Following Take the Kingdom and the epic Ukiyo, Walnut Games are launching Burrowdale and Zillteral on Kickstarter this month!
Bunnies! How sweet! Well, unless they’re the competition, and they’re stealing your cabbages and carrots! Welcome to Burrowdale; a place where your warrens may be filled with plenty of juicy veg if you play your cards just right!
As with all Kickstarter previews, I must make it clear that we have been playing a prototype. As such, rules, components (bunny meeples will feature in the final copies so I have been told!) and artwork could be tweaked by the time the game gets to tables. On that basis, my comments are related to the version we have played.
Okay, so what is Burrowdale? It’s a small box game for 1-4 players with action selection and route building beating at its heart. And whilst the burrow cards might look like a maze, there is no need to escape this one! Because that network of tunnels is how you turn your veggies into victory!
The grid of 3 x 4 randomly selected warren tunnel cards is the main board, and the edge cards are warrens. In the game, you are trying to place your bunnies at the start and finish of the longest burrows possible so that you can claim resource tokens placed at either end (so long as those tokens match) and score VPs. For every tunnel you pass through, you’ll gain points. And with some cards containing resource symbols themselves, you can collect bonus points along the way! With the winning condition being the first player to reach 40 points, the rabbit race is truly on!
Turns in the game are simple; on your go, you take 3 actions (which can be the same or different): (1) place a bunny on a warren that doesn’t have another bunny in residence, (2) place a resource token on an empty warren or one where you have your own bunny in residence (each warren can hold up to two of the same resource), or (3) swap a card from your hand of 3 for one on the tableau (discarding the exiting tunnel section). You can also place a family token on any card and that will grant you an extra point if it is in situ when it comes to tunnel totting up time!
Doubling up on resources is good (if you can be the bunny to take residence!) because when you score a completed burrow network, you must remove one of the food tokens from one of the warrens. If you have two there, that effectively means you can preserve a resource producing burrow for next turn. Unless of course your opposition decides to use their turn to mess with your tunnel network by switching out the cards you so carefully connected! Rascally Rabbits!
We have been enjoying Burrowdale. I like the hand management aspect of the tunnel cards and how you can mess up other player’s carefully crafted networks to your own advantage. Luck comes into it a little as you draft off the deck to replenish your hand, and sometimes we found the burrow cards we collected were of no help. But that does mean you get to focus on other actions or even just mess up your opponents’ careful construction! I also like how you can try to set up resource production for later turns. There is an option to share tunnels if players are using the same tunnels to collect the same resources but our competitive sides wouldn’t let us take advantage of the sharing-is-winning approach!
As a 2 player game we also experimented and upped the crunch a little. By only allowing each other to place a resource token on a completely empty warren, we added a little push-your-luck play into the game. By having to decide if we want to double up on resource tokens, warrens can be left unclaimed and ripe for picking by the next player if setting up has used up our own actions that turn! I don’t know if that will make it into the final version, but it does go to show the flexibility of the game play in Burrowdale!
I also tried the game solo which is super simple to run, but an uphill race to win! You have a specified number of turns (24) and a winning condition of a whopping 120 points! The automa replaces a prescribed card each turn and automatically generates points on its own turn. Your only positive influence is that you get to decide how that card is orientated. Which can be an advantage sometimes, but not much! Either way, Walnut gets a gold star for making the game solo-able!
The illustrations on the cards are really lovely, and when the final bunny meeples and tokens are added into to the game, it is going to look champion!
Again this is a preview copy so at the risk of repeating myself; things could change between now and fulfilment! But I hope not too much as Zillertal is a quick, light, family level little patching game that features some amoozing mini cows! haha
In Zillertal we are travelling photographers working in the lovely Alpine valley of Zillertal. Our task is to capture photos showing the perfect number of features in order to complete contracts and win points. But with cards changing the landscape each turn, this is no walk in the Matterhorn!
Another game for 1-4 players, turns in Zillertal revolve around placing cards onto an ever extending landscape. You can place your card adjacent to an existing card or patch over an existing card either partially or fully. Each card has a grid pattern on it to help you with placement, so your edges should align once done. The only restriction in placing is that the mountain scene in the background of the cards in the landscape must always line up including once your card is added to the scene. This means that, for example, if your card has a tall mountain section on one side then this must continue that mountain when placed.
Once you have placed your card, count the features along the landscape. After counting all the features on display, if you have the EXACT amount of any features shown on ONE of your VP earning contract cards, you can place Z tokens over them. Once all the features on a contract are covered with Z tokens, you have completed it and get a bonus token/action which will help you add/hide features or even split the scene to help with scoring later contracts. Note that you can only complete ONE contract on a given turn.
The game ends when the Landscape deck runs out, and the winner is the player with the most points!
Again, we have been enjoying Zillertal. I love patching games, and this is a big part of Zillertal. And whilst there looks to be a big deck, the game is scaled so only a specified number of cards are in play depending on player count.
Completing contracts sounds simple, but when you can only work on one at a time, it can be a tricky trade-off between going small and often, or working up to a larger value 3 point one. And with the landscape changing all the time, that could be a gamble that doesn’t pay off!
Luck of the draw is a factor – and perhaps more pronounced at lower player counts where the number of cards in any game is lower. A run of cards that don’t match what your contracts require can stymie progress. But we found that it doesn’t stop you using them to thwart your opponents’ efforts! And when you can complete a contract, the random bonuses including the gorge and crosses shake up the existing decision space in neat ways!
Again in a 2 player game we tried something to up the crunch a little (and keep table space on a smaller surface manageable). Rather than being able to place cards adjacent to existing ones (thereby simply adding more features on our turn), we made it a requirement that any new card placed had to patch over an existing one at least partially. And that did elevate the placement decisions to peak heights!
But we do try to crunch everything up as a duo – making life as hard as possible for ourselves and each other seems to be the order of any game play day!. And when playing with 3 or 4 players, we found the adjacency rule to be vital given how much more the landscape and number of features change between your turns!
I love the cute, cartoony illustrations in Zillertal – as the cards lay out in a line, it does feel like a mountain range extending across the table! And I am looking forward to seeing the polished final tokens when they are ready.
I’m excited to play Zillertal again and solo is super quick to the table – 2P card limit and I’m playing in seconds! Short, light but crunchy, patching, puzzly games are some of my favourite games to solo and so I’m hoping Zillertal will find a place in my collection after a successful Kickstarter campaign!
If you think Zillertal could be a game for you, head to the preview page by following this link and follow Walnut Games on Instagram as the campaign launches on 9 November 2022!