Little Red Riding Hood, Dracula, Robin Hood and Arthus from Camelot are among the most famous characters who use old folk tales and modern pop culture in equal measure. As different as all the stories about these characters may be, in Woodlands they fit together perfectly. Daniel Fehr tells me exciting fairy tales in his puzzle game that will challenge adults and children alike. In progressive scenarios, players embark on magical journeys in which the path dominates the game task and successful puzzling is the goal. Woodlands by Ravensburger takes brave board players into deep forests, which are home to fantasy creatures that every player knows from their childhood. This is exactly what makes the placement game so attractive: it is a journey back to your own childhood, in a way that one would not trust the board game at first glance.
In the following review of Woodlands we explain why Daniel Fehr's demanding puzzle game is a fairytale trip through the valley of frustration and joy.


Once upon a time in a forest, far, far away ...

Putting a little girl, a blood-sucking vampire, an arrogant archer, and the only true king together in a cardboard box is brave. The result could hardly be more contrasting: woodlands is a fairytale adventure for 2 to 4 players. 10 years ago.
Forests have had their own mysticism since the beginning of time. There is always a touch of danger wafting around the densely overgrown stretches of land. And like so many forests, the version devised by Daniel Fehr wants to be crossed as quickly as possible. At best without detours. In order to present the hike through the fir thicket in an appealing way, work woodlands with a novel-like narrative structure in which a total of four stories can be played, which in turn are divided into several chapters. What sounds like a playable fairy tale is just that.

Players act at woodlands against each other, but everyone plays for himself. Equipped with identical sets of twelve tiles with 3 x 3 fields each. An additional highlight: both the front and the back can be used. While the simple variant knows forests and paths, experienced players also make their way through bodies of water and thorn bushes. All players carry out their actions at the same time. For this purpose, nine tiles are selected in order to meet the required target factors as precisely as possible. Getting Little Red Riding Hood safely to her grandmother is one of the most popular goals. To make the walk in the forest challenging enough, there are many poisonous mushrooms lying around along the paths, which players should avoid, for example. However, it is desirable to collect precious stones or edible mushrooms. The additional items ideally give players extra points, for example when a gem set has been completed or the key opens a treasure chest. These details give the game additional moments of tension, because it is not only about crossing the forest as quickly as possible, but also aligning the hike with the bonuses.  

Double Trouble: Difficult and on time

The happy setting shouldn't hide the fact that woodlands as the game progresses, poses extremely tough challenges for the players. The combination tasks are made even more difficult by the stress factor time: gently but intrusively, the running hourglass provides that extra kick as soon as the fastest player has used it. This trick sometimes causes a greatly increased cortisol level, which makes the hike through the fairytale forest even more challenging than without scarce time resources. After activation, each chapter lasts exactly one hourglass filling. 

This is not a problem for hardcore optimizers, but it often poses difficulties for leisurely route planners. And that is exactly what can lead to frustrating situations, especially for inexperienced players or even children. After all: if you are fast and in the lead, you have to do additional tasks that give the other players the opportunity to catch up. With all the hectic hustle and bustle, the impressive presentation of the fairy tales unfortunately fades into the background. That's a shame because the editorial processing of the stories is a real highlight.

Review of Woodlands by Daniel Fehr (Ravensburger)
Woodlands doesn't just rely on popular fairy tales, it also looks fairytale good. With the great presentation of the table events, the hearts of the players open.

Anyone on the board game woodlands has to have perseverance like a storyteller. Players are busy for many hours until all the chapters of the four stories are played through. From Little Red Riding Hood to Dracula: with every fairy tale it gets noticeably crisper. 

The entry scenario around Little Red Riding Hood ensures quick successes due to its simple structure. Even children can easily take the brave girl with the brightly colored headgear through the forest. Nevertheless, one should not be too dazzled by the shallow beginnings. The fairytale adventure picks up speed with every story. Until the optimization mania captivates players in all its complexity to their personal playing fields. Here an unnecessary dangling, there too much greed for a bonus item - and that's it with an efficient round.

Happy ending with obstacles

Every good story ends at some point, ideally with a happy ending. at woodlands this is not always the case. Chapters in which the dots are missing appear - every now and then. In view of the increasing complexity, this can hardly be avoided. Especially because path finding problems are directly linked to the playful and combinatorial skills of the individual players. What is extremely easy for one forest adventurer, turns out to be an impossible task for others. Fairness is difficult to describe in this placement game, because the prerequisites for success in the game are primarily brought by the players. The better your imagination and ability to combine, the easier it is to find a lucrative path along the target.

