First, a disclaimer. Today’s game feature is not entitled “The Legend of the Cherry Tree”. It has a much longer name, “The Legend of the Cherry Tree that Blossoms Every Ten Years”. That mouthful was too long for this page’s title, so we’re abbreviating it. And I’m sure if you own a copy, you’ve already found your own shortened version of the name.
A couple weeks ago we told you about Sakura, a Japanese-themed game in which you are following an Emperor while he studies the beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring. You’re a young painter and vying for the Emperor’s favor by trying to paint the best portrait of the occasion by getting as close to him as possible without disturbing his walk. Calming and beautiful games in this genre are all the rage right now as showcased by Sakura, Hanamikoji and more. And that’s fine with us – we love them!
Today we’re playing iello‘s The Legend of the Cherry Tree, which also carries a similar theme as Sakura and the setting of cherry blossoms. But instead of becoming an ancient
stalker painter, you yourself are taking the walk among the trees and gathering blossoms for your personal collection. Another filler-type game that only lasts around 20 minutes, that brief time will be filled with a lot of decisions about what to do with your flowers.
For under $25, you receive a printed vinyl-covered bag, four die cut player screens, three Mastery Cards and 96 plastic flower tokens of various colors. Of course this all comes in a box and with a rulebook. Each player is amassing their own collection of blossoms and you are competing to see who can curate the best!
All of the blossom tokens are placed into the bag and given to the start player. Three Mastery Cards are laid in the center of the play area with one of the two colors facing up. The Legend of the Cherry Tree is a push-your-luck game where you’ll be drawing out of the bag and deciding whether or not to keep drawing. On your turn you can draw as many blossoms at once as you like. There are only a few rules you must follow – when drawing, you must draw at least one, you can only draw a maximum of three times and the total number of flowers drawn may not exceed eight.
After your first draw, examine the results to make sure your collection is a success. As long as you don’t have three flowers of the same color or five or more flowers of different colors your turn may continue. At this point you must decide whether or not you wish to continue drawing. Black flowers are considered ‘wild’ and you do not get to choose what color they are. They become whatever color would cause your collection to fail, either a third of a set or a fifth different. Once you decide to stop (or the game decides for you by having more than three of one color or five different colors), then you move on to the “Display Flowers” phase.
At this point you have to decide what to do with your blossoms. If your collection failed by exceeding the collection limits, then the decision is easy. Black flowers are returned to the bag, then you choose two flowers of different colors (if possible) and place them in front of your screen into your public display. The balance of the blossoms are also returned to the bag and it is the next player’s turn.
If your collection was successful, then you have some additional decisions to make. First, check to see if your flowers match any of the Mastery Card combinations, and if so, take the bonus action listed on the card. Then you may choose one of the colors among your collection and place them all behind your screen. The rest of the blossoms remain in front of your screen within view of everyone.
Players take turns drawing, pushing their luck and collecting blossoms until the final flower is drawn and collected from the bag. At this point the game ends immediately and scores are tallied. There are two areas of scoring, one in front of your screen and the other behind, both determined by how many of a particular color blossom you possess. Black and white blossoms behind your screen are wild and can be assigned to other colors at your own discretion. In addition, black blossoms in front of the screen are wild.
You’ll receive scaled points for the number of each color flower in front of your screen and a slight penalty if you only collected one or two of any color. For instance, for six of a color you’ll receive 8 points. However, you’ll lose three points if you only collected one. The blossoms behind your screen score depending on how many blossoms your opponents also collected. These are divided into “warm” and “cool” colors secretly and revealed simultaneously. The player with the most of a grouping receives the highest points, with 2nd and 3rd place receiving fewer. In both cases, in front of and behind, collected black flowers act as a wild color and can be added to any pile. Additionally, white flowers behind the screen also are wild and can be assigned to either “Warm” or “Cool”! After totaling up the points, the player with the highest score is the winner of The Legend of the Cherry Tree!
We tend to like push-your-luck games, having played many, many rounds of Yahtzee when we were younger. Deciding when to keep drawing and when to stop creates a fun tension and lots of laughs when someone gets greedy. There’s a good life lesson in there about taking more than you need!
The Legend of the Cherry Tree is a brand new 2018 release and is already available on Amazon, at your local game store or direct from iello on their website. If you’re having difficulty finding a copy on the shelves, use the form below to enter to win one directly from iello! Be sure to come back each day for more chances to win – it isn’t a case of pushing your luck!