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If only gardening was this simple!
Six months of beautiful flowers guaranteed, provided you can collect the right cards. Lay fertilizer to score more points and watch out for those dreaded pests!
The best garden wins the game, but everyone will enjoy their little corner of paradise in Blooming Gardens.
- 112 Full color Playing Cards
- Score Sheet Pad
- Illustrated Rules Booklet
Interesting folks, these Ragnars. Addressing topics as grandiose as the History of the World and as quaint as a hike in the English countryside, this team has created a niche for interesting, often well researched, and nicely if humbly produced games. But card games have not been their style, until now that is. These two games follow the Ragnar's Kings and Castles which was a bit of a fringe hit, and the card games are more casual and family-oriented than most of their other output.
Blooming Gardens is the better of the two, and the game is a simple set collecting exercise. Players try to plant different types of flowers in order to have the most of individual plant types and to be sure that their garden blooms in every month of the season. There are twelve different types of flowers represented on cards, with two of each blooming in each of six months from April through September. Each flower type carries a value from one to three, and within the same month the two flower types always have different values. Beginning with a set of cards, players can plant as many of a single flower type as they like into a bed, then refill their hand from among five face-up cards. At game end, each player scores the value of the flower cards planted, and the player with the most of each flower type doubles their score. Then, players lose 15 points for any month in which no flowers were planted.
Of course it's a bit more complicated than this, but not much. In addition to the Flower cards, there are two other card types: Fertilizer and Pests. Fertilizer cards work like the Investment cards in Lost Cities: they are laid only at the start of a bed, and they double the value of flowers planted in that bed. Pest cards attack flowers in your opponent's gardens. Each Pest card played removes one flower card from the player of your choice, and multiple Pests can attack different flower types and/or different players. On a single turn, though, one can only Plant Flowers, Lay Fertilizer, or Attack with Pests and not combine these actions. An additional nice feature is that some of the Flower cards show a small flower pot on them. These can be used as normal Flower cards for planting purposes, but at the end of the game cards with flower pots in your hand can all be planted in your garden before the scoring. This adds some strategy and surprise to the end game, since normally plantings can affect only one flower type but at the end multiple plantings could be made.
Blooming Gardens feels a bit like multi-player Lost Cities, as the decisions per turn are similar and the pace of the game is dictated by how fast the cards are used. Balancing the size of each bed with getting enough beds to avoid a penalty is important, and typically playing multiple cards per turn is preferred. Defensive play in the form of Pests has a high opportunity cost. The game is highly luck dependent as the choice of cards will determine exactly what you can do, and unlike Lost Cities you don't get a big hand of cards to choose from and in a multi-player game a lot can happen before your next turn. It works fine but won't overly excite and it's hard to believe that gamers will play this more than once or twice. However, if given the choice of these two card games, get this one first.
Where There's a Will
[page 13934#007339]jump to Where There's a Will review
Both games are produced with good quality card stock and clear rule sheets, but oddly Where There's a Will comes with three separate booklets, one for a Short Game, one for the Full game, and a Sample Game. Each is only a single sheet folded over, so this is not really excessive, but for the type of game it still seems like overkill. It seems as if Blooming Gardens was the primary game for publication, since it uses more color in the cards and the rules, and clearly requires more thought. I applaud the Ragnars for trying the card game route, but their talents are clearly better when applied to more weighty stuff.