If you’re going to stand a chance at competing for the crown, then you’ll need to complete the best landscapes to form panoramas in your garden, and secure the goodwill of the Gods. Will your garden be deemed the most beautiful, or will you be edged out by another competitor?
What Is It?
Action Points – Players have 3 action points per turn and must choose between 4 actions, depending on the card they play or discard. They can lay groundwork – play a card in front of them to collect resources for, rotate the pagoda and collect the resources on the side facing them, take a wild resource, or reallocate resources from their planning tile/cards.
Hand Management – Players have a hand of 5 cards and must use 3 per turn, as above. All cards can be used to lay groundwork or reallocate resources, while some have either the rotate and collect action, or take a wild resource action. Players must be meticulous about the cards they use because they have to balance between using cards for actions, or keeping them to try and complete for their panoramas.
Resource Management – Players can only hold 4 resources on their planning tiles (up to a max of 5 if they earn the expansion bonus), and groundwork cards will need 2 to 4 resources to finish. Resources are tight and players need to utilize reallocate actions to move things around.
Set Collection – Players need to collect resources in order to complete landscape cards which get built into their gardens. Then, if players collect all the cards in a certain panorama, they will earn bonus tiles which may be points, resources, or expanding their planning tile.
Who Is It For?
- 2 to 4 Players – Seems to scale well at any count
- Ages 12 & Up – Pretty straightforward rules, just remembering the 4 actions, but it can definitely be tricky to manage your cards and use them effectively at times when you might want an action, but also need the card for your panorama
- Fans of tight hand/resource management
- Fans of multi-use cards and set collection
- Players who don’t mind rather restrictive play and who don’t mind the potential to be blocked out of scoring
- Aesthetics – Nice art and nice table presence
- Components – Overall good quality; pagoda fits together well, and rotates smoothly
- Rules – Very streamlined and easy to learn from
- The multi-use cards definitely make for interesting decisions turn to turn because you have to debate whether to keep a card to work on for your panorama, or use it for one of the other actions
- Pagoda is a neat method of collecting resources, even if it is a bit of a gimmick
- Bonus tiles seemed like a small choice, but it can make a big difference to get the expansion versus the wilds at the right time, or just taking the most points while you can
- The player colors are so boring (black, white, gray, and yellow)
- I like that there are equal turns, but I wish there was a small first player marker included to remember who started
- Gameplay is very “same-y” game to game; can run a bit long for what it is
- I don’t love that players can get knocked off the score track, it’s just one of those more punishing elements that doesn’t feel great
- While most components fit in the box nicely, the rules sit on top funny because of the pagoda pieces, which will wear on them over time. I guess you can put them below the insert instead, but it’ll be a hassle to grab them in the future
Overall, I mostly found the game to be just fine. The restrictiveness of your cards, since you need them for multiple things, is interesting, but can also make for some long turns as players debate what they can use without hurting their strategy. Add in the restrictiveness of only holding 4 to 5 resources, and having to take things in certain orders according to the pagoda, and it can be very difficult to get what you need at times.
Because of that, the game often feels very much the same play to play. It typically just becomes collect resources, then move them, repeated until enough cards are completed, because you can’t really stock up to do a big reallocation later.
With how many cards need completing, at any count, it also seems like scores are fairly close between all players, which doesn’t seem bad, but does make for a bit of lackluster scoring at the game’s end.
If you enjoy set collection and hand/resource management, it is definitely enjoyable, and worth a play, but personally, I just didn’t feel it had huge replay value for me.
My Final Rating – 5/10
Designer – Martin Doležal
Artist – Rachance
Publisher – Arcane Wonders
MSRP – $39.99
*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*
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