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Subject: Scoville - Where's the curry man? A board game review by The King of Meeples. rss

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Asaf Fabbi
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According to wikipedia,

The Scoville scale is the measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers or other spicy foods as reported in Scoville heat units (SHU), a function of capsaicin concentration. The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville.

Scoville is a game that manages to take all the fun parts of gardening and ditch all the hard work, dirt, bugs, and time involved. It is a nice recipe of mechanics that is seasoned with just the right amount of theme and components.

Scoville, apparently, is a town with a problem. The denizens are addicted to a substance and always in need of a fix. Heroin you ask? Nope. Chili peppers! Yes that's right, the town of Scoville is full of people with sweaty foreheads who cry when they go number two because they just can't get enough of that hot hot chili with its burning bowl blasting goodness. When they aren't grinding up dried habaneros into a fine powder and snorting them or mainlining ghost chili, or as they are fond to call it, "chasing casper the friendly ghost" they are using peppers to produce ever more elaborate chili recipes such as, "this goes to 11" and, "Phantom-om-nom-nom".

It is this ever escalating arms race in the Scoville chili wars that you and your fellow growers enter from the supply side. After all, recipes like, "Bump in the Night" don't get made without some seriously exotic peppers and you and your compatriots have the skill set to make that happen.

You do so by planting a variety of different peppers, crossbreeding them with others, and producing new types of peppers. You then fulfill Scoville's demand for these peppers in the form of fulfilled orders placed by the village. You use the resources and currency gained from farming and fulfilling to win auctions for turn order and cash in different combinations of peppers to create new recipes.

In terms of game flow mechanics, this translates in a round where players perform a blind auction, a planting phase, and a harvesting/fulfillment phase.
1Blind Auction:
Players bid to determine who goes first.
2 Planting Phase:
Players plant a chili pepper. If they are the first to plant a certain new type of chili, it is worth extra end game vps.
3 Harvesting/Fulfillment Phase:
Players move their farming meeples three spaces (or more if they spend certain one time bonus chits) through their growing chili fields collecting a variety of peppers which they then exchange for up to one of Scoville orders for peppers in exchange for money and sometimes other peppers and or one recipe from the selection of recipes.

The recipes are also a clock in the game. After they hit a certain number you enter a new phase of the game where things are all a little better. Then the second time they deplete, the game ends.

In the game, harvesting is where the feeling of gardening and alchemy come together. You get to combine different types of peppers and create new ones. Mechanically, this is accomplished by placing one of your pepper shaped meeples into a growing slot on the board, when your farmer meeple walks between two peppers on a grow line, you refer to a well made player hand out, and collect whatever pepper the chart says you would get by combining these two peppers. Between crossbreeding of peppers and creating recipes and being the first to grow certain chilis, there is a lot of incentives in the game tied to theme. They are complimentary and create a pleasant, seamless flow of play from theme to mechanics.

Speaking of mechanics, the game largely has the feel of a Euro. It combines auctions/bidding, worker placement, and set collection to bring a pretty well rounded game play experience to players who like these sorts of mechanisms while also offering a fair bit of theme and player interaction. While you aren't necessarily attacking each other, you are maneuvering yourself into harvesting and thus blocking your opponents from certain chilis so you can in turn collect good recipes, plant exotic peppers first, and fulfill more orders. Scoring is mostly revealed at the end of the game and everything is kept behind a screen so it isn't always easy to determine who is winning.

One of the more interesting nuances of the game is turn order. Sometimes you don't want to go first. This is because while you are first to fulfill, first to collect, etc you aren't the first to move you are the last. So at times, players will deliberately sacrifice first place to be able to block an opponent from getting that last ghost chili to make that 22 point recipe.

If you are a Tasty Minstrel Games fan, the game incorporates some nice nods to their other games in the recipes such as, "Belfort Blast Furnace". The components are pretty darn nice with chili shaped meeples and farmers, great artwork, thick cardboard stock for chits and player screens/references, and a simple rule book that breaks down play in a way that can be taught and learned pretty quickly. It is no wonder the game was a Golden Geek Best Board Game Artwork & Presentation Nominee.

In conclusion, Scoville is a solid game that combines auctioning/bidding, movement/blocking and set collection with a simple market economy mechanism and a pepper growing theme that compliments them. You really get the enjoyment of creating new and interesting combinations of peppers to create new and cool recipes without having to worry about all that pesky back breaking labor. The components and artwork are eye poppingly' beautiful and really my only real gripe with the game is that I would have liked to see more than just chili recipes. Maybe after their Scoville: Labs expansion finishes on kickstarter, they can come out with, "Curry Town"


Other reviews by me. or the blog, "Cult of The New
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Chris Wilczewski
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An excellent review. I really enjoy Scoville and you've motivated me to get it back to the table
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Asaf Fabbi
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alenen wrote:
An excellent review. I really enjoy Scoville and you've motivated me to get it back to the table


Thank you for the compliment! I really wish I had backed this one on kickstarter after having played it. My friends are the ones that introduced me to it recently and I was very grateful.

Enjoy!
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Ed P Marriott
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Thanks for the great review! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I guess I should start working on that "Curry Town" expansion! Cool idea.
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Asaf Fabbi
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RalphTheSquirrel wrote:
Thanks for the great review! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I guess I should start working on that "Curry Town" expansion! Cool idea.


You're welcome Thanks for the compliment and for designing a great game!

Can't wait to check out that Curry Town!
 
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Steve Lett
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Nice review. Curry is gross. gulp
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Asaf Fabbi
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Thanks! I love Curry. Grew up on it
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