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Pocket Farm

With its colourful anthropomorphised fruit and art from DODAM and Boram Jung, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Mandoo Games' Pocket Farm was a children's game. Older children can certainly play it but Eric Hong has designed a 1-4 player card drafting pattern building game that's cleverer than it looks.



The game is played using a deck of up to 60 tile cards (depending on player count) each of which is divided into four quarters showing one of four fruits and various combinations of sun, raincloud and baskets. Over 12 rounds, players are building their own individual tableaus, each drafting to their hand a card from a market display and then placing 0-2 cards out onto their tableau. When placing a card, you're required to cover at least one sun or raincloud. These are in effect the game's currency because the total value of sun/clouds covered must be greater or equal to the cost of the card as indicated in its centre (+2 for the second card you place, if you choose to place out a second card on your turn). A single isolated sun has a value of 1 but two orthogonally adjacent suns each have a value of two, and three or more are worth 3. Clouds work similarly but in reverse: a single cloud has value 3, two adjacent clouds are worth 2, and three or more have a value of 1 apiece.



The market display always has one card more than the number of players, and the card that isn't taken by any of the players becomes an 'Offering'. The fruit in the Offering determine how many times those fruit are scored at the end of 12 rounds (so when there are 12 fruit in the Offering). The fruit in each player's tableau scores the value of each adjacent basket, subject to a multiplier corresponding to how many of that fruit there are in the Offering...


For a game that plays comfortably in around 20 minutes, we've been particularly impressed with Pocket Farm as a two-player tussle. You can also play Pocket Farm solo, trying to meet the achievement thresholds in the rules sheet, and the game works with three or four players, but Pocket Farm is especially interesting as a two-player game, where the first player each round has the drafting advantage of first pick but the other player has the balancing advantage of determining which fruit goes into the Offering to score...




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