Greetings, again, from The Gamesman and The One-Sided Die!
Today I will venture forth into the markets, the chili cook-offs, and the fields of peppers of the board game, ‘Scoville’, a fun and strategic game of mastering the world of hot peppers…
•Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games
•Designer: Ed Marriott
•Date: 2014 (1st ed.), review copy is 2nd ed. (2016)
•Time to play: 60-90 minutes
•Ages: 13+ years and up
•Game Type: Set Collection, Auction/Bid, Grid Movement
And with that out of the way, we’re off…
Here is the story… You, and your competitors are engaged in a competition, known as the Scoville Chili Pepper Festival, held every year in the (fictional) town of Scoville, founded in honor of the great (and very real) Wilbur Scoville, developer of the Organoleptic test used to rate the heat of peppers… hence the Scoville Unit. There are auctions of peppers to benefit the Scoville Flames High School Team, Planting of prized peppers to be done, a farmers market allowing the players to exchange peppers with the market, plaques to be earned for breeding certain peppers, and a chili cook-off allowing you to set-collect peppers for Victory Points (VP).
We will start off with a pic of a quarter of the board, and the short wall standee used to protect your assets from peeping pepper farmers;
As you can see, they didn’t skimp on the production, punching out small inserts for the peppers to fit into, securing their placement (otherwise, trust me, peppers everywhere…). The inside of the standee has the starter stuff handed out to each player on the back, but setup is fairly simple and the starting bits supplied to every player is small… mostly used by our group to make sure they had all their starting pieces.
The meeples are great; the farmers are nice, and despite their odd walking shape, stand up just fine. The peppers are even better (although a couple of mine had busted stems on the peppers… c’est la vie); each pepper, depending on its position on the heat scale, has a varying height making the board look fantastic as the crops develop.
First, I need to establish that the game has two parts, both consisting of the same phases, but two things will change;
•In the second half of the game (if there is one) you will switch two decks; the Farmers market deck and the Auctions deck from the one labeled ‘morning _” to the other labeled “afternoon_”. The only change in the cards is the advanced peppers that appears on them.
In Phase 1 of Scoville, the Auction Phase, players will perform a blind bid by selecting a number of coins from their stock (including none), and placing it in their hand, hidden from the other players. Upon revealing, the player who spent the most coin gets to select their space in the turn order, the second highest bidder gets the second choice, and so on until all spots are taken (with the exception of those who bid zero… they will take last) Once turn order has been established, it is time to turn our attention to the auction peppers brought to you by the Scoville Flames High School. Each player, in turn order, will claim a pepper auction card at the top of the board and then receive the peppers listed on the auction card and discard the card. If the deck runs out, you merely reshuffle the deck and continue play as normal.
The 2nd Phase of Scoville is the Planting Phase. During this phase, all players, in turn order, MUST plant one pepper from their supply onto an open spot on the board. While the initial auction can be important if obtaining certain peppers is your goal, planting is where the strategy begins to play out. You may only place a pepper that is vertically, or horizontally, adjacent to a currently planted pepper… with the subsequent outcome (cross-breed) relying on the color of the already planted pepper, and if your place in the turn order even allows you to play out your peppers as planned during the Harvest Phase. Finally, during the Planting Phase, if a player plants a pepper that has a plaque remaining on the roof of City Hall (bottom of Board), then they may claim the top plaque from the stack that matches the pepper planted.
In the 3rd phase of the game, the Harvest Phase, players begin to harvest the planted peppers placed on the board in the previous round. When harvesting, players move their farmers 1-3 steps along the grid (through the field), and when you land between two planted peppers, you harvest the cross-breed of those two. The chart they provide for each player shows the cross-breeding end results;
After the peppers have been harvested, it is time to move on to the Fulfillment phase. In this phase, all players, in turn order, may complete ANY or ALL of these actions;
- "Visit the Farmers' Market"; where players may choose one market card from the market display located to the left of the board. The player pays its cost in peppers on the left side of the card and earns the rewards on the right. The player keeps the card, tucking it safely behind their player screen.
- "Compete at the Chili Cook-Off"; A player, possibly pepper-flush, may visit the Chili Cook-Off. After paying the necessary combination of peppers, the card may be scored and placed behind the player screen.
- "Sell a Batch of Peppers"; A may sell up to 5 peppers of ONE color back to the supply. In doing so, the player gets $1 for every TWO colors of that pepper planted in the field.
After each player has had a chance for their farmer act, it is time for the “Time Check”
Time Check is basically a check for conditions triggering the changeover from morning cards to afternoon cards, or for Game End.
These conditions could be considered fairly complex, so I will have to let the rulebook speak loosely for me for a moment;
If it is Morning;
First… count the number of recipe cards remaining at the Chili Cook-Off;
•If there are FEWER cards than the number of players, then the afternoon is skipped. One more round is played, then the game ends after the Fulfillment phase of that round. (They note in the rules that this event happens very rarely, but can happen)
Then count the number of Farmers Market cards remaining;
•If there are at least as many cards remaining as players, then it is still morning, start a new round.
•If there are fewer cards than players, then the game progresses to afternoon; changing over the Farmers Market decks and the Auction decks to their afternoon counterparts and dealing out a new set of cards to both the Farmers Market (replacing the current market cards to the original game-start count) and, the Auctions (leaving any cards already dealt where they are).
If it is Afternoon;
(Try to hang on)… Count the number of Market cards AND the number of Cook-Off cards;
•If there are fewer cards than players in one of the two locations, then one more round is played through the Fulfillment phase.
•If there are fewer cards than players in both locations, then the game ends immediately with no final round.
After Game End has been established, it is time to tally points. Points are earned in five categories;
•Points on Market Cards
•Points on Recipes Cards
•Points on Award Plaques
•Points on the back of un-played Bonus Action Tiles
•Every $3 = 1 point (dropping remainders)
The player with the highest tally wins and is declared the greatest Pepper Farmer in all the land!
This game is a lot of fun. The theme is something different, thankfully, and the whole family can enjoy the game.
The bits are nice, a few busted peppers stems notwithstanding… the cards are well made; good stock and nice finish, and the system (once parsed out from the sometimes-dense rules) is easier than the first play through may let on.
The board is nice, the cutouts fitting the peppers, but you have to be careful removing the peppers as some are rather tight in their slot, and you have to worry about the edges of the insert area fraying a bit due to the taking in and out of the peppers.
Otherwise, a spot on game, thoroughly enjoyable.
How 'bout them Cowboys?!
you have to worry about the edges of the insert area fraying a bit due to the taking in and out of the peppers.
Pro-tip: Don't pull the peppers out when removing them, instead hold the board off the table (or sideways, just so that it's not laying flat), and push the peppers through. That way you're not fighting against the grain of the pepper slots.
Great review too! I completely agree on your analysis, I just wish I could get more people to play it with me...
- Last edited Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:43 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:40 pm
I played this once or twice. Thought it was too simple, too long, and once someone got out in the lead, the game was over even though there was a lot of game left.