If you are still considering purchasing EVERDELL this review may help to make your mind up one way or the other. As a reviewer it is up to me to present my opinion and evaluate the game from my perspective. EVERDELL is a clever, pleasant, and elegant boardgame in which the players use little furry creatures to build a village containing different useful and VP giving buildings and unique citizens - generally the more unique the better (buildings and critters). It is a core-boardgamer's game that has nuances akin to many strategy games but that can be played and enjoyed just as much by family and casual gamers.
The first expansion to appear was PEARLBROOK and this introduced Frog Ambassadors, Otters, Platypii, Axolotl and Starlings as well as the Pearlbrook River to the game, extending the Everdell landscape as well as its population and bringing new buildings and occupations to the land. You can read more about Pearlbrook on Boardgamegeek.
Following Pearlbrook, BELLFAIRE and SPIRECREST were launched at the same time, and as we couldn't wait we rushed into playing Everdell with them both intertwined, being careful to remove the Pearlbrook components first as they are not meant to be played all together. Actually mixing everything, including the Rugwort and 'Extra Extra' add-ons that come with the Collector's editions, have yet to upset our enjoyment of the game. Of course not every possible combination of cards and components can have been play-tested but to date they have brought nothing but ancillary joy to our game.
This adds the incredibly hazardous Rabbit Travelers Mountain board on which the players move Furry Bunnies along a dusty trail where they encounter varying weather conditions in the three different terrains - Foothills, Peaks and the Ridge. The Mountain board fits neatly like a jigsaw piece into the southern edge of the main Everdell board, expanding it while leaving comfortable room for the boards from Pearlbrook and Bellfaire should you require them.
Already mentioned are the Rabbit Travelers, there are enough of these to allow players to play any of the creatures in Everdell, plus there is a Frog Ambassador for the new Fox creatures so they can be enjoyed in Pearlbrook. The most eye-catching of the components are the five huge creature meeples: Stubblehoof the Moose, Whisper the Wolf, Windlore the Bald Eagle, Honeypaw the Bear and King Rhun the Mountain Goat.
In the Collector's edition you also get Owls, Moles and Lizards as player critter families and three more Big Critters, Truffle the Boar, Corliander the Peacock and Firebeak the Vulture.
The most fun thing about the Big Critters is that there are small saddles to fit onto them so that the player's woodland creatures can ride on them. The woodland creatures can carry out the same actions on the Biggies as they can without them, but each over-sized Creature has their own 'special ability' that can be activated when a woodland creature is its jockey.
Each player is also given a Map tile which is the beginning of their adventure trail. Other tiles are collected as player's Bunnies travel from region to region and each of these require the player to have components remaining at the end of the game. If they have the correct type and numbers of the necessary resources then the adventure trail gives more VPs, some other cards also give bonuses for completing the full journey. Players only get one Rabbit Traveler each and cannot use them for any other section of the gameboard.
Along with the new Discovery and Weather cards, the extra woodland creature families and the Big Meeples, Spirecrest is a great supportive extension to Everdell.
The first thing noticeable when you open the box for this expansion is the Bellfaire Board. This sits on the North edge of the Everdell board and replaces the 3D Ever tree. A quick note on the Ever tree - this is a visual spectacle that is the first thing seen by players and thus the biggest draw for prospective players (until they actually play the game). The problem with this large 3D tree, that holds the additional player creatures and quest cards, is that it gets in the way. Its shadow falls over the event tiles meaning you have to pick some of them up to read them, plus it is unstable to the point where we moved it way back off the board for the last few basic Everdell (and Pearlbrook) games we played.
The BELLFAIRE board takes over from the Ever Tree as far as the Spring, Summer and Autumn spaces and it also adds the Flower Festival Event and the Market. The former is another Event tile that can be gained by the first player who has the necessary resources, it is worth 4 points. The Market however is/can be a bit of a pain. At first the Market is great, you place your worker critter there, take one of the tiles and collect the Bonus. The tile you took is placed under the Market square (it isn't exactly a square but it sounds good) and the only way to get it back to the Market and available again is to have a player repay the Bonus; this, in turn, supplies another, slightly better and definitely different, Bonus.
There are new Forest cards that can take place of the board-printed forest card spaces, or they can be added into the deck of Forest Cards and randomly placed on the spaces for each game. The Forest cards are always one of the main differences whenever you play any version of Everdell. Forest cards are usually a quid pro quo best way to get resources as they generally require the loss of other resources or cards to do so; they can be quite powerful depending on the cards you are holding.
Additional awards are gained from having the most and second-most of each of the types of Garlands in your city (I prefer to say 'Village' rather than City due to the size, the occupants, and the fact that a woodland village sounds better than a woodland city, in my opinion).
