We Thank STALING GAMES for their kind donation to St Thomas and Evelina Hospital.

As a child, I read, well consumed rapidly, the REDWALL series by the late, great Brian Jacques. That series focused on the lives of anthropomorphic animals inhabiting Redwall Abbey and the surrounding countryside of Moss flower Wood. They lived like medieval us, in a society with its complexity. This was infused with a spirit that enriched them and the read. Now 30 years later, I have the pleasure of playing EVERDELL, that replicates this world for our enjoyment. Well almost. It is a worker placement game that sees animals compete for a  austere amount of berries, stones, twigs and amber. All so they can be crowned the best and make things to build up towns! Beating your opposition with the right mix of bonus scores and building with paws!


With the Collectors edition, you get a lovely slip sleeve that my Blu Ray collecting genes obsessed over. The panels and laminated finish make it adorable. Then we have the actual box, with is also illustrated with imagination, but not over selling the contents. Inside you first discover the board and the components of a tree that you have to build. The board is well set out and well decorated. The tree you have to build. It has instructions but be warned. It is very fiddly and kids might damage it (heck adults also). Then you get to the very important stuff. Wooden player pieces (4 animal types) but note a few things here. One -there are many expansions with different types of animal. Two – in this special edition a team of black rats as well), a bunch of pink berries, brown wooden chips, grey stones and ambers pieces. 4 hard card bonuses from a circus to a statue. A whole heap of big cards (with 3 expansions in the set see the accompanying booklet for details). They are critter and construction cards and have buildings and little cuddlely animals on (well rats, voles and the like), 2 sets of bonus cards that are smaller. One, which fits on the board in an obvious place, is called the destination card the other on the bigger shelf of the tree. You get a set of scoring bonuses tokens with 3 and 1 on them (these are replicated in gold coins for this bonus game).


Setup of EVERDELL can be wordy but it might be worth watching  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b9zQz7COxs.

I would say that the best set up is as follows. Choose your race of animal (or colour). Give each player 2 worker animal pieces of these and then spilt the rest at the top as outlined. Set the tree at the top of the board. Put the bonus cards with circus etc on the spaces next to this. Set up all resources (berries, twigs etc) in their allocated spaces. Shuffle the larger cards well (remove the expansion cards) and lay down 8 in the meadow (on the board). Also deal to the first player 5 cards, 6 to the second, 7 to the third etc. Draw 3 destination cards for the board (with a clear pat on the back of the card) for 2 player and 4 cards for 4 players. Then draw the branch back cards. You need 4 of these and place them on the large branch. Lets get to it!

On your turn you can take one of three actions: Place a Worker: You can put your Worker piece on any open place on the board. So locations, events, and on Destination cards. Workers will perform various actions. These can further the development of a player town or their collection. From gathering resources, drawing cards, and taking other special actions. Play a Card: Remember that you have up to 15 Construction and Critter cards to place. There are five types of cards: Travelers, Production, Destination, Governance, and Prosperity. Cards generate resources or bonuses. Some grant abilities, but almost all score end game points. Finally, Prepare for the next Season: Bring all workers back, add new workers and anything else denoted on that top branch of the tree with the current season on. The game is played from Winter through to the onset of the following winter, at which point the player with the city with the most points wins.


The great thing about EVERDELL is how the whole package comes together so well. The reason I say this in truth is, often we are sold twee, sweet looking concepts. They are products that exploit a targeted group and do so with often substandard facets. Game play usually or quality of features say. Here the investment in these is clear and apparent indeed. You feel that the pieces of characters are artful, the game play is smooth and almost passive. That fuses play to a casual, causal action and this almost pre-empts the player responsivity. This feel intuitive and in fact really endears play. Taken alongside the detail to everything in the set, from its cards to its twigs say, games just feel richer. I also suggest this is why the game works from 1 (it has a very good solo mode) and 4 players.


That tree. Its not the best designed and as many mention online, it will perish quickly when played often or by eager children. Which brings me to the other issue. the game is rated 13+. The chances of younger kids playing is high. Of understanding, more so. Why do Starling not contemplate this and act accordingly? It is a testament to both James A. Wilson game design and Andrew Bosley, Dann May illustrations that they have a prize draw for a vast audience, You don’t get this often and I feel it need to be address.


EVERDELL might seem like a silly creature game for those who like small furry things but it is bigger, bolder and better than this. Its a clever fusion of actions and attractions. You are pivoted on the ideas of success, skilful resource management and mighty bonuses. We were transfixed, you will be more so. Maybe now is the time to release so REDWALL books to coincide with it all!



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