I had a while there when I didn’t really back Kickstarter projects as I was trying to be pickier about adding to my collection. I’ve recently been checking the site out more often to see what’s coming, though I’m still not rushing to back a game unless there’s something really special about it. But I thought I’d go into detail on the one single project I’m currently backing on Kickstarter, and why it made the cut…
Backing Herbaceous was a no-brainer. in fact, I was waiting somewhat impatiently for the opportunity to back it, and so when I got around to visiting the project page on launch day, I backed before actually looking at the campaign page at all.
So why was I so excited about this game? I had first seen Beth Sobel’s beautiful herb artwork in her re-skin of Bohnanza, and when I heard that it was being turned into a game of its own, I was immediately on-board with the idea. Beth is one of the most talented artists and loveliest people in gaming, and I couldn’t wait to see what Eduardo Baraf could do with her work. When I then realized he’d brought in Steve Finn, designer of Biblios, to collaborate on the project, then that was it: I needed this game!
Herbaceous is a beautifully presented little card game for just $19 that plays 1-4 in about 20 minutes. Currently for your money, you’re getting the base game (70 herb cards, 16 player container cards, 4 reference cards, & 1 special bun reward card) plus a KS-exclusive 3-card mini expansion. It’s already funded & steaming towards the stretch goals which offer upgrades such as punchboard plant tag dividers to denote private gardens (already unlocked) along with better cardstock & linen-finish cards.
The game features a communal garden along with private gardens belonging to each player. On your turn you have two simple options: plant or pot:
Planting reminds me of the first act of Biblios with the active player drawing a card and deciding whether to plant it in their own private garden or in the communal garden where it might be grabbed by one of their opponents. However, once this decision has been made, they then draw another card that MUST go into whichever garden they didn’t plant the first card.
Potting allows a player to grab a set of cards from either their private garden, the communal garden, or from both, and slide it under one of their 4 containers to score. But each type of container can only take a particular type of set, and can only be filled once, with better sets being worth more points.
Play continues until all of the herb cards have been planted and all players have exhausted their ability to fill containers. At this point players add up the value of their lovingly-potted container garden and determine a winner.
Why I’m backing
The game seems simple and elegant, but I can see the decisions getting really interesting with experienced players. Do you grab that tantalizing mint for your own garden, but risk being forced to plant an even tastier card in the communal space? Do you grab those pairs now before another player does, or hold out for another round in the hopes of grabbing a larger set for your container? It’s the sort of game I could play with a variety of people, important as I play in both “serious” game groups and with less-enthusiastic family members. The theme will help with the latter group also; it’s friendlier & more welcoming than more typical themes, and combined with the art, the resultant table appeal is huge.
I can’t wait to get the game to my table. The art is amazing, the theme is familiar (planting “crops”) yet different enough to stand out as something special, and the rules suggests a satisfying filler-length experience. I’d highly suggest checking out Herbaceous if you haven’t already.