Polders: Flip & Write
This is a game that's themed around the development in the 17th Century of the system of windmills, dikes and reclaimed farmland that enabled the Netherlands to feed its population. And with its Dutch designers (Inge Van Dasselaar and Alexander Kneepkens) and with Jolly Dutch as the publisher, this is one game where you certainly can't lob any accusations of cultural appropriation.
Polders: Flip & Write is played over five five-turn rounds. The 2-4 players each take a coloured marker pen which they use to block off squares matching the shape shown on the polder cards. Each turn, three polder cards are drawn (from the 17 card deck) and players simultaneously add to their board the shape from one of those cards but filled with a choice of single symbol that will score end game for adjacency to a manor, mill or farm. Assignment cards are displayed each round and these add key scoring bonuses that will drive players' choices through the game.
This looked interesting but, if you'll forgive the pun, run of the mill. That was until we learned the twist. Players each have a different colour pen not for reasons of mere aesthetics. Unusual in a roll & write style game, players don't each have their own boards: they use a board for the round but then pass it to the player on their left. That adds a powerful interactive element as you are not only optimising your own score but having an eye as to your opponents' scores and what assignment bonuses they may be going for, and maybe scuppering them. That's especially the case in a two or three-player game where players expect to get each of the boards back at least once and so may be attempting assignments over multiple rounds.
Scoring for all of the boards and assignments is only done at the end of the game so canny players will try to keep tabs on when they have each board for the last time: you will want to take full advantage of being the last player to have a board - tho' you will find that the board that reaches you on the final round will already be quite full...
The Board's Eye View team have really enjoyed the novel interactive tussle introduced by Polders: Flip & Write's 'board drafting'. With its 25 turns, board passing and relatively complicated end-game scoring it plays longer than the majority of similar weight roll & writes (our games all took around 45 minutes to play and score) but it's a game that keeps every player fully involved throughout.
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