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If Chess and the Peg Games Had a Baby - Thrive

Great Gameplay Badge

Title: Thrive

Designed By: Martin Grider

Art By: Shirley Gong

Published By: Adam's Apple Games

Released: 2020

Player Count: 2

Time to Play: 20-30 Minutes

Ages: 6+

Jacqueline with Box


Thrive is hands down one of my favorite two player games that I have ever tried. You can learn and teach the rules in about 1 minute, but the strategy is a similar complexity to chess. You goal is to capture all of your opponents flowers in the pond. You do this by growing your own flowers and floating around the board. Players take turns adding new pegs to their flower tiles. The placement of the pegs allow the flowers to move in different directions. Players then attempt to move their flowers to capture the other players flowers. Get your opponent down to a single remaining flower and you win.

What's purr-ty cool:

Thrive Setup

Mechanics: Thrive is what I am calling a "chess construction" game. It achieves what other games have sought out to do but not accomplished. It takes a familiar game and revitalizes it into something new, yet familiar. I think of Thrive as though your start a game of chess with just an army of pawns. Then throughout the game you upgrade each pawn to be a unique piece, skillfully designed to work around your opponents own pieces. This piece construction mechanic adds a new layer of thought that you don't have in traditional chess. You have to forecast what pieces your opponent might work to strengthen, when you might want to sacrifice your own upgraded piece for a strong move, and even just think about how you would like to be able to move around the board. It is a truly fascinating game mechanic. If you like games that make you think on multiple levels at once, Thrive is going to be great for you.

Thrive Gameplay

Components: The components included in Thrive are all lovely and made of quality materials. The pegs are wood, the game made is fabric, and the flower pieces are some nicely weighted plastic. I particularly like the weight of the flowers. They feel more premium because of their heft. The color scheme is also super pretty and the game mat is nice to look at while playing.

Ease of entry: While Thrive has lots of thinking to it, it is a super easy game to get started with. Unlike with chess, players do not need to know which specific piece moves a certain way. Since all pieces start the same, all players need to know is that on their turn they move a piece then add two pegs to upgrade a piece or pieces. As long as players understand that you can only move a piece in a direction where you have a peg, you can get started really easily. The instructions are literally only a single sided sheet of paper, and that is really all you need. Thrive is a great example of a game with complexity that is easy to understand and does not need a long, complicated rulebook to get you started. If you like abstract games, and games that play great with just two people, you should definitely try out Thrive.


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.


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