We were given the chance to review Grove by Side Room Games launching on Kickstarter October 18th! Grove is a short, charming, solitaire card game that plays in about 10 minutes. It is a sequel to their previous game, Orchard. The art styles carries over to this new game but with some tweaks that make it look unique and new.
Grove is a quick, relaxing game that plays over 9 turns. The box includes a set of custom dice with classic pips and a single unique face that counts as a 10. It also has a double sided 18 card deck, a squirrel and a wheelbarrow. To set up you simply shuffle your deck, take 9, the dice and the squirrel and wheelbarrow token. One of the easiest set ups of any game we have ever played. The best part of this set up is that since you use half of the cards, you can immediately play a second game by taking the rest of the cards and restarting. The cards are double sided so one side has your grove of trees for play and the other side has modifiers for game play. These modifiers add various goals and bonus points for certain goals.
The goal of Grove is to play cards as you draw them, stacking trees with different citrus fruits that are alike. Each card has 6 sections which include 0-3 oranges/lemons/limes. Each card varies with their position and fruit. Your goal is to continuously stack like fruits so that you get more and more fruit stacked. This sounds simple but they have to fit in such a way that they stack like fruit to like fruit ONLY. Whenever they overlap you take a die and place it over the matching color/fruit and number of fruit. If you had two limes and stacked two more, you take a green die and place it over the overlapping trees with the 4 facing up. If you go above 6, you turn it to the basket face and it counts as 10. If you go above the basket it turns into a wheelbarrow which counts as 15.
There are also blank spots called groves which can be used in a pinch to stack over any spot. The downside to this is that if you stack over a die, the fruit falls to the floor and will NOT count towards your final score unless you manage to place another card of the matching color to reclaim it. The squirrel token allows you to avoid doing this a single time.
You continue to place cards as you draw them, paying attention to any bonuses until you place your final 9th card. You then calculate your final score paying attention to any modifiers (if you decided to play with them) and the higher your score, the better you are ranked.
Sometimes a game is so simple yet it is complex in strategy. This is one of those cases. The rules are easy but sometimes you have to weigh your decisions carefully as you place your cards. Can you reclaim your fruit if you place it a grove over it? Should you overlap as many as possible and make it more difficult in the future to score a few quick points? These are tough decisions that you’ll have to make if you want to beat your high score.
Language Barrier Playability: this game is super easy to explain. It is a single player game but we decided to play at the same time since there are 18 cards and you only need 9 per player. So while this is technically a single player game, it is easy to explain and can technically be played with another player with a language barrier very easily.
Replayability: Incredibly replayable. We played a couple times on our first go. We even played a very quick game as a refresher before writing this article! The double sided cards also offer variety to strategy as well.
Artwork: Simple, charming and very much in the style of Orchard. The squirrel token is adorable.
Quality: as with anything from Side Room Games, these are great quality cards, unique dice and compact packaging which we always appreciate.
Strategy: this is a very strategic based game but not so complicated that it becomes overwhelming.
Instruction Manual: Easy to read, easy to learn. Exactly what you need from a rule book.
Organization: The copy that we played may have some changes but overall great. Everything fits snuggly in the box and is easy to store.