It almost kills me to say a single other thing about Everdell after suffering ongoing shenanigans from the game’s greedy, customer-hostile publisher. Here’s me losing my mind during the unboxing, in more ways than one:

(click to view transcript)

Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table, and rarely have i been this excited, because i’m going to unbox the third and fourth expansions for Everdell which – it’s no secret – is my absolute favourite game in the entire world. So! i’m gonna unbox Bellfaire and Spirecrest, which just arrived at my house after a long delay. It was supposed to be delivered back on March 18th. Today is April 2nd? April 3rd? i’ve lost track! i don’t know what Canada Post is up to. They made some excuse about a global pandemic… i don’t think it holds much water, but finally, it arrived. Now: before i open it, i have to address the elephant in the room. i really, really, really like Everdell. i really, really dislike Starling Games, the publisher. i disliked them back when they were called Game Salute and they were cranking out my other then-favourite game Alien Frontiers, and they pulled some shenanigans on Kickstarter with that. Starling Games is now the reincarnation of Game Salute. i suspect the name changed because they jerked around so many people, and people didn’t want to deal with Game Salute any more. Now they’re Starling Games, and they’re jerking around people like ever before. i had a customer service issue with them that was really frustrating to resolve. Every single email i sent went to a completely different person, and i had to re-explain the situation. i don’t think they handled it well at all. i don’t like ’em i don’t like ’em. And if you’re wondering why i’m big into Everdell but you didn’t see me do anything on PearlBrook, that’s the reason: because i was in the midst of that customer service harrowing nightmare with them, and i just got really frustrated with them, and i didn’t want to talk about their stuff at all any more. So it creates an interesting dilemma, doesn’t it? Are you allowed to enjoy the outputs of the artist and dislike the artists themselves? Now, i have nothing against James A. Wilson or especially Andrew Bosley who illustrated the game – he’s also my secret internet boyfriend – but Starling games… like, if i was Santa Claus, there’s no shortage to the amount of coal that i would shovel into their living rooms on Christmas morning. So is it ok to like the art, and not the producer of the art? Can you still laugh at a Louis c.k comedy special, or Bill Cosby comedy special? Can you still watch a Kevin Spacey movie? Can you still listen to Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner? Can you still drive a Mercedes? Have i just compared Starling Games with known sex offenders and Nazi sympathizers? …Yeah? Maaaybe? That’s not what i intend to do. What i really mean is – you know – can you appreciate or enjoy the thing that they make, even disliking the people that made it? i hope so, because what happened with the… the goof-up with their customer-hostile approach to Alien Frontiers in that Kickstarter and releasing a Kickstarter for an expansion before they’d even fulfilled the first game, is that i stopped liking Alien Frontiers. And that sucks! It’s no fault of the game! It’s the fault of the publisher entirely, but it got to the point where when that thing finally arrived at my house, i couldn’t… i couldn’t stand to look at it, and i think i’ve only played it maybe once or twice since. It’s a real shame. So i don’t want that to happen to Everdell, and i don’t want you to be soured on Everdell. By the same token, i don’t really want you to give your money to Starling Games. Let’s hope that in a happy utopian future, another publisher is able to get the rights and… and publish it themselves. i don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Cute fuzzy animals: here we go! Let’s tackel Bellfaire first, because Bellfaire is the one that i know the absolute least about, and i think that was by… it seemed by design. i – you know – not trusting Starling Games, i expected some weird shenanigans on the Kickstarter, because i thought it’s very strange that every single update that they’re talking about has to do with Spirecrest, and they’re saying so very little about Bellfaire. Now, to be completely frank and honest, i don’t look at games in depth when i buy them. i just… there’s usually a moment when i make really emotional decisions about whether or not to buy a game. Maybe it’s the artwork, or maybe it’s a really cool feature, and maybe a little turn of phrase on the back of the box that