The Canadian publisher Kids Table Board Gaming (KTBG) had a real surprise success in 2022 with "The Animals from Ahorn Valley", which was able to collect more than 9.000 Canadian dollars (approx. 500.000 €) on Kickstarter thanks to almost 360.000 supporters. The next title, which was also financed via Kickstarter at the end of 2021, was not quite as successful. "Just" a little over 2.300 supporters contributed about 133.000 Canadian dollars. Now it has been published in German by Skellig Games
If you compare the two games, it becomes clear that hype on Kickstarter is no guarantee of a great game. To get straight to the point: We like the title published in German by Skellig Games much better than the journey to the Ahorn Valley. We own the Kickstarter version of the game. Accordingly, the photos show components that are not included in the retail edition.
In the colorful tile placement game, the players plant a magical garden together. Even if everyone shares the central game area, the game is anything but cooperative. As magicians, the players try to secure control of the most powerful fields with their fairies. They take turns cultivating plant beds and activating the sprout or growth forces of the plants. This allows you to manipulate the garden according to your own wishes.
Gardening needs to be prepared
For each game you choose five of the eight included plant species. For a balanced game, at least two morning and one midday and one evening plant should be used. The large overview cards of the selected plant species are placed in the middle for everyone to see. Depending on the number of people, a different number of beds of each type, numbered from one to eight, are included.
The highest numbered beds of each type are placed in the middle. The remaining tiles are shuffled in the bag. Three are placed ready in the "Plant Nursery". All players receive two beds face up in their hands. If you have two identical beds, you can exchange one of them for a bed from the nursery. This is always allowed in the course of the game if you have two beds of the same type in your hand.
The gems are placed ready as a supply. Everyone gets the 20 fairies of their own color. Whoever starts gets the magician. Equipped in this way, the competition for the fields with magical plants can begin.
The basic gameplay is really simple. You choose one of the two beds you own. This is placed with the magician and, if desired, if it is allowed for the type placed, with a fairy on it adjacent to the beds that are already on display.
Now you can decide whether to activate the sprouting power of the created bed or rather the growth powers of all beds adjacent to the newly placed bed.
The sprout forces are somewhat stronger than the growth forces. So you always have to weigh up whether you prefer to carry out one strong action or several weaker actions.
Only one person's fairies may be on a bed at a time. If someone wants to place fairies on a bed where another player's fairies are already, these are first scared away.
Listing all the abilities of each plant species here would be too much. These three plant species are presented as examples.
With the flying bean, as a sprouting power, you can place an unbound (freely moveable) bed in a different place and scare away all the fairies from it. Each fairy brings in a gem. The growth force simply moves a bed.
Emberwood's sprouting power allows adding a fairy and five gems to a plot next to the sprouting plot. When the embers grow, you add two gems to an adjacent bed.
One sprouting honey leaf adds two fairies to each adjacent plot with fewer than two fairies. If the honey leaf grows, it's just a fairy.
At the end of your turn you draw a bed from the bag. When the last bed has been pulled out of the bag, everyone has one more turn. Then comes the final scoring. Everyone counts the gems they have collected in the game. Some plants have effects that are triggered during final scoring. Then you collect all gems from beds where you have your own fairies before the big scoring of all fields follows.
Spaces are amalgamations of adjacent beds of the same type. The more beds in a space, the more points are awarded to the person who controls the most beds in the space. It is not important how many fairies are on the beds of this field. Second place gets just under half the points and everyone else gets a consolation point. Whoever has the most points wins the game.
There's also an easy-to-control solo enemy: the Mole. He lays out randomly drawn beds according to his own priority list. Activating the beds also has its own effects.
With the alternative plant abilities there is also even more variety for the multiplayer game.
Number of people: 1 to 5
Age: from 8 years
Playing time: 30 minutes
Long-term motivation: very good
Genre: family game
Core mechanisms: tile laying, area majority
Author: Adam E. Daulton
Design: Apolline Etienne
Official Website: Power plants
Year of publication: 2022
Cost: 35 Euro
With Power plants there is yet another game from Skellig Games that we can recommend with a clear conscience. Beautiful optics and essentially very simple rules make this game suitable for beginners. There are small weaknesses here in the gameplay, but they are not so serious.
The theme in this game is not really important and in the end quite interchangeable. However, the choice of theme has been made very well, especially for the classification as a family game. The shape of the tiles holds the playing field made up of magical plants together surprisingly well. The actions performed in the second step of a turn give the classic mechanism an exciting twist.
The standard edition materials consist of cardboard tiles for flower beds and gems and "shapeless" wooden cubes for the fairies and a top hat for the wizard. We have the deluxe edition through the Kickstarter where everything is made out of wood. The handling of the "cube fairies" is actually somewhat easier than that of some of the more delicate deluxe forms. Overall, the game again has a great and especially colorful material.
The overview cards show everything that is important. Nevertheless, especially in the first games and when using new types of plants, it will often happen that you study the game aids a little longer to decide which plants to place where. This hinders the flow of the game quite strongly at first. Over time, however, this problem will gradually disappear through experience. Thanks to the very good and clearly arranged rules, apart from the abilities of the plants, there are no problems in understanding.
There is a Take That element in the game that cannot be neglected. People who can't do anything with it can influence to a certain extent and use less night plants in the setup. There is still more than enough potential for conflict. Regardless of whether there are two or more players, the interaction is always very high. Apart from the larger problem with the plant abilities already mentioned, there isn't much else to complain about in terms of gameplay.
Don't expect long-term strategies in this game. It is rather situational and can only be planned to a limited extent due to the random element when growing new beds. With a playing time of 30-45 minutes, it is played quickly and reset quickly for revenge.
The evaluation of the majorities in the individual fields seems strange at first glance, since it is not about the sheer number of fairies, but about the occupied fields. The evaluation does not cause any problems thanks to the great examples in the instructions. With the gems, the points can be distributed quickly and easily counted at the end.
The solo mode is also convincing. In order to "prepare" the game and to learn for a multi-player game, it is not as suitable or significantly tougher than a first game with humans due to the different abilities of the plants in moves of the Mole and the resulting double reading effort on the overviews. Since the solo opponent is so easy to control and imitates the multiplayer game surprisingly well, this game can definitely be played very well solo. For better planning, we have only adjusted the solo mode so that the mole has two tiles and it is simply decided by a dice or coin toss which tile he places. As a solo player, you have as much planning as in a multi-player game.
The game is definitely a feast for the eyes. Despite small weaknesses in the gameplay and the clarity of the actions, it can be played well as a beginner's game. The replay appeal is very high due to the many possible plant combinations and the additional alternative plant abilities.
Last updated on 8.03.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API