When was the last time you took some time to relax and breathe? I know, I haven’t for a while. It can be easy to get wrapped up in our daily schedules and demands that we forget to find a moment of peace in the day or week. Instead, we feel more compelled to get things done and allow stresses to build up when we should be taking a moment to get centered and relaxed. Some of us do this through meditations, spending time with a good book, or going for a walk. Nature has always been for me a place to get a sense of peace and calm back into my day.
A Gentle Rain by Kevin Wilson and published by Mondo Games invites you to take a moment, come back to nature, sit by the lake, and discover the blossoms to be revealed.
A Gentle Rain is a solo or cooperative tile-laying game that’s meant to “clear your mind”. The goal is to try to see all eight blossoms before your tiles (or the rain, as it were) run out. A tile is randomly picked and placed as the starting tile. From here, one at a time, a tile is drawn, placing matching blossom halves next to one another. You’ll be trying to make a 4 x 4 tile, which leaves a hole to be filled with one of the blossom colors adjacent from this hole.
You only have one blossom token for each color, so the selection of which to use will have to be careful because it won’t be available in the future, even if it’s a part of a match later on. You’ll continue to lay tiles until either all eight blossoms are placed, or tiles run out. Any tiles drawn that can’t be matched are tossed and subtracted from your final score. I played this solo and so my review will reflect this mostly; however, I think some parents might enjoy playing this cooperatively with their kids, where deciding how tiles are placed can be a group effort.
While A Gentle Rain is considered a game, I must confess that my approach and mindset with it were much different than most other games I encounter. This was almost more experiential, a calming process and de-stressing technique. Because you’re encouraged to clear your mind, get comfy, a lot of sentiments expressed before any number of meditations, you’re not going at it competitively, at least I didn’t. I embraced the meditative process. It’s almost in some ways like putting a puzzle together. Is there scoring and can you lose? Sure, but these are honestly kind of afterthoughts, at least they were for me once I kicked on some chill nature sounds or music and just went with it. I really want to stress though that this is very much encouraged in the game. The side of the box actually says “keep score or don’t. Just relax and have fun”. When that’s embraced, I think people will enjoy it most.
I know; however, this won’t appeal to everyone. But I tell ya, after a long day with the kids and I want to play something, I’m inclined to get this out. Setup is short and just diving right in with the experience is highly appealing. I’m not stressing about three different aspects of the game or what tactics will give me the most points; I’m simply trying to puzzle things together as best as I can while relaxing to some ambient background music. A Gentle Rain will appeal to those who are looking for something that’s not stressful to get out and play, who want something to unwind with at the end of the day, or even something that could be done with their kids.
As for the game aspect of A Gentle Rain, there are some strategies and risks, particularly with how you play your tiles and whether you like to risk boxing yourself in, waiting for the one specific tile that may or may not come out. The rulebook gives what the highest score could be that you might get, so this is a beat-your-score kind of game. That’s not atypical for many solo gaming experiences, but it’s important to know if you’ve not played many in the genre.
A Gentle Rain is, as I mentioned, a different type of game, in that it encourages a laid-back approach. This will not appeal to everyone, but it was part of the appeal for me. Either folks will really get into the relaxation that can come from playing it as it’s recommended, or they will bring their typical gamer, competitive mindset and be perhaps underwhelmed if they’ve reduced the experience down to whether they can beat their own high score. I think the question is, what do you hope to get out of the game. Answering that will help you decide whether A Gentle Rain is right for you.
Final Score: 4 Stars – A tile-laying game that functions as an avenue for relaxation.
• The casual approach to the “game” might not appeal to people strictly looking for a game to play