Saturday, September 30, 2023

Kickstarter Preview: ‘Papillon Gardens’ Can’t Help But Charm

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Spring has sprung and that means its time to get your trowel and dirty shovel out to revive that garden and get it ready. Or, if you’re like me and live in an apartment, it’s time to watch other people make their lovely gardens while we carefully tend our army of mismatched potted plants. In either case, it’s a time of growth and renewal. And a new light titles from Kolossal Games (Western Legends, Almost Innocent) is the perfect celebration for gardeners of all stripes. Papillon Gardens is the sequel/spinoff to Kolossal’s 2020 release Papillon, a game I loved thanks to its unique board and relaxing playstyle. The new game moves the butterflies and flowers out of the world of strategy into the paper-and-pencil realm, adapted by the same designer J.B Howell. It hit Kickstarter earlier this week, and the folks at Kolossal were kind enough to send me a prototype to check out. So let’s take a walk, shall we, through the verdant landscapes of Papillon Gardens.

What’s In The Box?

  • 1 double-sided pad of Garden sheets
  • 1 double-sided pad of Scoring sheets
  • 1 double-sided Reference card
  • 3 Caterpillar die
  • 8 Flower stamps (2 Blue, 2 Red, 2 Yellow, 2 Purple)
  • 4 Pencils
  • 15 Feature tiles
  • 36 Garden cards

How’s It Play?

The core idea behind the “x and write” genre is maintained here, in that players are making individual choices on their own board based on changes in the shared board. Here, players are working as gardeners planning out their individual plots, figuring out how to implement different features and attract different species to it. Your two sheets are the Garden and Fill sheets. The Garden sheet is where you place your flowers and attract your ladybugs, as well as add the features like sheds or fountains, which take up possible planting room but give you powerful bonuses. Groupings of flowers

The Fill sheet is where you track what animals have visited (giving you victory points) and gain bonuses from your caterpillars and flowers. Flower cards are drawn that dictate what you can put in your garden, and each one lets you add some brick wall (needed to score plots), resolve your feature, or fill a space on that sheet. Thus the challenge is to use the right effects when to maximize your points and work towards further bonuses. You also can keep track of your caterpillars to gain points from gnome spaces and attract butterflies to move them on that track. But watch out for brambles, which are unsightly and overtake a plot.

While I’m not always the world’s biggest “x and write” guy, I am a big fan of the original Papillon and this spinoff of it captures much of the serene charms of the original, while also being a little quicker and easier to play with more casual groups. The sort of game you could easily play with your mom. Plus, at a base pledge of just $20, it’s a great value for a fun little game.

You can back Papillon Gardens on Kickstarter, with the campaign running through May 16!

Images and Preview Copy via Kolossal Games

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  • Dan Arndt

    Fiction writer, board game fanatic, DM. Has an MFA and isn't quite sure what to do now. If you have a dog, I'd very much like to pet it. Operating out of Indianapolis.

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