Elizabeth Hargrave's Wingspan (Stonemaier Games) has been a breakout success. The bird-themed game has spawned several expansions but Mariposas is a new title from the same designer. It plays very differently from Wingspan - and from the similarly themed game Papillon (Kolossal Games) - but Mariposas is another nature-inspired game, tho' the wings this time belong to butterflies. Mariposa is the Spanish word for butterfly, and this is a game based on the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly and its seasonal migration from Mexico across North America and back.
Mariposas is played over three 'seasons', each with their own unique scoring objective cards that are only revealed when you hit that season. The 2-5 players each start with a 'Level 1' butterfly in Mexico. You have a hand of just two action cards showing the number of butterflies you can move and how far, and on your turn you play one card, take the action shown and draw a card. The number of turns (card plays) you have varies with each season. Level 1 butterflies die off (are removed from play) at the end of Spring, and Level 2 butterflies all die off at the end of Summer, so you'll be using your movement to collect sets of flower tokens that are used to hatch more butterflies. You'll be trying to score points for the seasonal objectives, which will typically involve your butterflies reaching far into the north and east, but there are valuable points to be earned for each Level 4 butterfly that you return to Mexico by the end of the game (the end of the Fall season).
Tho' the rules and basic gameplay are commendably simple and accessible, Mariposas is a game where you'll need to make some real decisions about which objectives you try to achieve. If you've taken your butterflies into Canada or the East Coast in order to meet the Summer scoring objectives, it's all too easy to underestimate how long it will take to get your Level 4 butterflies back to Mexico in order to secure the scores for getting home.
At Board's Eye View, we especially liked the fact that players always have full agency over their actions. Certainly, you're dependent to an extent on the luck of the action cards you draw, but this isn't a game where other players' actions screw you over. There's a small one-flower token bonus for being first to reach each city but that's the extent of the direct competition: players' actions never impede or block other players' butterflies.
AEG have done a great job in the production of Mariposas, with its wooden butterflies and art by Indi Maverick and Matt Paquette. Don't let this game flutter by!