Buzzworthiness: Floriferous

Thanks to Pencil First Games for providing a review copy of this game.

Nature games are pretty popular these days. And here’s one about flowers called

image by BGG user ebaraf

Floriferous is a game designed by Steve Finn and Eduardo Baraf, with a solo mode by Keith Matejka and art by Clémentine Campardou. In this 1-4 player game, you are taking a leisurely stroll through a garden and collecting flowers that will score you some all important victory points.

To set up the game, you’ll deal out a row of five Flower cards for each player in the game. The first row will always have its second and fourth cards flipped face down, while other rows may or may not have stones on some/all of the cards. Below each column, you’ll put one small Desire card. Above the garden, you’ll deal out three Bounty cards Each player chooses a color and places their pawn to the left of the garden in a randomly determined order, top to bottom.

image by BGG user Albia

Floriferous is divided into three days, each with five rounds. At the start of a round, the player whose pawn is the highest in the garden goes first. They choose a card in the next column, collect it, and place their pawn in the newly emptied space. All other players will do this as well. In the next round, the players whose pawn is at the top is the new starting player and moves their pawn. This continues until each player has taken five cards. The remaining cards in the garden are discarded, and a new garden is dealt out. Pawns will move the other way (right to left) in the second day, and back (left to right) for the third day.

There are a number of cards you’ll be able to collect in the game:

  • Flowers are the most common. Alone, they are worth nothing, but their type, color, and if they have any insects will be important for scoring conditions.
  • Arrangements will tell you three specific attributes. You’ll score 1/3/5 points for having 1/2/3 of these in your collection at the end of the game.
  • Sculptures will give you points for having the most.
  • Desire cards give you certain scoring conditions – having different flower types, having a specific insect, etc.

In addition to these, you’ll be trying to fulfill the requirements of the Bounty cards. You’ll need three symbols matching those on the Bounty cards on three different cards in your collection. Once you have them, you put one flower on the Bounty card space matching the current day. On Day One, you’ll get five points. Day Two gets you three, and Day Three gets you two.

When Day Three is over, the player with the most points wins.

image by BGG user Triangulate

Component wise, this game has some really nice pieces. The art is lovely, done by French artist Clémentine Campardou, a first time board game artist. Hopefully, she does some more because this is a pretty game. The icons are pretty easy to read, and the game features some wooden bits in the form of the player pawns and the individual player flowers. The insert has a space to hold them all, though there’s a slot that holds eleven flowers and a different recessed spot to hold one individual flower. I’m not entirely sure why this was done, but it holds everything OK. A lot of work has been done to make this game color-blind accessible as well – the pawns are all different shapes, each color has its own shape when represented on the cards, and the wooden flowers all have different designs on them. So kudos for that.

Thematically, this game works pretty well as a stroll through the garden. There’s a certain amount of abstraction going on – you could just look at the symbols you need to collect and not worry about the pretty art or the names of the things you need to collect. But it all makes sense – you’re walking from side to side, then back, then back again. And somehow between your walks, a whole new crop of flowers grows. Which is impressive.

Like Herbaceous (which is the only other Pencil First game I’ve played), this is a set collection game where you’re trying to get certain sets of plants to fulfill scoring conditions. It’s not quite as limited as Herbaceous, however, which only has four scoring opportunities for the whole game. In this one, you have the whole set of Desire cards, as well as the three Bounties, the Sculptures, and the Arrangements to score you points. But you also have to collect flowers, because only the Sculptures don’t need them.

This is a game that features lots of tactical and strategic decisions. Tactically, you have to decide where to move. If you’re first in turn order, you have 3-5 choices of what to take depending on player count. If you’re last, you only have two. Sometimes you’re deciding between what will be best for scoring purposes, sometimes you’ll be just trying to improve your turn position for the next turn. Do you get flowers that will help fulfill scoring conditions, or do you get something that will help you score some points in the future? Do you take that flower that’s really good for you, or that other one that’s just OK but that you know an opponent wants? These are just some of the tactical decisions that need to be made.

Longer term, you’re looking at the scoring opportunities and what you have the best chance of completing. Bounties are public and there for the whole game, but the points go down the longer you take to complete them. Desires, Arrangements, and Sculptures just score you points, but if you take one, you need to make sure you’re also going for the flowers that will make them score more, because otherwise, they are worthless.

On top of these, there are built in incentives for going for certain cards. On the top row, you’ll be going first the next turn, but on turns two and four, you’ll be getting a card blind. In the third and fourth rows (or second in a two player game), you can get stones, which will score points per two you have and if you have the most. The last row is always the Desire cards, so you can get a scoring opportunity, but you will be going last on the next turn. It’s kind of cool the way things are set up.

The game also features a solo mode designed by Keith Matejka of Thunderworks Games. In this solo mode, there’s a Crow that will take a certain card from the next set each turn, and possibly leave stones or a mystery card. If the Crow gets too many stones, you’ll have to throw out a card, but collecting your own stones can help offset that. The scoring on that one has levels of completion based on your score, which is something that Matejka also did with the solo modes for Roll Player and Herbaceous. It’s an interesting challenge, and a good way to play if you don’t have other players.

The game doesn’t take up a whole lot of room on the table. Cards are standard sized (other than the Desire cards), and don’t spread out tremendously. It’s a game you could play in a relatively small space, as long as you don’t spread out the cards you collect. Orientation is important – if you have problems looking at things upside down, you’ll want to make sure you’re on the correct side of the table.

Beyond the color-blindness thing, the game is pretty accessible. It’s not a complicated ruleset, and I was able to play with my 6-year-old daughter (she did need some help, but at one point declared that “I can take what I want” – she came in last, but she got the flowers she wanted). But I think this is a good game that even people who aren’t super familiar with hobby games can pick up fairly easily.

IS IT BUZZWORTHY? Well, there are bees in it, so yes. But even without the bees, this is a beautiful game with great gameplay. It’s definitely an eyecatcher, and it’s fun and relatively easy to pick up. This is a game I can heartily recommend.

Thanks again to Pencil First Games for providing a review copy of Floriferous, and thanks to you for reading! Programming note – I’m still kind of on my hiatus, but I have a plan for coming back strong in the new year. We’ve officially moved, still have lots of unpacking to do, but I’m ready. I still have one game in my review queue, but it’s going to have to wait until 2022. The next post, my ninth annual post-holiday gift guide will be going up on Boxing Day (that’s the 26th), so I’ll see you then!

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