A Thriving Civilization of Forest Critters
Hello my wonderful readers! In today's post, I'm taking a look at the 2-4 player game Everdell. Designed by James A. Wilson and published in 2018 by Starling Games, this game is all about card drafting and worker placement. So come along with me into this wonderful civilization of forest critters... here are my 3 favorite things about Everdell.
1) Premium Quality
To start, let's address what's most obvious about this game... Everdell is absolutely gorgeous.
From the absolutely stunning artwork of Andrew Bosley to the component quality, everything about this game is designed to feel premium. I mean, just look at its stunning board and "Evertree". There's a reason that you probably keep seeing this game pop up on social media. It has a spectacular table presence.
Don't even get me started on the resources and the meeples. A game with turtle AND hedgehog meeples? How can you not just instantly fall in love? The point is, this game is designed to fit its theme perfectly. It draws you into this magical forest world and makes you feel like you really are one of these animals, recruiting other critters with berries and constructing new buildings with twigs, pebbles and resin. Part of what makes board games so appealing to many is that they can be very tactile, thematic experiences and I would be willing to argue that Everdell is one of the most tactile, thematic experiences in the hobby. The component quality is absolutely fantastic which totally elevates the experience of playing this game.
2) Tight Gameplay
One of my favorite gameplay aspects of Everdell is not a mechanic in the game but, rather, the game's general difficulty. Everdell is (1) a worker placement game in which you'll have to (2) draft card and (3) manage resources to (4) develop the best city. Each one of these 4 steps sounds straightforward enough, but each one presents its own unique challenge.
The worker placement is super tight, even at two players. Everyone is vying to get resources and cards from a very limited pool of action space. There are plenty of options for you to get in your opponent's way, both on accident and on purpose. The resource management... also tight. Every card has a cost and at the start of the game, getting resources is a very difficult thing to do. Cards can cost upward of 4 or 5 resources. Most action spaces only give you 1 or 2 resources when you use them and in the first round, you only get 2 actions to take.
Building your city and managing your hand of card are also unique challenges. You have a hand limit of only 8 cards, and when you reach that limit you CAN"T draw any more cards, which makes finding and playing the cards that you want rather difficult at times. At the start of the game, you'll just want to play whatever cards you can afford just so you can get SOMETHING down. But your city also has a limit of 15 cards and there are very few ways to get rid of cards that you've already played to your city. You have to be very precise and picky about what buildings you choose to construct and what critters you allow in because they all take up space. At the end of the game, the vast majority of your points ar going to come from the point values of each card. If you filled your city with 1 point cards because they were easier to build and then ran out of space, you're probably not going to score super well.
However, with all of that being said, this doesn't make this a bad game. I find it a wonderfully difficult challenge. I love the satisfaction that comes from planning two, three, four turns ahead so that you'll have the perfect amount of resources to fulfill your plan. I find myself wanting to play again and again not because I want to try and beat my friends but because I want to see if I can best myself. Everdell is a complex puzzle that changes with each new play and I can't help but want to try to find a way to "solve" each and every game.
3) Card Chaining
Now, finally, comes an actual mechanic for me to talk about that I think really makes this game shine. Everdell has a lot of unique mechanisms in it, but my favorite one isn't actually that unique: card chaining. Every building card that you can construct in the game has a corresponding critter card. Once you build the building, if you later find the critter card you can recruit it for free.
As I mentioned before, resources can be difficult to come by in this game. Chief among these is berries, which are used to recruit critters. So, it's a lot easier to build construction and then use them to chain recruit critters than it is to directly recruit critters for their berry cost. Everdell also has a LOT of cards, so chaining can really help you focus in on a strategy and give you something to go for if the vast amount of options are a bit overwhelming to you. My first experience with this mechanism was in the game 7 Wonders, a game that came out long before Everdell. But what I think makes the card chaining stand out so much to me in Everdell is how incredibly useful and truly necessary the chaining feels if you want to do well in the game. Again, it makes feel like a very unique sort of puzzle, which I really enjoy.
Have you played Everdell?
What's your favorite part of this gorgeous game?
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Did you solve this week's #HumpDayPuzzle?
The 5 mismatched pieces were:
1) A tapestry card from Tapestry
2) A wood token from Scythe
3) A submarine periscope from Oceanos
4) An explorer meeple from The Quest for El Dorado
5) An adventurer token from Dungeon of Fortune