We were kindly sent Delicious by Pencil First Games to review, their latest flip and write game for 1-100 players. In this game, you’re trying to collect the most points through your garden selections over 12 rounds.
Each player will get a Garden sheet, Play sheet, and a supplied pencil. The Play sheet is for marking choices during the game, to be described in more detail later. The Garden sheet is where you’ll actually draw the vegetables in the garden spots. Those are all the pieces you need for individual setup. There are 30 Vegetable cards, remove 6 and make two face-down decks of 12 cards in a column in view of all players. Then you take the markers labeled with arrows to mark the top deck and the bottom deck. We liked the markers because they are a good spatial reminder.
All Fruit/Tool tokens are placed in the green bag. We also gave this a good shake just to randomize it more. You can place the bag wherever within reach, just leave room for a Compost Pile above the Vegetable cards. The Jar of Honey card should be placed nearby. This made for a pretty quick setup.
The Garden sheet consists of different containers. The rows are for vegetables, these consist of a Top Area and Bottom Area. The conditions to add a vegetable into a container are listed below each container. In the top area, the first container vegetables must all be different. For the second top container, each row must consist of the same vegetable as others in the row. In the third top container, all vegetables in the container must be the same. The Bottom Area has the same symbols just in a different order. The planter on the right is the Planter for Fruits. The way points work for the Fruits is that you gain points for rows and columns of the same or different fruits. A column of 5 of the same fruit is worth the most points. Once you fill a row or column, you fill in the bubble to the side of it with the number of points earned based on the fruit points chart. (You get 1/2/3 points for 3/4/5 different fruit in a row or column or 3/4/5 points for 3/4/5 of the same fruit in a row or column) not broken up by another fruit in between for the same fruit. Fruits need to be placed in the row or column with the same shape encompassing the fruit. There are exceptions to this we’ll cover with the Plant sheet. At the end of 12 rounds, you’ll count points earned, which is covered at the end of the article.
Now that we’ve covered how points work, we’ll cover how a round works. A player reveals a card from each deck. Remember, the top card corresponds to the Top Area of vegetables and the bottom card corresponds to the Bottom Area of vegetables. Notice how on the bottom of each card there is a fruit or a tool symbol. Draw two Fruit/Tool from the bag, one will go next to each card. The tokens grabbed should be on their Fruit OR Tool side depending on what each card indicates. Now that the cards are revealed for the round, each player will Choose Plants and then Sketch them.
To Choose Plants, you’ll utilize the Play Sheet. First, you’ll decide how you’re placing your vegetables by marking one of the four Plant Choice options. Two of the options have the players using 1 or 2 of the cards in their existing positions (Top and Bottom Area) and two of the options have the players using 1 or 2 of the cards in the opposite position. So for example if a bottom card had a tomato on it, you could fill out the option to reverse and use 1 card, so you could plant the tomato in the Top Area of your garden instead of the bottom. Each circle can only be selected once and if that option runs out of circles during the rounds you can no longer use it. That’s where strategy comes in as you may want to save some Plant Choice options for when you really need them. Then, based on your Plant option, you’d fill out a vegetable on the Top and/or Bottom Areas of your Garden sheet. No matter which container you choose to place your vegetable in it must be filled from the bottom up. This is also where you have to strategize which container you are more easily able to fill based on the vegetables you have at hand.
Then if the card(s) you chose to plant have a fruit token, you’ll draw a fruit in the Fruit Planter based on the shape of the space. This icon must be on your selected card so if you chose only one card and it doesn’t have a fruit token on it, you can’t do a fruit action. For placement, if your fruit token is a Raspberry encased by a Hexagon, you’ll place a Raspberry in any of the available Hexagon shaped spaces on the Fruit Planter. You are trying to be strategic with your rows and columns to get points for matching or different vegetables.
For the tool tokens, if the card(s) you chose to plant have a tool token you can add ANY single fruit or vegetable to the garden wherever that particular tool icon is shown as long as it follows the bottom-up rule for vegetables and can be placed anywhere for fruit. This is extremely helpful in cases where you just aren’t drawing the icon you want, but the limitation on placement makes it fair. Sometimes it won’t be possible to place anything in that spot but it is still helpful when it helps to get that one icon that is needed!
