Sir Halden of FTL
When I first heard the announcement that Uwe Rosenberg was releasing a game with the Patchwork mechanic but for two to four players I was very excited. Patchwork has seen a lot of table time for me and my wife and I was very pleased with the amount of game in that little box, would Cottage Garden live up to the high bar set by its older sibling.
In this game, you compete in the art of gardening: planting two Flowerbeds at a time with different flowers.
When there are no more free spaces visible on a Flowerbed, it is completed, scored, and replaced with a new
unplanted one. You receive points for all visible Flower Pots and Plant Covers on your completed Flowerbed,
and record these points on the corresponding scoring tracks.
In the final stages, you will only invest your energy in the most promising Flowerbeds.
The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
-- Cottage Garden Rulebook
The gameplay is simple on your turn:
1. Refill the row with Flower pieces from the queue (if necessary).
2. Select a flower piece from the board or a flower pot from the Wheel Barrow and place it in your garden.
3. Score a garden if it is completed.
4. Move the dice.
You have cat tokens that can be used as a free action to either cover a single space in a garden or refill a row with pieces early.
Placing the flower pieces onto the board is similar to Patchwork with the exception that there are flower pot and cloche spaces on the board that you want to leave uncovered to score. Each uncovered flower pot is worth one point and each uncovered cloche is worth 2 points.
During the final round you discard any gardens with 2 or fewer flower pieces and are penalised two points for each pieces you require to complete any remaining gardens.
This game is really beautiful, the wheel barrow alone is so cute. The production is quite well done with nice art work, sturdy cardboard, and a well written rule book. This printing is not without issue, There were some translation errors in the rulebook and the biggest complaint many have is that the board was printed with the four player version on both sides rather than one side being for one and 3 players and the other being two and four players. These mistakes are unfortunate for a first time publisher but do not detract or ruin an excellent game. They provided stickers to correct some of the rules and to put on the board. I didn't even bother putting them on the board as it is easy enough to remember the changes to the start and stop lines for a one and three player game.
Overall I have really enjoyed my plays of Cottage Garden and would highly recommend it to anyone that is looking for a multiplayer or lighter Patchwork. The game looks great on the table, is easy to teach, easy to play, and is quite entertaining. There isn't the tension of building an economic engine or managing the time like in Patchwork but I found that there still remained some interesting choices. Cottage Garden is well worth digging into!