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Subject: A Meeple Pusher Review of: Groves rss

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David McMillan
United States
Madison
Tennessee
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THOUGHTS

To start, this game has some really great artwork. The colors are bright and vibrant yet the artwork also maintains an earthy feel about it. The game takes place in a fairy enclave in a forest grove and Nolan Nasser has done an excellent job of conveying a sense of magic and wonder in each of the illustrations. He never fails to impress me. He’s definitely an artist to keep an eye on.

Groves has got a lot of good things going for it and very few negatives. For starters, the game plays pretty quickly at any player count. Since the Grove cards available in the offering act as the game’s timer the game tends to go by rather quickly. It is conceivable that a game might be played in which people aren’t adding a lot of cards to their play areas, but it isn’t likely. The key to doing well in this game is expansion.

Another aspect of the game that I like is that Groves provides you a lot of control over what comes out of your bag on each of your draws. Since any spirits sent to the Tree are returned to the supply, this means that each player has an easy method for thinning out their bag and getting rid of any unwanted spirits that might be in there. If you’ve ever played any kind of deck builder game before, you will instantly recognize the importance of getting rid of the chaff so that you’ll increase your chances of drawing the things that you need. Adding in the portals makes things even more interesting because it not only allows you to get rid of unwanted spirit tokens, but it allows you to clog up your opponents’ bags with them. This provides a welcome level of direct player interaction that a lot of deck/bag building games are sorely lacking.

All of that being said, the game isn’t perfect. One of the things that I enjoy about most of the deck/bag building games that I have played is the ability to chain together various cards or abilities into interesting and exciting combos. I just don’t ever feel that level of excitement while playing Groves. While I do enjoy my time playing it, I don’t ever walk away from the game with an awesome story to tell. I really like the feeling of pulling off something really cool and memorable but Groves isn’t really bursting at the seams with moments like those.

Another tick in the negative column is also one of the ticks in the positive column, as odd as that sounds. This game plays very quickly. Because the game plays so rapidly, it’s hard to feel like you’ve actually accomplished anything. By the time your bag’s starting to fill up with spirits and your play area is starting to really pay off, the game’s over. Groves builds up a head of steam, but it doesn’t allow you to really go anywhere with it. While it doesn’t overstay its welcome, it kind of under-stays it. I just wish it were slightly longer so that I could enjoy the engine that I’ve gotten going.

Groves is a pretty decent game and it’s an excellent introduction to the concept of bag building. I’d play it again gladly if someone wanted to play it, but I don’t think I’d rush out to buy it given the choice. When it comes to board gaming, I’ve got a hearty appetite. Groves whets that appetite just enough to make me feel even hungrier, but not for more Groves. In short, Groves is a good game, but is it a great game? The answer to that question is “no”. It has the potential to be something great, but it’s not quite there yet.

FOR THE FULL REVIEW IN WHICH I GO INTO MORE DETAIL ABOUT THE COMPONENTS AND GAME PLAY, CLICK HERE: http://www.meeplemountain.com/reviews/groves-review/
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Heath Washburn
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Well-written review. I enjoyed reading it. Having played Groves a few times on Tabletopia, both solo and multiplayer, I agree with most of your positives and negatives but would offer a slight counterpoint. Mainly, I think that you're trying to make Groves into something that it isn't, making a boxer fight at the wrong weight class. Groves isn't a mid-weight engine-building game, nor does it claim to be. In my experience, it's a mid-light game with bag-building as a means to worker placement. I think where it shines is the playful interaction between players and types of decisions (worker scarcity without forcing AP). That makes it great for what it is, IMO.

In short, I would just challenge your assertion that it's categorically "good but not great" because it's not a deep 2 hour engine-builder.
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