Review – Everdell: Spirecrest (Second Edition)
A mountain best left unscaled?
|Designer||James A. Wilson|
|Artist||Andrew Bosley, Dann May|
|Category||Tableau building, worker placement|
The Spirecrest expansion for Everdell introduces weather cards, big critters, and a journey/exploration mechanic. Does this expansion enhance the Everdell experience, or does it unnecessarily complicate gameplay?
In the Spirecrest expansion, each player gains control of a bunny rabbit in their player color that acts as their adventurer. After each season, the rabbit progresses in the exploration, and you can choose a journey token from the few that are available. At the end of the game, you’ll have 3 journey tokens, which have a resource requirement and a point bonus. You’ll complete the journeys in order from left to right and gain the appropriate point bonuses. This makes for a fun end-game scoring mechanism, and provides motivation to manage your resources/cards meticulously at the end of the game so you can score some major bonus points.
When your rabbit explores the next area, it also allows the player to pick from 3 seasonal exploration cards. These cards are always helpful, and they get added to players’ cities, but they don’t take up 1 of the 15 card slots. You reveal the 3 cards in a row left to right, but if you want the middle card, you’ll have to discard a card or a resource, and if you want the card on the right, you’ll have to discard 2 of any resource/card combination. This mechanism feels weird because the cards all come from the same deck, so it seems unnecessary to make players pay more for different cards from the same stack.
The reward cards are where the big critters come in. When you gain a big critter, you’ll also grab a saddle and stick a worker on the big critter. Most of the big critters give your worker a special ability: gain an additional resource when you place the big critter, reduce the cost of special events, etc. The second edition of Spirecrest includes 8 big critters, but you’ll likely only see a few of them per game.
For each season, Spirecrest adds weather cards that players must overcome. These can be annoying, like when you have to pay an extra resource when you build a card from your hand, and they can be devastating, like when you can’t build any cards from the meadow. Everdell can already be a math-heavy grinder, but much of the fun lies in playing cards, so when weather comes in and disrupts your ability to play cards, it feels like an assault on the core mechanic of the game. Some will enjoy this, but I personally didn’t want it to be any more difficult to play cards in Everdell than it already is. However, it did provide some interesting motivations to move into the next season quicker in order to avoid a devastating weather card.
Spirecrest’s components are excellent. The saddles actually hold the workers on the big critters, which look great. The board addition fits snugly in the bottom of the Everdell board. The artwork is great, even though there isn’t a lot of it, given that Spirecrest doesn’t add any new cards to the base deck. Spirecrest also includes 4 new sets of workers for players to use as their game faction: badgers, foxes, lizards, and owls.
Spirecrest is a good expansion in the sense that it changes the game and adds a few nuances. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan, not only because the weather cards make the game longer and more difficult, but also because the seasonal reward cards are so random. I wish that you had to feed resources into your expeditions in order to progress and earn better rewards. That way, it’d be more like a research or exploration investment instead of a timer, which makes it less exciting. However, just because I’m not a big fan doesn’t mean Spirecrest is bad. I just think Everdell is so good by itself that Spirecrest makes it worse.
Starling Games (Asmodee North America) kindly provided a review copy.
The Bottom Line
Spirecrest made Everdell more difficult and less fun, even though there are some strong ideas here.