Designer: James A. Wilson
Publisher: Starling Games
Artist: Andrew Bosley
Within the charming valley of Everdell, beneath the boughs of towering trees, among meandering streams and mossy hollows, a civilization of forest critters is thriving and expanding. From Everfrost to Bellsong, many a year have come and gone, but the time has come for new territories to be settled and new cities established.
You will be the leader of a group of critters intent on just such a task. There are buildings to construct, lively characters to meet, events to host—you have a busy year ahead of yourself. Will the sun shine brightest on your city before the winter moon rises?
Everdell is a breathtakingly beautiful game designed by James A. Wilson and illustrated by Andrew Bosley.
The first thing you notice about this game is the towering Ever Tree, positioned at the edge of the circular forest board and adorned with adorable woodland critter meeples. Next, assembled at the base of the tree the beautifully produced resources for the game; little wooden sticks, shiny resin chunks, smooth round pebbles and squishy pink berries. Then laid out on the forest floor the meadow cards with the stunning illustrations from Andrew Bosley. Even if you don't know what Everdell is about - once you see it, you know one thing for sure... you want to play it.
Everdell is at its core a simple and streamlined worker placement game, when you scratch the surface and delve deeper into the woodland realm however, it offers a satisfying amount of strategic depth and replay-ability for even the most seasoned gamer. The aim in Everdell is to build the highest scoring city, comprised of critters constructions and events.
In Everdell you go on a journey through each of the seasons; starting in winter, moving into spring, then summer and finally into autumn. In winter you will begin with only 2 workers (an animal meeple of your choice).
Each player takes it in turns to perform an action, by placing a worker into a woodland space on the board which will gain them resources or cards, or by playing a card from their hand into their city.
Once each player has exhausted the amount of actions that they are able to make in a season they must advance to the next season, in doing so they recall all of their deployed workers and also gain the benefits as shown at the very top of the ever tree. In spring each player gains another worker and activates production cards in their city, in summer they gain one additional worker and two meadow cards, and in winter two additional workers and again activate production cards in their cities. The first season is usually very short due to only having two workers, but as each season advances there will be more for each player to do.
Each city can hold up to 15 cards construction or critter cards, so players must be selective as to what they decide to place in their cities.
While the majority of a player’s points will come from the combinations of cards in their city, events provide another way of gaining points. There are two different types of events which can be achieved; special events, and basic events.
Basic events lie on the woodland floor at the base of the Ever Tree, these usually require 3 or 4 of a certain type of card to have been built in a player’s city before they are able to claim them.
Special events are nestled into the branches on the second level of the Ever Tree, these are a little more difficult to achieve as they largely require two unique cards to have been built in a player’s city, if claimed however, these are generally worth a nice chunk of points.
Once a player manages to build these combinations in their city, they place a worker on the event to claim it.
So, what do we think of Everdell?
The artwork in Everdell is what initially drew us to the game, it is so beautiful and charming. Along with being a technically brilliant game this has got to be one of the most visually stunning that we have ever played. Everdell is a game that can draw an eye from across the room and have people asking, “oh wow, what game is that?!”
So Everdell certainly packs a punch in the aesthetic stakes but how does the gameplay stand up? It would have been so easy for a game like Everdell to be all beauty and no substance; it still would have flown off the shelves due to the way it looks. Thankfully though this isn’t the case. Everdell has some real nice depth of strategy for experienced gamers which develops the more you play.
The production quality in Everdell is as gorgeous as the theme and style of the game itself, the board is fantastically designed with so many tiny little details that tie the woodland theme in with everything else perfectly. The resources are some of the nicest of any game that we own (especially the squishy berries!)
Our only small complaints would have to be with the tricky stick resources which have a tendency to roll off and away from the board, and the durability of the Ever tree. Due to the amount that the tree is assembled and disassembled I can see it becoming subject to wear and tear relatively quickly. Though I raise these as small complaints Starling Games have already addressed both issues and are producing new stick resources that don’t roll and a wooden printed version of the Ever Tree.
Everdell is super easy to learn and highly accessible, we have played it at all player counts and with people from all levels of gaming experience; each and every one of them has loved it.
We absolutely love this game and would say that it is one of our favourite games overall from 2018, it is one that we will always happily reach for at any time to play and one that we can see remaining in our collection for years to come.