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 16 July 2019

Flutter by Butterfly:- Dust in the Wings

Game: Dust in the Wings

Publisher: Board & Dice

Designer:  Dennis Kirps, Christian Kruchten, Jean-Claude Pellin

Year: 2019

Dust in the Wings is a 2-4 player abstract game in which you take the role of photographers trying to line up the perfect shot of butterflies frolicking through a meadow. You'll be using Mancala style movement in order to arrange the butterflies in either composition shots, or simply gatherings of certain butterfly colours.

Dust in the Wings is simple to learn. After setting up with one random butterfly on each flower on the board the game is ready to begin. There will always be 3 objective cards of each type available. Gathering cards require you to gather a certain colour combination of butterflies and are assigned a random number of points which increases over time. Composition cards have a fixed number of points and require a certain pattern on the board to have a certain number of butterflies, for example a 2x2 square with 3 or fewer butterflies in it.

Butterflies scattered over a field of flowers. If you can just scatter them in the right direction you can get the shot you always dreamed of.

On your turn you will pick up all the butterflies from any one square on the board and then move orthogonally (without going back on yourself), dropping 1 butterfly out of your hand each square you move. When you place your last butterfly like this you see if this last square managed to score any of the 6 available objectives. You can only claim 1 card a turn, so grab the one you achieved with the most points. Some point tokens will then be added to all gathering cards not taken, the objectives will be filled back to full and play will continue to the next player. The game ends when there are no point tokens left in the bag, at which point each player scores for all the cards they achieved during the game.

If I could rate a game solely on looks and production value then this might be a very different review. Dust in the Wings is a beautiful game. From the minimalistic cover to the wooden butterfly tokens (each colour of which has a different shape, useful to help colourblind players). The game is absolutely charming and great care has been put into making setup painless. You have to seed each square on the board with a different number of butterflies, but since there are flowers printed on the board in varying numbers per square, you simply put a butterfly on each flower and you are ready to go! This is a wonderful mix of aesthetic appeal and practicality!

But much like a classic car, even when things look beautiful there can be trouble under the hood. At first Dust in the Wings seems to be a smooth ride, the Mancala movement functions well, you are claiming objective cards every turn without much difficulty, everything is wonderful. But then it hits you, you haven't claimed a single composition card yet. The gathering cards are always achievable, while the composition cards are often near impossible until the late game. Why would you take them anyway? They are often worth less points even when you can achieve them and you can only take 1 card a turn. Since the number of points a gathering card is worth is just random, if this keeps up victory will simply go to the person who happened to have the best points token drawn before their turns!

The last butterfly placed made a square with (only) 3 yellow butterflies in it, so this card can be scored.

The feel of the game is all wrong, the easy to complete cards are rewarded with a random 1-2 points, increasing by 1-2 points every turn to a maximum of 3-6, while the far harder to complete cards often only reward 2-4. If you happen to go on the BGG page you can find some official advanced rules, which does help a little. Now you can claim 2 cards a turn (one of each type) so you are encouraged to try and find clever plays, in addition the gathering cards do not increase in points value as quickly. This help, but at least in a two player game you are still hit with the problem that many of the composition cards are extremely difficult to do until the latter half of the game. Once they are possible the game starts becoming far more fun, but no sooner does that begin then the game ends!

Overall Dust in the Wings is a beautiful game, but the gameplay falls far shy of the production quality. With some re-tuning of victory point rewards the game could become a lot more interesting, but as it is out of the box, it's far too rewarding to make the easy, lazy moves. You don't feel like you are clever for completing gathering cards, but they are so very rewarding. You do feel clever completing composition cards, you feel like you worked out the puzzle that is the game. But you aren't compensated in points for doing so. If you want a family-weight game and don't mind not playing the most efficient way, but rather the most fun way, then Dust in the Wings may be for you.


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

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