Review by Stephen Mingo
Quaint, cute and stylish. With an 8.1 rating on Board Game Geek at time of writing, we were excited to review Everdell: Collector’s Edition by Starling Games and much like a Husband Mouse when paired with a Wife Mouse and a Farm within the game – we were not disappointed with the results.
At it’s core, this is a worker placement game with a few extra dynamics. You place your workers, gather resources, buy cards and build your city to score points and win the game. There are a few more caveats to that, such as season changes and meadow cards, which make for an interesting gaming experience. Let’s start by talking about the game itself. It comes in a box covered in beautiful artwork, and this theme carries through into the game itself. Not only do you get a deck of artistic woodland animal themed cards and some curious little plastic tokens to represent resources, you also get to build a tree which is arguably the center focus of the game when deployed.
With the collector’s edition, you get the Legendary expansion too. We confess… We didn’t understand the difference at first. In our excitement when tearing open the box and spilling it’s glorious contents across the gaming table, we missed the fact that some cards shouldn’t have been shuffled straight into the main deck. The rules are fairly straight forward once you get a grip of them, but it took us a trial and error game to get used to it first. Once we had gotten the hang of it, we really enjoyed our experience. The manual isn’t too long and overwhelming, making referring back to it when needed a breeze. We strongly recommend downloading the FAQs, printing them and shoving them in your Everdell game box. This saved us a few headaches as common issues were cleared up right away and we could get back to the delightful experience of gathering tiny purple berries with our little wooden forest critters.
Our second playthrough then went rather smoothly. We found various strategies could be employed, one in particular involves building an engine of cards to help you harvest resources quicker, but be sure not to hoard them as you’ll want that city scoring points by the autumn phase! There are two types of cards: Critters and Constructions. Some constructions (such as farms and the University) have useful abilities, and can also grant you a critter for free. What do we mean for free? Well, you need to spend the resources listed on the card to buy an item from either your hand or the central meadow cards and add it to your city. Furthermore, some are unique meaning you can only have one of those such cards in your 15 card limited city. We found the hand limit to be an interesting mechanic too. A strict hand limit of 8 applies, why is this interesting? The game is balanced right from the start. Whoever goes first (apparently the player who is the most humble) obviously gets easy pickings over the resources to begin with, but they get given less cards than every subsequent player.
I’ll stop rambling now. I hope this review and it’s photographs have given you a flavour of this wonderful Starling Games creation. This has replayability in spades, it is visually stunning and the wooden and plastic components make it feel like a game worth both collecting and cherishing for years to come. We played it both times as a 4 player game for optimum fun, but at a quick glance this appears to scale down to 2 and 3 quite simply. What’s more is the rules allow for a solo player mode too. Everdell is sure to be a game that will be making regular appearances at game night, and a great one to have in any avid board gamer’s collection. We love it, and we think you will too.