Gift of Tulips
Tulips are among the first flowers to emerge from the ground in springtime.
In the Netherlands, around 3 billion tulips are grown each year, with a spring tulip festival near Amsterdam showcasing the best varieties.
Weird Giraffe Games has brought the tulip festival to the rest of the world with Gift of Tulips, a card game by Sara Perry.
How to Play
Up to six players can participate in the tulip festival. Give each player a scoring card, a reference card, and a unique token.
Set up a central “Festival” area with the four ranking cards. Then turn over the top two Tulip cards from the deck and place them under the 1st and 2nd place Festival cards.
Place the Tulip tracker near the Festival and record the current values for the Tulip varieties.
Then deal two cards to each player. Everyone chooses one to secretly add to the Festival (face-down). The other card goes face-up in the player’s “bouquet”.
On Your Turn
On your turn, you draw the top Tulip card from the deck and do one of three possible actions. Then you draw a second card and do a different action.
Keep the Tulip in Your Bouquet
If you choose to keep a card, place it face up in front of you as part of your bouquet. You immediately score two points if that tulip variety is 4th in the Festival, or a single point if it is 3rd in the Festival.
Give the Tulip to a Friend
Take the Tulip card and give it, face-up, to another player. They’ll place it in their bouquet. You immediately score points based on that card’s value and its variety’s ranking – higher ranked varieties award more points to their givers!
Add the Tulip to the Festival
Add the Tulip card to the face-up Festival, changing that variety’s value. Or, add it face-down to the “secret Festival”, to be revealed at the end of the game (maybe).
Whenever a new Tulip card is added to the Festival, stack it with the rest of the same variety. Then check the new total value of that variety. If it is equal or higher than another variety in the Festival, it takes that stack’s position, pushing all the rest to the right.
When the tulip deck runs out, the game ends. Shuffle the secret festival cards, then add five to the festival. Check the new tulip values, and it’s time to score.
For each variety in the Festival, check around the table. Whoever has the most tulip cards for that variety scores the majority points. The players who have the second-most and third-most number of cards in that variety may also score some points, depending on the player count.
Unfortunately, having the most cards of the fourth-place Festival variety gains you zero points.
Gift of Tulips is a lovely filler game that moves quickly. After explaining how to play, even a six-player game can be done in 20 minutes.
All of the art in Gift of Tulips ties back to the theme, in a lovely way. The tulips are vibrant and the four types are very distinct, while also including slight differences for two, three, or four blooms on a card. I love that the player tokens showcase different aspects of Dutch culture.
Even the card backs and Festival cards are a call back to Delftware, a distinctive blue-and-white pottery that has been made in the Netherlands for over 300 years.
But I had one problem with the art: the tokens and individual scoretracks were too small. I fumbled my token many times when trying to move it from one scoring space to the next. And knowing how other players are scoring should change your tactics, but it’s hard to see and compare when each player tracks their score on a separate card.
There’s also a card and tokens for the four tulip values, which has the same size problem; after our first few plays, we left this tracker in the box. The values are represented well enough with the card display in the festival area.
The text on the Festival cards (reminding you how scoring works) is also quite small. The size and style fit nicely with the overall design, but you won’t be able to read it from across the table.
How Do You Score Points, Again?
The reason the small text is a problem is because the scoring doesn’t quite feel intuitive. There are different end-game values based on the player count, and two different ways to score points during your turn (keeping flowers or giving them away). It took several plays before I could stop checking the Festival cards every turn to remember how to score a gift.
But the slightly weird scoring of Gift of Tulips is part of its charm. Throughout the game, you are incentivized to give tulips to other players. Every gift gains you 2-7 points (depending on the printed card value and the current tulip value), while keeping a tulip card for yourself is just 0-2 points.
Not a Tulip Mania
Our kids don’t have any connection to Dutch culture, so this theme did not appeal to them at all. But there’s nothing difficult for a kid to understand, and the thematic art and design helped adults enjoy the game more than we would have otherwise. The “gift” mechanic is unusual, and I really like seeing it in a competitive game. As the title Gift of Tulips suggests, it truly is better to give than to receive. But hopefully your gifts are reciprocated, because that end game majority scoring can cause major shifts!
I’d recommend Gift of Tulips as a light filler game for adults who want a competitive game that is calming rather than cutthroat. It’s a great way to celebrate the promise of spring. Find it on Amazon, direct from Weird Giraffe Games, or ask for it at your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Gift of Tulips from Weird Giraffe Games for this review.
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Gift of Tulips
Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 2-6
Playtime: 15-20 minutes