really gets me, and with this pair of expansions, what really got me was the moment… i mean, i was gonna buy it anyway, because – you know – Everdell. i really enjoyed the game. But what really got me super excited was the video on Kickstarter, where they showed a little saddle going on a moose, and putting a squirrel on top of the saddle. i was just like… i just about LOST MY MIND. i thought “i HAVE to have it.” It’ll be interesting to see what’s actually in here. i’ve heard a couple of things about it since i’ve backed, it so let’s pop it open and check it out. Mmmm… that’s a tight fit. i hold out great hope. Maybe….? No. Box Fart-O-Meter: zero. Inside, what do we have we have? A catalogue for Starling Games. Poo on you, Starting Games. That’s right, i said it: poo on you. We have a a Rules of Play… this is weird. Oh – it’s a piece of styrofoam to help the cut of the board not… so i guess it doesn’t damage these corners when it’s sloshing around in there with irresponsible Canada Post carriers trekking through the apocalypse. Thank you, Canada Post! i appreciate you getting this to me. The rulebook. i’ve heard that this is a series of modules that you can use to expand your Everdell experience. Let’s talk about that a little bit. i’m not usually a big fan of that approach to expansions. i don’t usually like it when they say “Oh – there’s a b… there’s a grab bag of stuff, and you just pick the thing that you want to go in the game.” Like, no… you you designed it. You tell me the way that this is meant to be played. It’s not like – you know – you’re watching a teevee show, and it’s like Seinfeld, and then it pauses – you know – like “Does… does Kramer bust in with his trademark hair wiggle at this point, or would you like to see Newman?” No, there’s writers! THEY tell you when Newman’s on the screen, because he’s on the screen. Ridiculous! That’s just my… my take, anyway. So this is a special die-cut board that attaches to the top of the main Everdell board, which i’m not going to bring out because i don’t have the table space, and that was one of the criticisms that i’ve heard bandied about in this game, is it is a table hog! And the original is a table hog, too! Remember, they’ve got the big cardboard Evertree that’s just gigantic and blocks people’s view of the board, and if there was one major criticism i heard about the game all the time was that Evertree. Now what they’ve done with the expansion is they said “Yeah… maybe you don’t really need the Evertree? Hee hee hee.” And they said this AFTER selling a ten dollar woood Evertree to a bunch of people. So again, Starling Games with the questionable customer-hostile decisions. The one thing they said about it too, is that they said “There’s so much stuff going on in the expansions, we don’t recommend that you combine them all,” and of course, we dyed-in-the-wool board gamers heard that as a challenge, and we thought “Forget you! You can’t tell ME what to do, and we’re gonna anyway!” Lovely matte finish. Things to punch out. Things that go in a little marketplace. i recognize Rugwort, who was the source of the bone of contention with the last product that i purchased from these guys, and got really mad about. And a bunch of little modular, or randomly chosen… like, looks like goal tiles, i guess, that go on the the Bellfaire board. These, i think, are player boards, if i remember correctly, which you pop out and you sort of – you know – build your tableau to the corner of one of these, but again, it’s like more stuff on the table, and you already won’t be able to fit this on the table, unless you’re playing on a pool table or something. But – oh! They’re lovely. They’re lovely. Bosley’s artwork, as usual, is adorbs. Totes adorbz. Oh, look at this! You get a really nice… really nice sort of vacuformed insert to fit different things once they’re punched out. Let’s see. Let… well, let’s punch one out and… or one or two. So we’ll punch out the nice little mushroom glade, and this sort of root system that i think chipmunks would quite enjoy, and we’ll see how it fits. Oh, yeah. Look at that. It fits like a glove. Oh! And they’re double-sided, too! They’ve got different artwork on both sides. Wunderbar! Wunderbar. Looks good! Of course it looks good. That’s one of the biggest appeals of this game. It looks great. What else do you get? You get a bag of wood with two new animal types in Bellfaire. Now, they’ve really gone overboard, i think, on the animal types. You get… i don’t know. With these two expansions, plus your base game, plus Pearlbrook, you’ve got, like, 50 different animals to choose from. Not quite that many, but we