Sunday, September 4, 2016

Herbaceous Review 2

Herbaceous! A relaxing card game for 1 to 4 players of all ages. Simple to teach, easy to learn, and always packed with flavor.

So I was sent Herbaceous to review for What Did You Play This Week Podcast but I thought I would also do a formal write up here.  Now - I actually asked for it.  For full disclosure - I've already backed it before they offered. For more full disclosure I'm a self confessed Beth Sobel, the artist, fan boy and she's done some nice things for me recent but that has no impact on this review.

I really do not have much history with the designer Steve Finn or publisher Edward Baraf with Pencil First Games although I am familiar with their work and they've been covered by others on the show.

Herbaceous first attracted me because it seemed like a perfect fit for our family.  My wife is the gardener in our family and I am the cook.  Every year she plants me an herb garden and I cook with them.  Here is a photo of this year's garden.

When I received the cards they were more muted than I thought they would be.  Maybe I was thinking something more like Arboretum.  As I was sitting and playing with my wife I leaned over and grabbed a copy of one of my many Cooks Illustrated magazines and felt the art was more akin to the back cover art on those.  Not bad mind you - just different - softer but still beautiful.

I of course also checked the herb cards against the real life counterparts for visual accuracy and the cards passed.

The card backs and player scoring cards are also nicely decorated with player colors and herbs...

One negative is that some of the colors are similar - for example dill and lavender below or some of the greens.  One my playtest group is visually challenged and had a hard time telling them apart and relied on the text.  Perhaps a more distinctive symbol or trim around the cards would have helped.

Game Play:

The game is a set collection game - with a push your luck element.  I'll differ you to the videos and instructions books on the link above for more detailed information.  I found the push your luck component added interesting choices beyond simple set collection.  The limit of only placing the special herbs in the glass jar seemed a bit unnecessary at first but being able to score cards in your personal garden at least awarded you something for keeping them in your personal garden.

The set I have came with some kick-starter goal add in cards.  These did not seem very clearly written and later when I read in the commentary on kick-starter page they may revise the final wording that makes more sense.  I look forward to seeing the final version.

Two Player

My wife and I played several two player games.  Some of the cards are removed from play so you are always wondering if you are ever going to see the cards you need to score the jar and get the bonus card.  We really enjoyed it and enjoyed talking about the herbs and art.

Four Player

This even plays well as a warm up to my "Old Guy Game Night" even if they are too embarrassed to be photographed while playing it. Four player is a bit more challenging than two.  Even with more cards in the deck we ended up with less cards to score.  I had only one card in my blue pot!  

Solo Play 

I like when games have a solo option.  It is not my preferred method of play but I find that if the solo mode is similar to the base game you can use it to help you learn, hone your skills and get some more value out of your investment between plays with your friends.

Overall Impressions:

Nothing has changed - I'm still backing and I think you should. I really enjoy this beautiful, short, fun game with interesting decisions. This isn't a light game just for your mom - although she may like it too. Go out and back it before it is too late. 

Lastly - try out eggs with fresh tarragon sometime

 edit - there was a file save issue - I had to recreate some of this after initially releasing it.

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