Everdell is a 1-4 player mid-weight worker placement game designed by James A Wilson and published by Starling Games. You will build a community of adorable forest critters with the aim of out-scoring your opponents.
The first thing you notice about Everdell is the quality of the artwork by Andrew Bosley and Dann May: everything from the box to the meticulously drawn character and building cards is gorgeous. The resource tokens are well made and feel good to handle, the squashy food tokens in particular are delightful, though I wish the twigs were textured – they tend to roll around!
Set up is fairly quick (it takes 5-10 mins). The large 3D cardboard tree that is the main feature of the board looks great, particularly with the cards and pieces perched on its branches. This makes the board feel more interesting and interactive than most and gives Everdell great 'table appeal'. This is one of those games that, once you set it up, people will clamour to play.
Players are dealt a number of cards and each receives two workers; additional workers are placed on the tree to be accessed at a later stage of the game. A number of randomised objectives and resource spots are also placed depending on how many are playing. On their turn players may place a worker onto the board to gain the stated resources/effects. Once a worker is placed (bar some special abilities) it remains there until the 'end of season'. Players may instead play a card from their hand or from the 'Meadow', which is the selection of face-up cards accessible to all players.
Cards come in two flavours: critters and constructions. Each critter is linked to a construction (their place of work), the Postal Pigeon works in the Post Office for example. Critters can be played for free if you have constructed their prerequisite construction. So, in this example, if you have played the Post Office card on a previous turn you may play the Postal Pigeon card from your hand or from the Meadow free of charge.
Play continues around the table until a player cannot or does not wish to take an action. At this point a player will announce they are advancing to the next season, they will take back the workers they deployed on the board and move on to either Spring, Summer or Autumn. They will then gain the benefit of that new season in the form of new workers, production and/or new cards. Each player will choose to, or be forced by lack of workers and/or resources, to enter a new season at different times; later seasons mean more workers and more chances to score points. The game ends when all players have reached the end of autumn and cannot make any more plays.
This means you can have players rushing through seasons to gain additional workers while others hold back to squeeze as many actions and plays out of a season as possible. There is real depth in the differing combinations of cards, especially once you learn the various prerequisites, combined with the varied approaches to points scoring and randomised objectives (one-off objectives which give points for specific combinations of cards). This all gives Everdell great replayabilty, and that's before you consider any expansions...
The unusual turn structure, simple but varied cards and objectives, and adorable quote-laden artwork make Everdell a joy to play. Game play is straightforward enough that those new to this style of game can quickly pick it up but with enough depth to appeal to more experienced gamers.
Everdell is an excellent game, and with multiple expansions on the way it will be gracing our table for a long time to come.
(Review by Toby Hicks)