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That's my perp! Futsie, all right - crazy as a coot! He's got to be stopped!
As I discovered the French sounding Sanssouci Summer Palace is actually rather confusingly in Germany. It was built for Frederick the Great and the name derives from the French phrase sans souci, which translates as "without concerns “or "carefree", which is a great way of describing this straightforward and relaxing tile-laying game.
The garden designers in Sanssouci take a formal approach to garden design, each player has a personal garden board that is divided into rows and columns; each row shows a colour, while each column shows one of nine garden features such fountains and hedge mazes. At the top of each column waits a noble, eager to take a stroll through your creation.
Players add features to their garden by playing a card and taking a corresponding feature tile from a shared supply board. For instance a player can play a card showing a particular garden feature and then take that feature tile from the supply board or they can play a colour card and take a feature tile which is on a matching colour space on the supply board. If a player plays a card showing a feature that is not presently on the supply board then they can instead take any available tile.
After obtaining a tile the player must place this tile on his player board in the column that matches the feature type and the row matching the colour of the place on the supply board from which it was taken. Sometimes, the build space will already be occupied, in this case the tile is flipped revealing a gardener who is then put to work in on any free space in the same row or column.
Finally a noble can be sent wondering around the garden, the only restriction being that although he may be sent on a bit of a meander to admire other features he must always end up in the same column in which it started, but on a lower row. A noble can never end his turn on a space with a gardener, probably wouldn't be seen dead mingling with such lowly specimens, the player then scores points equal to the row reached.
At the game end of the games 18 rounds each player receives bonus points for each completed row and column. Furthermore, every player is dealt two secret goal cards at the start of the game, each of which shows one of the nine columns and players receive bonus points for the row reached by the noble in that column. The player with the most points wins.
Sanccouci is all about optimising you choices on each term, those who enjoy long term planning are going to find this too restricting. One aspect I found disappointing is the lack of player interaction, everyone is working away on their own boards which isn’t great for a family style game. Although the components are generally very good the small and detailed illustrations on the tiles can be easily confused. One final concern is whether the simple puzzle challenges are something that will hold your long-term attention.
In gardening terms Sanssouci is a window box; small, pretty, self-contained and not too demanding. The game is not going to pull up any trees but for whiling away a quiet 30 minutes with a loved one on a warm summers evening it fits the bill perfectly.
Here is a list of all my reviews, some with puns that I really should be ashamed of.