Wednesday, July 9, 2014

You can't win them all

Most board games (at least, most of the ones we play) tend to be pretty violent. The goals are usually to crush your opponents in some form of battle, or avoid getting shot, stabbed, or devoured, either by the other players or by the game itself. So when we stumbled across Morels, a game about gathering mushrooms in the forest, we were a bit intrigued. The only even remotely violent thing about the game is that your goal upon gathering your mushrooms is to cook them and eat them.

Okay, the real reason we even looked at this game is because Katherine's maiden name is Morel. If nothing else, we thought it might make for a good Christmas present for her side of the family. But we weren't going to give a game that we couldn't vouch for, so we picked up a copy for ourselves to try it out.

Morels is a simple card matching game. Cards represent different varieties of mushrooms, and the goal is to play down melds of at least three of a given type, with the catch that you have to play them to a frying pan, and you get bonus points for adding butter or cider. The game revolves around a line of eight cards that move towards a "decay" pile and eventually go out of play. The farther along the line a card is, the more expensive it is (cards are bought using "foraging stick" tokens that sets of mushrooms can be traded for), but if you wait too long for the card you want to get closer to the decay, you risk it going out of play, or your opponent grabbing it.

For additional drama, there is a poisonous mushroom that reduces your hand size if you pick it up, but it is actually pretty easy to avoid so it doesn't really add much to the game. And that really is the problem with Morels: there just isn't much to this game.

We have no problem with a simple game, if it gives me something to offset that simplicity like an interesting world to visit, spectacular artwork to look at, or at least some of the sharp humor that James Ernest often uses to spice up simple games like Kill Doctor Lucky or The Big Idea. Alternatively, a seemingly uninteresting theme can be brought to life with clever game play. Unfortunately, Morels has none of these things. There's just not enough to it to engage our enthusiasm.

Rating 2 (out of 5) Not a bad game per se, just not a terribly interesting one.

Date played: May 26, 2014

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