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A Gentle Rain

Mondo's A Gentle Rain is a gentle game. In fact, it's essentially a rather zen solitaire game, tho' it's alternatively playable as a fully co-operative game.

Open up the compact box and you'll find a stack of tiles with half a flower shape on each of its four edges. Game play couldn't be simpler: just take a tile from the face-down stack and place it so that the edges match up with the tiles already laid. If at any point you can't place a tile (possible a couple of turns or so in but unlikely after that) then you discard it. When you connect four tiles in a square, you create a circular space in the middle and into that space you drop one of the eight wooden blossom tokens, with the only proviso that the token has to match one of the four adjacent flowers. Your aim is to get all eight tokens placed out. If that's too gentle for you, you can keep score: take 8 points for the blossom tokens and another for each tile remaining in your stack when the eighth token is placed.

Maybe it's the simple elegance of Kevin Wilson's tile-laying, pattern-building design. Maybe it's Chris Bilheimer's understated art. Either way, A Gentle Rain makes for a satisfying pastime. It doesn't demand intense concentration and play is relaxing rather than an adrenaline rush. It certainly makes for a very pleasant alternative to Patience.

If you're scoring, then there are strategies to develop. The four sides of each tile always show four different flowers so you'll want to avoid creating spaces where it's impossible to lay a tile. In the game shown in our Board's Eye View 360, for example, eagle eyes will spot two bright pink flowers edging to the same space where there's no possibility of fitting a tile. There are 'card-counting' style judgement calls to be made too over which flower token to place from the four eligible for each circle space you generate.

All in all, there's a lot of game play packed into this tiny box. Buy this game and there's no doubt it'll more than earn its shelf space.

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