Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Monday, 7 May 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- The Grimm Forest

Game: The Grimm Forest

Publisher: Druid City Games

Designer: Tim Eisner

Year: 2018


As soon as Kickstarter backers started receiving their copies of The Grimm Forest, I felt non-backers remorse. The game has such visual appeal that it could pretty much overturn any lack of appeal that the fairytale theme and simple gameplay had for me when I saw it on Kickstarter. The miniatures are anything but miniature and have a clean but detailed look to them, the 3D houses of brick, straw and wood are all enchanting and even the game insert is a fantastic Game Trayz production in the shape of a house, with a roof segment, wall segment and base segment all cleverly designed.

I was taught The Grimm Forest at a rare get-together with friends at our local board game café. I decided that I had to buy a copy there and then and even if Amy and I didn’t enjoy the game in the long term, the purchase would be justified by the fact that it would make a fantastic painting project.


Gameplay

There are 4 locations, producing straw, wood, brick and in a 4 player game 1 location that produces all 3. These can be further manipulated by card to produce more or less resources.
The goal in Grimm Forest is simple, you want to be the first player to build 3 houses, but should more than one player finish their 3rd house on the same turn then the house quality comes into play. Wood houses are better than straw houses, and brick houses are better than wood houses. In order to build houses you will need the raw resources and this is done in the games first phase, the Gather phase.

During the Gather phase each player will choose one of 4 cards which signifies where their pig will go to collect resources. These cards are placed face down in front of you, in addition if you have any fable cards you can use these now too. Fables are a variety of cards that can help you or hinder your opponents, from fairy godmothers to the big bad wolf himself! Once fable cards are dealt with the gather cards are revealed, each player will move their pig to the gather spot they selected and then resources are handed out. Should you be alone then you get everything, but if anyone else is there you must share out the goods evenly. any tiles that do not have their resources taken will end up with more resources in the next round to keep them tempting.

Next is the building phase, players will take turns performing 2 of 4 actions, you are allowed to do the same action twice. The most common one is to build a house segment, houses use resources to build, and you must build them floor then wall then roof. These each cost an increasing amount of resources, every time you build a wall you gain a friend card, these give long term benefits, but some are better than others and you can only have one. You can choose to force your friend upon someone else in order to dislodge their (hopefully better) friend. Alternatively you can choose to gain 1 resource or draw a fable card.  there are also special actions, but these aren't available unless you have had specific cards. The first player to build each type of house gets a small bonus of resources, friends or fables.


Amy’s Final Thoughts


The miniatures are incredible charming, from the lovely pigs to the 3 different houses.
Grimm Forest is a marvel of beautiful design, from the second you open the box you are sure to have a smile on your face, the mega-sized minis are clean but well sculpted and really fit the theme. The houses that are each made of 3 interlocking plastic parts makes playing the game almost feel like building little Lego houses. Grimm Forest is so charming that you can almost ignore how unnecessary all this is. The actual gameplay of Grimm forest is so simple that it could have easily been played with just a few decks of cards, but if it was then it would be a forgotten game, the sheer style and love put into the presentation of Grimm Forest is what makes it special.

Of course it's my duty to review games as a two player experience and here Grimm Forest falls flat. As with many games that use a hidden selection of locations mechanic it simply doesn't translate well to two. Either you end up selecting different places and never having conflict, or you select the same place and end up sharing resources equally. Either way there isn't much to gain without at least a third player there who could be the sole player getting a full location's worth of resources this round. There are also some cards that simply don't work with 2 player, for example there is a fable that makes an area very good to go to, but breaks if 3 or more players go there, quite difficult in a two player game.

That isn't to say that Grimm Forest isn't a good game. The gameplay is simple, but elegant, I love the mechanic of being able to "attack" your opponents by giving them friends. Sure you have destroyed their previous good card, but all friends are good, you simply have to use them well, deciding whether it's worth doing so is another matter. With 3 or 4 players Grimm Forest is a quick game with just enough complexity to keep it interesting. Very little information is kept secret (only your fable cards) so you know when a player is desperate to get that last bit of straw, which allows for tactical decisions that get countered by playing unpredictably. Overall the sheer charm of Grimm Forest makes it a joy to play despite it's flaws.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

In total there are 10 minis, and a 3d 1st player marker. Of these there are 9 unique molds.
The Grimm Forest is a style of game I do not typically enjoy. It involves simultaneous selection of a location or pile of resources, which I am typically very bad at, and find that I am often the player who predicts it wrong every turn, ending up with nothing and double bluffing no-one but myself! I'm really happy that the production quality and aesthetic of The Grimm Forest made me give it a chance, even though the mechanisms were not appealing.

I think the reason that The Grimm Forest works for me is because of the amount of information available. It's very easy to look at someone else's player board, see their current resource supply and progress on building houses, and decide what I would do in their situation. In addition they might be affected by their friend card which is also valuable information. I've found it much easier to read people in this game and it's very satisfying to play a fable card that thwarts exactly how you predicted someone would play. With that said, I've also seen the game be very frustrating for the predictable player as they can be targeted quite frequently, or sometimes just get caught in the crossfire.

The Grimm Forest is a perfect family weight game in my mind. The theme is great for kids, but is one that most adults can identify with too through childhood memories. The components are very endearing and the friend cards are also very thematic and charming. The game is simple and for gamers it is only a quick game in a very large box, but this lightness and simplicity means it will be easily shared with children and families for a great time around the table.

The Good
  • The production quality of the game is fantastic! In particular we love the three different types of houses that are cleverly built in 3 parts.
  • For a 'mind-reading' style of game you're given plenty of information which should allow you to avoid or attack your opponents quite successfully.

The Bad
  • You could certainly accuse The Grimm Forest of being over-produced. It is just a simple card game at its heart.
  • Although it works with two-players, it is not a great game at this player count.

The Verdict
7/10 The Grimm Forest made us like a style of game that we don't typically enjoy. The production quality certainly helped, but the mixture of bluffing, take that and social deduction really blended well for us.

A review copy of The Grimm Forest was provided to the Board Game Exposure reviewer collective.

Photo credits to Nick Welford at Board, Deck & Dice, who helped us not to share photos of a half finsihed painting project!

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