We were kindly gifted Turf War, The Turf War Fantasy Pack and Turf War: Trick or Treat for review by Gadabout Games. Turf Wars is a two player game where your goal is to have the best yard in order to sway as many of the neighbors as possible and score the most points. This is a deceptively simple game of set collection and resource management. As you play you will find opportunities to sabotage your neighbor’s yard, work to earn money, and buy yard decorations and tools to make a beautiful yard.
In order to set up, both players start with a home/away card, garage card, a tool box, a rake, a watering can, piggy bank and dollar bill cards and 9 dirt/grass cards. The 9 dirt/grass cards are place dirt side up in a 3 x 3 grid which will serve as your yard. The home/away card is placed home side up and the garage is double sided and is the same on both sides. These cards are your home and it is your job to make the best yard ever in order to win over the neighborhood and score points. The market is set up by shuffling all of the item cards and placing 5 cards face up in reach of both players. Finally the neighbors are shuffled and 5 are placed face up within reach of both players.
During your turn, you play actions in the following order: daytime actions (if you have any in your yard), choose if you are home OR away (actions will depend on your choice), play any night time actions (if you have any in your yard). During your first few turns you will probably choose to be Away from your home. When you are away, you may work and earn 5 coins AND/OR buy a card from the market. Being away from home is necessary for earning money and purchasing more cards. The downside to being away from home is that if your opponent is home they may choose to sabotage your yard by placing stuff in your yard that may not be beneficial or may penalize your yard. There are cards that can be purchased that can increase the amount of money you earn or increase the amount of cards you may purchase. By default you earn 5 coins and can purchase one card. In order to mark your money, the piggy bank card is placed on the correct 10’s place and the dollar card is placed on the correct 1’s place. So should you have twenty 3 coins your piggy bank will read “20” and will cover up numbers below “3” on your dollar bill. As you purchase items you place them into your garage and move your piggy bank card/dollar bill card accordingly. This was a very unique way to count money and we have never played a game that uses this mechanic. It is useful and keeps the amount of money manageable while forgoing the need for physical coins. The downside is that the rulebook has absolutely no mention of how to do this so it took is awhile to put two and two together and use the cards correctly.
If you choose to stay home, you may play a card from your hand AND/OR sway a neighbor. As you purchase cards, they will be placed into your garage. Your garage serves as your discard pile. As you play cards your items will return to your garage. In order to play cards during your turn, they must be in your hand and you must have available actions. By default you may only play 1 card. However, every player starts with a toolbox card that allows you to play 2 cards on your turn. As your collection of cards grows you will find yourself collecting tools, ornaments, features, plants and other types of things that will go into your yard. In order to be able to play a card to your yard you must have available places in your yard. By default you have a dirt lot and few things can be placed on dirt. You may use tools such as your watering can to turn the dirt into grass. The grass serves as a place and you may place as many ornaments, features or plants as you have places in that spot. For example, if you have a grass card with a pumpkin card (from the Trick or Treat expansion), you may place two ornaments over this as the grass counts as a place and the pumpkin counts as a place. If you were to have only grass, you may only place a single feature, ornament or plant.
As your yard grows in beauty and complexity you may choose to sway a neighbor. The neighbors are high scoring cards that have scoring conditions that must be met in order to sway them. Neighbors may require your yard to have 3 plants or have 5 places available. Some neighbors require a bribe (i.e. pay them) in order to be swayed. Once all 5 neighbors are swayed the game immediately ends. Points are scored by counting the amount of points per neighbor, and whatever scoring conditions are present in the yard. Some cards allow for multiple spots to be counted and some (like the grass) are worth a specific amount of points. The player with the highest score wins. In case of a tie, the player with the most neighbors swayed wins.
The Trick or Treat expansion adds new mechanics, items and neighbors to game. Now you start with an empty candy bag that can be filled 1 candy per turn at the cost of 3 coins per candy. As you purchase items and replace them trick or treaters may be drawn and require money or candy. Candy may then be used to pay off pesky trick or treaters and be used to score extra points at the end of the game. The Trick or Treat expansion adds some great mechanics such as being able to block trick or treaters from entering your house by placing a spooky iron gate in your yard.
The Fantasy Pack adds aesthetic only but the artwork is very fun. We love the new Home/Away, Garage, and treasure cards. There are also new Fantasy themed neighbors with unique swaying conditions. This is a nice addition to mix in with your base game!
If you are interested in 20% off the base game, use code SUSHIBALL on http://gadabout.games/shop.
The Kickstarter for the latest expansion Turf War: Trick-or-Treat is now live at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gadaboutgames/turf-war-trick-or-treat?ref=44hmqv.
Language Barrier Playability: Not good. This game is language heavy and would require a lot of translation in order to play. It is not impossible but it would take away a lot of the elements of surprise if you read every card to your opponent.
Replayability: Excellent. The game has enough variety and is moderately short. It can easily be played multiple times in the same sitting. The Trick or Treat expansion and Fantasy Pack also add extra layers of replayability by changing the elements slightly.
Artwork: Cute and simple. The artwork is very well done. The items are easy to identify and the neighbors are cartoons and look vaguely like Phineas and Ferb or Munchkin.
Strategy: Moderate. The game is strategic in a way that is not complicated and does not require a lot of planning. However it is very luck dependent and sometimes being able to purchase an item before someone else can be infuriating (I’m talking about you, Solar Panels).
Quality: Excellent. The cards are textured and the box is light and extremely compact.
Instruction Manual: Okay. The instruction manual is a little tough to read as there are some things that are completely left out. The manual mentions you use the piggy bank card to track money but never mentions how to use it. It also never mentions the dollar bill card. We had to keep playing with the cards and eventually it clicked. The manual also never mentions what the daytime/nightie actions are. After playing you will notice that certain features, ornaments or plants have that action on them but there is no mention that these cards are what give you that action possiblity.
Organization: Good. The box is very small and compact, still able to fit the instruction manual and cards snuggly while taking up minimal shelf space. The Fantasy Pack and Trick or Treat expansion has handy icons on the cards that allow for easy separation and the icons are also useful for certain scoring conditions.