With the summer weather just beginning, the world feels anew again. The trees are gloriously green, the sky, a deep blue and the air filled with the sound of birdsong and lawnmowers. I, like you am excited to experience a post Covid summer. Top of the list of things to do is playing long into the hot summer evenings, games and what better than a game set in the world we are all looking longingly toward. All of our eyes are turning to the green spaces of parks and gardens in our lives. With the flowers in those spaces at bloom. From the roses in decline, the Delphiniums that are flashing the sun and the sunflowers waiting cautiously to sprout. In FLOURISH, 1 to 7 players, aged over 8 years play for 20 minutes. Its from Starling Games and we are gardeners, in those early summer gardens, creating something remarkable to live in and even more remarkable, to score points by. Ostensibly a card-drafting, garden-building game, we take a preamble in its world to tell you what we think!


Firstly lets talk about the shelf. There is an exceptional feature. That being the box. A lovely lacquered cover with rich green and browns. Nicely structed and solidly sturdy. Inside there are a lot of cardboard inserts that need to be punched and assembled (a helpful guide tells you how). A pack of cards (illustrated on the quality of the box) and then a set of additional cards for the added expansion. You get 7 of each, score cards (with three wheels to attach), A wall, two different outdoor terraces, a bridge, scoring rosettes and finally, player cards for you to know how to score and the who works.


Give each player a scorecard. Set to zero for now. Take a wall piece and place it between each player. Give each player one of each building type.  Shuffle the deck well. Yes, you heard me. WELL! Then deal 6 to each player. Take the rest and leave them in the middle of the table. At this point it is worth noting a few things (4 that is) 1 – that you need space to lay 12 cards in front of you. 2 – you should agree at this point to either play as a team or against each other. 3 –  There will be 4 rounds, each round last 3 cards laid in front of you. This is important. 4 and finally, each card has important details, so have a player reference card with you. To play you have to look at your 6 cards, choose 1 and then 2 to pass to another player. You place these on the side of the wall that your other player sits. They will do the same. Its one each for more than 3 players and 2 players you pass two cards. There is a solo option and I will speak of that on my own site https://www.tabletopgamesreview.com/. Now pick up the cards you have waiting and one more for luck. Do this for three cards laid down and then score from the top of the cards laid. Do this for 3 rounds and then on the fourth round, the fun begins. Well sort of. If you have been using the buildings above, and adding them (From a 3D feature wall, to the bridges mentioned above), now is the time to draw round four and place these cards anywhere around the cards already placed (this is for scoring reasons). Each card has a symbol that matches these and so you can place them on these. Now score from the right hand bottom of the card. Simple enough then I guess. Well not exactly. Now we have a few ‘variants’ that add layers of complexity. A Garden Show version, that adds rosettes and end of round scoring. A Compost version that adds another card to the draw and, well the afore mentioned solo mode.


We ADORED quite a few things about this gentle paced, yet exquisitely addictive game. From the games simple mechanics, which have been done before but not as smoothly in its efficiency. To FLOURISH drawing flow, that suits an even pace and increases players engagement. From the buildings (some complain that they look less sturdy but we were not convinced bar the hard work of pushing them to fit.) And the card dispersals of the game. They are mostly broad. Which means a varied game per play. We liked that this added variety in the game and also its variants, which attach decent varieties of modes.


Right. I am not going to beat around the bush. My group of players felt often concerned about the shortness of games and the sometimes redundant added components. Yes the game should, neigh, could be longer. The building of the structures is very time consuming, longer than about three average games and the fit can be off. It all works together but it is annoying to completists. Games are sometimes overly riddled with simplicity if you play as a co operative. This robs the game of the real high point of shifting choice and randomness of draw. However I was not so concerned but are seasoned gamers were concerned.


FLOURISH lives up to its branding. A beautifully looking, glorious simple game of gardening, greenery and graceful gameplay. It is as an easy-to-learn game. It is that indeed. But it really works best, when it is offering a competitive strategy based game. This mixes its best parts (card drawing and placement) over the dampened co-operative mode, which lacks that slight punch. This also makes the shortness of the game, extended a short amount. About 10 minutes more that is. However, with this all said, it holds well in solo and up to 7 players, making for a family game that excels in entertaining. Becoming both accessible and repayable to those who invest in the play.




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