Ender Wiggins
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Another hit game from the designer of Patchwork

Ever since he designed Bohnanza and Agricola, it seems that designer Uwe Rosenberg can do few things wrong. Of the hits he has produced in recent years, one is Patchwork (2014), a two player game that relies on a Tetris style tile placement as players manipulate an economy with a "button" currency in an effort to build a patchwork on their personal 9x9 board. Now Rosenberg has followed up this popular title with Cottage Garden (2016), a somewhat similar game which also relies on a tile-placement mechanic, but can be played with as many as four players and as few as one. It has now been brought to the English market by Stronghold Games.

Instead of making a quilt, players are now engaged in the fine art of competitive gardening, trying to fill two garden beds with a variety of beautiful flowers. Plant pots generate points, and you can also use cats to fill small areas or get yourself more choices. In this very relaxing and zen-like game, are you best able to master the challenge of successfully building a pleasant Cottage Garden?

I've scoured the personal comments and skimmed through some reviews and other articles, and carefully organized some key quotations to bring you the important things you need to know and what other people think about Cottage Garden. The parts in bold express my own conclusions, which are then expanded upon and substantiated by the citations that follow, to give you a feel of what most people are saying on each point. Perhaps you could call this a kind of "consensus of opinion", somewhat biased because I'm the one who gets to pick the quotes to include, but overall a well-rounded and fairly objective viewpoint. So here you have it, an at-a-glance overview of some of the majority opinions that you need to know about this Uwe Rosenberg title.

NB: For more reviews like this, see this list.



1. Cottage Garden is a light game where the main mechanic requires players to build a garden using Tetris-style tile placement.
"A fun Tetris style puzzler for points." - eldooderino
"Once again a game with tetris tiles by Rosenberg. - gimli043
"You basically place tiles like Tetris in order to score points." - Glasgow17
"This Tetris-style game is light but enjoyable." - weyrbrat
"Nice tile laying puzzle game. Light. Fun." - danijel2008
"Tile placement for 4 players." - qasic
"I don't usually get on with spatial games, but this one goes out of its way to be friendly whilst still having a few quirky aspects that require a bit of calculation. I especially liked the tile selection mechanism which allowed planning and some risk-taking." - Scurra
"If Tetris puzzles appeal to you, this is a no-brainer." - jmoline
"Maybe not the deepest gameplay, but the tetris puzzling is fun, and it's just a feel good game." - PeterRustemeyer

2. This spacial puzzle is one of the most satisfying elements of the game, and this is combined with some interesting scoring mechanics.
"It's a race to put together as many flower-bed tableaus as possible by essentially drafting tiles that need to be assembled onto square boards. Interesting points mechanism." - Inaimathi
"The puzzle aspect is great and I really like the mechanic that fills the nursery with extra flower beds." - kyleandvalerie
"Smooth, fun spacial/puzzle aspect (apparently a favorite mechanic of mine) and some nice tactical decision making as you look forward to the pieces that will be available in future turns." - wilsonza
"Interesting scoring mechanics." - helena_poprad
"The spatial puzzle is fun, you want to grab the largest pieces possible, but you need to avoid crushing those precious point scoring pots. The drafting of tiles gives you just enough information about the next couple of turns to allow you to do a bit of planning." - JonBen
"The use of cats in multiple ways is very clever as well." - kyleandvalerie

3. Cottage Garden will inevitably be compared with Patchwork, an earlier Rosenberg game to which it is indebted for many of its mechanics.
"Patchwork 2.0." - Charlesworth
"It may not be patchwork, but it's in the same ballpark." - kyleandvalerie
"Patchwork plus bells & whistles (and a stray cat) = a lot of fun!" - TheBrainDrainer
"Sort of a multiplayer patchwork, I find it easier and less tight as gameplay goes. Beautiful game." - Kittyfringhi
"It's quite simple: if you like Patchwork, you will like this one as well and vice versa. It's indeed a further developed Patchwork (but in a good way) which you can play with more then 2. Good reimplementation-job done!" - Pozman
"I like a description I heard: like Patchwork, with up to 4 players, and without the pain of not having enough buttons. Very nice theme and artwork." - Tangram11

4. One major difference is the player count; unlike the 2-player only Patchwork, Cottage Garden can be played with up to four players, even working well as a solo game.
"It plays longer and supports 4 people." - kyleandvalerie
"Its ability to scale for players is a godsend, and it basically took an incredible game mechanic that was confined for 2 players and made it accessible to a large amount of people." - Leeroy1
"The fact that this allows me to play a Patchwork-type game with three or four players is very welcome." - Puglord
"Comes with solo mode." - SammySnijbonen
"I really enjoy it solo, plays much faster and gives same feeling." - IANNI

