I have not yet played the game and am looking for feedback from those who have. I have read through the posts here and did a solo walkthrough to make sure I had all the rules down.
Its clear that the game works as published but is, as stated, "brutal" with the likelihood of there being no fruit on the board at the end of the game. Variants have been posted here to add more fruit to the game to reduce this brutality.
The official variant of automatically adding fruit to the board every turn seems a bit clunky. I am wondering if the problem could be solved by a twist in the fruit economy.
As published, there is significant reward to hording fruit - by held fruit cards both scoring points during the game and at end game. Based on the designer's posts, it sounds like this aspect was exacerbated by adding points for hording fruit at end game after playtesting was completed. What if we were to move those points from the end game to during the game?
Proposed Rule Change: Holding fruit cards do not provide bonus points at end game. Instead, when you take the Produce Fruit action, you score points equal to the current market value of the fruit produced. Place produced fruit next to the city; add it to the city at the end of your turn.
This reduces the total points available for fruit from the deck from 100 to 85, which is why I would still count points for cards when fruit is shipped. Produced fruit is added at the end of the turn to prevent "double dipping" by producing fruit, scoring and then building with that fruit and scoring again. A slightly more advanced rule might be "you can produce fruit immediately if you forego the points" which would still allow you to produce and ship in the same turn.
Would this idea work or is there something in the interaction of mechanics this would foul up worse? I would appreciate feedback from experienced players.