Cottage Garden – Written Board Game Review
Just letting you know I'll try not to make any comparisons to Uwe Rosenberg's other Tetris style game Patchwork, because after all you may not have played that game, thus making comparisons moot. However if you have played it and are wondering, this isn’t a Patchwork clone. Now let's talk Cottage Garden the board game.
Cottage Garden plays 1-4 players, age's 8 and up. It uses a puzzle mechanism in which players place nursery tiles onto their gardens, trying to fill an entire bed and thus scoring that board. Scores are claimed for the amount of plant pots and plant covers the player has on each board. Sounds light? It is, but that's not to say there isn’t a lot of room for thinking and strategy.
The nursery tiles are placed on a 4 x 4 board and a gardener – sadly just a green six-sided die showing the present round – moves around the outside showing which row of flowers / plants is available to the player. It's a charming and simple mechanic that works well in keeping the game fair and balanced.
A turn in Cottage Garden consists of ensuring the garden grid is stocked correctly, so that new pieces are ordered and ready to be placed when gaps arise. Players can take a piece from the row the gardener is tending or plant a flower pot (single square). You can also place a cat curled up in the shrubbery (great for filling single spots quickly) at any point provided you have one in your supply.
When you complete a flowerbed in Cottage Garden it's scored immediately on the score track. The track is split utilising multiple orange and blue cubes (orange for flowerpots and blue for plant covers), meaning you have to think about when to move what. You'll do multiple flowerbeds until the gardener hits six rounds. The player with the most points at the end is the winner!
Cottage Garden is a lovely game, a puzzly polyomino treasure. It's simple enough for entry level gamers, but there's just enough strategy and forward thinking to please gamers overall. It's not a perfect game, if you're playing with a player prone to analysis paralysis it can be a slight drain on game time, but really that's more down to player issues than game issues. The rules were ever so slightly fiddly also, but once you get it, that's no big deal.
It's not going to be for everyone, but Cottage Garden gets a big green thumbs up from me, its fun, thematic, charming and not overly difficult. If you like polyomino style games it's definitely one to check out and probably purchase. If you don't like that style of play I'd still say check it out just because it's so darn charming and nice to look at.
…. now, where did I put my trowel.