Friday, January 19, 2018

Playing in the Autumn leaves

I have been trying out the PnP game Autumn. It’s a small, eighteen card build that requires nothing but the cards, although there are two different decks: one for two players and one for three players.

Autumn, the first in a four-game series (I bet you can guess what the other three games will be and Winter has already been produced), is a very simple tile laying game. Each card is broken down into four quadrants, each one showing a pile of leaves. There’s two different types of leaves for two-players and three for three-players. 

The basic idea of the game is dead simple. Draw a card and place a card on the table as part of a growing tableau/map of leaves. Everyone has their own type of leaves and you score your biggest group, most points winning.

And if that was it, then Autumn wouldn’t be very interesting. I mean, that is one of the most basic tile-laying concepts you can come up with. If that’s all there was, it wouldn’t be bringing anything new to the party.

Fortunately, the game has a couple of interesting flourishes.

The first, and it certainly not a unique or innovative idea, is that it uses the pie rule to determine who has what color/leaf type. Like I said, this isn’t anything amazing or new. But it does add a little bit of depth to the game.

Second, and much more interesting, you don’t match edges. Instead, every placement must cover one or two quadrants that are already in play. First of all, that’s more unusual which is fun. Second of all, that creates a greater number of choices. It also means that blocking is more flexible, creating a more confrontational and interesting game.

I’ve only played it solitaire so far. One-player mode uses the same placement rules but your score is the third largest group. So it still creates some interesting choices.

However, having now logged some solitaire plays, I think it’d be worth trying multi-player. In fact, given the fact that I think blocking will be interesting, I think that’s where the game’s real strength will be.

Now, Autumn is an eighteen-card micro game. And while I truly believe that are some micro games that stretch and test the limits of what a micro game can be, Autumn is not one of them. It is a quick little game that feels eighteen cards big.

I don’t know how much replay value Autumn has. However, it’s a game that took a minimum effort to make. I’ll get more than enough play out of it for what it took to make it. Plus, it is tiny enough that I can easily carry it in my bag. If I double-side it so the two-player deck is on one side and the three-player is on the other, it’s a travel game for one to three players.

Autumn is not a top-tier, change-your-life print and play game. However, I would say that it is pretty solidly in the second tier. If you are like me and a relatively lazy game crafter, it is well worth the making.

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