This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series The best board games

Forest and nature themes are very popular in board games. The theme allows both natural and imaginative artwork that captivates the players thematically. With Living Forest, just one representative of this topic won the Kennspiel prize at the game of the year at the weekend. This is reason enough to present five titles that have a forest theme.

The artistic side of board games is almost as important as the game mechanics themselves. The visuals are a key factor in whether a game experiences hype, especially when not much more is known about the game, such as in the run-up to crowdfunding campaigns. Everything is already known about the following games and many are very successful and some have won multiple prizes for various games. From the connoisseur game bordering on a family game to the complex Eurogame, there is something for every level of complexity.

Everdell – The largest game world with a forest theme

Everdell best board games
Everdell was published in German via Pegasus Spiele. Image: Pegasus/Spielpunkt

In Everdell, the players build their own towns in the valley of the same name. The easily accessible worker placement and tableau building game already has three expansions and two more have gone through a successful Kickstarter campaign. A detailed overview of the extensions can be found here here.

The rules of the game are learned quickly. The charm of the game lies in the many different cards and their possible combinations with each other. On your turn, you can place a worker to gather resources or claim an event later in the game when the respective condition is met. Once you have stocked up on resources, you can play cards from your hand or field into your city. From immediate actions to resource production to victory points, these building or animal cards have a wide variety of effects that can be used to individually design your own strategy. If both actions are not possible, you prepare for the next season and collect your workers again and receive the resources of the production cards, more workers and/or new cards.

At the end of the game, of course, the person who has built up the city with the most victory points through cards and events after four seasons wins.

No game is like the other here. Due to the many different maps, which are always available in different constellations, new paths must always be taken in order to build the best city in Everdell.

The Kenner game is suitable for 1-4 people (up to 6 people with the Bellfaire expansion) aged 10 and over. A party takes 40-80 minutes to play.

Preview Product Rating Price
Pegasus Spiele 57600G - Everdell (German edition) Pegasus Spiele 57600G - Everdell (German edition) * 55,55 EUR

Living Forest - Excellent push-your-luck game

Living Forest best board games
Living Forest is the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2022. Image: Pegasus/Spielpunkt

The artwork of is stylistically different Living Forest in no way inferior to Everdell in terms of beauty. Instead of building something, you have to prevent the forest from being destroyed by Onibi's flames. The rules are a bit simpler here than at Everdell. Each round of the game is divided into three phases.

At the beginning of each round, everyone forms their own animal row from the forest animals in their personal stack. Those who value their two actions stop drawing face down cards before the third card with a black loner symbol is revealed. If you push your own luck too much and draw too many loner cards, only one action remains for the action phase. In this, various actions can be carried out with the symbols on the revealed cards in the tier row. New cards can now be bought, flames extinguished, trees planted or steps taken around the stone circle. Entering certain fields of the stone circle or building on certain fields on the personal game board results in bonus actions. At the end of the round, Onibi attacks the tree and the players. If you don't have enough water symbols, fire monitors enter your own deck, which have no symbols and are loners.

The game ends as soon as one person has collected twelve elements of one of the three victory conditions.

With the push-your-luck mechanism, there is of course a good portion of luck involved. Nevertheless, there is enough room for tactical possibilities.

Living Forest can be played by 1-4 people aged 10 and over in 30 to 60 minutes.

Preview Product Rating Price
Pegasus Games 51234G Living Forest Pegasus Games 51234G Living Forest * 29,99 EUR

Cairn - Tactical duel for two

Cairn best board games
Cairn is available in this country via Board Game Box. Image: Matagot/Spielpunkt

In this 2-player tactical game, players duel as rival tribes of shamans. The sea-folk and forest-folk shaman wish to increase their power by placing megaliths on the field. Both start with three of the five shamans on the field. In each turn, an action can be performed on the visible side of one of the three action tiles. This tile is then turned over.

You can move a shaman diagonally or straight, jump over your own or an opponent's shaman in any direction, or bring a new shaman into play. If you enter a megalith, of which two are initially in play, you carry out its effect. You get points by creating more megaliths. You can do this either by leaving the field on the opposing side or by banishing an opposing shaman. The banishment is triggered when the given constellation of the transformation tile is present. This is then turned to the other side. The tribe that creates three megaliths first wins the game.