5. The game-play is straight forward and easy to learn.
"Play is easy to grasp after about 2 rounds." - Kitescreech
"It is quite simple but it just works so nicely all together." - BoltKey
"Thanks to lovely theme of gardening, cats and mechanics generally known from tetris and similar games, it is very easy to explain, comprehend and play." - Thales01
"A lot of game in a little rules." - shumyum
"Lovely looking game that is easy to teach and play but with just enough to do to make it interesting." - Steve Be
"Relaxing and easy to learn game that works great with the kids." - CoolCop

6. Due to the simple rules and fun theme, Cottage Garden is a very family-friendly game that is also ideal for non-gamers.
"Wonderful family type tetris like puzzle game. Very approachable for the non gamer as well." - camus38
"I really love this game. It's a solid gateway game; easy to teach, not too confrontational, genuine sense of accomplishment even when you don't win, and the feeling that you'd like to play again straight away." - cain_ball
"10 after several family plays. It's a hit & perfect fit for a family game!" - helena_poprad
"Suitable for all ages and family-friendly." - JugglesBGG
"The play is engaging for family who enjoy both cats and tetris." - naphy
"This game has a family-friendly theme and the gameplay is fluent and very enjoyable. It turned out as one of the best games for introducing people to board games." - Thales01

7. Despite the accessible game-play, there's more than enough choices and strategy to keep the game interesting.
"But this is much different than Patchwork and at least as good since the mechanism of getting tiles is even more stratetegic." - gimli043
"We find this game to have a bit more strategy than many people think!" - Rugbydave
"Good fun and while it's not a brain burner, there's some thinking going on along with the spatial aspects." - Tsaar
"Light but extremely fun puzzle game, with great mechanics and ditto strategy." - MakkeDude1
"Easy to play but enough choices to keep players engaged. Interesting scoring system and a dynamic to a charming and accessible game." - RolandDraws
"There is enough strategy and planning to make this game a lot of fun." - chrisnd
"The game doesn't overstay its welcome and has enough depth and strategy to keep me engaged." - beardyman
"All game information is available to the players at all times. This makes for some deep thinking for those who prefer very strategic play, but it's still enjoyable for casual players, as well." - JugglesBGG
"What I really like about this game is the multiple avenues you have to go about everything, and how the randomness doesn't impact who wins the game, certainly not as much as Patchwork." - Leeroy1
"Love the piece-taking mechanism, adds a strategic layer over something like Barenpark." - calbond
"Lots of chances to mitigate bad luck/poor choice of tile placement." - feenix1363
"One of my favorite things is how the game ends, it incentivizes players to finish their plots quickly as possible. I love how there are two different score tracks to manage and the ability to chain the scoring of gardens with highly strategic play is really rewarding." - leoleez

8. Even with these strategic choices, Cottage Garden remains a very relaxing game that is non-stressful to play.
"I find this game relaxing and stress free, mainly because of the theme. When we play winning is not as important as in other games, what matters is the sense of achievement when you complete a bed." - Glasgow17
"A simple stressless game. Thumbs up!" - Aldarak
"Simple, strategic, relaxing and pleasant!" - ektopia
"Nothing too stressfull." - murzim
"Relaxing puzzly game, I like the theme more than Patchwork." - Outarde
"Really great and relaxing puzzle game." - jadz
"Kind of a Zen game, since you do not have to think that hard and do not have that much interaction." - ringo84
"Really simple game that doesn't really feel competitive, until you do the final scoring." - feenix1363
"Another tetrisque tile laying game in the vein of Patchwork. This one is more relaxed because there's no economic aspect and you can be more liberal with the tiles because you'll get two boards to fill and new ones when you're done." - hall0n
"Found this super relaxing." - eadred
"A lot of fun if you're looking for something non stressful." - Ashg87
"Lighter than Patchwork, this one is a bit more easygoing and fun in nature although the spatial aspect can still lead to aggravating decisions." - larryjrice
"Less challenging and deep than its smaller predecessor Patchwork. Thus, scores will be very close." - JoSch
"More zen activity than game." - UanarchyK

9. The game is further enhanced with absolutely beautiful looking artwork and components.
"Simple, fun, beautiful art." - Eva_Wild
"Visuals are gorgeous." - naphy
"The adorable factor of all the art and pieces is what pushes this above a 7 in terms of score." - Inaimathi
"Beautiful components and fun game system." - jadz
"Gorgeous watercolour illustrations. A buildable wheelbarrow. Graphic design breathes love and care." - SammySnijbonen
"Real eye candy." - danijel2008
"And a lovely production job too - chunky tiles, beautifully illustrated, particularly the flowers (though the cats will be a bigger attraction for some) and an almost entirely unnecessary but rather lovely wheelbarrow which marks the start of the refill queue." - Celtic
"Very nice art and components." - IANNI
"Beautiful game and theme." - Sir Melancholie
"This is a light causal Euro with beautifully illustrated components." - Gomer

10. And as many point out, as a special bonus it has cats!
"Also, did I mention CATS!!" - katlibrary
"It is enjoyable to finish a garden, score it, and then grab a new board to fill with flowers and cats." - yolandavi
"Kitty discs." - moremonkeys138
"I cannot convince them that the name of the game is not "Cat Garden" and have given up trying." - naphy
"And cute cats." - myyysha
"It's a fun, casual tetris puzzle that is easy to teach. Plus, it has cats!" - jmoline
"Adorable! Can't get enough cats to be a crazy cat lady though." - briezee

11. So is it better than Patchwork?

Some prefer Patchwork over Cottage Garden.

