The board game industry has seen an incredible influx of nature and wildlife themed games hit the market recently. While I really enjoy games like Wingspan, Cascadia, Ark Nova, and Oceans that focus on animal species and habitats, the horticulturalist in me has been super excited about a number of new games that focus on the greener side of mother nature. I’ve had the opportunity to learn, teach, and play two games recently that both get an enthusiastic green thumbs up from me.
Wander tranquil meadows and compete to become the best nature observer. Meadow is a game that has found its way onto the BGG hotness in recent months, and for good reason. This game boasts over 200 unique cards that all feature hand-painted watercolor art by
Karolina Kijak and Katarzyna Fiebiger. It also uses a clever action-selection mechanism that lets 2-4 players draft cards, collect sets, and build their own flourishing meadow.
The main game board consists of a four by four grid that is filled with meadow cards. There is also a campsite board players can use to perform special actions and complete goals. Each player is given five action tokens to spend. Each action token is different and can be used to activate one of the two abilities written on it. Players can slot these action tokens into notches found on the main board and the campsite board. If they play an action token into a notch on the main board, they draft a card and may optionally play a card from their hand into their own meadow. If they play an action token onto the campsite board, they take the corresponding action on the token played and may optionally complete a goal.
Players will earn points by placing cards in their meadows. However, before a card can be played, it must meet some requirements first. Each card has a special symbol depicting a feature it will provide to the meadow, but it also has a list of other symbols that must already exist in the meadow in order for it to be played. The trick to playing a card is making sure all of the symbols it needs are in play. But be careful…when a new card is played, it will cover up one of the symbols needed to play it. This means that the symbols in your meadow are always changing and timing is critical when deciding the order in which cards should be played.
As a game of Meadow progresses, players will build their collection of cards and optionally play cards into a space called “the surrounding area,” where they can discover new locations and collect trinkets. Additionally, if a player has all the right symbols in their meadow, they can complete goals for additional end-game points.
Meadow gets a green thumbs up because it is fast paced, easy to learn, hard to master, beautiful to look at, and fun to play.
Take a walk through the garden! If you can smell better flowers, collect prettier rocks, and spot more interesting insects than your opponents, you win. Floriferous is a fantastic little filler game for 2-4 players that’s easy to set up and plays in about twenty minutes.
One row of five cards is set out for each player in the game…one row above the next to form a grid. Cards in Floriferous primarily feature flowers of various types and colors. However some depict statuary and other garden features, and many of the flower cards include butterflies, lady bugs, beetles, and other garden insects. Above the grid of garden cards are three goal cards that anyone and everyone can claim if they meet the conditions of the cards throughout the game. The real genius of Floriferous can be found in the last row of cards that gets played below the garden cards. These cards offer end-game points for meeting certain conditions (like having a set of tulips or gaining extra points for flowers with beetles), but only for the player who picks them up. Because they are common knowledge, each player must carefully plan their path through the garden in order to acquire the best combination of garden cards and score cards…all while keeping an eye on the goal cards.
Each player has a pawn that starts on the left side of the grid next to each row. Starting with the top pawn and moving down, each player decides which card from the column they want. After everyone has taken a turn, the next round begins with the new pawn closest to the top. Because the top pawn always goes first, the turn order frequently shifts, and players have to weigh what cards they want to collect against what position they want in the next round's turn order. After players have moved through the garden once, the grid is repopulated by new cards and players move backward through the garden again. After three treks through the garden the game ends. The player with the most points wins.
Floriferous gets a green thumbs up for packing so much punch into a little box. The game is easy to set up, easy to learn, offers great choices to players, and can easily be played in under twenty minutes.
What are your favorite nature themed games?