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$15.50

Please welcome Vadoran Gardens to the line-up… [pun not intended… or was it?]

This game is a BLAST!

OK… I admit, I have a penchant for puzzle-y games in the “light-medium” range… so this sort of game is right up my alley!

Of course, I’m also a big fan of heavy/crunchy Euros as my mainstay… but from time to time I really enjoy a straightforward game that has some serious strategic depth in the puzzle universe… 🤓

Vadoran Gardens hits all the right buttons

Straightforward rules, a bit of that Tetris feel that makes me love Barenpark, and nail-biting decisions that are made real-time (with the tile you’re laying for the round you’re in) and forward-looking (in preparation for the next round). LOVE IT! 🥰

[Semi-related side note… I have never been beaten in Barenpark… but I am just waiting for that moment where I realize I’m not nearly as cool as I think I am (in the Barenpark universe… haha). If you’re going to a convention – let me know! If we meet up there and play Barenpark and you win, I’ll give you a $15-off coupon to the shop for your help in getting my geeked out ego in CHECK! That’s pretty cheap for therapy… Email me and let me know where you’re headed! I may avoid that con to keep my 12+ game winning streak going… hahaha…]

Components are SOLID!

This is a small and well-priced game with wonderful quality from top to bottom.  The cards are quite nice and the silk-screened wooden bits are spot ON!

Honestly, if a game has cool components (unique wooden meeples and bits, great artwork, etc.) I’m already excited.  Add in some solid gameplay mechanics and a bit of depth and I am SOLD.  Short story – it is no surprise that Vadoran Gardens is in my library.

For a great look at the box contents (with an entertaining host), check out this unboxing video:

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNXpPgvJi6c>

[Side note – when I add in various links I do so because I think they’ll help you get a feel for the game and decide if it’s for you.  There’s no monetization or any sort of payment or anything like that… heck, I don’t even know these people! Haha. Perhaps you could care less (smile)… but I like to be sure that I always work toward maximal transparency! ;-)]

So, how does it play?

In Vadoran Gardens you’ll be selecting and playing Pathway Cards in an effort to create max-point-scoring paths of grass, soil, and water through the garden. The longer your connected pathway, the more points you score. Simple.

Important to note is that in order to actually score the paths (one point for each connected square), you must build a path that contains at least 3 tasks.  These tasks are:

Grass – feeding the animals (represented by animals)

Soil – Watering plants (represented by plants)

Water – Cleaning relics (represented by relics)

Setting it up

I won’t get into all the particulars, but after you get everything set up you’ll have two Lesson cards laid out; each with a number of pathway cards equal to 2 + the number of players laid out to their right.

You’ll also have 3 achievement cards (one for each of the primary paths – water, soil, and grass) as well as a personal hand of 3 Pathway cards.

Finally, each player will have 4 meeples of their color. A pile of lost item wooden bits  (animals, tools, and pendants [a type of relic]) will be located nearby.

GAME ON!

The game takes place over 10 rounds, and not surprisingly those rounds are divided up into phases. The main phase for gameplay is the aptly named the “player turn” phase.  The other two phases involve setting up for future rounds.  Easy.

Basic turn laydown

Each turn players go through the same basic steps:

  1. Collect a Pathway Card (selected at the end of the previous turn).
  2. Play 1 Pathway card by adding it to your path.
  3. Collect lost items (more on this in a minute).
  4. Claim all completed achievements (ditto).
  5. Choose 1 Pathway Card from the upcoming round by placing your player meeple on that card.

At the end of player turn-taking (phase 1), you’ll flip a new lesson card and reveal Pathway cards to replace the ones taken that round (these activities represent phases 2 and 3)

How does this all come together?

Let’s start at the second action of a given turn… because I think that helps better explain how this all works.

Play 1 pathway card

Choose one of the cards from your hand to play into the tableau in front of you on the table. Deciding which card to play will depend on your given strategy – of course.

Do you want to play the card that helps you complete three tasks in your water path so that you can score this path at end game?

Maybe instead you see a chance in the next two rounds to complete the soil Achievement card and thereby place the first marker there – earning you the highest point value!  But you’ll have to forego the water path option to do so!  Ach! 😟

If you’re prone to AP in puzzle games, you are a goner!  There are so many possibilities.  And, the various game constraints make the choices even more tricky.

Constraints?!?!

During any given round there are a few parameters that may stymie your best efforts…

First, each Pathway card is a 3 x 3 grid of terrain features. When you lay down a new Pathway card, it must overlap at least one square of the third column of terrain symbols on the preceding card.  Sounds easy enough, right?  But wait!

The max vertical height of your pathway tableau is 5 squares.  So if you have a 3 x 3 card and you overlap only the bottom square when you lay a new card, you’ve now got a total vertical height of 5 squares!

Once you hit this 5-square vertical spread, all other cards must be laid no higher or lower than your highest and lowest card edge respectively. Ahhhhh… the tension!

