Game Buzz: Mariposas

First, there were birds. Then, there were flowers. Now, the designer of Wingspan and Tussie Mussie is bringing us

image by BGG user AEGTodd

Mariposas is the latest game from designer Elizabeth Hargrave, this one being published by AEG. Thematically, the game is about the annual migration of monarch butterflies from Mexico into the US and Canada. The game is played over three rounds, each with its own variable scoring condition.

The board is basically a highly abstracted map of North America – it’s a series of hexes of different colors with flowers on them. Each game, you’ll select three random season goal cards and place them face down on the board. Each player gets two action cards, as well as ten butterfly tokens in their color. The butterflies are marked as belonging to one of four generations. Everyone starts with their first generation butterfly in the Michoacán space, as well as a second generation on the summer goal card and two third generations on the fall goal card. Waystation markers are placed facedown on the cities of the board, and three life cycle abilities are chosen as rewards for completing a life cycle set.

image by BGG user AEGTodd

On your turn, you will play a card from your hand. These cards show different actions on them: move three times (can be split among multiple butterflies), move two spaces twice, move one and three spaces, move five spaces, move four spaces AND take an adjacent flower, reuse an action card from earlier in the season, and use an action card someone else has played during the season.

Each time your butterfly lands on a flower space, it collects a flower from the space it landed on. If it lands next to milkweed space, you may discard identical flower tokens to hatch a new butterfly from the next generation, taking it off the next season card if applicable. If you land on a waystation, you’ll be able to take a waystation card as indicated on the token in that space (as long as you don’t already have it). Getting four of the same color gives you access to a special ability that was randomly determined at the beginning of the game. Additionally, if you were the first to a waystation and actually flipped over the token that is there, you roll the flower die and collect whatever comes up on it.

At the end of your turn, you draw back up to two cards. If you have two of the same action, or two reuse cards, you can trade in one or both for replacements.

Each season has a scoring card. The spring card is revealed at the start of the game, while the summer and fall cards are revealed either when all butterflies have been removed or when the previous season ends. Spring ends after four turns, summer after five, and fall after six. You’ll score the season’s card each time. All generation 1 butterflies are removed from the board after spring, and all generation 2s are removed after summer. You can also hatch a 2/3 for free before summer/fall if you have any left unhatched.

After fall, you score points for generation 4 butterflies you have successfully returned to Michoacán, the fall scoring card, and for each waystation card you have collected. High score wins.

image from alderac.com

I always like contrasting games from the same designer against each other to find the different auteur touches. Variable scoring conditions after each round is something this shares with Wingspan, as is the progressive round length changes (although Mariposa’s rounds have more actions rather than fewer). You also have the natural theme, as well as some similar set collection elements. Beyond that, this is a pretty different game. You’re moving around a board, trying to strategically place your butterflies so they can get you what you need, and actions are determined by a random card draw rather than solely on player choice. You still get some fairly simple rules that make the game pretty accessible. It seems like a pretty good game – maybe not as monumental as Wingspan, but still a solid title. I look forward to playing it sometime.

That’s it for today. Stay safe out there, and thanks for reading!

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