it, trees! The game is a hand-management and card-placement game. It's for between 2-4 players where you’re aiming to build your arboretum by making paths of trees that increase in number to obtain the most points. Don’t let the pretty design of this game fool you though. There are a couple of devious mechanics hidden inside.
One player may spend a lot of time working really hard to make a path of Jacarandas, not knowing the cards you possess in your hand are of a higher value, ultimately scoring them nothing. There is no better feeling than sitting there smugly. Knowing that someone thinks they’ve made a hard scoring path only to be barking up the wrong tree. There’s no worse feeling than being the curator of a lovely arboretum that’s literally pointless.
Also, each of the cards are numbered 1-8, and having the 8 in your hand is only beneficial if nobody else has the 1 in their hand, because once again this can render them scoreless. These extra mechanics make Arboretum so much more than a simple card game about trees. It really is a tree-mendous amount of game packed inside a very small box, making it the perfect game to pack in with a picnic or take away with you on your long-awaited staycations.
Spring is here, believe it or not! The first flowers bloom, farmers are in their fields, tractors are on the roads making you incredibly late. It's a lovely time of year! But how does that fit in with board gaming? Through a lovely theme, of course. When I think spring, I think of flowers. And when I think board games with flowers, I go instinctively to Blossoms.
Blossoms (also known as Kwiatki) is a two-player, push your luck game with the theme of growing and cutting flowers. It's a short two players game with a low level of access which is both delightfully beautiful and very enjoyable.
The basis for Blossoms is that you and your competitor are gardeners growing flowers. You want to grow your flowers as tall as possible before cutting them. Over the course of the game players can take several types of action: growth, cut, plant, pass, and special actions.
Growth is the push your luck element of Blossoms and you must do this at least once. You take cards and place them on existing, matching plants - no matches and no space means you suffer "bad luck" and end your turn. All plants have a maximum height of six cards. Planting allows you to place a flower card from your hand to a pot available. Cutting removes the cards and allows the set to be scored at the game end - this ends your turn. Passing ends your turn without cutting, and special actions allow you to manipulate the game to your advantage. To win, you need the most bountiful sets of flowers in your bouquet.
What we love about Blossoms is how easy it is to learn and teach, and how gentle it feels throughout. It's not a vicious take that game, but one of patience and planning. You cut flowers when needed or when it's wise to. Players only get four plant pots and can therefore only host four types of the six flowers. Drawing one you can't hold is bad luck! I also love the fact you literally grow the flowers upwards as you collect cards in their set. It's thematic throughout and is very pretty. If you're looking for a gorgeous little game for a head-to-head challenge, or need a quality push your luck game, I'd recommend Blossoms!
With the news of the brand new Kickstarter, Everdell has been played more this month in most households. This new Kickstarter brings two new expansions. One of which will bring a brand new solo and two-player experience to the game. As for the past year, the majority of the games I have played have been two-player. This was an exciting addition. Hopefully, I’ll get higher player count games going. It’s still good to have a cool new two-player variant to fall back on!
Everdell is a cute forest-based worker-placement. It's set in a woodland where all the creatures wear clothes and build infrastructure. Many say it is quite Redwall-esque in its theme, although there is no woodland warfare like in Brian Jacques’ Redwall. The tussle of the game comes from the tug of war to get the best worker spots for resources. You collect resources to play construction and critter cards for your city. These cards will give you points, they may give you one-time bonuses, let you produce resources for you, or offer you an additional worker placement spot.
The game is played over four seasons, and as they progress, you obtain more workers and are able to do more on each season. This ramp-up effect plays well at all player counts and makes the final season a flurry of “min-maxing” your point tally in a last-ditch attempt to be most efficient with your resource usage. The components in this game are top-notch, with cute wooden animeeples and realistic resources as standard. The artwork on this game is beautiful, distractingly so. Being drawn in by the artwork is how I am explaining my latest crushing defeat! If you like worker placement and you love high-quality games with great components, then Everdell is one for you!