"I think Patchwork is still my favorite implementation of these mechanisms, but this game can be played four players!" - katlibrary
"Patchwork is better." - Baguety
"The comparison to Patchwork is impossible to ignore. Cottage Garden has the feature of playing up to 4, however at 2 I would usually choose Patchwork instead." - JonBen
"Basically, it is Patchwork for up to four players, but not as good as its predecessor, since it is kind of a multiplayer-solitaire experience, as there are very few opportunities to deny other players the pieces they may need." - rgdebarros
"I think I'll play Patchwork over this one, just because the currency and timing thing is more interesting there." - ovis
"Not as good as Patchwork as there's no time track and no incomes (there are other new mechanics though but not as good!) but it's nice you can play 4 player." - minatoyellowflash
"Only about 75% as good as Patchwork, with awkward rules, but awfully cute to look at." - dougadamsau

Others prefer Cottage Garden over Patchwork.
"It's pretty harsh to label this the Patchwork killer, but I think it's the better game, and I like it more than Patchwork." - Leeroy1
"The better Patchwork! Awesome art, nicer design and gameplay, cuter components. A must buy for every couple!" - kamentzvetanov
"Liked it much more than patchwork." - BoltKey
"This is a great re-implementation of Patchwork. 1-4 players makes it a little better." - futiles
"My son aged 6 even likes this game more than the 2-player only patchwork game." - murzim
"Very fun game, definitely better than Patchwork: fewer "buttons", it's more interesting to keep track of the available pieces on the Nursery than having to look way ahead in the track, and it's just more satisfying to complete many flowerbeds than just one kilt." - CrazyCod
"The game itself is great, I strongly prefer this over Patchwork." - lacxox
"Nice, next step from Patchwork. My wife tired of PW after several plays but likes this better at this point." - 2d20
"All of the fun of patchwork without any of the accounting! Great little puzzle game with a surprising amount of player interaction." - kuhnk
"Nice and light implementation of the Patchwork mechanic into a four player game. It makes for a slightly longer game but otherwise only an improvement." - JamesTatlow
"I prefer this to Patchwork. It's a calm, simple game that I can see lots of people playing." - huffa2

12. The two games are different enough to own both, and there are enough differences that Cottage Garden deserves its own place alongside Patchwork.
"Not sure if it is better than Patchwork for us, but there is room in the collection for both right now." - ghost604
"It's also different enough from the game which inspired it to stand on its own, and the tile selection and scoring mechanisms both work very nicely, as does having two boards to complete at any given time." - Puglord
"Certainly different enough from Patchwork to warrant owning both." - shouting man
"Like Patchwork, but (a) somewhat more meaty, because there are some decisions about cats and scoring cubes that interact with each other, and (b) less interaction." - karlhanf
"This is a more forgiving game than Patchwork and expand the player counts up to 4 ... I don't think it's fair to compare the two games." - tboys
"Borrows a lot from Patchwork but has it's on twists and turns." - danijel2008
"Many people compare "Patchwork" and "Cottage Garden" and find one better than the other. I like both." - Kankra
"You are working on filling in two simultaneous grids. The Patchwork lineage is quite obvious, although the direct interaction and competitiveness is less here." - DroppEcho
"Whether or not it's better than Patchwork isn't the question. It's different and it fits similar sets of people in slightly different ways. It's friendlier, but there's also less... and more to do." - cazaron
"This is not multiplayer Patchwork. Patchwork has a strong economic part to get a button income. Cottage Garden lacks this but instead has a stronger puzzle aspect. I like them both for their own challenge." - wcordewiner
"A very nice extension of some of the core mechanics of Patchwork into an entirely new, entirely joyful game in its own right." - nemspy
"Quite a different game compared to Patchwork - it is definitely lighter. The final round rules are a bit at odds with the light-heartedness though." - Lorthania

