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.

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Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Life is a Picnic:- Spring Meadow

Game: Spring Meadow

Publisher: Edition Spielwiese

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg

Year: 2018

Spring Meadow is a 1-4 tile laying game in which you will collect Tetris-style tiles in order to advance up a mountain walk. Along the way you will navigate rocks and marmot holes, should you be able to use these to your advantage then you can expedite your hike and beat your opponents by having the most pleasant walk of all! Being the latest of Uwe Rosenberg's puzzle games if you have played Cottage Garden, Indian Summer or Patchwork you are going to see a lot of cues taken from his previous games.

Much like Cottage Garden tile selection is done via a shared central board. A cardboard signpost moves around the outside of this board, indicating which row of the 5x5 grid you can take from.On your turn you will choose a piece and place it on your personal player board, before moving the signpost along so the next player can select their piece. Placement of tiles is, in theory at least, very free, you can place a tile anywhere you like in any orientation. There are considerations to make though, The tiles have holes in them, and should you place one of these over a marmot den then you will gain bonus points in the scoring phase. Furthermore if you can place multiple holes together (regardless or marmot holes) then you will gain rock riles, which can be used to fill your board faster, or fill those awkward gaps along the way.

In Spring Meadow scoring rounds are triggered when a player only has 1 tile to choose from on their turn (or 2 tiles in a 2 player game). This player will get a picnic tile, giving them bonus points in return for the loss of their turn. Players will then gain 10 points for every complete line they have made, starting from the bottom of the board. However as soon as a gap is met you stop counting full lines. On your first incomplete line you score 1 point for every square you have covered. Finally you score 1 more point for each marmot den you have covered with a hole. Points are compared and the winner will score one of 2 tokens needed to win the game, however all of their marmot dens will now be covered up, reducing their bonus points for future scoring rounds.

Much like the previous games in this series, Spring Meadow rewards good spatial awareness, but also good forward planning. With careful manipulation of the central board you can attempt to extend or prematurely end the rounds. You can easily see which turns will give you which options, so you can attempt to plan several turns ahead to ensure you don't make any shape mistakes. Of course there is no accounting for your opponents, who are all trying to do the same thing! Spring Meadow is far closer to Cottage Garden complexity than Indian Summer levels, the game is very friendly to non-gamers, until it comes to rules about holes and marmot dens. You don't have to cover marmot dens, they count as completed, but if you do you want to cover them with holes, but if you have to cover them with a non-hole then you have to block up another marmot den which has a hole over it and that's not even mentioning how you use holes to get rocks! The problem isn't that there are complex rules, but more so that there is 1 complex area in an otherwise gateway game.

I think that my feelings about Spring Meadow are anchored by this confusion: who is the game for? For gamers it's probably too simple, too quick and comes in far too big a box for it's complexity (we managed to finish a game in 20 mins)! For non-gamers some of the rules are just a little too fiddly so I'd point them at Cottage Garden any day. Spring Meadow isn't a bad game by any means, the choice between using holes to get extra tiles vs covering marmot dens, or both if you are very good, adds a lot of spatial puzzle to the game. For me it's a bit too small in scope and feels a bit too much like the previous two games mushed together.


Spring Meadow was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £39.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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