Last year a cute little worker placement game called #Everdell appeared and I was enchanted by its table presence and immediately began to seek out reviews and other information. I quickly learned that an expansion was in the works and it would be coming to Kickstarter shortly. I decided to wait and see and soon enough it landed but the cost to the UK was pretty prohibitive, however while I waited all the UK stock had been sold and I was left with nothing.
Fast forward almost a year and stock of Everdell finally hits our small shores and so I bite the bullet and pick up a copy. Here are my first impressions after half a dozen plays (mostly solo).
It is breathtakingly beautiful. The illustrations from the cards to the rulebook are incredible. The resources are brilliant, the wooden meeple shapes are top notch. That tree, what an incredible centrepiece and so damn impracticable, but man it looks good on the table. Everdell is a visual feast that does not disappoint.
The rules however, even in the second printing, are a little unclear in places. After my first solo game I did have to go away and look up several cards to understand how they worked despite the almanac in the rulebook. In addition some of the card text is not as clear as it could be, for example the Postal Pigeon says Reveal 2 Cards. Having played many card games I assumed this meant from my hand but checking the almanac it means from the deck.
The game itself is a thinker, you’re not going to grok this one in a single session. Assuming you’re the first player, on turn one your going to be faced with 13 cards you can play and have the option of going to over a dozen worker placement spaces on the board. I found the sheer amount of stuff I could do overwhelming during my first play through. The game is not complex in the slightest, you have three possible actions, but the interaction between cards and the combos you can set up will cause even the fastest players to look like they suffer from analysis paralysis. All of that will fade with time of course but there will still be moments where players need to carefully consider their moves in order to generate the right resources or work out the best card combo for maximum points.
That is not to say I didn’t enjoy my playthroughs, I did, but there is a lot going on. I like the fact that every construction you build will give you a free critter you can play on a later turn. I like the sheer variety that is in the deck, in fact there are still some cards I am yet to see and more still that I have yet to play and explore. There are dozens of paths to victory and with the size and composition of the deck no two games will be the same.
The worker placement side of Everdell always feels like you don’t quite have enough workers. In round 1 you have two, by the end of round 4 you’ll have six but I still found myself thinking, I just need one more.
So far I have to say I don’t think I’m very good at the game. I beat my friend when we played but that’s no big achievement, it was his first time and I’d been playing solo. I haven’t yet managed to claim any of the special events and I’m not sure yet if the basic events are worth claiming when potentially you can use your worker to claim resources to build constructions or critters for points instead.
I have so much more exploration and learning to do with Everdell but I am excited to keep trying. The world of the game captivates me, its artistic flair entices me and its gameplay challenges me and I’m glad to have it finally in my collection.