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Playing Through Nature, from Annapurna to a Lush Meadow

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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From gallery of Rhorovit
• As I've said many times before, games are everywhere. My wife is a business writer, and for some reason she shared an image of our game room with an interviewee — and this person then mentioned that a cousin of hers had just finished a Kickstarter for a tabletop game project. Small world!

That cousin is Rebecca Horovitz, and her game is Annapurna, which is named after (from Wikipedia) "a massif in the Himalayas in north-central Nepal that includes one peak over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft), thirteen peaks over 7,000 metres (23,000 ft), and sixteen more over 6,000 metres (20,000 ft)".

In this 1-4 player game, which is due out from publisher Fiat Lucre on March 26, 2021, you start with a deck of 18 mountain cards, laying out 15 of them face down in a pyramidal mountain and keeping the rest as your backpack. Each card has a yin or yang value of 1-4 on it as well as a special effect. To start the game, each player reveals a card in their bottom row, carries out the effect, then places their meeple on the card.

On a turn, you explore an adjacent card on a non-lower level by flipping it over, carrying out its effects, and placing your meeple on it; trade a card from your backpack with a card in your mountain, pacing the replaced card in a cache; or hide a card, which is the same as trade, but on another player's mountain. If your face-up mountain cards have a balance of yin and yang, you can remove them from play.

Once you reach the mountain's peak, you add your cache to your hand, then you can spend your turns doing nothing, dropping cards from your cache face up on the mountain to better balance your yin and yang, and throwing cache cards onto another player's mountain, who then flips up one of your remaining face-down cards.

You can play Annapurna competitively or co-operatively. In the competitive version, when everyone is at the peak, players score 3, 2, and 1 flags based on who is most balanced, with ties being broken in favor of whoever ascended their mountain first; play multiple rounds until someone collects nine flags and wins. In the co-operative version, you end the game after everyone has scaled their mountain, and you all win only if everyone has an even yin-yang balance.

From gallery of Photodump
• Moving down slope we come to Living Forest, the first game from designer Aske Christiansen and not the first game from publisher Ludonaute.

The 2-4 player game Living Forest is due out in October 2021, so we'll have time for a more detailed look at it in the future, but here's a summary for now:
In Living Forest, you play as a nature spirit who will try to save the forest and its sacred tree from the flames of Onibi.

Board Game: Living Forest

But you are not alone in your mission as the animal guardians have come together to lend a hand around the Circle of Spirits where you progress. Each turn, they bring you valuable elements, so try to combine your team of animal guardians as best as possible to carry out your actions, but be careful because some are lonely and do not like to be mixed with others...
• Continuing through the forest, we come to Meadow, a 1-4 player game from Klemens Kalicki and Rebel Studio. Here's an overview of this 2021 release which currently has only a Polish edition announced, but which is available for localization:
Meadow is an engaging set collection game with over two hundred unique cards containing hand-painted watercolor illustrations from Karolina Kijak.

Board Game: Meadow

In the game, players take the role of explorers competing for the title of the most skilled nature observer. To win, they collect cards with the most valuable species, landscapes, and discoveries. Their journey is led by passion, a curiosity of the world, an inquiring mind, and a desire to discover the mysteries of nature. The competition continues at the bonfire where the players race to fulfill the goals of their adventures.

In this medium-weight board game, you take turns placing path tokens on one of the two boards. Placing a token on the main board allows the player to get cards, but playing them requires meeting certain requirements. Playing a token on the bonfire board activates special actions (which helps to implement a chosen strategy) and gives the opportunity to achieve goals that provide additional points. Throughout the game, players collect cards in their meadow and surroundings area. At the end, the player with the most points on cards and on the bonfire board wins.

Board Game: Meadow

Meadow also includes envelopes with additional cards to open at specific moments...
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