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Game Overview: Floriferous, or Flowers Are More Than Their Parts

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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Board Game: Floriferous
Floriferous — a design by Steve Finn and Eduardo Baraf from Pencil First Games for 1-4 players — features a lot of design elements that you might recognize from other games:

• Over three rounds, players collect cards from a grid in a Kingdomino-style system, with the order that you pick a card next round being determined by where you picked your card in this turn's column.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Starting round two, with blue having chosen the top card and first pick next turn

• Most cards on their own are worthless, but when you combine flower cards with the scoring condition on a desire card, you gain points based on how well you satisfy that desire, similar to how in Point Salad vegetable cards are worth points only relative to how well they satisfy the scoring condition on point cards you collect.

Each column has a number of flower cards equal to the number of players along with one desire card, with the desire card being the bottommost card (punishing you with last pick next turn in exchange for grabbing a possibly valuable card). Some of the flowers near the bottom of the column bear rock tokens that are worth .5 points, and two of the topmost cards are face down to make you wonder whether you really want to go there.

• Three bounty cards are revealed at the start of play, with each card showing three icons on it that match either types of flowers (with five of those being in the game) or types of insects (with five of those as well), e.g. lily, poppy, moth. As soon as you have three cards, with each of those cards having a separate one of those icons, you score the bounty card. The earlier in the game you complete the bounty, the more points you score.

• Five of the larger cards show arrangements that feature a type of flower, a type of insect, and a color (of which there are five), and you score 1/3/5 points for having cards in your collection with 1/2/3 of the depicted items.

• Five other larger cards show sculptures, and you score 5/3/1 points for having the most, second most, or third most sculptures, with ties being friendly.

• Whoever collects the most rocks receives a 2-point bonus card.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
My final collection in a 4p game; scored bounties not shown

This familiarity is not a bad thing. Viewed together, the design choices all make sense and mesh to create a tiny game that plays out in 20 minutes, with each choice typically mattering somewhat in your final score. In the image above, for example, everything counts: 10 points for purple cards, 4 points for poppies, 8 points for mums, an arrangement worth 3 points and another worth 5, a sculpture worth 3 points since someone else had grabbed two, and three rocks for 1 point.

Sometimes you'll grab a useless tulip or a point card that doesn't pay off in the end based on what others snatch before you can get to it, actions that make the tagline of "A relaxing game" feel ironic since you are often shaking your fist at the opponent who took your flower. How dare they!

From gallery of W Eric Martin
40 points, despite several useless cards

All of the larger cards — flowers, arrangements, sculptures — are in play in a four-player game, so theoretically you'll have a shot at all of them. Only fifteen of the 21 desire cards will be played, though, so you can't go into a game collecting, say, mums or orange flowers with the goal of flooding that desire for points since it might not even turn up. In the image above, I had all five different flower types for 5 points and five cards of the same color for 7 points.

With fewer players, you put out fewer cards in each column, so potentially, say, ladybugs won't show at all, making it impossible to complete a bounty or max out an arrangement, but you won't know this until the final round — and possibly not even then since some cards are hidden.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The solitaire game is set up similar to the two-player game, but with the sculptures stripped from the deck (since a majority bonus makes no sense) and with a crow deck serving as your adversary. For each turn after the first in a round, you reveal a crow card before you choose a card; the crow will remove either of the top two cards or the desire card, replacing it with either a face-down card of the same type or 1-2 rocks. This mimics the action of another player taking what you might have planned to pick up, with the risk of stealing another card from you at the end of the round depending on how many rocks you leave behind.

The video below includes a complete playthrough of a solitaire game should you want to see it in detail. I'll note that I've now played four solitaire games and two four-player games on a review copy from Pencil First Games, with victories in both of those four-player games thanks to the tie-breaker. Despite the inviting, casual nature of the design and its colorful art from Clémentine Campardou, competition is tight!

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