After Origins 2012, I was surprised to hear many people whose opinion I respect say that the game that won the show for them was a small-box affair about dropping flowers. You mean you actually…just–drop flowers? That’s it?
When Asmadi Games launched their Kickstarter campaign a few weeks later and I saw the price point was only $15, I knew I had to get in on the action, if only to see what all the hoopla was about. I received my Kickstarted copy early (a first for me–what, no long delays overseas?) and immediately tested it out. But does it float gracefully or fall flat? Find out below!
How It Works
FlowerFall is a card-dropping area-control dexterity game for two to seven players. The goal of the game is to score the most points by controlling patches with green flowers.
At the start of the game, players toss the oversized starting terrain cards on the surface they’d like to play on.
Each player receives an identical deck of twelve cards in a player color. The back of every card features five green flowers completely surrounded by field; the front has at least one flower of the player’s color in some configuration with field, obstructing sidewalk, or green flowers.
On a player’s turn, the player draws the top card of his deck and may drop it (either side facing up) from eye level anywhere on the playing surface (usually preferably touching another card). The card can land anywhere and is always considered in play, even if it buries or is buried by another card or falls off the playing surface, but only visible flowers count at the end of the game. Anywhere there is green field connected on the cards, there is a patch. The number of green flowers in a patch represents the number of points the patch is worth, and each player’s colored flowers count toward control of the field–whoever has the most of their flowers in the field wins the patch at the end of the game. (So, for example, if at the end of the game there are three green point flowers, two red flowers, and one gray flower in a patch, red scores two points.)
Players drop their flower cards until their decks are empty. Points are tallied for each patch in the game, and the winner is the player with the most points.
Okay, I’ll admit it: the premise of FlowerFall is very silly. Very silly. In fact, the day I received the game and taught it to my wife, I had hardly got out, “Okay, you’ll be dropping your flower cards onto the table” before she gave me an incredulous look that said, No wooden cubes? Where’s the glowering medieval? When I confirmed that this was, indeed, how the game is played (and that no merchants or men on horses were in sight), she laughed. But she didn’t just laugh at the rules: she laughed through the whole experience–all ten games we played that night.
FlowerFall is outrageously fun. It’s the kind of game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and forms all kinds of hilarious situations because most people are not very good at dropping cards. And because the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, it allows the players to loosen up while playing. FlowerFall is not a brain-burner in any sense of the word, nor are the components anything to stop you in your tracks. But the game is novel, and while the artwork won’t turn heads, the gameplay almost certainly will.
But even though FlowerFall is not exactly a brain-burning game, there are a surprising number of factors to take into consideration on your turn (not least of which is wind speed and direction). You have to try to control patches. Do you go for the most contested patch which will likely be worth the most points but which will require you to waste a lot of your cards? Do you start a new patch in one of the outlying areas? Do you go for the finesse play to cover an opponent’s flower? Or do you not trust your flower-dropping skills? These considerations don’t lend themselves to a full-fledged strategy, but they do offer players choices, and choices that matter.
FlowerFall is by no means the ideal game for every gaming situation, but it fills the niche it sits in perfectly: it is a filler game that can accommodate up to seven players (and as few as two, surprisingly) comfortably and can–quite literally–be carted and played anywhere. The box can comfortably fit in a pocket. The playing surface can be anything: a table, the ground, a messy dorm room floor during exam week. The rules are simple enough for just about anyone to understand, and whereas younger players might not understand the ins-and-outs of strategy, they don’t need to. The game is fun, even if you’re just dropping cards on the table. Yes, the game has a goal–score points!–but it’s hard to get too invested in that goal or to take it too seriously when an unexpected puff of air can derail your strategy. (Younger players also have a slight advantage in FlowerFall: their eyes are closer to the ground.)
FlowerFall will have its haters, no question. Despite the considerations that players can make, the game is light, and your moves are often thwarted by forces outside your control. But to me, the game is a blast, just about wherever and however it’s played. The gameplay is novel enough to keep me interested, but it’s not a novelty in the sense that I think it will grow stale quickly. There really is a fun game here buried beneath the pretty flowers.