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The Gardens Review

The Gardens Review

The Gardens Review

Looking for a fun and engaging board game to add to your collection? Look no further than The Gardens from Grail Games! This 2-4 player game challenges players to create the most impressive version of the Sydney Botanical Garden. Let’s check it out!

Game Overview

In The Gardens, players take on the roles of landscape designers as they choose elements to add to their individual gardens. Each row on the board is populated by one visitor meeple, who always moves to the most recently placed garden card. Players score points differently based on the type of garden card laid down. The game has fountains, benches, trees, statues, and pathway cards. During the game, scoring is based on these features that the visitor meeple passes on the way to the new garden element or, like benches, the number of surrounding gardens. Players can also score points at the end of the game through interconnected pathways and statues.

Game Components

The game has almost 100 Garden Cards split into groups A, B, and C. These are beautifully designed and have various artwork representing the type of garden.

There are also 16 meeples in the box – 4 of each color (one group per player). Each color has a cute design that is unique and fun! For instance, the yellow meeples are wearing sunglasses.

Along with the meeples, there are 17 scoring tiles – White-edged tiles illustrate how you score during mid-game, while the gold-edged tiles illustrate the end-of-game scoring. These tiles fit in slots on the scoreboard, and only 7 are used in each game. We loved the mix-and-match nature of these scoring tiles so that every game presents new ways to score.

Finally, there are 16 double-sided player mats, 8 with landmarks printed in specific spaces and 8 with empty fields. The landmarked versions are used in a more advanced game, which we won’t discuss here. Each mat is separated into three rows. The top row is the A row, the middle is the B row, and the bottom is the C row. These correspond to the type of garden (deck of garden cards) that can be added to the row.

Game Setup

With The Gardens, there are multiple setup variations. We’re going to focus on the Basic game setup here. Each player takes a left and a right board which is identified by arrows at the bottom of the board without landmarks. They sit these boards side by side, take a central board (with three additional spaces), and place it across the seam of the two other boards. Then each player takes a set of 4 colored meeples. Places one on the scoreboard in the 0 space and the other three on the central board, one in each row.

Then the players shuffle the A gardens together, followed by the B and C garden cards, keeping them all in separate decks. The rules here differ based on 4-player, 3-player, and 2-player games. In a 4-player game, the players turn over the first 4 cards in each group to form a 12-card display. In a 3-player game, the players turn over three per row for a total of 9 cards. In a 2-player game, the players turn over 4 cards per row to form a 12-card display.

It may seem odd that two-player and four-player games use the same number of cards, but the displays are used slightly differently.

Finally, the first player is determined, and you are ready to start playing!

Gameplay

The gameplay is simple and easy to understand but offers plenty of strategic depth and variety. Players draw cards from each row in each round and place them on their player mats. Each row on the board is populated by one visitor meeple, who always moves to the most recently placed garden card.

Players score points differently based on the type of garden card laid down. The game has fountains, benches, trees, statues, and pathway garden cards. During the game, scoring is based on these features that the visitor meeple passes on the way to the new garden element or, like benches, the number of surrounding gardens. Players can also score points at the end of the game through interconnected pathways and statues.

The game provides 17 scoring tiles, with white-edged tiles illustrating how you score during mid-game, while the gold-edged tiles illustrate the end-of-game scoring. These tiles fit in slots on the scoreboard, and only 7 are used in each game, allowing for a mix-and-match nature of scoring tiles so that every game presents new ways to score.

In a 3-4 player game, players may draw only one card from each row and place it in a space adjacent to another card they already placed in that row. In a two-player game, the players still alternate turns but will choose two cards from each row in a round. Players then “walk” their meeple to the new card, and based on what’s on the new card, they score the walk.

Overall, The Gardens is an excellent game with a fantastic mix of strategy, luck, and fun. It’s easy to learn but offers plenty of depth and replayability, with multiple setup variations and scoring tiles that can be swapped in for a more challenging experience.

Overall Impressions

We loved how easy The Gardens was to play and set up. With She-Hawk being Australian, it reminded her of her days in Sydney. We loved how simple this game was and how variable the scoring system can be the variety of scoring tiles kept the game fresh and interesting.

If you like this game, they also made a pen and paper game called a Walk in the Park which is also excellent!

We now carry this in our store! Check it out here!

 

 

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