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Horticulture Master

This visually appealing game of card drafting and tile laying from Mozi Games combines its main mechanisms in a manner distinctly different from other games. Players are looking to gain resource cards that will enable them to obtain useful tools granting special abilities and ultimately the garden tiles that will enable them to fill up their personal garden boards.

The card drafting system in Lin Yen-Kuang's design is unusual though not ground-breaking: cards filter down into a 3x3 square, and the active player can pick two matching cards if they are next to each other, otherwise they just get one (though tools can change this). On the whole, this means that you'll usually only get one card per turn!

Once you've gained enough cards to buy something, you will have to pick an available tool or whichever garden tile you can afford. The small hand limit prevents players saving up and having more choice. The unusual feature in the tile-laying aspect of the game is that garden tiles can be uprooted and their costs used to upgrade to larger tiles. In fact, the larger tiles can't be bought without swapping out smaller ones. Although this is an interesting concept, it does mean that the placement of tiles is distinctly unchallenging: you can always replace a tile if you later find its location to be inconvenient.

Fans of tile-laying games may well be disappointed at the lack of challenge in this game. However, you may find it a good introductory game for children, or perhaps non-gamers who might appreciate the artwork by Kiko Hsu and Elsa, and relaxed gameplay, without being too concerned about its simplicity.

(Review by Matt Young)

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