Gartenbau Tile-Laying Game Overview
You know what time of year it is? I’m sure you have a better grasp on it than Mother Nature. This past weekend we drove to Lincoln, Nebraska to hang out with friends from B.A. Games and play board games all weekend. We were supposed to drive there on Thursday, but a snow storm forced us to leave a day early to allow us to get part way there before the roads became too dangerous. As we hit the road midday on Thursday, I lost count of how many vehicles (of all sizes) were in the ditches. We were driving 20-30 mph below the speed limit even though the worst of the storm had passed. The roads were still dangerous and as much as we love playing games, it wasn’t worth driving faster than road conditions permitted. The funny part was we drove home on Sunday and there wasn’t snow anywhere to be seen. Playing games like Gartenbau, a tile-laying board game about flowers from 25th Century Games just felt right.
I don’t think I’ve talked about games with a rondel here before. Scratch that. I HAVE but not referred to it that way before. It’s basically a game mechanic where you move around a circle, selecting actions based on the space you landed. Check out our overview of Iki as an example. Ishtar board game is another example. I bring this up because you can boil down Gartenbau tile-laying game to being another version of game utilizing the rondel mechanic. The setup will vary based on number of players and complexity level chosen, but essentially it’s the same. Players have a stack of starting achievement tiles, the wheelbarrows are filled with resource tokens and the board is a rondel of seedling tiles. Plant tiles are stacked alongside the main board, separated by type and organized by value. Everyone starts the game with a seedling starter tile, water and sunlight resource tokens (2 each), a flower pot token, watering can token and wheelbarrow player marker.
Players in Gartenbau will use the achievement tiles coupled with Plant Tiles to earn points. That’s pretty much the only objective in Gartenbau: plant to earn. A garden starts with seedlings then plants grow on top of those and Flowers above those. On your turn, you’ll have three options. You can go to the seedling market to acquire seedling tiles or resources. As an alternative, you may visit the plant market. The third involves placement of the achievement/scoring Flower Tiles.
Movement through the seedling market involves going one unoccupied space clockwise. You can place a resource on a tile to skip past it, but for the most part you are limited to where you can move. Once you’ve landed on a seedling tile, you have a choice to make. Take the top tile for your garden or acquire the resources noted alongside it. If you selected a seedling tile, immediately add it to your garden adjacent to at least one existing tile.
As you build out your garden tableau, you’ll be arranging same and different types of flowers next to one another. Placement is important because the plant market allows you to grow your seedling into a plant by placing a corresponding tile on top. Some require two of the same type of plant while others require two different. If you’ve aligned your seedlings and are ready to grow them, then you’ll select the circle space instead of a seedling space. In order to purchase it, you must have the resources listed on the tile. It then must be placed over two adjoining seedling tiles that match the designated plant(s).
The third action option is to place your Flower Tile to earn or activate the noted scoring. These range from being a specific point value to a variable based on other items in the garden. In order to take this action, you move your marker to the next unoccupied circle space. It doesn’t cost resources to take this action, but it does require that the Flower Tile match the Plant Tiles it is being placed over. In other words, where you place those seedling tiles makes all the difference. You’ll earn a few bonus resources for placing it so it’s not like your turn is completely lost. Plus, this is the biggest way to score points so you don’t want to miss this opportunity.
Gartenbau ends when four petals in the seedling market are empty. Finish the round so all players have an equal number of turns then begin scoring. Tally the points based on the achievements noted on the Flower Tiles and the values designated on visible Plant Tiles. Unused Flower Pot (special movement) and Watering Can (move already planted items) tokens add two points each. Resources and seedling tiles have no value. The player with the most points can claim to be the best tabletop gardener.
I have a tendency to overthink when I play games, which typically slows the game down for everyone. When a gamer friend asked for my feedback on Gartenbau, I explained that I was ready for my next turn before the person after me was even done with theirs. In other words, Gartenbau is easy to absorb and the limited action options keeps the game moving quickly. The box is labeled 14+ but players much younger should easily be able to grasp Gartenbau. If this has planted a seedling of interest for your game collection, swing by 25th Century Games website or social channels (FB, Twitter, YouTube) to learn more. Check with your local game store to see if they carry Gartenbau and other games from this publisher. Now excuse me while I throw salt on the sidewalks… another ice storm is on the way.
What time of year do you enjoy playing garden-themed games the most?