Convergent Games brings us their first game Crop Cycle. Crop Cycle is a farming themed card game that highlights Canadian agriculture, particularly the province of Manitoba. 2-5 players, ages 6+, compete to be the first to gain five harvest points.
In Crop Cycle, there are a few types of cards that come in the game. In the picture above, the cards on the right are crop cards, the card in the center bottom is the Seasons card, and the cards on the left with the blue borders are Farmer’s Fortune and utility cards. There are also some +1/-1 tokens and harvest point tokens that come in the game to be used for points or by certain cards and a reference card,
To set up the game, separate the tokens and set them aside. Next, remove the Seasons card and the reference card and place them in the middle of the table. Place 1 harvest point token on the Spring Season to indicate the starting season. Next shuffle all of the remaining cards and place in the middle of the table to form the draw pile. Deal 5 cards to each player from the draw pile to create the starting hand.
Each round represents a season and the seasons will change. This is important because the one of the main mechanics of the game is time, specifically the season. Each season has two phases: planting phase and harvest phase. The first phase is the planting phase. During the planting phase players may plant a crop card or 2 of the same crop in either their own field or in an opponent’s field. Some cards are weeds and you may want to plant them in an opponent’s field to hinder their progress. The crop cards also have a harvest point value on them, the type of crop and also the season in which it can be harvested. After the player plants a crop card, he/she may play 1 Utility card. Players may not plant Crop cards after playing a Utility card. The next player performs the Planting phase until all players have performed the planting phase.
Next the players move into the Harvest phase. Before performing any other actions in the Harvest phase, if a player has no cards in hand, they may immediately draw 1 card. Next, beginning with the first player and continuing in turn order, players harvest all crops in their field that are harvestable this season.Each card has a specific season as to which they can be harvested as noted by the shovel on the card. Players receive harvest points for each crop brought in. Some weeds prevent crops from being harvested. Harvest continues until all players have had the opportunity to harvest. If a player reached 5 harvest points, the game ends immediately and that player wins. If the season is Winter, remove all planted crops unless stated on the cards.
After the Harvest phase, move the Season marker to the next Season and repeat the phases again. There are some additional actions available to draw cards or discard cards to draw new ones.There are also opportunities to discard cards in order to do weeding to remove weed cards from your field. There are also some Farmer’s Fortune cards that add some extra excitement to the game as well.
Crop Cycle is a nice lighter style card game that has a good farming theme. I really like the style of artwork used for the cards and the information on the cards is easy to read and understand. There is more to the game than just playing cards. This game has a lot to do with timing! Like real farming, there are specific seasons that crops are planted and harvested. Crop Cycle takes this reality and applies it in the game. There are some really cool crops that can be planted in the game such as fall rye, alfalfa, corn, tomatoes, and berries. The game also brings about the challenges and innovations of farming with the utility cards, Some utility cards are used against your opponents bring to light insect and weed pressure, disease, drought, herbicides, and birds that can eat away the crops you planted. Other utility cards give you advantages and bonuses. Things like greenhouses, crop rotation, fertilizer, and bees all increase your crops and harvests. There are Farmer’s Fortune cards that can help you cancel the effects of utility cards.
The changing of Seasons is key to this game. It controls the pace of the game, giving many opportunities for players to plant and harvest crops, as well as play cards against opponents to slow their progress. For many crops, the Winter season removes the cards and you have to start over.
This game takes the farming theme found in many euro-games and applies it to a more competitive, interactive card game. The game presents a good overall look at production agriculture; planted crops from Manitoba, Canada, modern farming practices, and of course both the help and hindrances of Mother Nature: weeds, insects, weather, and more.
From a family perspective, the game educates players about farming, showing that there is more than just planting and harvesting. The game also stresses hand management to be effective in playing the right cards as well as being able to get rid of the not so nice cards.
Overall, the game has a good flow to the game. The seasons keep the game interesting. Sometimes the games seem a little short, with a player able to get 5 harvest points rather quickly. Simply adjust the number of harvest points to make the game longer. Simple rules and a short playing time make this game ideal for families and for a nice filler at a larger game gathering. Being involved in the agriculture industry, I like this game especially in that it teaches quite a bit about farming. This is a game I recommend and suggest backing the project. To support the Crop Cycle Kickstarter, click the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1776342422/crop-cycle?ref=nav_search