SNAP Review – Canopy
Did you know that tropical rainforests hold roughly half of the world’s plant and animal species? Let’s learn a little bit more about these wonders of nature with a new game, Canopy.
This is a SNAP review for Canopy. Canopy is a two-player drafting and set-collection game. It was designed by Tim Eisner and published by Weird City Games. It takes about 30 minutes to play and it’s best for ages 8 and up.
We can see this beautiful artwork; let’s talk about the art in this game.
It’s gorgeous. Vincent Dutrait has created lush illustrations that bring the plants and animals of the rainforest right onto your table. The cards are gorgeous. All of the iconography relates directly to the theme.
It’s also clear that the theme (thriving rainforest) influenced not only art in this game, but even packaging for this game. Card bands and paper envelopes were used instead of plastic. The box is a perfect size too – big enough to fit everything easily, but without wasted space (that would use more energy to make & transport).
It’s obvious they thought about all these things when making this game, but let’s talk about how to actually play Canopy.
Canopy starts with three more-or-less equal decks, representing “seasons”, and three piles for drafting, called “New Growth” (1, 2, and 3).
On your turn, you look at the first New Growth pile, then decide to either keep it, or pass to the next pile. If you pass, make the same decision for the next pile. Every time you pass on a pile, add a card to it from the current Season deck, face down. If you pass on all three piles, take a card from the top of the deck and add it to your Forest.
All the various cards play different roles in your forest.
Trunks can be stacked together and then combined with Canopy cards to make tall rainforest trees.
Plants group together in sets and score at the end of the round. So do the Sun and Rain cards.
Then there are seeds. They give you a random draw at the end of the round from the Seed deck – which is packed with even more plants and tree parts.
Some animals have powers that you can use to help you.
Lastly, there are Threats. Some (like Drought and Lightning) make you discard cards immediately upon drawing. Others (like Fire and Disease) only take effect at the end of the round. They’ll always make you do some discarding, but if you gather enough of them, you’ll force your opponent to discard some cards too.
End of Season & End of Game
When the Season runs out of cards, calculate your scores this round from plants, weather, and newly finished trees, apply Seed cards and animal effects and take point tokens. Then discard all your plants, weather, threats, and seeds. You only keep your trees & animals. Then start the next Season.
At the end of the game, you’ll score normally, then also add point tokens for your animals (finally!). The player with the largest forest will get a big bonus, too.
That’s how you play. Let’s talk about what we expected from Canopy.
I liked the small box. I always talk about how I care that the box size fits the game. And I like the idea of a game that’s best at two players. But I mostly had questions… like:
How do you make a game out of having the best rainforest? How do you differentiate a game like that?
And how do you draft cards with only two players? I’ve played some games that seem to have figured this out, but Canopy did it differently.
This peek-or-pass drafting mechanism seemed immediately familiar. But I can’t think of any other games that actually do this (we brainstormed it but we have no idea). It makes a ton of sense for a two player game, and really adds to the tension, since you know what you’re potentially giving up to your opponent. Is it worth taking that single card, or should you try for that bigger stack, hoping the card you pass will still be there on your next turn?
I love the metaphor here. The cards that you put down after you’ve looked and decide to pass – they’re called “New Growth”. Because that’s what we’re aiming for! We’re letting the rainforest plants (and animals) grow!
Keeping score with tokens rather than a scoresheet felt odd, especially in a round-based game. But there’s no paper waste with this – I guess it makes it more sustainable.
The solo mode was fine. You play against an automated opponent with a defined pattern of taking cards from the New Growth piles. It made me super careful about what I passed in the Growth piles, because I knew for sure it would go to my opponent.
Three and Four Players
So the interesting thing is that this game lists itself as a two player game, but it includes variants for three and four players – and we actually liked the three player variant more! You share a New Growth pile with the players on either side of you, and the third (final) New Growth pile is in the middle, shared among all the players.
It felt like the decisions were way more interesting here, knowing which of your opponents has access to each of “your” New Growth piles. There were times when my opponent on one side really wanted a card that was in the pile on the other side. I knew they would never get it, so I was okay with leaving it for a later round. With more players, you play over only two seasons, so it’s still just as quick as the two player game.
Of course, we like that there is educational flavor to every single card. The more we played Canopy, the more we noticed how every card choice fit perfectly into the rainforest theme.
Do we recommend Canopy?
If you are invested in the future of the rainforests, or just looking for an unusual two player game, Canopy is a really good choice. Everything about it was designed with sustainability in mind, and Weird City Games promises to plant a tree for each copy that is ordered.
Canopy is a great choice for gameschooling: kids will learn some facts directly from the game, and it should stimulate interest to find out more about these amazing natural resources.
With this gorgeous art, with all the thought that went into this, with the cool unique mechanics and all the different player counts, I think we’re going give Canopy 4 1/2 out of 5 tall trees.
Find it at WeirdCityGames.com or your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Canopy from Weird City Games for this review.
Number of Players: 1-4
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 30 minutes