SAGGYHEAD is calmly puzzling her way through the forest in Rustling Leaves by KOSMOS GAMES UK
Designer: Paolo Mori
20 minutes play time
Summary of Game
The roll and write genre is, for me, one of the most played types of games in my collection. I find that the generally short gameplay time, and also the short set up and tear down time helps get them to the table more easily. I also am a big fan of beautiful games, so this ticks a lot of boxes for me. In this cute nature themed game, you are drawing shapes onto your sheet based on the dice rolls. Roll a 1 and a 3 and you’ll be drawing a 1×3 rectangle onto your sheet adjacent to an already enclosed area. Inside that area you choose one type of icon to cross off and score at the bottom. That’s it, you keep rolling until you have either too many fails or you decide to stop.
I had seen pictures on Instagram of people showing off the sheets for this game, and I loved the look of it, but it was one of those games where I had zero idea how the game actually played. There were dice and a pretty busy looking player sheet with a small scoring section at the bottom of the sheet. Only took me a minute or two of skim reading the rulebook to grasp the rules and get onto playing which was very welcome.
The small box when you lift it up is HEAVY. When I opened it up, it was easy to see why. There is a chonky pad of playing sheets. Two hundred sheets in fact, fifty of each season, covered with an artwork cover sheet reflecting the box art. The dice are small, light and wooden with varying pips from 1 to 4 in addition to a 1 cloud and a 2 cloud.
During the game you are drawing polyominal shapes of differing sizes based on the dice rolls. You will encompass a number of icons in each shape and the decision is which icon to cross off. You are only permitted to cross off one type of icon, which is where the difficulty of the decision making comes in. You want to maximise your scoring capabilities, and you will want to cross off every type of icon to score, but alas you simply cannot cross off everything. One game you won’t be able to score your bees, or perhaps those rainbows won’t quite work out for you despite your best efforts.
There are four different sheets in the box, one for each season and all look very different. The icons are themed with the seasons, for example Spring has rainbows and crocuses, and Fall has mushrooms. The way in which the icons score although similar across the seasons varies enough to completely shake up your strategy. On the Spring sheet, if you are able to collect all 7 rainbow icons then you get a huge 30 points. However by collecting these you really run the risk of messing up your chances with any of the other scoring opportunities. Your single minded dogged approach to getting rainbows will likely mean sacrificing many other options. There is also differences in how crossing the river affects your scores, in Spring each river crossing costs 1 point, but in Winter you are rewarded for crossing it.
I love the icons in each season and how they all combo together. Finding the sweet spot between which icons to avoid and which to hone in on is part of the fun. I do think that it is quite easy to fall into a predictable strategy, where you always ignore the squirrels and acorns for example. With Lady Luck deciding how the die lands though, you will find that you will not be able to complete the same moves game to game. Sometimes only big enclosures will come up which can really throw out how you think about the scoring options.
For me this is a quiet roll and write that is quick to play and feels calming to enjoy. Gameplay according to the box is 20 mins but I think for me gameplay is approximately 10 minutes solo. I guess that with higher player counts, the analysis paralysis may strike. If you are looking for something pretty that is calming to play as well as occupying your brain with a satisfying puzzle, then give Rustling Leaves a go.
- Great visuals
- Easy to get to the table with no set up time
- Easy to teach and pick up, and perfect lightweight game
- The pressure of the time may be a bit much
- Not really a dislike, but I guess I will have to get the “adult” version to enjoy too!