Review: Citrus – oranges, lemons and grapefruits at your fingertips
Plantation of citrus fruits needs a large pile of sunshine. That’s why its necessary to grow them in a fiery furnace of Spain or Italy, where power of the sun in the summer is unknown to us in Central Europe. Yet the path to a farm engaged in the cultivation of peeling fruits is easier, than it seems.
At least on the living room table with a board game called Citrus. But we are not so far, we are only getting acquainted with this box. Therefore this is the right place to tell you, that this game was published by dlp games and its author is Jeffrey D. Allers, an architect from Berlin. Result of his work was enriched with illustrations by Klemens Franz.
The box is all orange, just as it ought to be on the cover of such game about fruit with a hard crust on the surface and sweet juice inside. We shall now find out, how sweet is content hidden inside for us – players. First of all, there is a large double-sided square board, which vary in size of playing fields on either side. All places for planting citrus trees have a square shape and some are wearing letters. All around it is nothing else than a scoring scale. On it, you will chase your rivals with one of the pieces in your colors. These figures with a hat are ready for each of the six opponents.
Greatest presents are waiting for players in sheets full of cardboard. First of all, there are small boards for players, which show a table for tracking money with a view into your garden. Even greater is board with twelve diamond fields, which will serve as game market. With this place are closely connected seed tiles – eighteen from each of the five species. This proveds a total of ninety square tiles, that are differentiated by color to orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime and blood orange. Some have a well drawn on them for better watering.
But that does not make component list complete at all. There are unusual annular tokens of money and fifteen houses (fincas), in which all citrus growers stay and supervise their crops. Listing then ends with small round tokens for vacant land with letters, but above all thirty octagonal terrain tokens. Each is wearing some symbols, you will be interested later in the game.
You can put them direclty on game board, which should be lying on the table by now. Each box displaying on the board shrub must contain one such landscape piece and straight with its image up. Fincas are put on letters A, B, C and D. Then all other small pieces of vacant land are shuffled and placed on three randomly revealed letters.
Right next to the game board, there is seed market, which has the full range of twelve randomly selected crops at the beginning. There is also a place to put drawing pile of fincas and landscapes on it. Each of the opponents gets his set of farmers, one money token and also his home board to put them all on. Value marker is placed on a six, while workers are looking on their garden through five niches. The remaining sixth one will embark on a scoring scale and stand on zero points on the board.
Game consists of only two actions. Player can only make one of them, before passing the word to hiss rivals. This is how all alternated until the end of the match. And what are those two actions to choose from? Just as you’d expect, they’re building and harvest.
First must be logically building, before we can rejoice about some products. To do this, player has to first buy a plantation in the market for his money. Farmer can choose any row or column on the double-M-shaped board, offering variety of tiles. But he always has to buy them all from that line. For each seed obtained, he must pay one gold, which he simply marks on his board. Offer market will not be replenished yet. Player should be careful about selection and pay attention, if those pieces can be placed on the board. Otherwise he not only returns these plantations, but still has to pay extra penalty.
Now is the time to place them on the board and in near future begin to enjoy its fruits. New plantation can be placed only in a location, that is adjacent to the group of plantations or to a finca, where all the crops can be managed by one employee. Since each such dwellings has four ways leading to it, each of it must grow other fruit. Player puts one of his workers on this plantation, in case he is starting a new orchard.
Once the finca is surrounded by plantations on all sides, it is time to score it. Each competitor can calculate area of his orchards and accordingly split the victory points, that are mentioned on the surrounding building. Player with the largest area gets a higher reward, while the second one then gets remaining lower value. Other gardeners get nothing.
Market supplies are also important during the game. Their availability is same until last three sets to purchase remain and only then, whole market gets replenished. At this time, there is also time to build a new one finca on the board in addition to actual ones, so building possibilities are extended.
But this is still not everything, because in their turn, player can also harvest. This must be done instead of building. Players gets one point in harvested areas for their build tile or two for plantation with a well. While trees will remain on the board, players pawn is returned to his reserve and can be sent out again. Number of free laborers also determines, how much money a player gets for harvest.
Game ends, when all plantations from inventory are built. Now is the time to score other fincas on the board, which were not completely surrounded by crops. In addition, players will receive rewards for small location tiles gained in some places of the board. Player with the highest points acquired is the winner.
Citrus is a classic euro thinking game, but it does not bring anything completely new or surprising. What we like the most about this game is theme itself and market mechanism, which forces you to always buy more tiles. And you have to watch for it.
Why? Because there is other unusual stuff in here. We are talking about a penalty for piece, player is unable to place on the board according to rules. This is usually not done in other games, because there is sufficient punishment in returning, what you have paid for. Here, author considered option to take unwanted pieces and return them too strong, because it could be used to disadvantage of other players (at least we guess this is the reason).
Players are fighting for for areas on the board, that are connected to each finca. Figures of workers remain on the board until the moment, when player is awarded points. This is where important management of resources enters the game, because only by doing a harvest, player gets not only his pawn back, but also is rewarded with money allowing him to buy another tiles.
Very important is also a positional play, because you can join and point again some of the neutral and already scored orchards! It just depends on good tactics and planning. There is no luck in the game (with the exception of market), so players are free to plan their actions and know exactly, what they would get.
Because there game are always all the pieces of plantations involved in the game, experience is similar in two or more opponents. Just points are significantly different as well as freedom on the board. Nevertheless players will experience conflicts even in the duel, because they meet easily on the board, because there is limited number of fincas. This means, that map is well designed and gets plus points for the overall feel.
Also game time does not differ significantly with increasing number of players. Individual scorings are a little more difficult, but some players get nothing even when present there, which makes them more interesting for everyone. Thanks to this, gameplay seamlessly maintains within one hour limit (on the shorter side), which corresponds to strategic game concept.
Significant impact on the whole game also have terrain tiles, which we have not really described in the rule section of our review. Thirty tiles offer not only rewards in points in end of the game, but also a variety of events and additional opportunities, that enrich the game. Overall, game is quite variable due to randomly drawn pieces of plantations and terrain. Also the whole development of the game is different, because each finca has different point rewards and are added to different places each game.
Overall, Citrus is ultimately a pleasant strategy game, even though it does not really bring anything new to the genre. It features a variable game double-sided game board, that affects the game well and provides plenty of tactical options, though players have only two actions to choose from in their turn. That’s why turns are fast and Citrus will entertain euro game fans, but it can be used without problems as beginners or family game.
Review: Citrus – oranges, lemons and grapefruits at your fingertips
Citrus takes us to the orchards, where players fight for dominance and size of each plantation. They send their workers to the game board in order to cultivate fruit in the vicinity of a building called finca. You will encounter scoring twice in the game - one depends on the surrounding buildings themselves, while the other on players decision, when he decides to withdraw his employee back. Only then will he also receive finance, which allow him to buy next set of plantations from the market. He always gets more than one tree, because players buy fruit in the entire rows or columns. The game is balanced and fun all in number of players, while it does not take too long. Everything is fast, turns are quick and individual matches are sufficiently different. The game itself is simple and easily presentable to beginners or families with children. Citrus does not create any breakthroughs, but it certainly is a nice strategy game.