My dear nephew, the time of cold is finally over. When I returned from my walk in the forest today and could see the first golden rays of the Ever Tree in the distance, I quickly realised that I can hardly wait to hold you in my arms again. Three long years have passed since your parents moved with you to far away Frankenbrook. I understand that of course, housing is scarce in Everdell and there is hardly any work here that pays decently for a hard-working mouser like your father. But my dear nephew, I want you to know I miss you and your parents so much.
For your visit during the summer holidays, I have thought up a very special programme. Imagine that there is now a new theatre down by the river. Every Saturday and Sunday, the people of Everdell put on great plays. On Saturday afternoons also for children. The audience sits on the riverbank and the stage juts halfway into the river so that everyone can see something. Did I mention that I'm really looking forward to your visit? And now I'll try to get some sleep. Good night my dear nephew and good night my dear Everdell - your Villminian Scroke.
If the literary skills of the author haven't put you off, you are welcome to accompany us on the journey to Everdell. A German version of the game was published at the beginning of 2021 and is suitable for one to four players aged ten and over.
Arrival in Everdell
The game setup is surprisingly quick. After assembling the Ever Tree, the resources are distributed to the corresponding fields, Forest and Special Event Cards are laid out ready and each player gets a certain number of Hand Cards, depending on the order. Starting with the starting player, everyone in turn takes one of the following three actions in a clockwise direction - until the end of the game:
- Place a Worker
- Play a Card
- Prepare for Season
Places of work
In Everdell there are various places where workers can be employed. These can be recognised by the paw symbol, which is surrounded by an open or closed ring. Places with an open ring can be occupied by several players. At all locations directly on the board, resources, new Cards or Point Tokens are awarded for the workers used. A special feature are the Event Places, which are located above the river and in the form of Cards on the ever tree. To occupy these places with a worker, certain conditions must be met.
Creatures and buildings
To play a Card, the corresponding resources must be available. Cards can be played either from the hand or directly from the field. A city may contain a maximum of fifteen cards (3x5 grid). Each unique Card may only be played once in a city. If a Critter Card is played, either the resources or the required building must be present. In the latter case, the building is occupied with an Occupied Token. There are different types of Cards that trigger certain effects at different points in the game:
- Movement (brown): is activated exclusively when the card is played.
- Production (green): is activated when the card is played and when preparing for spring and autumn.
- Target (red): is activated as soon as a worker is placed on it
- Administration (blue): effect can be used in the further course of the game.
- Prosperity (purple): activated at the end of the game
In the change of seasons
As soon as a player cannot or does not want to use any more Workers or play any more Cards, he must prepare for the next Season. To do this, all workers are first retrieved from the board and then the actions indicated on the always tree are carried out. The preparation for the next Season is a normal action - i.e. it is quite normal that it is not carried out simultaneously by all players.
After autumn comes the winter
As soon as a player cannot or does not want to use any more workers or play any more cards in autumn, the game ends for him. In this phase of the game, too, it is quite normal that the game does not end at the same time for all players. The greatest builder of Everdell is determined by the victory points collected. To do this, all points on buildings, creatures, event cards and event locations are added together. If necessary, there are also bonus points on the prosperity cards.
Rugwort the Rascal
Everdell can also be played in solo mode. In this mode, the player competes against the old rat Rugwort over a period of three years with increasing difficulty. Rugwort always plays cards when the player plays a card. With the eight-sided dice, a card is drawn at random from the meadow that expands the city of Rugwort. If the conditions of event cards are fulfilled, these also become the property of Rugwort. At the beginning, he occupies or blocks resource fields with his workers. As the game progresses, cards on the field are blocked by his workers. These basic changes in the course of the game are then intensified in years two and three.
The most beautiful game of all time?
At first glance, Everdell is a normal worker placement game with parts of an engine builder. But what makes it so special? On the one hand, it's the exciting synergy effects that the buildings and inhabitants of a city create. On the other hand, it is the truly extraordinary, loving design of all the game material. This includes, for example, the open buildings that allow you to use actions in the opponent's villages or to send your workers on a journey after the season in autumn. In the instructions, there are little stories about the different villagers that underline the magical atmosphere on the game table. And above all, there is the large three-dimensional Ever Tree on which workers and orders wait for their next assignment. Of course, the beautiful design also has some disadvantages. For example, depending on the number of players, Cards and Event Tiles are hidden by the Ever Tree. It is actually only possible for all players to read and see everything with one or two players. Alternatively, the tree can simply be omitted or placed outside the board.
Everdell does justice to its claim to be an expert game with its many card effects. However, it is quite easy to get started, as the players usually only ever perform two different actions. After a few rounds, when all the inhabitants and buildings of Everdell are known, a game is quickly played and will delight both frequent players and beginners. The various forest and event cards ensure that the game does not get boring so quickly. If you still haven't had enough of Everdell, you can use the expansions. The Pearlbrook expansion is now also available in German. The solo mode is a bit more luck-heavy, but quite challenging. All in all, Everdell is a mechanically mature mixture between Worker Placement and Engine Builder with enchanting visuals. Anyone who doesn't know the game yet should definitely take a look.