Everdell continues the trend that Photosynthesis started of having big cardboard trees on the game table. That’s where the similarities end, though, as you’ll see from this How to Play video:
Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights around a Table, and this is Everdell, a city-building, set collecting, card game for 1-4 players. Let me show you how to play.
In Everdell, you and your friends play woodland creatures at the tail end of wintertime who have one year to branch out and build prosperous new cities before the snow falls again. You place your workers on different locations to collect resources, with which you’ll construct buildings and attract various critters to your city. Whenever you run out of workers and cards that you want to play, you’ll advance to the next season, where you’ll receive more workers, more cards, and bonuses from the things you’ve already built. At the end of autumn, when all players have run out of things to do and decide to pass, you tally up your points to see who’s won.
Everdell is one of these games where most of its intricacies are written on the cards. Because of that, the base game rules are very simple to teach and learn. Watch:
Each player begins the game with two workers – either turtles, field mice, squirrels, or 1983-era Bon Jovis. On your turn, you can do one of three things: place a worker on a pawprint, play a card to build your city, either from your hand or from the meadow, or — if you’re out of workers, and there aren’t any cards you can or want to play — take all your workers back and advance to the next season. One unique thing about Everdell is that the seasons don’t progress for everyone at the same time; it’s possible for one player to be playing in the summertime, while other players are still in springtime. And indeed, with any board game that has a sort of “wasted” turn where you’re taking back your playing pieces and not doing anything else, the aim is to strategize cleverly and stave off that wasted turn as long as possible, just to squeeze every last drop of usefulness from your workers and cards.
Each player’s city can hold up to 15 cards. On your turn, you can play a card either from your hand, or from the common array of cards in the Meadow that all players can access. You start the game with a hand of 5-8 cards depending on turn order. You can play exactly one card on your turn by paying the cost at the top left corner. The resources you’ll need to pay for the cards are twigs, resins, pebbles, and berries. This symbol means points, this one means cards, and this one means pick anything. Generally, when an action space tells you to take a card, it means from the deck, not from the meadow.
Cards come in two types: critters and constructions. You can attract critters to your city by giving them food, but if you already have the building a critter prefers constructed in your city, you can play a critter for free! If you do this you put a little “occupied” door on the construction card to show it’s been used in this way. You can’t daisy-chain more than one critter into your city using the same construction card, so this token helps you remember you’ve already used the card that way.
Constructions and critters are either unique or common. You can have as many of the same common cards in your city as your 15-slot limit allows, but you can’t play more than one of the same unique card.
If you play a card from the Meadow in the middle of the board, you draw a fresh card from the deck to replace it. If any card lets you pull multiple cards from the Meadow, you pull all of those cards first and finish the action, and then fill up the empty slots.
Cards with a brown Traveler icon on them activate immediately, one time only, when you play them. Cards with a green Production symbol give you stuff when you play them, and then likely more stuff down the road. You’ll see why a little later. The Purple cards give you meta scoring bonuses at the end of the game, and the blue cards interact with other cards in interesting ways. I’ll explain the red destination cards in just a moment.
There’s a hard hand limit of 8 cards. If you get to draw cards and you’re already at the limit, you don’t get to draw those cards and discard down to the 8. You just don’t get to draw those cards. If another player is supposed to give you cards and you’re already at the limit, the cards they were supposed to give you just get discarded. These smaller event cards, which I’ll talk about later, don’t count toward your hand limit.
The face-down discard pile is down here. If the deck runs out, shuffle these cards to form a new deck.
In order to gather the resources you need, instead of playing a card on your turn, you can place a worker anywhere you see one of these pawprints. A pawprint with a closed circle around it means it’s exclusive – only one worker can go there. A pawprint with an open circle means multiple workers can go there, including multiple workers of your own colour.
The basic action spaces are all up here, and a number of special forest locations are dealt at random here, depending on the number of players. You can’t place workers on both spots on a forest location, and the ones marked with a 4 are only used in a 4-player game.
You might have some of these destination cards in your city with a red icon on them. These cards have pawprint spaces let you place workers on them. Some of these destination cards have little open signs on them — that means that either you or your opponents can place workers on them, even though they’re in your city. If an opponent places a worker on one of your cards, you get one victory point token from the supply.
