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Subject: Indian Summer: May Contain Nuts rss

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Craig Williams
United Kingdom
Liverpool
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This was a blind buy from Essen 2017, why? Well it's Uwe Rosenberg. Was that a good reason or did I fall for the equivalent of a A list movie star pushing a B movie cash in...

The talk of Indian Summer was that it would be a gamer version of Cottage Garden, more player interaction and less of a gateway title. I don't own (or have actually played) Cottage Garden but I am a big fan of his first polyomino laying game Patchwork. So with this, combined with fantastic looking production and a theme that sounded delightful, I happily handed over my crisp Euro notes at the Stronghold booth.

Great so you like Uwe games and you bought it, but what do you do?
The game is actually very simple, the first player to completely cover their player board in leaf litter tiles wins.

Thanks, well that helps...
Ok, so there is a bit more to it than that but not really too much. You have a 'player path' of leaf litter tiles that start out giving you a mix of 3, 4 and 5, square polyominos. On your turn you can take any one of the five tiles in your player path and place them on your board. Here is where we have a few new mechanisms in the arranging tiles on a board, holes and treasures. More leaf litter tiles are arranged around the central animal tile board, the common path, and you use these to replace your player path when you have used them all up.

What? Treasures, now you have lost me.
Treasures are the special action granting power up that let you manipulate the way you restock your player path, steal a tile from your opponents, get a free squirrel (who doesn't want free squirrels) or place a bonus tile on your board. Thematically these actions are represented by berries, mushrooms, hazelnuts and feathers, other than the hazelnuts attracting squirrels it is quite abstracted but its just all so lovely and charming you find yourself quite happily accepting it.

And now you are going to tell us how you get these then?
This is where the holes come into play. The player boards are divided up into six areas consisting of twelve squares each. Some of those squares have the symbol for either a berry, mushroom, nut or feather on them. If you place your leaf litter tiles properly and match the hole in the tile to the symbol, you get to place a token of that type on top of the tile. When you cover all 12 squares in a section you can claim any tokens onto of the leaf litter tiles.

Hang on, I'm sure you mentioned animals and squirrels...
Squirrels are the leather patches of Patchwork or the plant pots of Cottage Garden. You can , instead of placing a leaf litter tile, place a squirrel tile. The single square squirrels can get you out of that mess you have found yourself in (down there in the bottom right of the board, you missed that didn't you...oops, dont worry squirrel to the rescue). The animals are a way of doubling down on all that hard work you have put in to making your holes gain you Treasures. The central board has different shaped polynomial tiles each with a different animal, or animal and bonus treasure, on it. If you make a pattern of holes that matches the animal tile you can cover those holes with the animal, providing you have already claimed the Treasures. The animal tiles then grant you bonus Treasure tokens for the holes under them that also have a Treasure symbol under the leaf liter tiles.

And that's it?
That's really most of it, the treasure tokens can be exchanged at any time for a Treasure less valuable than it (feathers > nuts > mushrooms > berries) or you can trade two lower value Treasures for the next most valuable one above it (two berries for a mushroom or two mushrooms for a nut etc.)


Great, but that is a lot of reading and I have other games to look at (or I am in work reading this and need to be quick) what does it do well?
First off it really does look stunning just like Cottage Garden and I really like the setting, even I am struggling to call it a theme though. It is very quick to set up and get going and the turns are smooth and can be fast (the caveat of the AP prone player is there as always). The rule book is very good and points out a bit of strategy along the way.

As this is a pure race to cover your board first the main decisions are whether to make best use of the tiles for coverage or to get the Treasures. Do you worry about getting an animal tile bonus or just keep placing those perfect tiles and hope for a swift win. The Treasures give you lots of flexibility letting you get a particularly useful piece from an opponent or claiming a resupply early from the common path. And of don't forget the afore mentioned free squirrels.

If you have Treasures left, they only come into play after the game has ended as a tie breaker or as the other players scramble to convert everything into nuts and then go about recruiting hoards of the hazelnut addicted bushy tailed wee beasties to possibly fill in the missing gaps.

