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Wonder Woods

Wonder Woods is a game themed around picking mushrooms. It's actually tho' a deduction game where each of the 2-5 players has incomplete information on the value of the four types of mushroom so you'll be using this limited information along with the behaviour of other players to try to work out which mushrooms are the most valuable.

Players each start off with five baskets for use in harvesting mushrooms. To harvest a mushroom, you need to place the number of baskets required to fill the left-most column on the mushroom board. That means the first player to play to a mushroom board will lay down just one basket, the second player at that location two, and so on; the fourth and fifth column both require four baskets. When you harvest a mushroom, you take one of the wooden mushrooms. At the end of a round (when players have run out of baskets or are unable to place them out because they don't have enough to fill a column), the player with the most baskets on a mushroom patch gains a bonus mushroom.

At the start of the game, each mushroom type will have been allocated a face-down card showing that mushroom's value (1, 3, 5 or 7). The other cards are shuffled and divvied up between the players so that in a three-player game each player will have four cards and in a four-player game each will have three cards. The cards you hold show you what values have not been assigned to a mushroom. If, for example, you happen to have among your cards 1 and 3 for, say, the morel variety of mushroom then you'll know for certain that morels must be worth 5 or 7. You won't always have such useful information, however, so you'll need to watch other people's plays in the hope that they will tip you off as to where you can find the most value.

At the end of a round, players have the option to reveal one of their cards. This helps other players but it can be worth doing because it earns you an extra basket, and you can do this at the end of two rounds so that you could potentially go into the third and likely final round with seven baskets at your disposal. This option, giving a reward for sharing information that's valuable to others, offers players an interesting dilemma that's key to Eli Thomas Wolf's design for Wonder Woods.

As with any deduction game, if you're a canny player you will want to try to bluff your opponents by feinting - perhaps tempting them to go all in on a mushroom that you know is of low value. If you know a mushroom is definitely valuable, it may not be wise to rush in to harvest it as that might tip other players off; unless of course they think you're trying to bluff them...

With art by Simon Douchy, Blue Orange have done a great job with the production of Wonder Woods. In particular, all the baskets and mushrooms are printed wooden pieces - adding to the game's table presence. There are special rules when playing with two, and with five players the number of cards doesn't divide up equally so you have to take two cards out. In our Board's Eye View plays therefore we've preferred Wonder Woods as a three- or four-player game. Even with four players, tho', Wonder Woods plays in a filler-length 20 minutes.

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