Friday, June 14, 2024

Board Game Top 100 (2024) Part 43 (12-11)

#12 Forest Shuffle

In Forest Shuffle players are each building their own forest out of cards. Players draw from a huge deck of cards that contains trees and lots of other plant and animal life that can be found in a forest. Players start with six cards in their hand. Some of those will be trees and some will be those things that live in, on, or around the trees called collectively, "dwellers" whether animal or plant.


To start, you're going to want to play a tree. Trees are vital to your forest and to the game of Forest Shuffle. All other cards (the dwellers) are played attached to the trees that you have already played. All dweller cards show 2 different dwellers on them. These cards are divided either horizontally or vertically in half. Those cards that are divided horizontally in half will show dwellers on the top and bottom of the card. Those cards that are divided vertically in half will show dwellers on the left and right of the card.

To play a dweller card, you slide the half of the card showing the dweller that you are not using under a tree card that you have in play. In this way the dweller that you want to place into your forest is showing, and the other dweller on the card is hidden. If you don't have any trees in play, then you can't play dweller cards.

All cards that you play from your hand, dwellers and trees alike, have a cost. This cost is paid with other cards. Cards all have these little colored tree leaf symbols on them that sometimes matter when paying a card's cost. You can always pay for a card with any other card in your hand, but sometimes paying with the leaf symbols of a specific type will give you a bonus.

When you pay for a card, you discard the number of cards equal to the cost of the card that you want to play. These cards are discarded face up into an open supply called, "the clearing." Players can draw from the cards in the clearing on their turn. A lot of the decision space in Forest Shuffle is deciding what to keep in your hand, and what to discard to pay for the cards that you play.

Each turn players either play a card into their forest, or they draw two cards in any combination from the face up cards in the clearing or from the face down draw pile. Some care needs to be taken however, there are 3 "Winter" cards in the bottom third of the draw pile, and should the third Winter card be drawn, the game immediately ends and everyone's forest is scored.

Forests are scored based on card combos. Some dwellers like to be with other dwellers and score based on those combinations. Some dwellers score based on the kinds of trees that you have in the forest. Things like that. Trees also score based on different conditions. I have even managed to win a game using almost nothing but trees. 

If you ever need to play a dweller but don't have any trees in your hand, you can always play a card face down into your forest. The backs of the cards show a "tree" called a sapling. These don't score points, but can hold dwellers and are always available. There are plenty of "real" trees however, and I have never had to play a sapling into my forest.

All players also begin play with a card called the "cave" and some dwellers, like the bear, will put cards into your cave. These are worth points at the end of the game. Almost every card has some special way to give you points in Forest Shuffle. There is a ton of variety here, and it's that variety that makes this game so interesting, challenging and replayable.

Oh, and fun! Forest Shuffle is so much fun! In fact, it's my #12 favorite game of all time.


#11 Majesty: For the Realm

In Majesty: For the Realm, every player has a "realm" that they are building up. This is an engine building game played with cards. All players start with a sort of "empty" realm of 8 cards. These cards are numbered and arranged in order from 1-8. Arranged in this way, the cards create a pleasing panorama representing your realm and the 8 key locations within it.


There is a central display of people (cards) that you can move into your realm. In exactly the same way as is done with Century Spice Road, you can take the person furthest from the draw pile for free or place a token on it to skip it in order to take the next card. These tokens are meeples and all players have a "meeples card" capable of holding a maximum of five meeples, as well as five meeples to start the game.

The various people that you can move into your realm will only move into the specific location meant for them. When they do, they activate the location where they have moved. All of these locations do different things, but chiefly they are ways to get coins. Coins don't do anything in the game, there's nothing to buy. They represent the prosperity of your realm and are the victory points that will win you the game.

The more cards that you have placed at a location, the more powerful that location's ability becomes. Many locations also vary in power based on the cards at other locations. Building up the right locations in the right way at the right time is the key to success in Majesty: For the Realm.

I love the clean simplicity of Majesty: For the Realm. It's a great engine builder that's easy to teach but challenging to play. Oh, and all 8 locations have an advanced side that can be flipped over for an even more challenging game. The A&B sides of the location cards can also be mixed in various ways to create a lot of replayability.

Coming next week: my board game Top 10!


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