Ok, Ok, so you bought it and want to sing its praises, what didn't you like?
So this is after only a few plays as a 2-player, so take that under advisement. All of our games have been close, this is usually a good thing but Indian Summer goes to another level of close. Even though it ends when someone completely filled their player board, we found that the other player had enough treasures to get enough squirrels that it had to come down to the tie breaker of who has the most nuts left. In one of the games this was also tied. Now, the rule book does make the point that having too many treasures left at the end of the game means that you have played sub optimally...I'm happy to accept this after only a few plays and I agree, the game does need the player to be much more aggressive in using the special bonuses. How to do this seems to be a bit of a learning curve. So while this sounds a bit of a negative at first (and I'm sure this may put many off the game) I feel that it is a hidden depth in the game that the player will appreciate with more plays. Which is easy as it plays so quickly.

The only other, minor, concern was the animal tiles. This again I think is part of the balance of the game but despite getting an animal tile each game and my partner did not, they won 2 of the 3 games (the third being a draw). I was a little disappointed that the animal tiles, while charming, didn't seem to actually do much. Hopefully this will be addressed with more plays however.


So, yes, it is quite abstracted and in true Uwe Rosenberg style it is evolution of an idea not revolution but the game is smooth, deceptively deep, has a fair amount of player interaction, is very easy to set up (an increasingly important factor in us getting a game to the table after a busy work week combined with 2yr old twins) and a lovely game to sit in front of on a nice crisp autumn afternoon, it is hard not to like it...Though, Im not going nuts over it just yet.
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Ethan Furman
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Nice review. It would be a little easier to read if the questions you were asking at the beginning of a paragraph were separate paragraphs themselves.
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Thomas Decru
Belgium
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Nice review. I agree with the agressive treasure usage and tieing a lot. Definitely felt a bit weird at first but I ended up liking it.

I'm not sure why you are dissapointed by not having won despite getting a single animal tile while your opponent had none. Animal tiles are just a small part of the game, not a massive (unbalanced) advantage to be had. I see no reason to get an animal tile just for the sake of getting one. For example if it's just to get 1 or 2 more berries there is not that much point in general (unless all your pieces happen to fit).
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Craig Williams
United Kingdom
Liverpool
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stoneleaf wrote:
Nice review. It would be a little easier to read if the questions you were asking at the beginning of a paragraph were separate paragraphs themselves.



Thanks for the suggestion, I will give it a go.
 
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Craig Williams
United Kingdom
Liverpool
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Spamz wrote:
Nice review. I agree with the agressive treasure usage and tieing a lot. Definitely felt a bit weird at first but I ended up liking it.

I'm not sure why you are dissapointed by not having won despite getting a single animal tile while your opponent had none. Animal tiles are just a small part of the game, not a massive (unbalanced) advantage to be had. I see no reason to get an animal tile just for the sake of getting one. For example if it's just to get 1 or 2 more berries there is not that much point in general (unless all your pieces happen to fit).



Yes, you are right, they are only a small part of the game. I lost as I wanted the fox and played badly...not a fault of the game. I think that just highlights the hidden depth to the game.
 
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Thomas Decru
Belgium
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Willhiem wrote:
Yes, you are right, they are only a small part of the game. I lost as I wanted the fox and played badly...not a fault of the game. I think that just highlights the hidden depth to the game.

You may not have won but at least you had the cutest animal tile! Can't blame you for going for it.
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Craig Williams
United Kingdom
Liverpool
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Haha....I call him Bob
 
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Miche
Germany
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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat...
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Very nice review. It's completely in line with my own experiences.

Just one minor thing:
Willhiem wrote:
You can , instead of placing a leaf litter tile, place a squirrel tile.

That's not quite correct. You can play a nut (or several for that matter) in addition to your normal tile.

The berries and nuts you can do at liberty during your turn. Feather and mushroom replace your default tile laying action.

I'm now curious to see it more often in a bigger group, but for two, it's nice!
 
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Hobbes master
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da_miche wrote:
Very nice review. It's completely in line with my own experiences.

Just one minor thing:
Willhiem wrote:
You can , instead of placing a leaf litter tile, place a squirrel tile.

That's not quite correct. You can play a nut (or several for that matter) in addition to your normal tile.

The berries and nuts you can do at liberty during your turn. Feather and mushroom replace your default tile laying action.

I'm now curious to see it more often in a bigger group, but for two, it's nice!


In fact, the review is absolutely correct. As your main action, you may either place a leaf tile or take a squirrel tile from the supply and place it on your board.
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