It’s the first week of September and you know what that means! Break out the pumpkin spice, cider, and spooky music because it’s officially FALL! Ok, so technically summer doesn’t end until the 22nd. But who are you gonna listen to? A bunch of egghead meteorologists or your heart? In any case, whether you can wait another month or not, I’m celebrating Labor Day with a review Bosk from Floodgate Games, with the tagline “A Game of Majestic Trees and Falling Leaves.” You read the title of this review so you already know that I like it, but let’s look at exactly what makes this autumnal game work so well.
What’s In The Box
I won’t go into a huge amount of specifics here, as I covered the look of the game and its materials in my unboxing video. The components are lovely, using lots of wooden pieces (always a +1 in my book) and the cheerful autumn color scheme that suffuses the game. I especially love the points tracker, which is shaped like a wooden parks sign.
Aesthetically, Bosk is an incredibly pretty game. I mean, 2019 was kind of…the year of pretty games but Bosk is definitely up there as one of the prettiest. It has a sort of gentle impressionism to it that captures the tranquility of an autumn forest in the abstract. This isn’t trying to make your feel like you’re inside of a real forest, but instead wants to capture the feeling of being in such a forest. You may not have ever seen an all-purple tree before but, honestly, you’ll come of out this game hoping to find one. Kwanchai Moriya works in incredibly vibrant colors, but all of them are softened enough that they’re never glaring. He injects a great deal of life into a season that for some people represents chill and decay.
How’s It Play?
Bosk is, at its core, a simple game of area control. It takes place across four seasons (though the trees and leaves are always in fall foliage), though only two of them actually involve play. In Spring, when trees begin their growth, players each take turns placing their trees at the intersections of the grid (where four squares connect) to both score short term points and plan for the second round. Each tree only can drop leaves at certain times in the Fall, so there’s a lot of strategy that goes into trying to dominate a row or column and get maximum value out of it. This part of the game plays almost like chess, with each person aiming for their own goal, planning ahead, and blocking their opponent from maximizing their own points. The nice thing is that since this is a much more limited part of the game, the points values aren’t super high. If you end up screwed over in the Spring, you can bounce back in the Fall.
After points are scored in the Summertime, it’s time for Fall and the real game to begin. In this part of the game, players have to blow their leaves around the map and capture the majority of the squares in each section of the map. The direction of the leaves is not up to the players, instead dictated by the ever-changing direction of the wind. Which trees drop leaves is also dictated by the wind for the first four rounds, after which players have free reign. Players can also place their leaves on top of their opponent’s leaves, blocking them from getting control of that space. If your opponent does that, you can cover it back up. This can cause a mini “leaf war” as people stack leaves on top of each other when they can (highest we got in my plays was five). You only have so many leaf tokens though, some with more leaves than others, so you have to be strategic about how much ground you need to cover on your turn. Finally, there’s the squirrels. These cheeky buggers can be placed on a leaf pile near one of your trees. Not only does it claim that space, it can’t be covered up by anyone else. So if there’s a space you really want, you can basically claim dibs and nobody can change that. Or, if you prefer, you can screw an opponent out of a space they really want. All sorts of fun for the Squirrel. Finally, in Winter, points are tallied up and we find out who the winner is
This game felt tailor-made for me to like and I’d be lying if it didn’t work. Everything about it is incredibly thematic and fun as all get out. The rounds of play are simple and straightforward, and the rules are a pretty quick read. It’s deeply accessible as well thanks to the quick gameplay and beautiful artwork. It also has a big “wow” factor when its on the tabletop thanks to the 3D tree standees that really pop with color. While it’s not quite as complex as other games with similar themeing that came out last year (PARKS being the obvious comparison), it’s definitely something worth looking into if you missed it. Especially if you love the Fall season.
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Images via Floodgate Games