If you follow me on social media, you know that I am a sucker for good Crowdfunding. Years ago, a friend of mine told me his favorite place to buy board games was Kickstarter. I didn’t fully understand how he could buy a game that no one had reviewed yet, but I loved his game collection so I tentatively started to browse Kickstarter myself. I was looking for games that were a little different than what I was used to playing and came upon the campaign for Everdell from Starling Games. The gorgeous cover art and adorable characters pulled me in. Not really knowing what I was looking for, I backed the campaign and sort of forgot about it. Months later, a surprise package came to my doorstep with what has become my favorite board game.
Ease of Set Up and Play
If I am being honest, I was intimidated at first by the set up of the game. There were a lot of thick cardboard punch out pieces and some minor 3D building that I had not experienced in a board game prior. Determined to experience the game, I followed the directions and slowly built my Ever Tree. Already, I had the sense that this game was magic! In addition to the game board and Ever Tree, included are the 4 basic event tiles, 24 workers, several point tokens, 20 occupied tokens, 1 8-sided die, 128 critter and construction cards, 11 forest cards, 16 special event cards, 1 victory card, 30 berries, 30 twigs, 25 resin and 20 pebbles. It is by far the most pieces I have experienced in a game box. While set up is extensive, the play rules make sense. Each turn a player picks one action to complete: place a worker, play a card or prepare for the season.
Everdell can be replayed hundreds of times and still feel new! There is a massive variety of paths to win, between boons to yourself and applying negative modifiers to others. The game plays over annual seasons and ends when you reach the end of autumn. You can focus your strategy on earning the most points possible, taking away points from other players, collecting resources or inviting critters to your locations. With the random nature of the Everdell cards and the addition of the forest and special event cards, you may never play the same game twice. This is especially important to me when investing in a pricer game. I want to know that my family will get more than a few plays out of it. Everdell delivers this in spades.
The artwork by Andrew Bosley in Everdell is the most beautiful I have seen in a board game. The Everdell artwork is actually what inspired me to have an artwork category in my reviews at all! The creature cards are so thoroughly detailed with critters like architect moles, songbird bards and rabbit shopkeepers. The location cards include beautiful vistas as you create ruins, theaters and castles. If you study the cards you will find gorgeous scenery and forest backgrounds.
What I thought was going to be a game about cute animals, turned into one of the most complex resource management games I have played. Everdell is designed for 1 to 4 players aged 14 and up and plays in 20 to 80 minutes. The beautiful artwork and multitude of strategies kept me engaged. Our family started out having our phones next to us and slowly put them away. They now remain untouched when we play Everdell. One unique option of gameplay are the variant rules for solo players. This will bring a whole new challenge to your time under the Ever Tree. While it is not a simple game to set up and does not provide quick play, to play it is a treat that our whole house enjoys!
In my completely biased opinion, this is the greatest game I own! I love to play and introduce others to more complex gaming through the beauty of Everdell. While I feel this game is best for those who enjoy more complex game play, the rules are simple enough for others to follow along. Make sure you set aside at least an hour to an hour and a half for your first play through as the rule book is a hefty 22 pages. Since my introduction to Everdell, there have been released expansion worlds to add on and I just backed their newest Kickstarter, which included small cups for the resources (something we have been hoping for since our first play through). I have also backed other Kickstarters from Starling Games that I hope to share with you. In short, Everdell is an absolute delight and I hope you all get to experience its beauty!
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*Photo Credit: Variant Berry