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In Full Bloom

This is an attractive small-boxed game from Taiwanese publishers, MoZi. The theme is of players photographing colourful seas of flowers but In Full Bloom is actually an easy-to-play set collection, pattern recognition and puzzle game.

There are 24 flower tiles in various shapes ('pentominoes', except they are each made up of four squares rather than five). At the start of each player's turn, eight tiles are face up. Also displayed is a selection of scoring cards. The game comes with 11 different scoring cards but only 5–7 are used (depending on the number of players). On your turn, you select three of the tiles from the face-up display and you place them face down in front of you. You also indicate with one of your markers one scoring card that you will not make use of (ie: you will ignore that card in the end-game scoring).

You have two rounds of tile selection and score card elimination, so each player will end up with six tiles in front of them. You then organise the tiles to create your own individual garden tableau, and you place a third marker to indicate the score card for which you will score double.

In Full Bloom is a simple enough family game that can be played equally by adults and quite young children but it does incorporate some elements that require a certain mental agility. Because the tiles you select are initially placed face down in front of you, you'll need to try to remember what's on the tiles you've picked. We found that was notably easier for colours than it was for flower types. Some players will also find it initially confusing that they are selecting the cards they want to disregard rather than those they want to score. We noted that the exclusion markers had a non-exclusion face on the reverse. We couldn't find any reference to this in the English version of the rules but we suspect this is designed to offer a variant where players instead mark the cards they want to score. The game is less challenging, and certainly easier for children, if you play it this way.

Our summary of In Full Bloom is based on our interpretation of the English rules but we were concerned that some of the rules may have been lost in translation. We interpreted the tile organisation phase to be a puzzle element where players are challenged to optimise their layout of tiles, only scoring for largest continuously connected groupings. Since you're applying multiple scoring cards (three in a two-player game; four with three players and five with four players), optimising the layout can be surprisingly challenging even tho' you are only working with six tiles. It makes for quite a meaty pattern recognition puzzle game. However, the examples in the English rules seem to score for non-contiguous flowers. If you're able to ignore connections in this way, then there wouldn't be a puzzle element and there wouldn't be much of a game; hence our assumption that it is only your tableau's largest connected areas of colour and flower types that score. There's also a printing error in the English rules explanation for the scoring card for the width of players' tableaus.

Rule queries notwithstanding, In Full Bloom is a neat filler-length family game.

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