SNAP Review – Grove
I’m a mom who loves to play board games; so I really enjoy solitaire games that are very compact and very fast, so I can play them while I’m waiting around for my kids. Because of this, I’m delighted to review Grove.
Grove is a solitaire card placement game that uses dice to track your progress through its puzzle. It takes less than ten minutes to play and I review it in less than five.
Grove is a sequel to Orchard, another solitaire game. Both were designed & illustrated by Mark Tuck. Grove is published by Side Room Games. Inside the box, you’ll find 18 cards, 15 custom dice, and two tokens: a squirrel and a wheelbarrow.
The art in Grove plays into its compactness.
You have these little bushes, and every bush has either one or two citrus fruit. And every card has an open grove.
The illustrations on the back of each card have more information and more things you can do, but could have been more richly illustrated. They don’t seem to quite fit with the look that’s on the front of the cards.
There are 18 cards here, but you only use half the deck for a game. Lay down a card at random to be the starting card, then draw a hand of 2 cards.
Place one card from your hand onto the table. Overlap matching types of trees to place or upgrade a die – based on the total number of fruit “held” on that tree. Then draw a new card, and do it again. Dice values climb from 2-6, then upgrade to a bushel of ten fruit. If you manage to upgrade a bushel, use the wheelbarrow for a “wheely” good haul.
You can always overlap the empty “grove” spaces with trees of any kind. You can also overlap non-matching trees once in the game by using the squirrel token. But this will subtract points from your end score, so use it wisely!
But that’s not all! On the back of every card is a “recipe challenge”. Pick two of these from the unused cards when separating out the deck for play. If you fulfill the condition on each card, you’ll get bonus points – but the numbers on the two cards also give you the score you need to beat to “win” the game!
I knew Grove was a sequel to Orchard, but I had never gotten a chance to play. I’ve seen lots of pictures of it. That idea of the card placement with dice as counters was really cool.
But I had no idea what to expect, other than layering cards and placing dice.
I was surprised that you never roll the dice, but only use them as upgrade counters, to count how many fruit you have on a specific tree space. But they work really well for that purpose.
I was also surprised by the recipe challenges and variable goals. I love this mechanic: it’s great in Sprawlopolis (one of my other favorite solo games) and it exists in a few other games as well. It’s a really great way to use all of the available card space in a very small game like this.
The way you set up this game – immediately setting aside half the deck – almost guarantees that you’ll want to play twice in a row.
This is really designed just to be a solo game. There is a way to play with other people if they have their own copy of the game.
I highly recommend Grove. It plays in ten minutes or less. It’s small enough to fit in a purse or a big pocket.
My only disappointments with it are that the art could be a little more detailed, and I wish there was a way to play with two players right out of the box.
Other than that, Grove is a great game, and I’m going to give it 4 1/2 fruit out of 5.
Check out the Kickstarter today!
The Family Gamers received a preview copy of Grove from Side Room Games for this review.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Number of Players: 1
Age Range: 14+ (we say 10+)
Playtime: under 10 minutes