Fluttering Souls is a captivating, beautifully illustrated two-player game based on the Japanese legend of The White Butterfly.
Butterflies are one of the most beautiful insects on earth. They symbolize change, hope, and life. In Japan they represent the soul of a lost loved one.
Fluttering Souls, designed by Joel Lewis, art by Dejana Louise Storey, is a unique two-player game where players will compete to catch a kaleidoscope of butterflies to score the most points each round to collect a White Butterfly. A players wins by collecting three butterfly tokens, and has the chance to be visited by the White Butterfly (the soul of a lost loved one).
Good Games Publishing released the game with entry age of 13+, but we say it skews as young as 8.
Set aside the Great Eggfly card from the butterfly deck, then shuffle both the layout and butterfly cards into separate decks, face down. Draw a layout card, then place butterfly cards as indicated. White cards depicted on the layout cards go face up, and black cards, face down.
Start with the top row, then overlap cards working downwards. Be sure not to look at any of the face down cards during placement. Set aside the remaining two butterfly cards without looking at them along with tokens for score tracking. The player wearing the most colorful clothing goes first. The second player receives the Great Eggfly card.
Starting with the first player, players take turns choosing one open butterfly card from the layout and place it in their personal collection in front of them. An open card is a card that doesn’t have any others overlapping it. Whenever a face down card becomes open, immediately turn it face up.
Using the Great Eggfly
After the player with the Great Eggfly card collects an open card, they may replace the card with the Great Eggfly. It blocks access to butterflies underneath it. The only way butterflies under it can be picked up is to have it picked up again by a player. Timing is key and it does allow the new owner benefit.
Once all cards have been taken, each player tallies their victory points, organizing the butterfly cards into sets. The player with the most victory points gains a White Butterfly token. In the event of a tie, the player with the Great Eggfly wins. The game ends when one player collects three White Butterfly tokens.
Fluttering Off To A New Round
To glide into the next round, draw a new layout card. Whomever lost the last round chooses whether to be the first or second player. The second player receives the Great Eggfly card. Then shuffle the butterfly cards, create the layout, and start the next round.
Fluttering Souls is one of the most elegant and simple two-player games I’ve ever played. Its artwork is visually stunning and the butterflies look as if they’ll fly off the cards. The game sets up quickly and rounds fly by.
The game offers a bit of strategy that will morph on the fly as you glance at the ever-changing layout. Often the first one or two cards will drive what you’re collecting for the round.
One of my favorite cards is the Swallowtail; when collected in a pair, they serve as a single wild card. This can come in real handy when trying to complete a set of Monarchs for eight points. It can be fickle though. If you don’t see two open in the layout, there’s the possibility the second might not ever be revealed. As a consolation, a single Swallowtail is worth two points.
The Great Eggfly butterfly card takes some thought when putting in play. While it may delay an opponent from getting a card, it may backfire and offset your selection a few turns out. When timed correctly late in the game, you can force your opponent to take it so you get prime pick of butterflies beneath it.
What makes game play interesting is that only open cards may be taken from the layout. Face down cards remain so until uncovered. These surprise reveals make the game fun and add just the right amount of tension. Will that extra Blue Morpho you need appear in the second to the last row?
Replayability is high due to the different layouts and random shuffle. Even after several plays, I have not used every layout card. They add a unique twist on game play; I enjoyed not knowing what the board layout was going to look like each round. Fluttering Souls doesn’t have a large footprint, so it’s perfect to take along on a date night.
While rated for ages 13+, there’s no reason younger kids couldn’t play. Eight years old seems about right, as the mechanics are simple enough to grasp. Once players understand the rules and card iconography, they’ll be ready to fly. My ten year old grokked it pretty easily.
All things considered, Fluttering Souls is a magnificent game that I’d recommend for anyone who enjoys light two-player games with set collection and a dash of random chance.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Fluttering Souls from Good Games Publishing for this preview.
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Number of Players: 2
Age Range: 13+ (we say 8+)
Playtime: 45 minutes