Nov 24, 2014

Crop Cycle - A Review

Due to my blog focusing on casual gaming and having a Canadian prospective I was approached (through Board Game Geek) with an opportunity to review a new game that is currently on kickstarter.  Although I have never done this before, I jumped at the opportunity to try a new game.

The game is called Crop Cycle and it is a "Take That" style farming game.  It is designed for 2-5 players, but due to a short time with the game (it was needed for further play testing) we only played with 2 (my wife and I).  There are a couple of great reviews out there already that explain the gameplay (including the videos on the kickstarter page) so I am going to focus instead on our experience with the game.


A sampling of the game components

As this was my first time reviewing a game I wanted to make sure that I knew how to play before we ever opened the box, just to try and make sure we played it right.  I downloaded the rulebook, read through that, and then worried even more.  Its too simple.  I must be missing something.  So I watched the video on the kickstarter page, and also watched another preview.  I found that the repetition helped me confirm that I was understanding the rules, but they didn't really add much more.  When we sat down to play I explained the rules to my wife using the rulebook only, and then we started into our first game.  I quickly realized that I was worried for no good reason; the game mechanics really are that simple, and it is the cards and interactions that add the depth.

There are currently no "Take That" style games in our collection, but for no particular reason.  We just seem to have and play a lot of "middle length" games, ones in the 30-90 minutes type range, and we seem to enjoy the more strategic type games.  It took the first couple of games to even get used to the change in pace, and in having limited options to choose from each turn.  That being said, there was definitely opportunities where a choice had to be made, so there was more to it than luck of the cards.  Each round only took us 15-20 minutes and sometimes the 5 harvest point win condition seemed to come too soon, especially because the 5 points for the winner could come in short order even if they were behind up to that point.  I think that is fitting with the game style, but we noted that it would be really easy to simply play to higher point total (we were thinking 7 or 8), but didn't get a chance to try it.


Near the end of the game, where we both have some points and crops in the field

A game where we both have 0 points, but enough in the field to end it very quickly
I really wished that we could of had the opportunity to play more players; from the cards we saw it was evident that it would scale well, and would be even more "take that" type plays, which might also make the 5 harvest point win condition more appropriate.

The farming theme is integrated into the game very well; plant your crops, have them modified by various factors like pests, fertilizer, weather, etc. and then harvest them.  From what little I know of farming (I have worked in the agricultural sector but am not a farmer) the crops seem realistic (in terms of seasons, relative value) and the utility cards seem appropriate in terms of the options and issues a farmer deals with.  The artwork is what I would call stylized photos, and I loved them, though my wife didn't particularly care for it, but we agreed that it was appropriate for the theme.

After a few rounds we agreed that this is a fun, light game that we would play again.  It may not be what we play all night, but could see it being played often as a quick game, or as a prelude to another game.  In addition to being my first review, it led to another first for me; actually backing a kickstarter campaign.  I am not sure if it will succeed, but I definitely encourage you to check it out and back it; this is a great game at a reasonable price.  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1776342422/crop-cycle