Review – Everdell: Pearlbrook (Second Edition)

Use your frog divers to get pearls and build monuments!

EPB cover

 

Designer James A. Wilson

Artist Andrew Bosley, Dann May

Publisher Starling Games

Category Tableau Building, Worker Placement

Length 60-90min

Release Date 2022

Player Count 1-4

Everdell: Pearlbrook introduces a new worker (frog), new actions to use that worker for, a new resource (pearls), new cards, and high-value wonders. Does all this new confuddle the already-excellent Everdell gameplay, or does it enhance it? 

Review 

Each player will gain control of a frog worker of their color. The frog is a special kind of worker that can only be placed in the water area. The water area acts similar to the basic events from the base game: once you have the required number of cards, you can place your frog in 1 of the 4 available water actions. The water actions are cards, similar to the forest action cards from the base game, but all the actions are hidden until a player places their frog there. If you’re the first player to place a frog in that action slot, you gain a free pearl, flip the card, and can perform that action if you choose to. The actions often add ways for players to gain pearls, which are the most valuable resource. 

Remember how the water area replicates the basic events? Pearlbrook replaces the basic events with huge cardboard monuments. These bad boys cost a lot of resources (including pearls!) to build, but they could garner you as many as 25 points. These monuments are a lot of fun, and they can make for a very different endgame. Instead of everyone trying to spend all their resources, some players will choose to save resources so they can build a massive monument. But because these monuments are events, players will have to act quickly and build them before someone else does! 

Look at those purple axolotls!

Pearbrook also adds some new cards to the base deck. Some of these are quite interesting, like the pirate ship, which lets you gain resources when you place a worker on it and sail it to an opponent who has at least 1 pearl, potentially clogging up their city, but also giving them control over the pirate ship once you prepare for the next season and remove your worker. However, the downside about adding more cards to the deck is it can increase Everdell’s deckbloat, making construction-creature links even rarer. 

In addition to adding cards to the base deck, Pearlbrook also adds 6 event cards, 4 forest cards, and 12 adornment cards. At the beginning of each game, each player will receive 2 adornment cards, which can be purchased with a pearl and counts as your turn. Adornment cards are often 2-fold: they provide an immediate bonus and an endgame bonus. These add another layer of strategy and can make for some interesting decisions, especially when it comes to finding the right time to play the adornment cards. 

Pearlbrook’s components are excellent. The cardboard monuments are fun and imposing and the frogs are oddly larger than many of the other workers, but that’s not a deal-breaker. The artwork is great, and as a bonus, Starling Games included open and closed signs, which can be used for cards like Inn, Post Office, and University, allowing other players to more easily visualize worker action slots. The water area is well-designed and fits snugly to the left of the base game board. Pearlbrook also supports solo play versus the Everdell bot, Rugwort. The 4 additional worker factions included are: axolotls, otters, platypi (my favorite), and starlings. 

Pearlbrook is a fun expansion to Everdell. While it bloats the deck a little too much for my liking, it does add a fun new resource, open the door for a different sort of endgame with the monuments, and allow for more diverse strategies. Everdell is an all-time favorite of mine, and I don’t think it needs an expansion, but Pearlbrook is a good one to help mix things up.  

Starling Games (Asmodee North America) kindly provided a review copy. 

The Bottom Line

While Everdell doesn't really need an expansion, Pearlbrook is a good one to get if you're looking to mix things up.

 

7

Spencer Patterson

I'm a teacher, writer, and board game reviewer. I especially love board games that pull me in like a good book. My wife is my favorite gaming partner. Twitter: @spencerspen_sir