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Garden Geckos

Garden Geckos is a light family game where players will be taking turns to place out a hex tile from their hand of three tiles. Hexes represent various combinations drawn from the six terrain types and they each show a 'bug' in the centre.

The hex you place must connect on at least one edge with a tile that's already in the central tableau. You then place one of your gecko meeples across the join. When a hex tile is surrounded on all sides, the bug at its centre is claimed by the player with the most geckos straddling the surrounded tile. Even with just two players you'll often find there's a tie; in which case it's the player that placed the tile that closed off the surrounded tile who resolves the tie (obviously in their own favour, assuming they are in contention).

There's a market display of six objective cards: three with bug objectives and three showing terrain type objectives. The bug objectives will show a specific set of bugs or specific bugs that are connected. The terrain objectives show various patterns of connected terrain types that you have to have your geckos on in order to score, You can claim the objective card if the gecko you lay that turn completes the objective that's shown. In our plays at Board's Eye View some players observed that they found it easier to spot and keep track of the bug pattern objectives than the terrain objectives, particularly as the central tableau fills up with tiles and geckos. In addition to the market display of objectives, players will also each start off with their own hidden objective - greatly incentivising the collection of a specific type of bug or creation of a large contiguous area of specific terrain.

James Staley's design gives Garden Geckos a distinct game arc. Players each have five geckos so for your first five turns you'll be placing a gecko from your supply. After that, however, you'll always have to move a previously placed gecko, which could mean removing a gecko from contention for area control of a not-yet-surrounded tile or ceasing to contend for one or more of the market display objectives. In this way, the game becomes more tactical but it's still an easy-to-play game.

Playing time varies with player count. As a two-player game it's readily playable in 20 minutes but our games with a full complement of six players sometimes pushed to close to an hour, mainly because turns were notably slower as players took time to assess the changing patterns of connections in the tableau and which objectives might be achievable. For that reason, we've enjoyed Garden Geckos most at two and three players.

The wooden gecko and bug components add hugely to this game's table appeal, as does the colourful artwork from Cesar Ayala Delgado. Tin Robot Games are bringing Garden Geckos to Kickstarter on 2 April. Click here for an alert when the KS goes live.

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