Czech Board Games brings one or two titles from Czech designers to both highlight the ludic creations from that country and attempt to license those games to non-Czech publishers.
For 2019, CBG has partnered with Czech-based Dino Toys for the publication of Spring on a String, a 2-4 player game for players ages 6+ from designer Tomas Uhlir, who has recently started working for Czech Games Edition. To win Spring on a String, you need to collect more points than any other player, and you score points by threading your string through the flowers on the felt game board.
Well, mostly it. Players take turns threading flowers until each player has run out of string and can thread no more. That might sound dry given that everything is out in the open and you could learn which patterns are best to sew, but the twist of the game is that each time you play, you lay out 1-5 color cards — with the colors corresponding to the five colors of flowers — and 1-5 insect/animal cards, with each of these cards being paired with one of the revealed colors. In the example at right, yellow is off-limits until all flowers of any one other color have been claimed.
Spring on a String includes 31 cards, and the rules suggest that you use at most two in your earlier games before escalating to the maximum of five. I've now played eight times on a review copy from CBG, all with two and three players, and we've yet to use more than two cards as that provides enough of a twist to keeps things tricky. Let's say that in this game, pink can be claimed only if you thread it through the top and purple can be claimed only if you've already claimed a flower of another color with the same number of petals. Now where do you start? Where do you plan on going next, and what will you do if an opponent cuts you off?
Games play out in 5-10 minutes, and you're likely to claim only 5-7 flowers, so you don't have much maneuvering room when trying to use as little string as possible to claim as many petals as possible. The main difference in the two-player game is that as in most two-player abstract strategy games, the gameplay is as much about blocking the opponent as it is about scoring for yourself. Ideally you can do both at once, scoring while forcing them to take a longer path, but whatever the results, you're left with a picturesque board that has you thinking, "Well, next time I'll..."
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