Samurai Gardener by Felicitas Ivey

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Another one of the games I play at lunch with my lunch partner is Samurai Gardener. The game is from Osprey Games, like a lot of my games. Samurai Gardener is for two to five players, but I’ve only played it as a two player game. It’s for ages ten and over and each game takes about fifteen to twenty minutes. The artwork is nice and the components well put together. The game consists of eighty-nine feature cards, five score markers, the scoreboard and the cards for keeping track of which feature a player has scored.

The object of the game is to score points by building the best garden you can for your lord in the city of Edo (pre-Meji Tokyo). A player score points by arranging as many features  illustrated on a game card as you can in a row. Longer rows score more points. A player chooses a card to build their garden, which is divided into six sections, each section is a feature. Most of the time the card has single features, but occasionally the card has the same feature side-by-side. The four features the player create their garden with are ponds, paths, rocks and tatami mats. A player needs to score all four of these features before they can repeat trying to score with the same feature. When a player scores a feature, they turn over that feature card. Once all four are turned over, they a flipped right side up again and that player is free to try and score with any feature they want to.

To win, a player needs to score twenty-five points.  Or if the players run out of cards before that happens, the player with the highest score wins.

As stated before you score points from lining up features, vertically or horizontally.. To get the cards needed for this, the players are supposed to deal out the number of cards equal to the players. After that is done, the dealer calls out ‘Ei’ and everyone’s supposed to slap down on the card they want, and players can go after the same card. The winner would be the player who’d slapped down on it first.

I don’t play it this way because it can be rude to the other people around us, more importantly, you can really hurt someone when you play like that. I like my hands sort of intact and I can cause a lot of problems hitting someone else with a couple of the rings I’m wearing. If there were more than two of us, we’d might try that move. My partner and I decided to take turns choosing our cards. It’s also one of the optional rules for the game.

So after choosing the card, a player needs to figure out how it fits into their garden scheme and make the most points. A card has six sections, laid out in a two by three grid. The cards can only be played vertically. But cards can be laid over another card, set adjacent or diagonal to another card to score points. A player has to line up at least one feature when placing down a new card. You cannot cover any feature of three or more squares.  

This game needs a lot of space to play, because the gardens can sprawl at times. If you have more than two people playing, you might want to clean off a large table to play this game.

The game is one a strategy and spacial reasoning. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve just lost a game because I didn’t see a scoring combination of both rows and columns!  

The game is low key and if the players are too fanatic in their play, relaxing. You aren’t killing monsters or saving the world, you’re just making a prettying garden. A nice way to pass an hour or so in an evening or have a quick game at lunch.


Author Bio:

Felicitas is a frazzled help-desk tech at a university in Boston who wishes people wouldn’t argue with her when she’s troubleshooting what’s wrong with their computer. She lives with three cats who wish she would pay more attention to them, and not sit at a computer pounding on the keyboard. They get back at her by hogging most of the bed at night and demanding her attention during the rare times she watches TV or movies. She’s protected by her guardian stuffed Minotaur, Angenor, who was given to her by her husband, Mark. Angenor travels everywhere with her, because Felicitas’s family doesn’t think she should travel by her lonesome. They worry she gets distracted and lost too easily. Felicitas doesn’t think of it a getting lost, more like having an adventure with a frustrated GPS.

Felicitas knits and hoards yarn, firmly believing the one with the most yarn wins. She also is sitting on hordes of books, which still threaten to take over her house, even with e-books. Between writing and knitting, she brews beer, wine, mead, and flavored liqueurs. Felicitas also bakes, making cakes whenever she needs to work out an issue in her novels. Sometimes this leads to a lot of cakes. Her coworkers appreciate them, though, with the student workers buzzing about on a sugar high most of the time.

Felicitas writes urban fantasy, steampunk, and horror of a Lovecraftian nature, with monsters beyond space and time that think that humans are the tastiest things in the multiverse. Occasionally there’s a romance or two involved in her writing, with a happily-ever-after.

Facebook: Felicitas Ivey
Twitter: @felicitasivey


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