On the Plant sheet there are also Wild and Bonus spots. Instead of planting a fruit or vegetable in the Garden, you can place them in their designated Wild or Bonus spots. There is only one of each type so that this is limited but a great resource. For the Vegetable Wild Spot, you draw the vegetable icon selected on the Plant sheet but can then place any single vegetable in one of the vegetable containers top OR bottom in the garden, following the bottom-up rule. It can be the same vegetable or different (same if you wanted to place it in any position). There is also a Vegetable Bonus Spot on the Plant sheet, if you use this, each container that contains a vegetable of that type is worth two points at the end of the game for a maximum of 12 points. The fruit Wild and Bonus spots work a little differently. For the Fruit Wild Spot, you can place any single type of fruit in the fruit container in any space no matter what shape. It can be the same fruit or different (same if you wanted to place it in any position) but also may not be used for the Bonus space. The Fruit Bonus Spot gives you one point at the end of the game for each fruit of that type in your garden planter. In each round you are essentially deciding where to place one or two vegetables, and a fruit and/or tool based on the Plant Choices you still have available.
At the end of each round when all players have made their selections/drawn them in their selected areas, all players check to see if they’re the first to fill out a container entirely and players who completed it must announce it. If they do so, they can check off the First Potter bonus at the bottom of the container worth an additional point. Other players cross out the box if they did not complete that container that round so that they know that bonus is taken for future rounds. Players then check if they are the first to fill out all of the Top Area OR Bottom Area containers for vegetables and if they are, must announce it as well. Then they circle the Honey Icon worth 3 points at end game and place the Jar of Honey card in the Compost pile. The game is generous in that it lets multiple players get the bonus if they met the conditions in that same round. The current cards and tokens play get moved to the Compost pile and new cards/tokens are drawn to start the next round until 12 rounds have been played.
When scoring, it is best to score Vegetables first then Fruits. To score Vegetables, you look at each container, and circle the HIGHEST scoring completed row in that container, add any First Potter bonus, and write in the score for that container in the circle below the container. This means that you don’t get points for each row, just the highest completed row. Repeat until all containers in the Vegetable areas have been scored. Then you score the fruit planters by looking at the score chart (You get 1/2/3 points for 3/4/5 different fruit in a row or column or 3/4/5 points for 3/4/5 of the same fruit in a row or column) not broken up by another fruit in between for same fruit. A row may have some of the same and some different fruit, but only score for the one that gives you the most points. Once the Vegetable and Fruit planters are scored within the garden, place those Scores in the Scoring sheet. Then you score the Vegetable and Fruit Bonus Spots and write it into the scoring sheet as well. If you earned the Jar of Honey, put 3 points in the Scoring Sheet as well. Add these points up and the most points total wins. Scoring is fairly simple, especially since you don’t add up all of the rows unnecessarily in the Vegetable areas.
For more gameplay there are two solo variants. One is the regular game without the First Potter bonus and using the urban gardener chart to see how well you did. Then there is “The Pesky Guest Returns” which uses a crow meeple blocking various containers each round unless distracted by a fruit you give it (crossing it out in the Fruit Planter). You also may not earn the First Potter bonus and use the urban gardener chart in this variant.
There is also a mini expansion which adds Community Garden cards paired with bonus cards. The Community Garden cards provide the bonus listed when that container that is highlighted on the card is completed. These bonuses vary from unique abilities or an end game point. This adds specific challenges to complete and adds another level of dimension to the game.
Language Barrier Playability: Possible. The game relies on symbols mostly, but this one is a little tougher to explain all of the rules and exceptions in a different language. It is doable, though.
Replayability: Great. There are plenty of included player sheets and you can print more online as well. The randomization of the decks allows for each game to have varying draws.
We also wanted to shout out how Pencil First Games made this game playable over video if only one person owns the game, this is very kind especially during the pandemic to make it where friends and family can still play together.
Artwork: Beautiful, Pencil First always has such pretty, nature-themed designs in the games we’ve played. Their games are cohesive in art style among different games so you know it is Pencil First, even if the games play differently.
Quality: Nice quality. The tokens and cards are well made and the bag is especially nice.
Strategy: Medium. You are limited in strategy by the number of Plant Choice spaces and the randomization of the cards which just may not be in your favor. However, there is a great amount of strategy in trying to get the Jar of Honey bonus by focusing on the Top or Bottom Area singularly or by trying to save certain Plant Choice or Wild/Bonus spot selections for the most opportune times. Each game ends with players planning on what they should focus on better the next time.
Instruction Manual: Medium. This instruction manual has a lot of nice examples and photos, but with all of the little exceptions on where you can/can’t plant or what you can/can’t do with the bonuses, it was confusing for us at first. This is a game that definitely made more sense after we played through it the first time.
Organization: Simple. Everything fits in the box and the box doesn’t seem oversized. It doesn’t have any separate slots or anything but it doesn’t really need it.