Review: Everdell Bellfaire – the Centennial Festival
Every year in the woods seems to be the same. At the beginning we are up to our ears in the snow, which melts quickly. Everything starts to bloom, flowers grow, later mushrooms, and finally the snow returns. We have been observing all this from our village for a very long time and it has never been different. But now our wise leaders have come up with the news that ninety-nine winters and the same number of other seasons have passed. It’s time to celebrate the 100th year of our village!
The village is called Everdell and is home to many animal species. Its design was taken care of by James A. Wilson, and the graphics of the box (and its exterior) were decorated by Andrew Bosley. The game is produced by Starling Games and the English version is distributed by Esdevium Games.
The box on the lid invites potential players to visit the year-long celebration. It occupies the same areas as the basic box, only it is much thinner. Inside there are a number of boards, some are common, others are designed for the players themselves. But there are also new cards and, above all, two new nations – cardinals and frogs.
But before we get into the details, we should remember how Everdell is played. In the beginning, players will spread out a selection of eight cards under a large cardboard tree. Each will then receive their own starting set of random cards and only two of the possible six pieces of the selected animal nation. Event boards and forest cards are arranged along the plan to determine the available events. With the help of animals, they get raw materials from the bank from here, and with their use, they can then unload the cards of creatures and buildings. Each building is then paired with a resident, where ownership of one player guarantees free unloading of the other. The cards themselves have different colors and effects. Gradually, the participants expand the ranks of their workers, progress through the seasons and try to collect victory points. At the end, the players compare their scores and find the winner.
But Bellfaire is a modular extension. This means that players can decide which parts to include in their game. There are a total of nine variants with which you can enrich your basic game.
Although the 3D tree is perceived by most players as an attraction and decoration of the game, some may not have it in love for folding it and placing the cards on its branches. It is here that Bellfaire’s new grand plan, which can replace the tree, gets its way and gets its attention. It offers enough space to place not only expansion workers, but also for the necessary cards. It also includes space for a market, flower festival and wreaths. But if players want to continue to use the impressive cardboard tree and the heart of the whole city, then instead of these positions, they must use and place three boards on the table, each with a special mission.
The flower festival is another event that has its own conditions. The player must accumulate one card of each suit and then send his worker here to receive a four-point reward. This only expands the variability and selection, but does not affect the classic course of the game.
Similarly, new event and forest location cards increase variability. The players simply shuffle these in preparation for the game and thus increase the selection and each game will be a little different. We welcome any such intervention, because it means new possibilities, but at the same time completely non-violent changes, which do not require any reading of the rules.
Players will now receive their own boards, which they can use to store resources and place chips. The boards are nicely illustrated, but have no real use. They only aesthetically enhance the impression of the decomposed game.
And now we finally get to the new mechanisms. The first is the garland award, which is handed out at the end of the game to the most successful player on the basis of a randomly drawn condition. It is visible from the beginning of the game.
Players can now trade with the help of the trade board. There they alternate and rotate depending on the use of tokens corresponding to different sources. One piece can always be obtained, then the same raw material can be changed, and then recovered. So it alternates depending on the choice of players. Exchanging raw materials is probably the most welcome addition to the game, because this is often missing.
The rules regulate and describe the principles in case more than the basic four players should participate in the game. Specifically, this is a variant for five to six participants. The basic set of cards and the number of events are modified. The game is of course longer, which has a negative effect on the overall experience. But it’s not that crucial, so if you get together more, you’ll appreciate this opportunity anyway.
However, we kept the most positively perceived novelty at the end. Each of the available nations (as well as those from other enlargements) are newly given a special ability. This is described in detail in the rules, but at the same time their representatives will also receive a corresponding description card. The specialties of the individual animals make sense and try to connect at least a little with the nature of the creature.
Players are free to decide which expansions they want to play with. Increasing the selection of some components is a matter of course and I recommend to do it immediately. The skills described in the last paragraph are also excellent. A small addition of asymmetry is a great idea, although it is not a significant difference. Even so, they are well balanced and no gender gains an unnecessary advantage.
The added small increase changes the balance of the game a bit, but subjectively we can say that the effect is entirely positive and the game is even more balanced. And despite all this, paradoxically, the most used extension in our country is the market, which opens up significantly more tactical control to players, especially in a higher number of participants (with five, it is absolutely necessary).
Everdell Bellfaire mainly adds cosmetic additives and trinkets. Included is a spare centerboard or player board that has no effect on the overall gameplay experience. And that’s probably the biggest problem with the new extension – the lack of content for those who want something new. Everdell Bellfaire is an extension that will please especially those who want to have their collection from the world of Divukraje complete, but you will probably do without it.
Review: Everdell Bellfaire – the Centennial Festival
Everdell Bellfaire is a modular extension that is mainly aimed at increasing the number of participants. But that will slow down the game. Once you get this extension, you can practically expect to always play with its components. There is nothing wrong with that, and on the contrary, everything moves the game slightly forward. These are small things, but they also count. Nevertheless, it remains true that this expansion is not significant and you will not know its effect on the game significantly. Everdell Bellfaire is pretty cool after all, just don't expect wonders.