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Go Green with the Evergeen Board Game by Horrible Guild!

There are a lot of games that I see and think, “Oh yeah, that game was MADE for me.” But even out of that group of games, there are a select few that really speak to me on another level. The Evergreen board game is precisely that.

Evergreen Board Game
Board Game Box Cover for Evergreen by Horrible Guild!

Evergreen is designed by Hjalmar Hach, designer of one my favorite roll-and-write games, Railroad Ink. This time he is back with a game about growth, sunshine, and watching your progress cast shadows on the rest of the board. It’s a game that requires a bit of foresight and anticipation as you watch the sun plod around all that you’ve cultivated.

From the tiniest of saplings, to the mightiest of trees, Evergreen begs you to plant a lasting ecosystem across a bevy of biomes. Be wary of the sun; it is your friend but also your enemy as you try and create the lushest planet of them all.

Does the Evergreen board game shine brightly? Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive right in!

Evergreen Gameplay

The Evergreen board game is played over a series of four rounds. On your turn, you will be choosing from a one of the available cards remaining in the shared market. Generally these will be reflective of a specific biome along with a special action. You will perform your basic action and your special action in whichever order you wish.

For your basic action, you are restricted to the Biome on the card – if it’s a swamp you have to play in the swamp Biome, and so forth. You can either:

  • Plant 3 Sprouts – the little twig-looking saplings
  • Grow 2 Different Plants – either a Sprout to a Little Tree or a Little Tree to a Big Tree
  • Plant 1 Sprout and Grow 1 Plant

You can also Plant 1 Sprout or Grow 1 Plant anywhere on the board if you’d rather do that instead of the above actions.

The special actions on the cards let you do a variety of things, and they all level up over the course of the game. These might allow you place a Lake, which Grows Plants around it, or Plant a Shrub which acts as a Tree when counting your interconnected Forest. Each time these are taken, they get upgraded so that the next time you take that special action it is improved.

After each Season, you’ll be scoring based on how many Big and Little Trees that you have, the size of your Forest, as well as which Trees catch the sunlight. Big Trees get you 2 points, but they also cast a larger shadow opposite the Sun, so they may prevent you from scoring Little Trees that are behind it. This is where your planning comes into play!

Once 4 Seasons have passed, the game is over! All of the cards that weren’t picked by players each Round have been accumulating, and you’ll use their flower symbols to score each Biome for fertility on top of the sunlight and Forest scoring. Did you focus on a particularly fertile Biome or did you spread out your Forest evenly?

Whoever has the most points wins the Evergreen board game!

Staking Our C.L.A.I.M. on Evergreen!

Evergreen Board Game Icon Components

The double-layered player boards in the Evergreen board game are an absolute necessity; without them, the pieces would be flying and sliding around all the time due to the constant manipulation of their placement on the board. That being said, my fingers are clumsy and I’m still constantly tipping over pieces as I move them or swap them out. You certainly have to take your time in placement, no matter how dexterous you think that you are. If it truly bothers you, there is a Board Game Arena version of Evergreen that solves this entirely.

But let’s talk about the treeples! They’re so great and I love how many unique meeples that you get. As the game progresses, you truly are cultivating your own planet and it looks amazing when it’s all done. I don’t think this game would be half as popular if it just used tokens; thematically the growing process works incredibly well with the use of the tokens. Plus they’re made of wood!

Evergreen Board Game Icon Luck

There are two main strategies that you can go for in the Evergreen board game, and both are viable. They also both tie into the greater strategy of ensuring that you populate the most fertile Biomes for the endgame scoring.

The first is going for a large interconnected Forest that sprawls across multiple Biomes. One of the main dangers of this is that you aren’t concentrating as much in a single Biome, so those endgame points could be a bit more scarce. However, if there is relatively equal fertility amongst the Biomes, this strategy will only get better. You just have to be wary because the sunlight scoring will flux every other round as your Trees cast shadows on themselves.

The other main strategy is to just spam Big Trees as often as possible. Typically, you’d also be spreading these out so that you get the most sunlight benefits, seeing how you’ll be missing out on the connected Forest points more often than not. However, you do score a lot of points with those Big Trees, so long as you focus on Grow actions as much as possible.

Evergreen Board Game

Evergreen Board Game Icon Aesthetics

The Evergreen board game certainly has table presence. With how many pieces that eventually end up on your board, I understand why it couldn’t be scaled up much more than it already is – both due to cost and box size – but it really would benefit from just slightly larger pieces.

Despite that, the art supports the theme through its clean aesthetic, and the color differentiation in the Biomes is very clear to me. I haven’t run anything through a color blindness checker, and I do suspect that perhaps some of the Biomes could potentially be a problem in that area, so please keep that in mind.

Evergreen Board Game Icon Interest

There isn’t much player interaction in the Evergreen board game. Most of it is indirect – you take a card that another player wanted, or the card that’s left over is a blight that erases some of the fertility of the indicated Biome. Apart from that, this really does feel like a relaxing solitaire experience. For example, playing a solo game of this is hardly different than playing with a full table.

If you’re already a fan of other Horrible Guild games like Railroad Ink, or games where you’re path-building, this might be something that interests you. Additionally, this feels like a variant version of Photosynthesis (also designed by Hjalmar Hach), so the theme and gameplay are going to be similar to that game as well.

Evergreen Board Game

Evergreen Board Game Icon Mood

There’s something kind of zen about slowly building up a planet from nothing. What I really enjoy about the Evergreen board game is that there’s no pressure; nothing’s coming to wipe out my trees that I’ve so lovingly cultivated. Sure, there’s always the blight to worry about for endgame, but I really just tend to focus on the board coming to life in front of me.

I also found there to be a nice internal tension creating by caring for each individual tree. You’ll have to wrestle with the fact that growing a Big Tree next to a Little Tree means that the little one is going to be missing out on some valuable sunlight. It gave me way more pause in those seemingly innocuous decisions than I ever thought it would, and that’s a good thing.

Evergreen: Shining Bright!

Nerds on Earth logo with 'Deal with It' sunglasses. Text inside the seal reads "Nerds on Earth Seal of Awesomeness".

The Evergreen board game accomplishes what it sets out to do, and does it very well. It’s a satisfying tree-placement game that literally springs up before your very eyes, suitable for solo gamers or a full table of people who appreciate cultivation.

I am inclined to give the Evergreen board game the Nerds on Earth Seal of Awesomeness award, due to how it offers a small set of actions that always make it feel like you are making a big impact on your planet. Progress is visible and tangible, and I’m very appreciative of that.

You can find the Evergreen board game in the USA through Horrible Guild or try to find it at your FLGS!

Disclaimer: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of Evergreen from Flat River Games in exchange for an honest review.

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