Everdell: These Critters and Constructions Have Style And SubstanceDecember 10, 2018
Set up Everdell and get ready for people to flock to your table like one of the many creatures that inhabit the game’s world. From the meeples on the towering Ever Tree to the beautifully illustrated cards and brilliantly produced resources in the meadow, Everdell is a top-notch production.
With so much style and flair on the tabletop, though, does the game mesh neatly with its theme or is it just the latest overproduced flavor-of-the-week?
Up to four players journey to the valley of Everdell to construct their cities within the woods, through an amalgamation of worker placement, hand management, engine building, and set collection mechanisms.
Each game is divided into three seasons (spring, summer, and autumn) and all players start with a limited set of cards and resources. On your turn you may place one of your workers, play a card, or prepare for the next season.
Basic action spaces for your workers include areas for gathering resources; simply place your worker there to gain the pictured resource. Other spaces allow you to discard cards for resources or points. You may also play a card: critter and construction cards go into your city’s tableau in front of you, with a limit of 15 cards in your city. Finally, you may prepare for the next season by passing after you’ve run out of workers and cards to play. You’ll get back your workers and receive the season’s bonus workers and/or resources.
After the last player has passed in autumn, everybody counts up their points from their city’s cards, coins they’ve collected during the game, and any bonuses they’ve earned. The most points wins.
There are mechanisms borrowed from other games and Everdell uses them well. Like 7 Wonders, you’ll be able to bypass building requirements if you’ve already built certain cards; for example, if you build the General Store construction you may then bring the Shopkeeper critter into your city for free (otherwise, it costs you two resources).
As you build your tableau of cards you’ll recognize elements of Imperial Settlers, although there’s no raze action for you to use against your opponents. Some of the engine building of Imperial Settlers is apparent here as well, but it’s not as upfront as it is in that game. Everdell doesn’t flow as smoothly as Imperial Settlers, either. With so many cards being brought out to the meadow, there’s a lot of reading going on and the font on the cards is surprisingly small. The artwork looks great, of course, but it does so at the price of readability.
It seems like it would be tough to introduce to new gamers to Everdell since there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. Resources are extremely tight in the early stages and it seems like there isn’t much you can do at first. It can be a tough puzzle to solve, but once you start to figure out the card combinations you’ll be able to build an engine that produces resources efficiently. Finding those synergies among cards won’t always be apparent during your first game. Everdell rewards multiple plays as you learn the cards and figure out ways to combo them all. Admittedly, this isn’t my favorite style game mechanism, but I did enjoy it here.
Even with these minor quibbles, there’s enough substance underneath the game’s gorgeous style worth exploring. With artwork that’ll appeal to casual and non-gamers, Everdell is a gamer’s game at its heart; a solid worker placement game that incorporates other mechanisms into a satisfying experience.