Review – Herbaceous

(Designed by Eduardo Baraf, Steve Finn, and Keith Matejka with art by Benjamin Shulman and Beth Sobel, published by Dr. Finn’s Games and Pencil First Games LLC)

Have you ever wanted to be a gardener? To grow your own herbs? Maybe you’re a cook and think that the herbs you really want to cook with cost way too much at the local grocer and you just want to be self-sufficient anyway.

But let me ask you the most important question.

Have you ever wanted to plant cards?

In Herbaceous, you can!

Well, herb cards, anyway.

Herbaceous box

Herbaceous is a card game that just came out in early 2017, and it is a wonderful little filler game. Who knew that planting cards could be so much fun?

Ok, yes, the theme is totally pasted on to this set collection card game, but what card game’s theme isn’t? Do you really feel like you’re preserving ancient manuscripts in Biblios? Not really.

And I don’t feel like I’m planting cards…I mean herbs in Herbaceous.

But I do feel like I’m having a whale of a good time, and that’s what’s important!

Gameplay in Herbaceous is very simple. You take two herb cards on your turn, one at a time, and decide whether to put each card in your private garden so only you can have access to it (greedy bastard) or put it in the public garden so everyone can have access to it (commie bastard).

Herbaceous Gardens

(private garden below, public garden above)

But you have to choose where to put the first one before drawing the second one, and you can’t put both in the same garden.

Before you draw the cards, however, you have to decide if you’re going to pot any herbs.

You have four pots that you can plant them in.

Herbaceous pots

One of them requires all of the same herb, another requires multiple pairs of herbs, one requires all different herbs, and one is kind of the junkbox herb pot where you put the stuff you really don’t know what to do with. However, there are cards (Mint, Chive, and Thyme) with numbers on them. They can only be potted in that junk pot, and if you are the first to plant each of the three different ones there, you get the biscuit.

Herbaceous biscuit

(mmmmmm biscuit)

That gives you a whole 5 points! When winning scores can be in the 40s or 50s, that’s actually pretty good.

You get points at the end of the game based on how many cards you potted in each pot.

You can take herbs from both your private garden and the public garden to fill your pots, so you have some decisions to make. Do you press your luck and draw herbs? Or, since you have to do this first, do you pot the herbs you have now before somebody else takes those precious Dills that are sitting there looking at you wantingly in the public garden?

Play continues until the deck is gone. Then any last potting can happen. Then the game ends! Total up your score, and lord your herb-growing prowess over your opponents as they weep in shame!

Or, say “good game, do you want to play again?”

Because that’s another great thing about Herbaceous. It takes about 20 minutes! Maybe 21 minutes after rules explanations. Maybe 22 minutes if you have a new gamer who has trouble with rules generally.

This is the perfect filler game: it’s light, it’s fun, it has cards, and the art work is gorgeous! How can you pass up art like that? It really is phenomenal.

The rules are simple, but elegant. It’s just a lot of fun to play.

Now, I’ll take questions. Yes, you in the back.

Isn’t there a lot of luck in this game?

Yes, of course there is. It’s a card game. There’s always luck in card games.

If luck is going to keep you away from a game like garlic to a vampire, then this isn’t a game for you.

But it’s a 20-minute filler. If you can’t draw a Rosemary card to save your life, is it really going to ruin your day?

Yes, you in front.

Does it come in a big box? My shelves are already bursting.

No, it doesn’t come in a big box. It comes in a box so tiny that you may need an electron microscope to find it.

(Yes, I’m exaggerating, but that was a stupid question)

Final question. Yes, you from CNN

Should I sleeve my cards?

You will shuffle the deck once per game and then draw. If you’re going to play it 100 times, then maybe sleeve your cards.

Or if you play with Pig Pen from the Peanuts comics.

Otherwise? The card quality is actually very good. I don’t see any reason to sleeve your cards.

Final thoughts:

Herbaceous is a must-have game if you need a filler in between longer games, or if you need something while you’re waiting for your always-late friend to arrive because you told him to be there at 7:00 and it’s now 7:45 and we really want to get started because we have work tomorrow…

Ahem, yes, it fits perfectly into those times where you need a quick game.

It helps that it’s a blast to play, and I highly recommend Herbaceous.

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