If it’s your turn and you’re out of workers to place, you can choose to advance to the next season. This doesn’t push the clock for all the other players — just you. Take all your workers back. In spring and summer, you pull one worker off the tree – WAIT: HOW IS A TURTLE GONNA CLIMB A TREE?? – and in autumn, you get two new workers.
Additionally, in spring and autumn, the cards in your city that have green production symbols on them will activate, giving you stuff. In summer, your green cards don’t activate, but you do get to draw up to two cards from the Meadow. Decide on how many you want, take them, and then fill in the gaps from the deck.
Some of the spaces on the board are a little unique.
You can only play on these Journey spaces in the last season. These ones are exclusive, and this one is shared. To play a worker here, you need to discard as many cards as there are points on the space – get rid of 5 cards for 5 points here, 3 cards for 3 points here, and so on. If you don’t have the cards, you can’t take the space.
Place a worker here to get rid of your cards. For every two cards you doff, you get one resource of your choice.
These four common events are scoring goals based on the cards in your city. If you have at least three blue governance, red destination, brown traveler, or four green production cards in your city, you can play a worker on these event tokens and bring them home with you. They count for 3 points apiece at the end of the game. They’re first come, first served, and they’re one-use-only.
With each game, you’ll deal out four special event cards. These have a list of requirements at the top; if you meet those requirements, play a worker on the event and take it home with you. Again, the first player to get them gets them, and they’re one-use-only. There are a lot of funny flavour text connotations happening on these cards; you can claim this one, for example, if you have the Courthouse and the Ranger cards in your city. It lets you discover who’s been stealing all the acorns! Take up to two critters out of your city and turn them upside down under this event card, to shake out their pockets. The dirty thieves count for bonus points at the end of the game, and they free up slots in your city so you can build other stuff!
At the end of autumn, when all your workers are gone and there aren’t any more cards for your to play, either because you can’t afford them or your city’s full or you just don’t want to, the game is over, for you, and you are out. But your opponents may not be finished yet. This means that one or more players may end up twiddling their thumbs until all players have passed. Players who have passed can’t bounce back into the game. They can’t receive cards or resources from the other players, or from other cards or action spaces. They are dead to us. No – NAO! Where does everybody think they’re going? You’re all gonna SIT THERE and watch me place my TURTLES.
If you’re the last player standing and something tells you to give cards or resources to the other players, you just discard them.
When all players have passed, the game is over, and it’s time to count up the points.
Tally up all the points your city’s cards are worth. Then add the point tokens. Then, rack up points for the purple meta cards, the Journey points, and the points on any events you’ve completed. Events break ties, and if the game is still tied, leftover resources break tie-ties.
The rulebook describes a solo variant, where you play in one of three different difficulty modes against a nasty-looking rat named Rugwort. I won’t cover that in this video, because rats are gross.
To set up Everdell, assemble the cardboard Evertree and put it on the stump. Points and occupied tokens go here, and then throw the different resource piles along the river. Deal out three forest action cards here in a 2-player game, or four forest action cards in a 3- or 4-player game. Basic event tiles go here, and deal four special events to the tree. Shuffle the deck and deal 8 cards out to the meadow, and put the deck in the tree. Everyone picks a colour and takes two of their workers; the rest go in the tree INCLUDING THE TURTLES. The most humble player goes first, which, of course, is always me, because i’m AMAZING at being humble. The best. First player draws 5 cards from the deck. Every other player draws one more card than the last, going clockwise.
And now you have everything you need to invite a swarm of rodents to come scurrying around your game table, in Everdell. And if the thought of that creeps you out, you can always make like a turtle and climb something.
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Get Your Own Copy of Everdell
The closest game i’ve played to Everdell is Imperial Settlers, another card game with daisy-chaining. The flaw with Settlers, though, is that all the daisy-chaining happens in a single turn, which has the potential to leave other players completely board while you go off on a tear. If anything about Everdell appeals to you (and there’s a lot here to like), buy your own copy using this Amazon link, and we’ll earn a small commission:
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