Play Time: 40-80 minutes
Age Recommendation: 14+
Difficulty to Learn: 4/10
Mastery Curve: 6/10
Luck Variance: 4/10
Publisher: Starling Games
Theme and Overview
Everdell is a beautiful worker placement game set in the valley of Everdell. In it, players work to construct a City represented by a 15-card tableau depicting both Constructions and their charming inhabitants (referred to as Critters in the game rules). To do this, players must first accumulate resources (resin, twigs, pebbles, and berries) by visiting worker placement spaces. These resources, which are represented by colorful, plastic or rubber shaped tokens, are used to pay the cost of each Construction or Critter added to a City. Alternatively, each Critter is associated with a specific Construction (as notated on the card) and can be played for free if that Construction has already been built in your City.
The game is played over the course of four seasons, and at the conclusion of the final season (when all players have completed all possible actions), victory points are totaled up and the player with the highest score wins.
Players begin the game humbly with just two worker tokens. In the first season, it may seem difficult to accomplish much more than to accumulate a few resources, but by the start of autumn, your head will be spinning as the beginning of each new season unlocks new workers until each player has six to place to loads of possible locations.
There are a number of different card types that can be placed in each players’ City. These include:
- Tan Travelers: Activate once when played
- Green Production: Activate when played and again when preparing for spring and autumn
- Red Destination: Activates when a worker is placed on it
- Blue Governance: Grants you bonuses after playing certain card types, and offers different ways to play cards for a discount
- Purple Prosperity: Worth the base points and listed bonus points at the end of game
As previously mentioned, these cards can be either Critters or Constructions. Each of them are added to a player’s City after they are played from their hand or from the Meadow (central supply). Each card is worth a certain amount of victory points at the end of the game as indicated by the number in the gold circle icon on the right side of the card.
The large cardboard Evertree standee at the back of the game board holds the workers that players will earn throughout the game on its highest tier and a selection of four special Event cards on the second tier. Special Event cards can be acquired by players who have fulfilled the prerequisites detailed on the cards and typically provide a number of victory points at the end of the game. Players can also earn additional victory points by claiming one of four basic Event tiles at the base of the Evertree which require that a player has reached a certain threshold for a given card type.
Everdell contains 128 Critter and Construction cards (63.5x88mm) and 31 Special Event and Forest Location cards (44x68mm).
Corey: Everdell has a fun, whimsical, and approachable theme but still manages to melt my brain in all the best ways. Don’t be misled by the cute little squirrel meeples, this is not a children’s game! As the game progresses, more workers become available, and each player’s City expands, the decision points become much more diverse and impactful and the game can grow very challenging!
When I first read through the game rules, I found myself worrying about the number of cards and mechanics referencing specific cards by name in such a large deck (free Critters from related Constructions, special Event cards, etc.). However, the amount of cards and locations that allow players to manage the cards in their hand or dig through the deck helps players to find the necessary pieces in a way that doesn’t feel labored and, while not being able to find a Farm for your Husband/Wife combo happens, it’s definitely not a recurring frustration with this game.
We’ve played this game a number of times and while all players have made very different decisions about their game plans and City constructions, the end game scoring has still worked out to be very close in every match.
COREY POINTS: 8/10
Nikki: I will admit that our first game of Everdell was a bit of a struggle for me but since then I have been able to wrap my head around the game mechanics. Now I can appreciate how much a player with a well thought-out strategy can accomplish using the limited resources and workers at the start of the game. I’m happy to say that my enjoyment of Everdell has vastly improved with each play!
In a two-player game, a very real frustration for me is the luck factor that sometimes accompanies the need to locate a specific Critter or Construction card in the deck. If luck is not on your side, be prepared to use those precious few workers to discard cards to dig through the deck. In a game with more players this isn’t as much of an issue, because the cards in the Meadow cycle faster with more players.
Please note that my score is in reference to how I think Everdell plays with two-players. It’s still a great game, but I think it plays much better with more players.
NIKKI POINTS: 7/10
Corey: Each game differs quite a bit based on the cards that are dealt to each players’ hand and to the Meadow. In addition, there are four different Special Event objectives that will be drawn from a deck to provide different building incentives and three to four different Forest Location cards (depending on the number of players in the game) that will appear to provide access to new worker placement spaces which are available from the first turn. All of these elements combine to provide a very different experience that encourages players to collect and build cards that contribute to different themes during each new game.
COREY POINTS: 8.5/10
Nikki: Everdell has a lot of replay value not just from all the modular aspects of the board (Special Event Objectives and Forest Locations), but also from all of the expansions available for the game. At the time of this review, Everdell already has three expansions including Bellfaire, Pearlbrook, and Spirecrest which might just find their way onto our wishlist in the months to come.
NIKKI POINTS: 8/10
Corey: With a giant cardboard tree looming over the entire game board, wooden animal-shaped workers, and piles of berries, twigs, pebbles, and resin bits stacked all over the place, it’s hard not to subscribe to the story of Everdell during the course of a game. The art is beautiful and immersive and the every element of the game components are used to bring that concept home.
On another note related to the theme, the concept of playing a Critter for free when you have already played the related Construction in your City (as if that Critter is moving in to that dwelling) struck me at first as a “cute” gimmick, but after playing the game a few times, I realized that there was quite a bit of depth to those types of decisions. Yes, sometimes the luck lines up where you’re able to find a free Critter without much effort, but more often, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to make the room in your City (which has a capacity of just 15 cards) for the Critter card when you’ll almost always run out of space before the end of the game. Not only is the ‘zero to hero’ story delivered by your humble two-worker beginnings, but also in the quiet beginning to your City. By the end of the game, you’ll have a bustling City that’s running out of space!
COREY POINTS: 9/10
Nikki: There are no questions about the theme of Everdell as soon as you piece together the giant Evertree, grab your animal-shaped meeples, and look at your hand of starting cards filled with beautifully detailed Critters and Constructions. Everything in Everdell feels like it belongs in a game about animals trying to build up their City in preparation for Winter from the use of Seasons to mark progress in the game to all of the resources available for building Constructions and recruiting Critter inhabitants.
NIKKI POINTS: 8.5/10
Quality of Components
Corey: Where the game resources could have easily been made entirely with cardboard, nearly every piece was instead sculpted in colored plastic or rubber or carved in wood. The twigs, resin, berries, and pebbles, which serve as the primary resource of the game, have a nice tactile appeal to them and will certainly hold up much longer than cardboard tokens would.
COREY POINTS: 8.5/10
Nikki: I am impressed by the quality of Everdell overall. The Evertree, game board, Victory Point tokens, and Event tiles are made of nice thick cardboard. All of the cards are made of nice thick textured paper. The various resource tokens are colorful and easy to tell apart.
My favorite components of Everdell are the adorable animal meeples. In what other game do you get to play as an adorable hedgehog or turtle?
NIKKI POINTS: 8.5/10
Corey: If you’ve made it this far into the review, I doubt you have many questions about whether this game has any notable artwork. In fact, Everdell, with its incredible table presence (thanks to the hulking Evertree standee) and beautifully painted board and cards will undoubtedly demand your attention based on its art and aesthetic appeal. What’s miraculous to me is that it’s got some incredible gameplay to back that up once it’s drawn you in.
COREY POINTS: 9.5/10
Nikki: The artwork of Everdell is perfect for the theme. It looks like something out of a fairytale story from my childhood. I appreciate how detailed all of the artwork is on all of the components, from the front and backs of the cards to the game board and game box.
NIKKI POINTS: 9/10
Our overall score based on the responses of both reviewers in five different categories (10 points possible for each).