Cottage Garden is a garden-themed strategy game that has some resemblance to Uwe Rosenberg’s other game, Patchwork. However, instead of trying to create a quilt, you’re trying to fill up as many flowerbeds with flowers, flower pots, and cloches (covered pots) as quickly as possible. I had been looking forward to this game since I heard of it debuting at Essen earlier this year and have had a hard time trying to get a copy in the United States.
Cottage Garden plays with 1-4 players at around an hour of playtime. The main game board is double-sided, one side is for 1-3 players and the other side is for 4 players. In the copy that I received here in the United States, it came with a sticker sheet to correct some misprints on both the board and in the English version of the instruction manual (see unboxing video at the end of this post). This was the first game that I’ve ever had to adhere correction stickers to, so that was a new experience. It’s not ideal, but obviously it’s considerably less expensive than the company having to do a complete reprint.
A neat aspect of the game is a wheelbarrow that you punch out and then fold up to hold the flower pot tokens. It also serves as the start marker of flower pieces that you use to refill the game board. There are also numerous sleeping cat tokens that you can use as wildcards to fill in gaps in your flower bed or trade in to place a flower piece onto the game board. The flower pieces resemble the patch pieces from Patchwork and function in a similar fashion. You use them to fill your flowerbeds, but also try to prevent them from covering flower pots and cloches in your flowerbeds. Each flower pot on a completed flower bed earns you a point and each cloche earns you 2 points.
Rounds are tracked by a green die that you move around the perimeter of the game board after each player’s turn. In a 2 player game, the die starts on 2. For 3-4 players, the die will start at 1. Once a lap has been completed, the die switches to the next number, signaling the next round. On your turn, you get to choose any of the pieces in the column under the die or choose a flower pot from the wheelbarrow to place on your flowerbeds. The next player would get to choose from the next column, and so forth. If a column has only 1 or 0 flower pieces left, they are refilled from the supply in front of the wheelbarrow.
As soon as a flower bed is filled, whether it be with flowers, flower pots, and/or sleeping cats, it’s immediately scored. Flower pots are tracked via orange cubes and cloches are tracked via blue cubes. Once an orange or blue cube passes the 6 point mark, the player receives a free cat token to use immediately or keep on the side. Only 2 cat tokens can be kept in reserve, though so it’s best to use them to fill in flowerbed gaps or to trade in for flower pieces on the game board.
When a player’s next flower bed is scored, they can choose to add points to the cubes already on the point tracker, or place their next set of orange/blue cubes onto the track. When you get all 3 of a color onto the track, you receive a free flower pot to use immediately. Also, after the 15th flower pot point and the 14th cloche point, your score jumps up to the 20 point mark and you receive a beehive token. If you’re the first player to hit the 20 point mark, you receive the double beehive token that is worth 2 points at the end of the game. The next player who reaches 20 receives a 1 beehive token, and then there aren’t any beehive tokens left for the rest of the players.
Round 6 is the final round and is really where the game gets tricky. During this round, you have to discard any flower beds that have 2 or fewer flower pieces on them. Then before each turn you take, you have to deduct 2 from your score. This can be done by moving a blue cloche cube back 1 space or an orange flower pot cube back 2 spaces. You’ll want to try to finish these last flower beds as quickly as possible since the longer it takes, the more points you’ll lose. Every time a flowerbed is completed, it’s scored and then removed from the game. The game ends when all flowerbeds are gone and scores are tallied. Whoever has the highest score is the winner. In the event of a tie, whoever has the double beehive token is the winner.
Overall, Cottage Garden is a great game if you’re a fan of Uwe Rosenberg’s Patchwork. My wife and I love Patchwork and she enjoys gardening, so this was a must-have for our collection. The interactivity level is a bit on the lower side since you’re predominantly focused on filling your flowerbeds, but it’s still a nice couple’s game. If you’re looking for something more interactive and good for parties, this probably doesn’t fit the bill. however, if you like Patchwork, I’d check this one out.