Perhaps it’d be smart to overlap a bit more in the beginning to give yourself options.  But a one square overlap will help you achieve that soil card… (><)

Next up in the constraint universe are the Lessons.  Each Lesson card has one or two symbols that represent what sort of pathway cards may be played in that round.

As you have already guessed, the Pathway cards each have one or more of these Lesson symbols on them. Stronger cards tend to have only one symbol (making it harder to get them on the table) and weaker ones tend to have multiple symbols (making them easy to play but perhaps less helpful in achieving those three tasks required to score a path at game end).

Throughout the game you’ll be seeing sweet possibilities to maximize scoring but find yourself stuck because the Lesson card symbol(s) don’t include the one showing on that Pathway card you want to play! Zoinks!

In fairness, you will also find yourself in situations where everything lines up beautifully; allowing you to show off your puzzle-y kick-butt nature!

Collect lost items

If you play a Pathway card that includes a lost item symbol, you snag a wooden item bit and set it aside. Later if you are able to play a card that has a “return lost item here” symbol, and that symbol is still visible at game end, you’ll be able to return each lost item for a 5-point bonus!

I LOVE the depth to this game!  And, to be honest, the wooden bits are sweeeeeet!  Cool shapes, fun screen printing.  My Upstart cylinders are all firing! 🚙

Claim completed achievements

If at this point you’ve hit all the wickets for a given achievement, go ahead and place one of your player meeples on that achievement. First person to get there gets the most points – so get those achievements sorted ASAP!

Choose one pathway card

Now you will choose one of the Pathway cards displayed alongside the next Lesson by placing a player meeple on the card.  At the start of the next round you will add this card to your hand before you place that next Pathway card into your personal tableau.

Of note, turn order for each round is determined by this placement.  The player who places their selection meeple onto the leftmost card goes first, and so on down the line.

So even here you’ll be wracking your brain for the best decision… Do you take the card that might help you score a few more points in your soil path over on the right?

Or do you go for the card all the way to the left so that you can snag first-player and win that next Achievement slot before the other players?

[This game has so much tension-y goodness!] 🤩

Rinse.  Repeat.

Now we reveal the next lesson card and refill the pathway cards for the Pathway card row we just played. And then it’s back to the “player turn” phase, where we start by adding that Pathway card we just selected to our hand… and then we struggle to decide which card to play into our tableau! ❤️

Last words…

I absolutely LOVE this game!

High quality cards – check. Unique wooden components that are well made – check. Cool artwork – check.

Awesome gameplay that’s easy to learn but has some nice, hefty depth – check. Puzzle-y vibe that ties well to the theme – yes please!

And… the game is small, well-priced, and won’t take up very much space on your game shelf.  Uh, hello?

“Houston… we have a winner…” 🚀

Ages: 8+
Players: 2 – 4
Play Time: 20 – 40 minutes
Designer: Frank West
Artist: Frank West
Publisher: The City of Games
SKU: CITY OF GAMES 003
MSRP:
Selling at Walmart online for $17.95
plus shipping at the time of this listing…
April 2019.  Oh the humanity!!
Just kidding… just kidding… I shop there too 😉
Our Price: $16.50
Link to BGG:

 

7 in stock



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Description

Vadoran Gardens!  Puzzle-y goodness, cool bits, SOLID gameplay. All systems GO!

Attention Acolytes! Old V’Sheel, the High Priestess of the Vadoran Gardens is retiring, and maybe one of you will take her place. Go out into the gardens, study her lessons in Life, Nature, and Wisdom to prove yourself worthy of such an honor.  

Vadoran Gardens is a standalone competitive card-drafting and tile-laying card game, set in The City of Kings universe. Players take it in turns to play cards while trying to connect similar tasks such as feeding animals, watering flowers and cleaning relics, as they try and complete the lessons set by Old V’Sheel.

Vadoran Gardens is played over 10 rounds, in each round you will be set a lesson restricting the cards you can play.

On your turn, you will pick up the card you selected on your previous turn (or during setup if it’s the first round), and then place 1 card in front of you.

The first card you play will be placed on the table; every following card you play must overlap the last column of the previously played card. The card does not have to overlap all 3 squares in the last column, but it does have to overlap at least 1, giving you 5 options each turn.

As you explore the gardens, you will want to connect areas of grass, soil and water to score points and avoid the sand. You will need to connect animals, flowers and statues in specific ways to complete achievements while trying to return lost animals, pendants and tools to their homes.

Once you have played a card, you will then need to place your Player Token on the card you want for the next round, this decides both the card you get and turn order for the next round. You will always know what cards you have available for this round and the next, along with what restrictions will be in place, so forward planning is essential.

 

 

Additional information
Weight 1.1 lbs
Dimensions 5.5 × 5.5 × 2.5 in
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