have little cardinals! They’re adorable. And little… mmm. Hmm? What da HECK are these things? Little… babushkas? What IS that guy? i’m gonna have to check the back of the box to see what they’re hoping that that is. They’re telling me it is a… oh, okay. Yeah. That makes sense. Sort of. It’s a toad. That… that shape is a toad. Feels like… you know when you get… when you get breakfast cereal as a kid, and they’re like marshmallows that are shaped like different things, and on the box they always look perfectly, and then you get in your bowl, and you’re like “What is that deformed lump of sugar supposed to be?” Deformed lumps of sugar, and cardinals. Lovely. And a frog ambassador for the deformed lumps of sugar, and a frog ambassador for the cardinals so that you can play Pearlbrook. Very good, very good. They’ll go back in the box. And… really happy to see developers paying more attention to inserts, so we don’t just get the – you know – the Rio Grande well in the middle of the box. There’s a little pack of cards, which i will estimate it clocks in at probably… roughly… 50,000, and that backing, i think, is the backing for forest cards. So these are special cards… if you haven’t played the game, by the way (i’m mentioning this way too late in the video!) but check out my How to Play Everdell video. These are more spots where you can… you… there are four forest spots that… worker placement spots where you get stuff. So what do you get? You get two resins or two berries, you get three resins… i think in the main game, you get two resins from the… in the basic space… pay three twigs and then gain any three goods… activate all… aw, cool! Activate any two of the green cards in your city. That’s… that’s pretty exciting! i like that. Again, if you haven’t played the game, you don’t know why that’s exciting. But i have, and it is. Trust me. And these are more event cards that go up in the tree. That was a little bit of a bummer with Pearlrook, right? Like, they… they replaced the basic events with these big cool-looking… if you’ve got the Collector’s Edition – these big cool-looking standees, but then it kind of like nullified a couple of the things on the cards? Like the King doesn’t work the way the King used to? It was kind of strange. So five common critters, five common constructions are the requirements, four unique critters and constructions… if you’ve got five green buildings and you pay two red berries, you get six points. Usually these clock in around five or six points depending on which one you claim. You have to pay a worker in order to get one of the events which, if you played, you know all about. And these are the ones with an adorable top-hatted tortoise mayor on the back. Cute! Ah, yeah! i’m really excited about this! These are variable player powers! So depending on which little wooden meeple guys you choose, you get different abilities. So let’s look at the cardinals first, since we’ve got them out here. The… that’s it’s pretty exciting. Here they are. The cardinals! They are scouts. “Increase your hand limit by two.” Oh, wow! “Any time you get to draw any number of cards, you may draw one additional card from the deck.” Pretty cool! Pretty cool. Let’s look at one or two more. The hedgehogs… are good sniffers. They sure are! (self-mocking snicker) i don’t know. “If you do not gain a berry when you place a worker on a basic or forest location, you get a berry. When playing a construction, you may pay two berries to replace one of any good.” Wow! These are like… these are pretty powerful. And the platypuses, which i like to play because they’re lovely and they’re purplish… they’re treasure hunters. Little pirate platypuses. “At the beginning of the game, place five gold here. At any time on your turn, you may pay up to one of these gold to gain a resource of any kind, and to draw a card from the deck or the meadow.” W….ow! That’s pretty cool! That’s pretty cool. So now, actually going through these cards, we’ll be able to see how many animals are available. And it’s sneaky what they did here, of course. If you buy Bellfaire, and you don’t have any of the other stuff, you can look through here and be like “Wow! There’s all these animals! How do i get them? Oh – i’ve got to get the Collector’s, i’ve got to get the expansion, the addition, blah blah blah.” So… you know. Clever sales tactic. But there are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen… fifty thousand different kinds of animals that you can choose to play and get a unique player power for in Everdell. Pretty exciting. iiiii’m jazzed! i cannot WAIT. This is gonna hit the table so fast the legs are gonna