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Fruit Picking

This is a new edition from Korea Boardgames of a game that was originally published in Japan in 2014 by ChagaChaga and Uzamaki Switch. The game is designed by Jun-ichi Schinde and the art for this 2020 edition is by René Amthor.

The object of the game is to collect and build a Poker-hand style set of market cards (cards showing one of five types of fruit). The mechanics tho' draw on a variant of Mancala. Players each have an indented board representing a group of farms. Players pick up seeds from a position on their indented player board and they redistribute them moving clockwise around their board. This constitutes the 'planting' phase. The last space you drop a seed becomes your 'active farm'. You then have a choice between two actions: you can 'water plants', which adds 1–3 seeds to your active farm (the actual number depends on the fruit depicted at that location) or you can collect a market card. However, to collect a market card, your active farm needs to match the fruit on the card you are buying and you need to pay the cost in seeds taken from your Harvest House space.

All of this means that the first few rounds of play are likely to involve much plant watering and manoeuvring of seeds to get seeds from your supply out and eventually onto your Harvest House location. Only then does the game move into a scramble to claim those all-important market cards.

Fruit Picking is remarkably tactical because you have the opportunity to plan ahead on where you are distributing seeds and which will be your active farm. Tho' it has the appearance of being a light game - and it's very easy to learn and play, so it can be picked up by quite small primary school age children - it's a game that readily lends itself to Chess-like forward planning. The game takes up to 4 players but you are mostly all doing your own thing: you're not interfering with each other's boards, you're only affecting other players when you take a card from the market. It could be that the card you take from the market is just the one I wanted for my set, so I then need either to wait in the hope that the same fruit card comes up or I need to collect a different set. It's very much at the latter stages of the game that this competition for specific market cards comes to the fore. Note that there are only six copies of each fruit card, so anyone who is trying, for example, for a 'monopolist' 4-of-a-kind winning hand (the option that requires the fewest cards) had best keep track of what cards have already come up and whether any other player may be competing to snatch the same fruits.

This edition also incorporates rules for solo play, where your seeds are in finite supply and the challenge is to optimise your market card acquisitions.

A game of Fruit Picking usually takes about 20 minutes: a little longer with 4 players because there's more likely to be a tussle for some cards which can extend the time it takes to complete your market card set.

It's great to see this new edition of such a neat little game. If you like abstract tactical games then this could be a tasty addition to your collection.

#FruitPicking #setcollection #Mancala #abstract #KoreaBoardgames

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