1 – 4 Players, Competitive, Worker Placement, Tableau Building
Designer: James A. Wilson
Artwork: Andrew Bosley, Dann May
Publisher: Starling Games
You must create a city full of critters to gain the most points before winter in this worker placement game.
The game takes right about 2 hours with 2 players and around 2 and a half with 4. To win you must have the most victory points at the end of the game, which happens after everyone is finished with their last turns during the autumn season. You start the game at the tail end of winter during the beginning of spring. During this phase each player takes turns either placing a little worker on the board to collect a resource or playing a card. To play the cards you need to spend the resources you have collected but these cards are critical to winning as you are building up your little critter town with them. Most all the cards have victory points attached to them of varying degrees and usually do something special as well. Once you run out of workers to place and resources to spend to play cards, you then progress the season for yourself, which allows you to bring all your workers back and collect more workers to play during the next season.
Components /Game Board
The components in this game are really where it shines. Let’s start with the board. It’s not your standard board shape of rectangle or squared. It’s kind of roundish with a notch at the bottom for a discard pile. The colors are really nice and vibrant and just pop out at you. There is also this really cool tree that you assemble that stands at the back end of the board. This houses a few extra event cards and your extra workers at the very top of the tree that you collect when you progress the season. Also within the trunk of the tree is the massive card draw pile. It’s extremely thematic and adds a TON to the overall appeal of the game. This does create a kind of issue with seating though as everyone that plays have to sit on one side of the table. For me this was a bit of a hassle with 4 players as everyone was trying to build their own critter towns out and needs space. At 3 players or less though I would see it being much less of an issue.
Apart from the game board the little resources are also very amazing. Let’s see you have twigs, pebbles, resin and berries. Each piece is completely different from the last. The pebbles are little oval gray plastic pieces, the resin are translucent yellowish plastic pieces. The berries are purple SQUISHY little berry pieces, ugh I love how they are squishy. The twigs are little brown twiggy looking things. They are probably my least fav of all the resource components and not because of low quality or anything, but because they roll around all over the place. I feel like they should have been grinded down on one side just to keep them from rolling all over the board when someone grabs some from the pile. Something else I will say is that the piles of the resources are a little messy. Now this is just a personal preference and I certainly won’t dock any stars for this but I think the game could really benefit from little storage cases for each resource on the board. I will probably look into this for myself.
The box is gorgeous. It has some beautiful artwork adorned on the outside cover and it comes with a decent insert on the inside. The insert holds all the cards nice and stable and I haven’t had any mixed up components even storing the game on its side. There are other open spaces in the insert for the rest of the stuff but I would suggest getting little plastic baggies to separate all the components and keep them secure.
Visual Appeal /Table Presence
This is another highlight of the game. All the artwork looks amazing throughout. I get excited to draw cards just to see what new critter or construction I can eyeball. And let me tell ya, there are A LOT of different critters and constructions. I applaud whoever did the artwork for this one as it’s very well done and “cute”. Add in the tree to the board and the fact that each player plays a specific critter with corresponding meeples that resemble said critter. Ugh it’s amazing. Oh! Speaking of that the base game comes with 4 different player meeples which are: Squirrels, Hedgehogs, Turtles and Mice.
The game catches the eye of anyone that happens into the room as well, primarily due to the giant tree sitting at the back of the board. I have gotten a few people saying, “Ohhh what’s thisss, it looks cute!” and the visual lures people in closer and they will sit down for a few minutes watching the game. This is actually kinda rare with games that I have played and it really goes to show you how much presence this game has.
The rulebook is VERY good at explaining the game in an easy to understand and concise way. I went through it very quickly and only had to reference it one other time after that for clarification during gameplay. I think it’s because the game really doesn’t have a million things to do during your turn and that makes it pretty simple to grasp. As you progress through the seasons and get more cards played into your city the game does get much deeper on how you want to synergize your played cards to maximize your points. But by that time you have pretty much gotten the game play down pat.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
Each player is working for themselves trying to build up their critter town but that doesn’t mean this game lacks table talk! On the contrary there are specific cards that actually allow players to play their meeples on other player’s cards to gain a benefit. I think this is a really cool mechanic as it promotes table talk and not only adds to the game for one player but the player that owns the card will also gain some benefit. You do end up discussing the cards a lot during play as there is a “meadow” on the board that has 8 cards laid out for everyone to see. This acts as sort of a shared hand of cards for everyone and allows anyone (on their turn) to play cards directly from the meadow if they can pay for them. Once you play a card a new card is drawn to replace it. I found most of the table talk and excitement came when drawing a new card. It really is super exciting to see what new critter or building will appear even if it’s not something you really need.
Optimal Player Count
2 or 3 players is perfect for this game. Because of the kind of scrunched seating a full 4 players is a little uncomfortable. However I can say that the game plays just as well with 4 players as it does 2. ALSO the game is fully functional as a solo game if you prefer to play 1 player games! It has a really creative story involved that you must defeat this rat who is just the worst. I haven’t delved too deep into this yet but I did peruse the directions and it seems like it is very unique and interesting.
This is one of the more interesting worker placement games I have played. The artwork is gorgeous and the mechanics are sound. You can really tell they have put a lot of love into the components and gameplay. The rules are easy to learn and I really love how the game becomes deeper and deeper as you progress which makes the game that much easier to understand. There is a ton of variety on the cards which lends to mucho replay value. I would say if you enjoy worker placements then this is one you should not pass up!