Recently I was given the opportunity to play test an upcoming new game that will be available on Kickstarter very soon. I received a prototype of the game with everything needed to play. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!
The Butterfly Garden is a game by Steve Finn, published by Dr. Finn’s Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players are butterfly collectors or lepidopterists. They will be trying to capture butterflies to help expand the local butterfly garden. Players will earn points for delivering different varieties to the garden. In the end, the player that can collect the most points will not only gain the respect of the collecting community but will also be declared the winner.
To begin, each player is given a jar card and a garden card. These are placed in front of each player. The butterfly cards are shuffled and each player is dealt 3 cards each. The remaining butterfly cards are placed face down in the middle of the play area. The center row is formed by drawing 1 card for each player and placing it beside the deck. This line of cards is known as “the field.” The delivery cards are shuffled and placed face down to one side of the butterfly cards. Depending on the number of players, a certain amount of cards from this deck are drawn and placed face up in a row beside the delivery deck. With only 2 players, 2 cards are flipped face up and placed on either side of the delivery deck. An extra delivery card is flipped face up on top of the deck as a look ahead and what the next card is. This card is not available for players to choose. The score cards are set aside for the time being and will be used later. Play now begins.
The game is played over several rounds which are divided into 3 phases; establish turn order, take turns and prepare for the next round. The first phase is to establish turn order. In this phase, players choose one of their butterfly cards from their hand and place it face down in front of them. Once everyone has completed this task, the cards are turned face up. Players will then take turns in phase 2 going from the lowest number played to the highest number.
In the second phase, players take turns. On a player’s turn, they will complete 4 steps in order; capture a butterfly, perform a special action, add a butterfly to their jar and deliver butterflies to the garden. The first step is to capture a butterfly. The player does this by taking one of the butterfly cards from the field and adding it to their hand. In the next step, the player performs a special action if the card they played during the 1st phase has a special action icon in the upper right corner. These actions range from drawing a butterfly card or placing a butterfly card into their jar to scoring victory points. It depends on which icon is present on the card. The third step is to add a butterfly to the jar. This is done by the player taking the butterfly card that they played in the 1st phase and placing it sideways under their jar card so that the butterflies on the bottom of the card are easily seen by everyone. One thing of note, a player’s jar can only hold 8 butterflies. If at any time there are more than 8 butterflies in the jar, the player must discard butterfly cards until there are 8 or fewer butterflies left. In the final step, the player delivers butterflies to the garden. This is done by the player discarding the corresponding butterfly cards that match a delivery card from their jar. A few things of note, players are able to overpay with more than what is required to fulfill the delivery and are able to use rainbow butterflies to count as any color. Once the delivery card has been claimed, it is tucked under the player’s garden card so that the victory points can be seen. A player is only able to deliver to the garden once during their turn, unless during step 2 their special action was the immediate delivery icon.
For the final phase, players prepare for the next round. Just like during setup, a butterfly card for each player is drawn and placed in the field. Delivery cards are replaced beginning with the face up card on top of the deck and then drawing the appropriate amount from the deck. Once more the top card is flipped over just like during setup. If there are no more cards in the delivery deck the end of the game is near. A new round then begins.
The game continues until one of the game end events happens. Once a player reaches or passes the victory point goal, the game ends after the final phase of the current round. Another way the game can end is if all the delivery cards have been taken. Once more the game ends at the end of the current round. Players then check to see who has the most victory points by adding up the victory point numbers on the delivery cards that they delivered. The player with the most victory points is the winner.
With this being a prototype copy, I won’t got into great detail about the quality of the components. What I will say is that there are lots of cards as you might guess from the previous rules summary. There are butterfly cards which are what you’ll be playing from your hand and trying to match up to deliver. There are delivery cards which are where you mainly get your victory points from. There are score cards which are optional. There are the jar and garden cards which are basically the player aids and where players keep track of what butterflies they’ve captured and how many victory points they’ve gained from fulfilling delivery requirements. The artwork is very pretty with colorful butterflies and flowers. The jar and garden cards have all the reference materials you need printed on them. Overall the game looks really nice and is a delight to play. I’m sure the finished product will not disappoint.
Just like the components, the rules are also prototype so I won’t delve too deeply into it. As it is, everything is easy to read and very straight forward. There was nothing that I didn’t understand of found difficult. The rules at this point have some nice artwork with several pictures and examples throughout the book. There’s also a “less luck” setup included for those players that want things to be a bit more straight forward. The layout makes everything very easy to understand. With an already nice looking prototype, I expect the finished rulebook to be even better.
This is a very light and simple game to play that is quite fun to play. The main mechanic of the game is set collection with a bit of hand management thrown in for flavor. There is a fair amount of luck at least when dealing with the initial hand. I’m not against luck based games but tend to lean more towards those that don’t contain that feature. That said, the “Less Luck” setup helps balance that aspect of the game into a more balanced game, at least in the beginning. All of the luck aspect can’t be completly removed from the game so that’s something to note. The theme is quite cute and fun however you could just as well be putting toppings on a pizza instead of butterflies in a jar. What I’m saying is that it’s not an integral part of the game. That said, I like the look and feel of butterflies as opposed to pizza toppings or some other thematic design, so does my daughter. She loves the prettyness of the butterflies so it really reasonated with her. I like that there are several delivery options available at all times. Each delivery card provides another opportunity to gain points and empty out your jar. I also like that some butterfly cards have special abilites which can help score some quick points or change up the contents of your jar to make delivering a little easier. The game doesn’t take up a lot of table space so it can be taken and played pretty much anywhere. It’s also a quick game that takes about 20 minutes to play so it’s great for playing during your lunch at work. I’ve quite enjoyed it and look forward to more trips into the butterfly garden.
9 out of 10
The Butterfly Garden is a light weight game of set collection. The artwork is quite lovely and looks very promising. The card designs and layout are well done. The game is very easy to play and simple enough that younger players can play it with very little help. The game has a small table presence and short play time with most games lasting around 20 minutes. For those players that don’t like a lot of luck in their game, there is a “Less Luck” setup that helps balance the game a bit. The theme is cute and fun but would work as pretty much anything else just as well. Fans of games like Zooloretto or Lanterns the Harvest Festival should enjoy this one as well. This should be a really great game. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product. I really enjoyed the game and feel that most players will too. I would highly recommend backing this one on Kickstarter or picking up a retail copy when it becomes available. It will not disappoint.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Dr. Finn’s Games at their site or on the Facebook page, accessible from the website below.
Keep an eye out for the Kickstarter campaign which will be launching on February 23rd.