The replayability of woodlands is high. On the one hand with double-sided landscape tiles that make parts of the forest impenetrable, on the other hand with additional master slides that are placed over the chapter slides to further increase the level of difficulty.

One wishes for woodlandsthat the explanations of the rules would be less blurred with regard to some details, in order not to get into the distress of the criticism that Tom Felber from Spiel des Jahres eV made during this year's award ceremonies: 

"Unfortunately, the impression is growing that more and more very good games have to be knitted with the hot needle at the last minute on a release date without paying sufficient attention to the comprehensibility and completeness of the rules of the game."

Tom Felser

Unfortunately, the editorial processing of the set of rules has not been completely successful. Whether this was due to critical time resources or the assumption that the explanations given are sufficiently selective remains uncertain. The fact is: if unnecessary confusion arises, the fun of the game suffers in the worst case, because complex mechanics cannot be implemented by the players as the author intended. On the Recommended list "Game of the year 2018" woodlands Still landed - rightly so, despite the sometimes weak rules. 

That's because of the entertainment value of woodlands Although criticism at a high level, publishers should not forget one thing: the fun begins with regular studies.

Images of Woodlands

Infobox

Number of players: 2 to 4 players
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 20 to 50 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: medium

Published by Ravensburger
Author: Daniel Fehr
Graphics: Felix Mertikat
Year of publication: 2018
Language: German
Cost: 30 Euro

Summary

The basic assumption could hardly be simpler: you take an enormously popular setting, such as folk tales, and build a board game with a high cuddle factor that can inspire children and adults alike. With woodlands The game designer Daniel Fehr has tried something like this from Ravenburger: and the plan should work, apart from a few minor restrictions.
What the fabulous placement game creates is to offer children and adults a common gaming experience. What woodlands On the other hand, it is only moderately successful to pack the basically simple course of the game clearly into an explanation of the rules. Again and again situations arise in which individual or all players lack the understanding of detailed rules. This becomes particularly clear in scenarios in which negative points are awarded. Not only that negative points are a real motivational killer for children, but also that, despite all the obsession with details, some “criminal acts” are difficult to embed in the game. Depending on the scenario, it makes a difference whether predefined figures are on the playing field or whether they are lying on the playing field and you have to step over them or even whether they are lying on the paths and could reach one of the players: sure? Probably not!

Players fall into such a confusion of rules woodlands more often. You can cope with that, but it is not ideal - especially for a game that should also appeal to children. Without is woodlands one of those board games, which at Ravensburger are more tailored to adults, despite their fairytale theme. Children from around 10 to 12 years of age will have good access to it woodlands find when an experienced player is at their side. But then the fairy tale adventure is a lot of fun. Not least because the stories on which the game is based are real assets in terms of presentation. In terms of content, appearance and material, the placement game is at the highest level. The motivation increases from game to game. Mastering challenging scenarios will keep even experienced players happy for a long time. 

The idea of ​​the challenging puzzle game by Daniel Fehr is terrific: you wander through cute fairy tale scenarios that are more difficult to master with each game. Little Red Riding Hood, Dracula, Arthus and Robin Hood are those iconic characters who woodlands turn it into a playable story. Depending on the chosen story, the board game from Ravensburger is either easy or more difficult. The Little Red Riding Hood scenario, which is also recommended at this point for family games with children, forms the start.

A good talent for combination and spatial imagination help immensely to be able to play through the scenarios. Even if the explanations too woodlands sound harmless, it is a puzzle game. This is especially true for players who can set themselves apart from the competition during the individual chapters. at woodlands The rule is: the better you play, the more challenging the gaming experience becomes. This is great because this fact also serves the purpose of fairness. Arrears in points are turned by exciting twists at the last moment, chases are actually taking place and making woodlands Worth playing until the last minute.

In the event that routine occurs after repeated fairy tale adventures, Ravensburger has taken immediate precautions. Enclosed extensions ensure enormous replay value and significantly increase the lifespan of Daniel Fehr's life game. This is a real plus in terms of sustainability. woodlands is a board game that is made for typical fan service: regularly throwing new fairy tale additions onto the market seems like a fixed plan that the author and publisher must have come up with. Anything else would almost be a waste of the nice game idea. The idea behind is completely new woodlands by the way not. Experienced players will quickly discover similarities to Looney Quest, in which the player's drawing skills are the focus of finding the way. Overall has woodlands highlighted by Daniel Fehr as a fun title that convinces with strong game moments despite slight weaknesses in the rules. 


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