PEARLBROOK Collector's Edition is a creative addition to the world of Everdell. Like the base game, EVERDELL, which is required, it is designed by James A Wilson and beautifully illustrated by Andrew Bosley. This game just gets better and better, in play, in appearance, in fun, in illuistrations and in elite Collectible pieces.
Pearlbrook introduces us to the water-world and the creatures that live in the River (the Pearl Brook add-on board) which is found to the South of the Ever-Tree that we first discovered in the original game and that still stands immense overlooking the lively panoramic world of wonderful creatures and adventures.
The cool, deep blue, waters of the Pearl Brook have recently been found to contain actual Pearls, four of which can be obtained from the depths by using the (new) Frog Ambassadors because none of the older or newly introduced Critters are equipped to swim out and down to them. There are additional Frog Ambassadors in the player colours from the Everdell base game so that all Critters can be used in each game.
These four Pearls begin on randomly drawn from the dozen face down River Destination cards. Once a Frog lands on them they flip over and reveal an effect, but to be able to activate it you need to use your Frog again and that cannot happen until the next season when the player/s regain their Critters. The Frogs cannot be used as Critters and Critters cannot be used as Frogs.
Pearlbrook brings four more Critter families to its banks, looking for work. These are the Platypl, the Azolotls, Otters and Starlings and players can use a set of these instead of one of the Critter sets from Everdell. Despite there being these four new sets, plus 9 (larger) Frogs, this remains a 4-player game.
Apart from different Critter families and Frog companions, Pearlbrook has Pearls (naturally) which are very shiny and visually attractive. Pearls have a value at the game end but they are best used for buying the special Wonders; these take over from the Basic Event Bonus Tiles and offer far greater Victory Points. The Basic Events are valued at 3 VPs each, the Wonders have 10, 15, 20 and 25 point values. The Wonders are cardboard sculptures of a Tower, a Bridge, a Fountain and a Gate.
The Ever Tree holds 8 Event cards which players gain by collecting the two buildings in their City as shown on the Event card. Pearlbrook adds 6 more events to be shuffled in with the basic deck. There has to be a Pearlbrook Event on the tree, so shuffle one into the 8 and it gives a little more atmospheric flavour to the game. The same goes for the new Forest cards which you shuffle into the draw deck for the Forest spaces; a little finagling to include at least one of these just for fun's sake doesn't hurt. Having random Event and Forest cards each game ensures you cannot find a game-breaking routine.
Pearls can also be used to activate the adornments each player draws at the start of the game. Each player starts with 2 adornment cards that have special advantageous effects; once used they are not replaced. They cost one Pearl to use and Pearls aren't especially easy to come by (2 resources and 2 cards at the Shoal; the Shoal being one of the newly added location tiles that are part of the Pearl Brook), so ensure the adornment's effect is worth you spending one on it.
The new Critter and Construction cards are shuffled in with the similar basic cards, but they have their own specific expansion icon on them for quick removal should you wish, or need, to separate them. They add some great new, and occasionally frustrating (Pirates for example), Critters and buildings to the game, many with new effects and locations that make the Green cards which dominate Everdell not quite so dominate. It is recommended that unless you are playing the solo game you do not use the Rugwort add-on. Rightly or wrongly, we now always leave Rugwort in just for his nuisance value. We don't use it as a house rule we simply flout the suggestion, it's just that once you know the game the Rats become a great part of the story.
Everdell plus expansions is a beautifully designed and produced game. In my original appraisal of the Collector's Edition of EVERDELL I said I thought there was a little over-cooking on the components compared to those in the basic game. I will take that back now, having played the PEARLBROOK Collector's Edition mixed in with the Everdell game the overall appearance is a wonderful work of art.
Everdell is not over-expensive in its basic format editions, though if it is a game you are likely to keep, either to play it regularly (or simply add it to your collection) then the Collector's editions are definitely worth having - but be prepared for a £25.00-£30.00 price difference between the two. Pearlbrook costs about the same as Everdell for similar editions, but it is a definate expansion NOT a stand-alone that can be bolted on; it is definitely integral to building the ongoing story.
One of the things I am hoping for is that the publishers will eventually do what another game company did (Themeborne - Escape the Dark Castle) did and produce a triple size 'empty' box (although it doesn't have to be empty, it could house a new expansion) where you can keep all of your Everdell cards and pieces safely under one roof. As it is we (me being lazy) basically put the Everdell and Pearlbrook components into both boxes when we finish playing, taking not an iota of concern what goes into which box, just as long as they are safely stored.
As in Everdell, there are a lot of decisions to make, including managing your resources and your Workers. You are still required to build a 15 card city using Critters and Constructions. You still pay costs according to the cards, and you still get to place Critters for free if their building is already in your city (Monk to Monastery etc). There are a lot of locations, more and different with the addition of Pearlbrook, that provide resources and at which only one Critter per turn can occupy, but of course there is always more than one action you desperately need to take. Choices, choices, choices.
Everdell alone and with Pearlbrook is 'one of those games', you know what I mean, so many possibilities but not enough actions, and whatever you decide to do, the moment after you have done it you wish you had taken another option.
If you are thinking of purchasing PEARLBROOK you must already own EVERDELL. Because it is not a stand-alone expansion and thus cannot be played without Everdell, Pearlbrook is as near a gaming necessity as possible. It enlarges, it enhances, it expands and it exhilerates.
If you want to get excited about a game, EVERDELL is the game to be excited about.Go BIG, Go Collectible!