Wonder Woods – Don’t Get Spored!
Mushrooms are one of the weirdest things in nature. Different kinds look completely different from one another, and one mushroom might be incredibly healthy while the next might put you in the emergency room. Foragers have to know what to look for to pick the right mushrooms.
In Wonder Woods, you and up to four friends need to use deductive reasoning to figure out which mushrooms are best for you to fill your basket. Wonder Woods was designed by Eli Thomas Wolf and published by Blue Orange Games. A game will take about 15 minutes, and almost any age can play.
Give each player five basket tokens in their chosen color. Place the rest of the basket tokens in the middle of the table with the four mushroom patch cards around it. Place piles of mushroom tokens that correspond with the patch varieties next to the patch cards. There will be a different number depending on player count.
Shuffle the card value cards of each mushroom variety separately and slide one under its respective patch face-down. Then, shuffle all of the cards together. Deal a number of cards to each player (again, depending on player count) and put any remaining cards in the box.
It’s time to play!
On your turn, choose a mushroom patch and place enough baskets on it to fill the leftmost column. Then, take a single mushroom token. If you cannot fill a column, you cannot gather from that patch. Once you cannot fill any column, you must pass.
You’ll be trying to make the best decision you can about where to gather mushrooms, but your information is limited. Each mushroom could be worth 1,3,5, or 7 points. But at the beginning of the game, you only know the cards in your hand. These cards tell you what the mushroom values are not.
Once everyone has passed, the player with the most baskets in a patch gets an extra mushroom token from that patch. Then each player may choose to Share Information. Decide whether or not to reveal to everyone one of the cards in your hand. If you choose to reveal a card, take one of the baskets from the middle of the table and add it to your supply.
After sharing information, repeat the gathering phase, starting with the player to the left of the former start player.
The game ends when two mushroom patches have run out of mushrooms. Finish the round and score.
To score, simply flip the four hidden cards. Each player multiplies their token count by the value of that mushroom. Whoever has the most points wins!
Wonder Woods is a cute game that is quick to play. There is no reading whatsoever on the cards, and only a mild amount of numeracy. A game goes quickly, so even a long-suffering teenager might be convinced dad can be a fun-gi for 15 minutes (sorry, not sorry).
The mechanics are so simple that the iconography is too. The only icons of note are the baskets in the columns, directing you on how many baskets you need to collect a mushroom.
Wonder Woods is a very good introduction to deduction. Parents can work with a child to discern what they know and what they don’t know. The progressive reveal of information helps to codify and validate (or challenge) those assumptions, showing that deduction can be educated, but isn’t always certain.
I similarly like the quickness of Wonder Woods. It fits solidly into the “filler” category.
Simplicity can be a double-edged sword, though. I hesitate to call Wonder Woods an elegant game, because there isn’t anything truly inventive here.
Additionally, although the theme works, it’s absolutely pasted on. This could have been a game about building robots or searching for clues with little work. (In fact, we found out that Wonder Woods is a re-theme of Curios from 2019.) It’s purely the art and basket tokens that hold it together as what it is.
Wonder Woods is a charming game, even though it doesn’t break new ground. But we think if you give it a try, it will grow on you.
Find Wonder Woods online, or ask for it at your Friendly Local Game Store.
Blue Orange Games provided The Family Gamers with a promotional copy of Wonder Woods for this review.
Wonder Woods - Don't Get Spored!
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 15 minutes