Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
If you have ever started a vegetable or flower garden from seed, you know how much has to go right to achieve the optimal harvest. The soil, fertilizers, sun light, water, temperatures and many other variables go into this evolving process from seed to plant.
My kids have started to take an interest in this process and one of their joys is seeing the animals it attracts. Late in the summer we get plenty of bees, butterflies, and occasional rabbit around our house.
Today we will be previewing a game that simulates the process of gardening without the hassle of taking a full growing season to complete. Garden Adventures is a 2-6 player game where players attempt to have the best garden. The determining factor in the success of these gardens is they animals you can attract. Let’s get into the preview to see if this is a game you want to support on Kickstarter.
The game centers around the weather and managing of the garden tiles. Each turn, a player will roll a die to determine the weather for the round. Players will need the right amount of sun and rain to allow their garden to fully grow and attract the animals they need to win the game. The game will continue until a player has reached the necessary victory points to win the game.
How to Play:
The game begins with the players receiving their own unique skyline tile that will show different weather that can happen each turn. Players will experience rain, sun, garden growth, or thunderstorms as they cultivate their gardens depending on the die rolls. The other tiles in the game are the garden spaces. Each of the four types of gardens require a rain token and a growth result in order to start growing. Once this happens, players will need to collect the right number of sun and rain tokens to attract animals to their space.
When players have received their starting garden tiles, the turns will progress in this way.
The current player will roll a six sided die. This will determine the weather action this turn. Each player will look on their skyline tile to find what weather corresponds to that die roll. After that, players will then add rain/sun tokens to their gardens, add a new garden tile or flip one over to start collecting tokens to attract animals.
Two things need to happen before players can start potentially earning victory points. They need to have the required number of sun and rain tokens on that garden and need the result of the die to match the two red numbers on their skyline tile. If they meet this requirement, you will draw an animal from the deck that matches the garden tile image. Most of these cards will earn players between 1-4 victory points. There are a few cards in every deck that can stop you from adding tokens or force you to lose one of your animal cards on a garden space.
Players will continue adding tokens and attracting animals until a player as reached the required victory point total, normally fifteen, and wins the game.
When I opened the box for the game and started to lay out the bits, my six year old wandered over to take a look. After a quick explanation of the game, she was ready to go. I was shocked at how much she loved the game. There are two things about Garden Adventure that made this happen. First, it is very easy to teach. It took a few reminders and turns but by the time we were halfway through the game she got it. In fact, she was able to teach the game to her mom with only a few clarifications from dad. I’m not going to lie, it was a proud moment as a gamer dad. Sorry for the diversion…back to the preview!
The game doesn’t bog down with a bunch of complicated rules. Everything is very streamlined with very few decisions for the players to make. This wouldn’t work for a group of board game enthusiast but as a family game it works. I asked her what she loved about it and her response was “It always felt like I was doing something to help the garden grow.” She is right about that. There is a lot of adding tokens, drawing new cards, flipping garden tiles that keeps players active on their and other turns.
One issue with other family games is that there is a wait time between turns. You can easily lose a child’s focus on the game but that isn’t the case here. With everyone able to do something on each die roll, players won’t sit around idly very often. I really like how each of the skyline tiles have unique numbers for each of the six weather possibilities. This allows each player to have a different game experience. The game would be awful if these tiles were all the same. It allows for each die roll to elicit joys or frustration on each roll.
I also like how the game is modular in turns of game time. You can easily adjust the victory point requirement at the start of the game to increase or decrease the playtime. Once players get a few tiles that can attract animals the game can progress quickly if the die rolls the right way. Having a few negative cards in each deck adds a little sense of dread as you add more and more animals to your garden tiles.
Garden Adventures fits nicely into the family game category. It is a game that is easily played and explained. The game avoids having long droughts of downtime because each roll of the die effects the other players. This keeps everyone focused on the game and what each player is doing on their turn. Garden Adventures game play moves quickly enough that players won’t get tired of the management process that feels similar to managing a garden. If you have young players that might be interested in the game consider giving it your support.
If you’d like to become a backer, pledges start at €30 for the base game including all stretch goals. Garden Adventures is scheduled to be in backers hands by February 2017. Garden Adventures launched today on Kickstarter, so head over and check it out.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review. This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.