There are 'Player Powers' tokens, two of which are given out during setup to every player. Some appear at first to be more useful than others, and others being very useful as long as you work hard to accommodate them. These include Cardinals who raise your hand limit by two, Mice who give you an extra resource and Otters who allow the use of Resin in place of any resourse.
Bending the Rules/Spirit of the game:
The thing about the Otters is that there are no perametres set; the wording is 'When playing a Construction, you may use resin as any resource'. Family players will read this and having noted that other critters allow only one card or one resource, the Otters can be interpretated as you may use (any amount of) resin for any (amount) of resource; it doesn't even actually constrict it to any 'one' resource.
These two expansions inter-work so well together they could easily have been presented in one box. BELLFAIRE allows for 5 - 6 players for the first time and also updates the solo player rules found in the main game and expansions.
I forgot to mention the L-shaped Player Boards in Bellfaire which are mainly (only) for keeping your collected resources and cards tidy and appear to be an afterthought. If you only have a regular English-style dining table on which to play you will already have found that Everdell alone takes up a large part of it, and these player boards simply get in the way; thus we never use them and consider them the only waste of material used by Starling Games in the entire Everdell series.
The basic rules stay the same throughout as does the Spring, Summer, Autumn actions. The few differences in any of the expansions to the base game are virtually all add-ons and extensions to the cards, tokens, critters and the landscape, as well as the natural beauty of the overall presentation.
Note that (at the time of playing the game and writing this review) there is NO Collector's Edition to Bellfaire so the question most asked to me and GGO is 'Is it worth paying the quite considerable extra cash for the Collector's editions of the Base game and Spirecrest and Pearlbrook expansions? Let me try to sum this up in a fair way for the publisher and the player by rephrasing that to 'what do the Collector's editions add or bring to the game and do they change the enjoyment of playing?'
EVERDELL Basic Game: Required whatever expansions or separate add-ons you purchase.
COLLECTOR'S EDITION: @£90.00 Minor Disappointment: The Ever Tree is card and unstable. There is a wooden version available.
Legends Expansion (10 cards); 128 Critter and Construction cards (48 unique cards); 16 Event Mini-cards; 15 Extra! Extra! cards; Rugwort Pack (3 cards); 11 Forest Mini-cards
30 Berries; 30 Twigs; 25 Resin; 20 Pebbles; 30 Metal Point tokens ; 20 Wooden Occupied tokens; 24 Wooden workers; 6 Rat workers; 1 Upgraded 8-sided die; 1 Game Board,
1 Ever Tree, and Starter Event tiles; UV spot-coated box; Gold-foiled Gallery Slipcase
STANDARD EDITION: @£50.00
128 Critter and Construction cards (48 unique cards); 16 Event Mini-cards; 11 Forest Mini-cards; 30 Berries; 30 Twigs; 25 Resin; 20 Pebbles; 30 Point tokens; 20 Occupied tokens
24 Wooden workers; 1 8-sided die; 1 Game Board, 1 Ever Tree, and Starter Event tiles:
COLLECTOR'S EDITION: @£72.00 STANDARD EDITION: @£43.00
COLLECTOR'S EDITION: @£85.00 STANDARD EDITION: @£45.00
NO COLLECTOR'S EDITION: STANDARD EDITION: @£36.00
My Opinion: I love playing Everdell. We have grown into it, and it has grown with its expansions, so now we no longer wish to play without including ALL of the expansions and all the add-ons etc. It does, in truth, make it a little confusing to remember all the possibilities at first, agreed, but once you are into it you really are playing a £200.00+ boardgame at its greatest.
If Everdell is going to be another boardgame that you play once in a while then the basic version/edition of the Base game is all you need. At around the Fifty pound mark it sits comfortably, price-wise and component-wise, alongside any of the regarded 'best' boardgames of this century. It is an excellent, fun game, for casual play, and to a slightly lesser extent than some, strategic play. The base expansions add just enough to keep the interest high for the time you play with them, though the suggested exclusion of various cards, tokens, tiles and in fact the entirety of Pearlbrook in some cases, is a mite off-putting; one usually buys expansions to extend what you already have not to remove half of what you have in play already.
From a personal viewpoint I am surprised and slightly upset that there isn't a Collector's Edition of Bellfaire, there is scope for it amongst the components and of course room for a few 'extras' only available in the collector's box, though perhaps not quite as much as in the other box sets of the series.
For stunning visual effects that will draw almost anyone passing the table where Everdell is being played, the game's Collectible components are priceless. They [Collector's Editions] do add £109.00 to the cost of the game, but a quick look on eBay and game selling sites reveals that this currently is a good investment as games are 'out of stock' or otherwise quite pricey, which bodes well for the 'collector' who is looking to sell-on once the market has levelled out and the game becomes even more popular and want-able.