13. But almost everyone agrees that in Cottage Garden Uwe Rosenberg has created another hit!
"Another Rosenberg winner." - calbond
"A fantastic game I'm very happy to have in my collection and play regularly." - Puglord
"Great work, never doubt the power of the Uwe." - Leeroy1
"Love it. It's simple and fast and fun." - RebeccaZ
"Thank you Uwe Rosenberg for all the wonderful games, and 100's of amazing plays. What a genius..." - katlibrary
"A very pleasant wee game that plays quickly, offers some tricky choices most turns and doesn't overstay its welcome." - Celtic
"I think this is my favourite of Rosenberg's games (and one of my top games of the year!)" - Kitescreech
"Uwe's ability to create different games like this is why he is my favourite designer." - cain_ball



The bottom line: what you need to know

Cottage Garden is a welcome follow-up to Patchwork, but should be considered as much more than just Patchwork 2.0 or a multiplayer Patchwork. While it relies on a same basic mechanic underlying the gameplay, there are also many changes that make it feel like a different game. Not least, the theme has moved us from the sewing table into our front garden bed, and the fine components help generate a very light and fun atmosphere that suits the game well. Certainly the game-play now goes beyond just the two-player experience, and being able to play solo or with as many as four players will be a boon to many. But the elimination of the `button economy' from Patchwork, plus a quite different scoring system makes Cottage Garden feel quite different from its predecessor. In some respects it also reduces some of the complexity and book-keeping, and creates a more relaxing experience, without stripping the game of strategic and meaningful choices that make it fun.

The game isn't without its critics, and these especially come from those who prefer Patchwork, because they find Cottage Garden to be somewhat more complicated, longer, and yet more forgiving, or would just prefer a game where Rosenberg wasn't building on an existing design. On the other hand these are also the qualities that make Cottage Garden a more family friendly experience than Patchwork, and make it succeed for a wider audience including those looking for a more pleasant and relaxing game than the tighter and more tense Patchwork.

Cottage Garden is another fantastic effort from Uwe Rosenberg. Not only does this superb game look good on the table, but it is also tremendously fun to play. It can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people, and is readily suitable as a family game, so it is a game that is going to have a broad reach. North American gamers can be grateful to Stronghold Games for bringing this fine game to the US as of last month, thus making this fine game readily available to a wider audience.

Where to get it? Cottage Garden is now available from the publishers Stronghold Games (here).

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mb The complete list of Ender's "What you need to know and what people think about..." reviews:
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Tim Royal
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As always, a stellar write-up and a fantastic resource for those interested in Cottage Garden. Thanks!
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Spencer C
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Nice meta-review. I enjoy playing Cottage Garden, but I'm pretty sure it has almost no strategic depth. More than Candy Land, I guess, but it's pretty shallow. Maybe there's some meat hidden away in there, but it would be hard to find. Patchwork, on the other hand, is incredibly deep.
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Brie
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UanarchyK wrote:
Nice meta-review. I enjoy playing Cottage Garden, but I'm pretty sure it has almost no strategic depth. More than Candy Land, I guess, but it's pretty shallow. Maybe there's some meat hidden away in there, but it would be hard to find. Patchwork, on the other hand, is incredibly deep.


Its lack of depth makes it a perfect game for nights I'm brain dead.
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Peter Dringautzki
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As always Ender, excellent sum up and thanks for investing the time!
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Dex Quest
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Yay, it's an Ender review!
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Stephen Buonocore
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And coming soon....

Indian Summer

Indian Summer is #2 in the Puzzle Trilogy by the truly great designer, Uwe Rosenberg. The Puzzle Trilogy is our series of games by Uwe Rosenberg that we are doing with our great partners in Germany, Edition Spielwiese!

Thanks,
Stephen M. Buonocore
Stronghold Games
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Dan
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Wouldn't mind seeing the write up include, "vs. Barenpark" as I know that is another large debate due to the immense similarity.

Great write up either way!
 
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Kathryn Harmon
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This was a very fun read! Thanks for reminding me what I wrote all that time ago...
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ozzy perez
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Cool,simple, and a breeze to play. I gifted it to a good friend of mine because she absolutely fell in love with it. It has nothing on Patchwork imo though. But as a gateway game, it is phenomenal.
 
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James Wolfpacker
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UanarchyK wrote:
Nice meta-review. I enjoy playing Cottage Garden, but I'm pretty sure it has almost no strategic depth. More than Candy Land, I guess, but it's pretty shallow. Maybe there's some meat hidden away in there, but it would be hard to find. Patchwork, on the other hand, is incredibly deep.


I very much disagree. I have won 7 out of 8 games on the DIGIDICED App. I'm currently ranked 2nd including winning a game with #1 and #5. #1 has played 34 games and won 27.
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Lorrye H.
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Can anyone help me with this question about Cottage Garden? Since points come from the flower pots and cloches, why bother to place the flower pieces? Is there a game rule that I missed that prevents us from just filling our beds with lots of pots and no flower tiles (they don't score).

Thanks for any help.
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Andy Burgess
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If you try that, you’ll be so slow to fill up anything that you will take the entire game to score just one board. You won’t score enough for it and you will lose.
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