The rules of this game are the clearest of all the games on this list. However, the tactical requirements in this game are very high. It is always important to keep an eye on the opposing shaman's move options.

Cairn is a pure 2-player game. A game lasts about 25 minutes and the recommended age is 10 years.

Preview Product Rating Price
Matagot SAS SCAI1 - Cairn Matagot SAS SCAI1 - Cairn * 29,70 EUR

Bitoku - Colorful game for forest experts

Bitoku best board games
Bitoku is a board game for experts. Image: Devir/Spielpunkt

The conclusion is the expert game with a forest theme. Here players try to become the next great spirit of the forest in the role of Bitokus. Bitoku is close to the board game equivalent of the saying "You can't see the forest for the trees". Actually there are only three options that are possible in your own turn. Rarely are all of them really available for selection. However, there are countless possibilities for designing these actions in detail and there are points for everything at the end. The colorful and detailed artwork doesn't necessarily help to have an easy start. However, those who rise to the challenge will be rewarded with a great expert gaming experience.

In your own turn you can play a card on your tableau, use its action and unlock a die. The second option is to place an unlocked die in one of the five locations and perform the action according to the value of the die. The third option is to move a placed cube across the river from a forest location to the hill regions. In the Hills region, one can obtain new Bitoku or Yokai cards, or a combination of two minor actions, such as drawing new Vision cards or advancing a Kodama on any track. The actions of the cards and locations are the same. One can obtain dragonflies or mitamas, construct buildings, collect resources, obtain crystals or gain movement steps for the path of enlightenment or bitoku path. The fifth location, which is not in the forest, is important for the turn order and offers slightly weaker actions. Depending on the card played and the value of the die placed, the actions are stronger or weaker. At the end of the game, the Bitoku with the most victory points wins.

The sheer number of ways to earn victory points gives this game a huge replay appeal. The course of the game is always exciting and never the same due to the importance of the starting player and the high level of interaction in the fight for the tight spots in the individual locations, the number of which grows with the number of people.

Bitoku is an expert game for 1-4 players aged 12 and over. The playing time is given as 120 minutes, although you can get very close to it with two people.

Preview Product Rating Price
Devir-Bitoku Devir-Bitoku * 56,28 EUR

Robin Hood and the Merry Men - In the Forest of Sherwood

Robin Hood and the Merry Men best board games
Robin Hood and the Merry Men is available in German from Taverna Ludica Games. Image: TL/Spielpunkt

There is probably no popular heroic character more closely associated with the forest than Robin Hood. The hero of Sherwood Forest has made the green surroundings his living space and headquarters for his raids for the good cause. In the semi-cooperative Euro board game Robin Hood and the Merry Men - in the original by Frontier Games, also in German about Taverna Ludica Games - despite the story approach to the green avenger, in the end it's all about something that can be counted. Players slip into the roles of well-known characters and defend Nottingham. The board game quickly builds the bridge to the Eurogame: in the end only one player can win and he has the most points in his account.

The board game has its weaknesses, but also strengths. Above all, the card effects ensure an arbitrary factor. Under certain circumstances, this leads to unbalanced game moments. Otherwise, however, the title is convincing, and above all it is not stingy with its forest theme. The challenge with Robin Hood and the Merry Men is to give the game a chance despite a few flaws: If the title has landed on the table several times, you can enjoy the strategic gimmicks.

The board game was originally funded by Frontier Games as crowdfunding via Kickstarter. There they had successfully brought the game through the campaign. Small German publisher Taverna Ludica Games ultimately provided a localized version. Their editorial work is successful.

Those who dare to bring Robin Hood and the Merry Men to the table with a certain regularity will be rewarded. The solo game, on the other hand, is quite well done and maybe the secret highlight that is hardly communicated.

The game is suitable for 1 to 5 people aged 12 and over and takes about 60 to 90 minutes to play.

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Last updated on 15.08.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API