Designed By: David Abelson and Alex Jones
Art by: Matt Paquette and Todd Sanders
Published By: 25th Century Games
Released: On Kickstarter November 2021
Player Count: 2-4
Time to Play: 30-60 Minutes
Do you love puzzle games? How about puzzles, that are multi-leveled? If so Gartenbau is the next game you are going to love.
Incredibly simple in concept, but super challenging to carry out, this puzzle game is simply spectacular. Grow your seedlings into plants, and your plants into flowers, to create the best garden in town.
How to Play:
The object of Gartenbau is to grow the most well-balanced garden before the season ends. Grow the right combination of plants and flowers in the right order and your garden will score big prestige.
To get started select the board for the correct number of players and remove seedling tiles based on your player count (if needed). Add an equal number of seedling tiles to each space on the board, keeping them face-up. Give everyone a wheelbarrow, two sunlight, two water, 1 watering can, and one pot tokens.
Set the remaining water and sun tokens in the respective wheelbarrows within easy reach of all players.
Decide if you want to start the game with a basic set of tiles, or if you want to draft them. If you wish to draft decide if you want to use the basic tiles or the advanced ones.
Once everyone has their scoring flower tiles, you are ready to start.
In Gartenbau, players take turns interacting with the market board. Players have four options of things they can do on their turn. Once they take their action, the next player goes. The game continues until four of the seedling tile piles have been depleted. At that point, any player who did not take a turn that round takes one final turn, then players score. Whoever earned the most prestige wins!
On their turns players can take the following actions:
Collect a seedling. You can always move to the next available seedling space for free, however, you can spend resource tokens to move farther. Seedlings get added to your garden. You are working to create layouts for plants and flowers later in the game.
Collect resources from the next available seedling space (again, you could spend resources to move farther if you really wanted to).
Buy a plant tile. If you have the correct number of resources and an appropriate available set of seedlings in your garden, you can purchase a plant and add it to your garden.
Place a flower. If you have the correct combination of plants added to your garden, you can choose to cover them up with a flower tile. You gain three resources for doing this. As flower tiles can score you a lot of points, in the end, it is helpful to get them into your garden.
Watering cans can be used to do a one-time swap of the location of a single seedling or two seedlings in your garden. The flower pot can be used once to move to any location without paying any resources.
At the end of the game, prestige is earned for flower tiles (according to what each tile says), plant tiles that are visible (i.e.: not covered by a flower), and any unused flower pot or watering can tokens.
What's purr-ty cool:
The first thing we loved about Gartenbau is that it is deceptively simple. You are drafting tiles and laying them out in your garden, but the entire time you are placing tiles you need to be thinking about how you will be able to collect plants, and then turn those plants into flowers. It is really easy to pick up tiles and put them anywhere on your bed to start growing plants, but planning for how you will get flowers takes a lot more strategy.
The choices each turn are really straightforward. You have four options: take a seedling, take resources, purchase a plant, or grow a flower. This makes teaching Gartenbau a breeze. The complexity comes with the puzzle of how to best plan your garden in order to score points at the end of the game. As seedlings do not score any points on their own, you always have to be thinking about how each move you do will impact your future goals.
We like that there are a variety of ways to start playing Gartenbau. For those looking for a less complicated game, you can start with a specific set of flower tiles. For those looking to take the game to the next level, you can draft using the basic tiles. Or last, but not least, you can use the advanced tiles and draft these for the most complicated type of game. When drafting, as you start with different flower tiles, your end game scoring will be different each game which keeps you from falling into using the same strategy each game. We particularly enjoyed the flower that scores points for holes in your garden. It leads you to create a different type of layout than what you would typically go for. It's one extra puzzle to think about while planning out your garden, and it's a cool way to score points.
Lastly, Gartenbau is just as pretty as a garden. The player board is literally a giant sunflower and all of the tiles have lots of different gorgeous illustrations on them too. We even appreciated the subtle use of color in relation to gameplay mechanics. For example, in order to get a red plant, you always need two red seedlings, however, to get a purple plant, you can either have two purple seedlings or a red seedling and a blue seedling (think if you cross-bred red and blue, you could get purple).
The cat's meow:
"Are you an indoor cat? Looking to experience the joy of laying in a flowerbed without the need to go outside? Skip getting your fur dirty and lay on this cardboard garden instead. It's a garden made of cardboard! Can it even get better than that?" - Pudgy Cat
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.