A Game of Majestic Trees & Falling Leaves
Design: Daryl Andrews & Erica Bouyouris
Publisher: Floodgate Games
Illustrator: Kwanchai Moriya
In local stores and online between £30.00 - £40.00
There seems to be a fair number of games these past 12 months that use 3D Trees as components, and BOSK is the latest in this genre to cross my desk. It not only crossed my desk, it also landed on my table, many times, in fact you can make that many, many times. This became a firm favourite after the first play, but of course we had to play it several more times to make sure we liked it; then we had to play it some more to make sure we hadn't made a mistake about liking it.
By the way, if you were wondering why the game is called BOSK, the dictionary definition is "a small wooded area".
There are the awesome 3D trees and their wooden counterpart tokens. Standing tall, the trees are in four sets of shapes and colours, player's pieces with each set numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4. There is one minor, very minor, contention with the trees, and that is although they are different shapes and colours, the colours (apart from the Yellow) are Red, Purple and Orange, the three of which under general home lighting look very similarly coloured. You can discern them through their shapes but the differences are rather subtle and again house lighting doesn't help. I know these are seasonal colours but I do believe a Tan or Brown instead of either the Orange or Red would have possibly been slightly better and still within the theme.
The board represents part of a beautiful National Park and the players are arborists, each looking after one species of the four most popular (or Poplar) trees growing within the park's boundaries. The board represents various areas of the National Park, colourfully designed along and around the edges of the overlaid square grid.
Played over a year via the four seasons, it is in the Springtime that players grow their trees on the intersections of the grid squares. By placing trees in the same trails, (the Rows and Columns not diagonally) points are gained as Spring turns to Summer and visitors to the park enjoy the nature walks.
When Autumn (Fall) arrives, the leaves fall and form paths as they are blown by the wind. The direction of the wind is determined by the Wind Board that the first player (each turn) places along one side of the Park and the arrows on its eight phase spaces. The first four of these phases are numbered 1-4 and depending which one is current players have to blow their leaves (small wooden leaf shapes) from one of their trees with that number, From phase 5 onward the players can select any of their trees that haven't been selected in the first four phases - no tree may be blown twice in one round.
Leaves can be placed in either of the two spaces in front of the tree and then continue blowing forward into one of the three adjacent squares and so on. This means that leaves may land on top of already placed leaves and this costs the loss of one of their wooden leaves back to the box, out of the game, unless their own leaf is the one on top of the square. It's not as complicated as I make it sound. Basically you just place leaves in as many squares as you can in the direction determined by the blow of the wind. Once a tree has shed its leaves it is returned back to its owner - it is important that you remember to remove the trees otherwise it can bcome quite confusing.
Each player also has the assistance of the lovable woodland squirrels. These take over a space within 3 squares of the selected tree and cannot be covered by leaves of any colour. Once the trees are returned Winter freezes the ground and players score the different regions/areas according to the most leaves of a single colour; players may tie for first or second place and score points accordingly.
The forest pieces are generated from heavy card shaped into large leaves, pieces that slot together to form the trees and wooden leaf shapes, all of which fit neatly into the four small boxes constructed by a deft bit of orgami with the included card sheets.
This isn't a complicated or even complex game. It is a very clever strategy game in the tile placing genre. The idea of the different regions within the park's boundaries is good but not new but again the choice of colours doesn't sit particularly comfortable with the natural colours of the park; in fact it makes the park itself look more like an abstract painting by Picasso than it does a National Park map.
The colouring may not be to my personal taste but the game itself most certainly is.