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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Thursday, 6 September 2018

Thoughts from Yellow Meeple:- Spring Meadow

Game: Spring Meadow

Publisher: Edition Spielwiese

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg

Year: 2018

Spring Meadow is the third game in Uwe Rosenberg's puzzle trilogy, which had included Cottage Garden and Indian Summer. All three games use polyominoes - Tetris-style pieces that can be found in the designer's other games, Patchwork and A Feast for Odin. In the trilogy so far, Cottage Garden was certainly our favourite, as a simple solitaire puzzle, with the central board for drafting puzzle pieces and some real benefits from good planning and clever scoring.

From the back of the box, Spring Meadow looked exactly how you would expect the hybrid of the first two games to look. It has the central board of Cottage Garden, the holes in the tiles from Indian Summer and a scoring mechanism that lies somewhere between the race in Indian Summer and the in game scoring of Cottage Garden. Let's see whether they saved the best til last in this trilogy!

In Spring Meadow, each player is adding tiles to their personal player board by selecting a meadow tile from their designated column, row or diagonal on the central supply grid. When scoring is triggered your goal is to have the most completed rows starting at the bottom of your board and working up. Tile placement is crucial in order to add bonus 'rock' tiles to your grid and progress faster by aligning the holes in your tiles into groups. In short, the game is played until one player wins two rounds, and the first to do this is the winner.

The central board from which tiles are drafted.
There is a good reason that this is called Uwe Rosenberg's puzzle trilogy and Spring Meadow certainly has some puzzly aspects that I enjoy. It's probably the most spatially challenging of the three titles in that there are a number of things that build up you consideration of which tile you'd like and where you should place it; can you make some holes align, should you leave a space for a big rock tile or a tile you might get on a forthcoming turn, should you cover up a gopher hole and lose a point that could be the difference between a round won or lost? These decisions seem totally simple to experienced gamers and the game flowed really quickly for us, but we only really appreciated how the choices might be less intuitive when we introduced the game to my Mum, and realised there was a lot going on and a lot to explain. Playing with a new gamer was a totally different experience and we should have assumed less going into it.

For a style of game that often gets described as 'Tetris-like', Spring Meadow is really the most reminiscent, when you play in the vertical configuration!
The listing for Spring Meadow on BoardGameGeek describes it as the most interactive game in the trilogy. I totally don't see where this is coming from since the game has the same solitaire feeling as the others in the series. With Spring Meadow and Cottage Garden in particular, to do well you should pay attention to the turn order as it goes around the board and the opportunities and tiles you and your opponent will have access to in the future. In the two player game in particular, we found that the scoring could come up on you very quickly if you didn't pay attention to the depletion of particular rows and columns. I wouldn't call this interaction though - you're still racing to fill your own board, and at most being aware of the existence and progress of other players. For me, I am 100% happy with low player interaction in games, but your others who want more that an adjacency to hate drafting and manipulation, then Spring Meadow may not be a good fit.

Given that the majority of our play-time is with two-players, I guess I just found Spring Meadow to be a slightly dissatisfying experience, especially with two. The game was too short, and was over way too quickly, sometimes with little opportunity for a comeback after the first round. Spring Meadow is a really large box of cardboard - the biggest in the trilogy and I feel like it contains the smallest game. The experience in the box is a similar size to the experience of playing Patchwork - a much more portable two-player game with the same weight of decisions and puzzle.

I like Spring Meadow. It's a good tile-laying game. It's just not a great game and it's not one that I would take of the shelf over other our many other options. There's a lot of these polyomino games now and I don't think one person needs to open them all. Spring Meadow is a 6.5/10 for the Yellow Meeple. It's a game I'll very happily play when someone else brings it to the table, but that I won't necessarily bring off the shelf myself.

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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