buckle and the whole thing’s gonna crash down to the ground. And now, Spirecrest, the one i know a whole lot more about because they show a whole lot more pictures of it. (fanfare humming) There it is! Spirecrest, where i think your animals are going on some sort of death-defying mission up a mountain? And like Bellfaire… we’ll see the board in a second… but like Bellfaire goes on top of the main board, and it’s specially die-cut to do that, and this one goes below the main board, so it’s just going to take up an unearthly amount of space on your table. There’s another criticism i’ve often read about Everde;; going… going off, as i do, about it, is that it’s overproduced. i don’t see that as a problem. You got the cash? You can splurge. What – yachts are overproduced. If you can afford a yacht, go buy a yacht. Always complaining about, like, “Well that that yacht is… isn’t it a little bit extravagant? Wouldn’t you like a nice, more humble yacht? A pauper’s yacht, we call it? Where’s the print-and-play version of Everdell??” Here we go. Oh. Box Fart-O-Meter: zero. Phoo! Factory fresh! Oh look – wow! There’s another cut piece of foam in there to protect, i guess the corners, or the edges, of this specialty die cut board. Now i found the die cut with the Pearlbrook board… POO!! Poo on you, Starling Games! i shouldn’t… probably shouldn’t keep saying their name. i’m gonna invoke them like Bloody Mary or something. What was i gonna say? Right! They… die cut of the Pearlbrook board mostly fits? But i found you put it next to your main board, and there’s a slight bit of, like, “tick tick tick tick”? Like a little bit of wiggle. Hopefully these’ll be a little bit tighter. Here’s the rulebook. Clocks in at 14 pages. That’s a lot of text, but they like to put stories and lore… yeah. Look at this: this is just pages of lore. Excerpts from the Journal of Torrin Hare. Woo! Wow. And explanations about what all the different cards do. i haven’t… i’ve barely seen any of this stuff. This is the Collector’s Edition that i got from Kickstarter, so if you buy this at retail, it’s gonna be missing a couple of things. You’re gonna see a couple of extra big meeples, a few other extras. So don’t get mad if you’re missing a few things that you see here. There’s the main board. It’s kind of like bird- or wing-shaped, and you’ll notice the… the cut of the… of the original board. Hopefully that fits nice and snugly in there. i won’t know until i play. And things! Things go on here! Let’s find out what things! Mmm! These things. These look like random things that happen along your journey up the… mountain? i’m surprised, you know, at the restraint they showed here, that they have a expansion that’s about a mountain, but they didn’t build a big cardboard mountain, because that seems very in-line with their modus operandi. Hey-ah! What to tackle first? There’s so many things! Hadj… look at this little baggie! No – who cares? Right. Focus. Another little baggie! No no no – okay! That’s a THIRD… no, stop! All right. Mmm! Hmm. Yes! Okay. Animals! Let’s talk about animals (singing) ba-by / let’s talk about… Let’s talk about getting a copyright strike cuz we sang a song (trails off). The… right. Wood. The wood. So, what do we get? We get foxes. There’s a fox in the box! And we get – these are pretty exciting – three different animals in this bag. There are lizards (laughing) i was really excited about the lizards. Look how cool they are! Ah, that’s cool! We get… i-don’t-knows! i don’t know what those are! i… VOLES? i don’t… were people, like “More! Voles! More! Voles!”? i don’t know. And this is another…. that’s an owl. i can clearly see that that’s an owl. i’m gonna have to look at the back of the box to see what that other thing is supposed to be. Ah – moles. Yeah, i was close i said voles. i’m one letter off. So these guys are moles. Great. Moles, lizards, and ow-els. These are the frog ambassadors for all of those, aaaand all the Frog ambassadors you could possibly ever want… oh, no! i’m sorry. These are NOT frog ambassadors at all. These are the different bunny voyagers. So just like you have a frog ambassador that has to go to the river to entreat with the river folk, you have a bunny ambassador, i think, or a bunny traveler/ voyager – i don’t even know what it’s called – that is going to mark your place traveling along Spirecrest! And there they all are. Lovely! Into the box they go. This box? Less of a thing than the Bellfaire box. It does have a couple of – you know – special spots for things to go in. Maybe there just aren’t as many special things to go… i don’t know. i haven’t played. But lots of