the grimm forest (2018) review
Like any tale, it starts with a "once upon a time". The story I am going to tell you happened a long time ago. His Excellency, King Reginald the Gourmand, decided to embark on a huge project by developing unexploited land near the mysterious Grimm Forest. Far from thinking of the happiness and serenity of the inhabitants of the kingdom, the Lord imagined firstly to fill the coffers of the kingdom with the resale of these habitable lands. He therefore appealed to the legendary builders of the kingdom. Alas for him, the three little pigs, because it was them, have aged well since their last buildings. Their legendary abilities only seem ... legendary. From then on, his excellence was looking for replacements who can fulfill his wishes. This is how the famous title of Royal Builder is awarded in a competition.
That's about the beginning of this tale. The rest is up to you to write or rather to live. The Grimm Forest immerses you in an enchanted universe of tales. The game of Tim Eisner (March on the Ants, Tidal Blades)offers us the opportunity to embody the competitors as Royal Builders. It was funded on Kickstarter by Druid City Games in 2018 and will be published in French later in 2019 by Lucky Duck Games.
Playable from 2 to 4 players, the game really interesting at the four player count. The goal of the game is to be the first to make three houses on this land, in the three different materials: straw, wood and brick (just like the little pigs did). Of course, each type of house requires different resources. And is played in two phases.
The first is the search for resources. There are four different places: the forest, the quarry, the field and the market (four players). Each player has a card of each location in their hand. They then secretly choose one place and everyone reveals it at the same time, then places their pig on the destination of the card.
This guessing phase works a little like the game, Crossing. If you are alone in your area, then you take all the resources present. If you are several, you share equitably between you (there is the difference compared to Crossing, where we did not win anything). Simple, fun and cunning but not too punishing.
The second phase corresponds to the stage of construction and expenditure of resources. During this phase, players have two actions. Among these actions a pig can draw a Fable card, or recover a resource of any type, or build. Here you will be able to start building your houses. By spending the proper resources, you will be able to recover pieces of a house. The house consists of three pieces: the foundations, the walls and the roof.
It's easy to be builders right? Whenever a piece of a house is made, a friend (these are cards) will join you to help. You can keep this fairy friend or send it to another player. Each friend brings you more or less important powers. But you only have enough room for one friend (it can be expensive to employ outside help). So, if your opponent has a powerful ally, it can be fun to impose a new one on them. It takes the place of that powerful one and without your opponent having a say in the matter. The door is always wide open after all.
I also mentioned the possibility of recovering Fable cards. These are one shots that will help you in your fight or your construction. These cards usually bring a bit of Take That to the game. And as soon as it's played, it's gone.
And that's all ... Yes the game boils down to that. It is not a complicated game, nor a game too long. The game plays between thirty minutes and one hour. The interest of the game will be wholly in the resource phase and from trying to guess where the others will go, while going to a place that interests you. Fable’s cards will also play an important role. Whether in our production capacity and our ability to progress but also in the fun of a game.
The Grimm Forest at first glance could pose as a childish game by its graphics, its theme, its relative simplicity. But it is not so. With short and simple rules, it manages to offer a slightly higher challenge comparison to a child's level. On the contrary, the game is too simple for expert players to not get bored (too) quickly. So there are the families left.
But the problem that arises at this moment is the price. The game is quite expensive. I’m not saying that it's not worth it (I'll come back to that soon after) but for a family budget, it’s a little high. The Grimm Forest has a rather strange place but it has happened to find an audience.
The strength of the game does not come from the theme or mechanisms. It should not be ignored, the most important interest and attractions come from the material and graphics. The illustrations by Noah Adelman (My Little Scythe), Lina Cossette (Brass: Lancashire), David Forest (Charterstone) are magnificent. They have done an exemplary job on this game. Everything transpires the theme and the magic of these tales. As for the material, from the opening of the box, it’s an eye full. The figurines are superb. They are detailed and quite impressive. Which is even more impressive (it’s a pity?) since in the end, some will be not enough used. The resources are easily identifiable and pleasant to handle. The houses fit together perfectly and the rendering is top. The cards are good qualities. Hardware level, there is nothing to say apart from there is nothing to fault.
You'll understand, I love this game. I find the magical fairy side very appreciable. It exudes a charm due in large part to its artistic direction to small details. On the other hand, it is true that in terms of playful interest, the game will have difficulty finding its public. Even if it remains playable at two (the presence of a neutral player is a palliative to the lack of tension) or three, it is four that becomes really interesting. Below, the game loses its interest and especially its risk taking.
It is a game based on a race mechanism (first-come, first to build everything, first to win). For a family audience that is not afraid of exceeding playtimes of 45 minutes, the game can easily find a good home in the cottages. It remains a superb game, simple, interesting and very pleasant to play. Luck is of course present (as if luck was absent from the tales) in the decks of cards: Fables or friends. But it does not play a determining role in winning. The Grimm Forest is a bit like the tales of the Brothers Grimm, a good game with potential but not to put in everybody's hands.
Technical Score 9,5/10
The illustrations are superb. The cards are good qualities, just like the material. The figures are superb (too bad we do not use them anymore). The storage is really suitable (to be seen for the VF). The rules are clear.
My BGG Score 8/10
(Very good. play it and recommend it)
A good game that has a special care for its content. We can regret a lack of challenge that can occur between players, but in families it works really well. Even if you find yourself immersed in a magical universe, the theme is less enchanting.
Combined Score 8.75/10
And now it’s over to you...