Monday, March 29, 2021

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Kickstarter Preview of Floriferous by Pencil First Games

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Title: Floriferous
Designed by: Steve Finn, Eduardo Baraf, Keith Matejka
Publisher: Pencil First Games
Year Published: 2021
Kickstarter Price: $20
1-4p | 20-30 min | 8+

This review is for a prototype copy of the game.  Components, artwork, and gameplay is subject to change.


In 2017 I reviewed Herbaceous, the new game from the design team of Steve Finn, Ed Baraf, and Keith Matejka with beautiful art from Beth Sobel.  I loved the game, and so did everyone else!  It was a huge hit!  Since then, that team has worked together on a whole series of games with a similar theme, aesthetic, and feel.  All of them are relaxing, casual games that are easy to teach, fun to play, and deeper than they first appear.  Herbaceous was followed by Sunset Over Water, Herbaceous Sprouts, The Whatnot Cabinet, Herbaceous Pocked Edition, and now Floriferous.  

Floriferous features the artwork of Clémentine Campardou, but her watercolor flowers fit right in with Beth Sobel's artwork from the rest of the series.  But how does the gameplay fit in?  Like the other games, Floriferous is a casual, set collection game with some interesting methods of drafting items.  It's for 1-4 players and plays pretty quickly, under a half hour.  Let's read on to find out if this game of blooms is a bloom itself! 

Blooms are the game's highlights and features.  Elements that are exceptional.
  • Simple rules - teach the game in just 2 minutes!
  • Mechanics so easy a 3-year-old played without a problem.
  • Deep enough decisions that adults were able to still be engaged and competitive, even while playing with the 3-year-old!
  • Absolutely gorgeous artwork!
  • Friendly competition - lots of interaction with few opportunities to be mean.
  • A fresh take on drafting mechanics.
  • Fast play.
Buds are interesting parts of the game I would like to explore more. 
  • Includes a solo mode.
  • Every game presents a new mix allowing for new strategies.
  • Early Spring mini-expansion adds new twists to explore.
Thorns are a game's shortcomings and any issues I feel are noteworthy.
  • Since cards can be parts of multiple sets you are collecting, sorting them in your play area as you collect them can get messy and confusing.
Final Thoughts:
Let me start out my Final Thoughts with a quote from my wife.  I shared on Facebook that we played and she felt the need to comment on my post, something she rarely does for the games I have her play, especially review games.
"Loved this game! And that is saying a lot, because most of what George asks me to play falls firmly in the "meh" category. Simple enough for the three year old to hold his own (but he also plays Splendor and other adult games with little help), and deep enough to keep my interest. Love, love, love the theme, and I won the cup of tea at the end! Also, the illustrations are beautiful. So that's the wife's two cents 🙂"

I think that pretty well sums up this game!  It's wonderful!  

If you collect the most stones you earn a 2 point bonus cup of tea.

It's funny, we were just in the game store looking for a game that we could play with our 3-year-old.  He has a bunch of kiddie games that he loves, but he also loves playing our adult games.  He's starting to get a pretty good handle on various mechanics, and as long as he can take the steps necessary to take a turn, he doesn't care if he has a good strategy or not (he doesn't even know what strategy it yet).  He'd just happy to be playing with us.  When we got home I asked my wife if she'd play Floriferous with me so I could review it.  The 3-year-old wanted to play, too, so I set him up with his own pieces.

He was able to play the game without any problems.  The game is laid out in a grid of cards.  Each player has a pawn that represents their gardener.  Each turn all you have to do is move your gardener to a card in the next column in the grid and take the card.  He generally picked the flower he liked most, or the ones with the bugs he liked, or one with a stone, but it was simple enough that he could do it.  And his decisions definitely influenced our decisions.  He even held his own in the scoring!  The game ended with scores of 26, 31, and 37 with my wife winning and me in the middle.  

Here's my 3-year-old's collection of flowers, sculptures, and stones!

Despite the game being simple enough for a 3-year-old to play, it offered plenty of strategic choices and options for my wife and me.  I really like that there are so many ways to score points.  Each card in the garden can be valuable and as your game evolves different paths to victory (or in my case paths to a solid second place) emerge.  You can collect flowers for arrangements, sculptures, specific desires, or meet the bounty requirements (that's bounty as in nature's bounty, not as in a price for your head).  This leads to a lot of flexibility in strategy and good replayability variety.

Granted, I only played the game once, since I received the game 5 days into its short campaign, and I wanted to make sure I got this review out, but it's a game my wife asked to make sure we get to play again before I have to send it back to Pencil First Games.  That's something she rarely does with my review games, so Floriferous definitely earns a Bloom from me!  If you haven't backed the game yet, what are you waiting for?  Head over to Kickstarter today and pick it up for just $20 plus shipping (and grab some of the other titles in the series, too, if you don't have them yet).  There's only a week left in the campaign!

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Rating:
Bloom!  This game is great and worth
adding to your collection!  It should be
on just about every gamer's shelf. 


The fun gardener pawns inspired my wife and 3-year-old to draw what they might look like as actual people!

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GJJ Games Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some were provided by a publisher or designer for my honest feedback and evaluation.  I make every attempt to be both honest and constructively critical in my reviews, and they are all my opinions.  There are four types of reviews on GJJ Games: Full Reviews feature critical reviews based on a rubric and games receive a rating from 0 to 100.  Quick Reviews and Kickstarter Previews are either shorter reviews of published games or detailed preview reviews of crowdfunding games that will receive a rating from 0 to 10 based on my impressions of the game.  Buds, Blooms, and Thorns reviews are shorter reviews of either published or upcoming games that highlight three aspects of a game: Buds are parts of a game I look forward to exploring more, Blooms are outstanding features of a game, and Thorns are shortcomings of a game.  Each BBT review game will receive an overall rating of Thorn, Bud, or Bloom.

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