baggies to chuck stuff in. And more wood. Let’s… let’s do the rest of the wood. These guys. (humming) These are the – hahahaha okay. Okay. Wait – we’ll do this first. i’m so excited. i don’t know why – it’s so dumb! They’re just pieces of wood! All right! These are the big meeples. Huge suckers. And then special ones in the Collector’s Edition. So i’m guessing maybe they don’t do anything special? Or maybe they DO have powers? We’ll find out when we bust out the cards, but this is what they look like. We’ve got a moose and a boar and a peacock and a bear, and a… i don’t… a quail? Quail are not large animals. i’m not too sure. Turkey vulture? Some sort of ram or goat. Really really cool. And then in THIS bag… bwa hahaha… this is what sold me on it, folks… we have… we have little saddles. i want to get this on correctly… Whew! It’s a nice fit. Nice and snug. And that – wait. What am i doing on the wolf? Who cares about wolves? Moose! Moose gets a saddle. And then – wait wait wait! This is worth… this is worth everything right here. And then we put.. (cracking up) Oh my God! This is the best! Oh no! Wait. Wait. It takes a little while to learn. Ah. (laughing hysterically) There’s a… (laughing) there’s a little… lizard riding a moose on a saddle! (wheezing, breathless laughter) There’s a – oh man! If the virus takes me, it’s okay: my life is complete. Oh man, that was a thrill. That’s all… alright. The rest of it can go in the garbage. i don’t really care. That was it. That was the that was the p…. (laughing) that was the peak of my gaming experience right there. A lizard… (laughs) on a saddle… (laughs) riding a moose. Hoo! Hokay. (wheezing laughter) Oh my God! (laughs) Okay. Hoo!. i’m doing a video. i gotta… hmm! Cards. Three decks of cards. Let’s see… again, roughly the same number of cards in each deck, i would think, and you know what that number is. These are- oh, bad things that happen on your perilous journey. “Flooding. Every card in the meadow costs an additional resource to play.” Ooh. It’s… hard. “Wildfire. Immediately place one of your workers here permanently.” Oh. You know what THAT means: squirrel B-B-Q. “Hail. You must discard a card after you visit a basic or forest location if available.” Ouch. “Lightning storms. Every construction costs one additional resource to play.” Oh my God. Life is hard for the little critters of Everdell. i feel very, very bad for them. It’s gonna be me soon, when i play. Which should be be very very soon. This deck has, hopefully, yes – perky good things. The moose’s name, in case you’re wondering, is Stubblehoof. He’s a big critter. And – oh yeah! i forget about this: the artwork… oh my gosh! How can you… first of all, he’s got tiny little mice… there’s one on his head, and one hanging from his antler, and he’s wearing a monocle! Words escape me! It’s fantastic. Sunblaze trail… i think these are the different locations you can hit. They look like they are randomly dealt. Beautiful, beautiful artwork. Oh yeah. i really love the – you know – the tortoise with the observatory on his back. Some of this stuff, i mean… agh! It’s so good. i can’t wait to explore the rest of those on my own, in my bunk. And then the last little deck of cards – i’m surprised that this isn’t the same bundle – but maybe this is Collector’s Edition stuff? i dunno. Truffle is a big critter. He’s a boar. This is a prospector card, a mountaineer card… so a few extra cards. Again… Firebeak, who’s a big turkey vulture… and they all look great. It all looks…. psssfft! Forget about it! It all looks amazing. Oh my gosh. i cannot wait. i CANNOT WAIT! i cannot wait to play these expansions! What have we learned today? Everdell: good. Starling Games: bad. Louis c.k.’s still funny. Andrew Bosley’s Ryan’s boyfriend, though he doesn’t want to be… and somehow Ryan has something to say about known sex offenders? i don’t know. i will play this game. i will play this game early, i will play it often, i will play it with a vengeance… i may not actually do a How to Play because as i said, i’m annoyed tremendously with Starling Games, but just know: if you’re feeling kind of low down, and things seem kind of bleak, just remember that somewhere in the world, there’s a middle-aged portly man giggling himself silly over a lizard on a saddle riding a moose. Thanks for watching.

Get Your Own Copy of Everdell: Spirecrest and Bellfaire

If i had my way, not a single red cent would see its way to the publisher on my recommendation. If you feel you absolutely must purchase the game or its expansions, use the Amazon link below to shop, and i’ll receive a fraction of a red cent for my own troubles.