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Subject: Stumped left us... Stumped? rss

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Cass
Australia
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Players:
7yo (very competent gamer that regularly beats the family at all sorts of games, Kingdomino, Sushi Go Party!, Unstable Unicorns).
9yo (Not only a competent gamer, but she can read too).
Mum (that will be me . I am new to the hobby, but have always enjoyed games).

Thoughts after game #1
Have been eagerly anticipating this game. As soon as the 2yo was asleep we set it up... and then were immediately confused. The instructions leave a lot to be desired, and the game mechanics seem too complicated for the players that I would imagined are the target audience -- families with a mixed age of kids. Out of the box the game was not playable as a family game, I know the box says 12+, but if that is the case I think the game creators have missed a huge audience that could have been met if the mechanics had easier to follow and the game had started faster.

What we liked:
The kids were immediately excited by the tactile nature of building trees, and of course they built a practice tree straight away (writers of the rule book might be shocked to know that they managed it without needing to look at the pictorial instructions provided).

What we didn't like:
- The game mechanics were overly complicated, the rule book left enough things out to make it frustrating, the game begins really slowly with potential for the unwary player to end their game on round 1.

- The really cool tree feels like a gimmick alongside a complicated deck building game. It takes quite a few rounds of game play to even begin the tree - which is a bit of a fizzle for younger players.

- The rule book needs a graphic designer to look at it (why don't game creators spend money on this?), the tiny black text on stripey brown background is painful to read. The rule book completely lacks graphics and three pages are just text walls.

- Energy is basically the game currency, I wish the cards were more loud and proud about it (again, this is something a graphic designer should catch). The cards were a text blob with a busy graphic in the middle of the table.

Changes for next time we play:
I think I am going to simplify the mechanics quite a bit. The game is about the tree, so I want to make it shine (rather than have it just as a sidelined toy).

- The kids have made the following mod: Leaves on the tree can be of any mixture of colour (so we have a pool of leaves, rather than dividing them up during game setup) and fruit can go anywhere (because that restriction just killed their fun).

- No roots section, just let players play a set of three sun/soil/water cards from their hands.

- Play around with the market/deck layout (maybe one huge deck that can be drawn from, and just the 8 card market place). I don't know, the game creator has clearly taken pains to ensure randomness is almost eliminated, I wouldn't want to completely change that.

- I might will use some sort of counter system to help the kids understand how the energy works. They can discard a card from their hand to gain the energy (in the form of counters in their energy store), they can spend that energy to buy things at the market (or they can hang on to it for a few rounds to buy something more expensive). They will start the game with 3 energy.

- Maybe instead of soil/water/sun growing +2, any combo of soil/water, soil/sun, soil/soil, water/water, suns/sun or sun/water will give +1 growth (but a full set of one each will give +3 growth) - that will make ensure the tree can be grown quicker... the kids really want to be adding to that tree on every round (for maximum fun).

- An alternative might be to not use sun/soil/water to trigger +2 growth, and instead make it 100% energy related. They buy growth with their energy. I realise that introducing counters possibly makes it less of a deck builder... but I will play around a bit and see how it goes.

My questions:
I think I asked them somewhere else.
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M N
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You must unlearn what you have learned...because the next expansion or errata might just change the rules!
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Thanks for the review!
My 6yo and 10 yo have played it multiple times with me and we've had basically the same feeling. It takes TOO long to get going. I think if you give the deck building mechanic a go, you'll like it. We're going to try bigger and more diverse starting hands and only play to 5 leaves for a winner next time.
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Cass
Australia
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Whizpopper wrote:
Thanks for the review!
My 6yo and 10 yo have played it multiple times with me and we've had basically the same feeling. It takes TOO long to get going. I think if you give the deck building mechanic a go, you'll like it. We're going to try bigger and more diverse starting hands and only play to 5 leaves for a winner next time.
I am keen to hear about your changes, the kids love that tree (and so do I) .. especially when it occured to them that there was no need to stick with a single colour for the leaves, or to have the fruit only on the end of a branch!!
 
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