The hills are alive, with the sound of – sheep? In Sunflower Valley you’ll create a thriving mountain town filled with happy shepherds, fluffy sheep, and of course, big cheerful sunflowers. Add houses, flowers, and train tracks to expand, but be wise in your planning; you’ll need a careful balance of work, beauty, and transportation to be the best! This roll & draw city builder allows you to create the happiest, most efficient, and cutest village ever.
Sunflower Valley is a roll & write, area management game from Hobby World for 2 to 5 players. It plays best with 3-4 players.
The object is to use the symbols chosen on the dice as they are rolled each round to fill in your valley in the most optimal way. Careful placement and well chosen dice are key to the happiest village.
Each player starts with an empty valley mat with hexes in five different colors. Each round the first player will roll six dice to create a pool. There are house, sunflower, sheep, and railroad tracks on each die. Some also contain villagers.
Starting with the player that rolled, everyone will take a die from the pool and chose a color to associate it with, drawing the symbol from the die in that colored area on their map. Placement is key. Mountains score for each adjacent sunflower. Houses only score if they are next to or connect to sheep (and houses with no sheep will lose points!) Points are also awarded for the greatest number of villagers as well as the number of houses connected by your railroad. If you cannot use a die you can put a sunflower in its place.
Play continues until all hexes are filled. After that players count the points they gain for all the symbols on their sheets. The player with the most points wins.
Farming sheep and sunflowers in an idyllic mountain valley – this little roll and draw couldn’t be more delightful.
Roll and write games have kind of been hot this year, but let me tell you what makes this one special out of the box. IT’S DRY ERASE. Yes, instead of killing a tree every couple plays or frantically searching for something to print off the internet when you run out of papers, this one needs only a new working dry erase marker when the box contents start to go. It also started with really nice dry erase markers which was a plus, usually those are drying by the time they make it to unboxing.
The rules are simple, but don’t assume you’ve played a R&W before. It’s just a few pages, but even the newest of players will pick this up quickly. Nice diagrams explain actions as well, a plus for those that struggle with wordy rulebooks.
I’m a sucker for the drawing aspect. Filling in dots in a standard roll and write can be satisfying, but there’s something particularly special about creating a pretty little village full of houses, sheep, and flowers. It’s a small thing but the visual aspect adds to the happy theme of the game.
And then the railroads will crush your soul a little. Tracks can only be laid in the orientation they appear on the dice – straight or slightly curved. The challenge in Sunflower Valley is to connect up your sheep and houses – the real challenge is to try and get tracks to go where you need it when you need it. No kidding, I wound up using six pieces at one point to connect two houses two spots away.
Three-to-four players will find this mildly challenging and somewhat thinky insofar as dice placement. The challenge drops considerably for two players and with five the last player is going to just be stuck every time – not near as fun.
A very accessible roll & write entry; Sunflower Valley will definitely scratch the itch for regular players of the mechanic while allowing to introduce new players. Bright colors and cute theme give it a lot of visual charm, while a limited pool of actions means a player won’t need loads of artistic talent to create a cute scene. The fact that Sunflower Valley includes dry erase boards and markers mean you won’t be destroying a valley in order to create your own.
Final Score: 4 Stars – Fun roll & write that’s quick to learn. Suffers somewhat at two and five players. Reusable player mats make this a boss. Who doesn’t love a sunflower?
• Player count may be a stretch
• Color values can be hard for people with visual challenges to pick out sometimes
(ed. on further review, I’ve retracted the note for colors on the player mats. Each color has an associated symbol as an aid for colorblind players. Its a thoughtful touch, and on reflection it deserves a note. -AMJP)