Game: The Grimm Forest
Designer: Tim Eisner
Published: Druid City Games
Playtime: 40-60 Minutes
Play Type: Resource Management/ Take That/ Set Collection
Generations may have gone by, but the descendants of The Three Little Pigs still face the same adversity that they have for generations. That does not stop them though, they have entered a house building competition. All eyes are on you as you compete against the other pigs to build the best houses, as quickly as possible. There will be friends and foes around every corner, either to lend a hand or hinder your progress. May the best pig win.
Game play is easy, but engaging. The goal of the game is to be the first person to complete 3 houses of any material. However, if two players complete three houses in the same turn, the player with the houses made of stronger material will win. You reach this goal by gathering materials from one of four different collection tiles, and then using those resources to build the three different section of the houses. Each part of the house becomes increasingly more expensive, and some materials are slightly more difficult to get than others.
The game takes place over a repetition of three phases. During the first phase, players will secretly select up to two cards. The first card is the gathering card. Each player must place one gathering card, which depicts the tile that they plan to gather resources from. The second card is an optional fable card. The fable card is a one time use card that can do a variety of things to assist the player or hinder the other players. Some of the fable cards activate immediately, while others activate the next turn. Once all cards have been selected, any players who have opted to use a fable card will reveal them and take the action indicated. It is important to remember, if you draw a monster card, you must place it immediately on one of the four gathering tiles. There may only be one monster per tile. Once all the fable cards have taken their action, players then reveal their gathering card and place their pig on the tile of their choosing. Players will then take the resources at that tile. If multiple players are at the same tile, they will draft the resources evenly. The players will each take a resource until the resources could no longer be evenly divided. Any leftover loot will remain on the board for future rounds. Once this has been done, players check to ensure that none of their fables activate after the gathering phase. After all fable cards have been activated, players will discard any used fable cards, and return their gathering card to their hand.
Phase two begins after the cleaning up in the first phase. During phase two, players are able to do any two actions of the following four: draw a fable card, take any one resource, use a special action on a friend card or build one house section. Players are welcome to take the same action twice. In order to build a house section, the player must have the resources needed. They will then pay those resources, and take the corresponding house section. Players must build floors first, then walls, then a roof. Players may never have two of the same kind of house being built at once. Once a player has completed a house of a certain type, then they may begin working on a house of that same type again. Players can have a maximum of five houses being built. Whoever builds the first house of each type will receive a first builder bonus. That bonus allows the player to receive either 1 friend card, 2 fable cards, or one resource of each type. Additionally, players receive a bonus each time they build a wall, by taking a friend card.
Friend cards take the form of various storybook creatures. Each one has a special ability that can either be actively used as an action, or that is passively in play throughout the game. Players may only have one friend card at a time. When they draw a new friend card, they have the option of taking it, and replacing their current friend, or distributing it to another player of choosing. That player must then discard their friend card and use the new one. You may not discard a friend card.
After all players have taken their two actions, the clean up phase begins. The first player podium gets passed to the next player, players take their pig figures back, and the resources at each location are replenished according to the instructions on the tile.
Once the three phases are completed, players will rinse and repeat. The game end will be triggered once the first person has finished their third house. Players will continue to play until the end of the build phase. If two players have built three houses during this phase, the one with the sturdier houses wins.
The components in this game are striking. Druid City Games really outdid themselves in providing a high quality game for a fair price. The game includes 11 detailed plastic miniatures. Four of those miniatures are pigs, the rest are monsters that will come into play due to fable cards. The houses are also 3-D , and each style of house has it’s own design. The four player mats, and the four gathering tiles are made of thick,beautifully illustrated cardboard. There are a total of 106 cards in the box, making for a lot of variety in game play. The resource tokens are also cardboard, and come in two denominations, single and mega. Probably the thing that stands out the most though, is the insert. This game has one of the best inserts I have seen in a game, if not the very best. Not only is it well designed to hold all pieces safely, it does so in a thematic way.
- Simple Gameplay
- High Quality Components
- High Player Interaction
- Gateway Game
- Family Friendly
- Retail includes same components as Kickstarter
- Miniatures are only in play for brief periods
- Take that may be off putting for some players
- 2 player is not as strong as 4
During my first play through of The Grimm Forest, I was pleasantly surprised. The simple game play was deceptive to the amount of thinking and planning I was doing each turn. The best part about that though, was the thinking wasn’t just about what I wanted to do, but also about what the other players would be doing. The Grimm Forest really exceeded at creating a game that has plenty of direct and indirect player interaction. I loved the various aspects of game play that made it so players were always aware of what the players around them were doing. However that aspect of strategy does not over complicate the game. It is simple enough to teach to children, new gamers, and seasoned gamers a like.
I will say though, that this game really shines at the highest player counts. While the game is completely functional and still fun at two players, there is slightly less player interaction during those games. I love it so much at the four player count, and would love to see an expansion that adds 5-6 players even. As players interact, they will find that many of the cards have a direct “take that” aspect to them. While I enjoy this aspect of game play, some players may not enjoy this. However, this aspect can be adjusted by removing cards from the game. It can be anywhere from a mild aspect of game play to a major element based on the cards in the deck.
One thing I was pleasantly surprised about, is that the components I received in my retail version of the game were the same as those from the Kickstarter version, with the exception of the box sleeve. With so many games including exclusives or upgrades for Kickstarter, seeing a game without that was a relief. Players who are purchasing at retail can rest assured that they are getting the full game, with the same miniatures and cards as the Kickstarter. I do wish that those miniatures that are so beautiful were in gameplay more often. The monster cards especially may only be used for one phase in an entire game. I love that Druid City Games took the extra step to creating these miniatures, but I would love to see them in game play more frequently.
Overall though, I could not be more pleased with The Grimm Forest. I think that it does a really nice job of increasing player interaction in a game style that frequently does not have it. The resource management and strategy of balancing cards should appeal to Eurogamers, while the cut-throat nature of the game will appeal to those who enjoy Amerithrash games. It is simple enough to teach to anyone, and will have everyone at the table actively interacting with one another.