This review is done using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
Grimm Forest published by Druid City Games
Game Design by Tim Eisner
Art by Noah Adelman, Lina Cossette, David Forest
Who doesn’t know the tale of the Three Little Pigs? Growing up I remember my mother spinning this old yarn many times, usually involving some kind of tickling or toe tugging in the process. In turn, as a parent, I regaled my children with the same tale (though not as much toe tugging after getting kicked in the face once!) When I sat down with my cousin and he pulled out the game, I was not sure what to expect. On the surface, it looks like something aimed at a younger crowd. However, as I hope my review will suggest fair readers, it is anything but!
This little Piggy built a house made of Straw
Grimm Forest has players take up the roles of the 3 little pigs cousins. They are fairy tale contractors hoping to build homes across the enchanted lands for the greedy King Reginald. As such, they are in direct competition with each other. After all, only one piggy can earn the title of Royal Builder. Each player selects a miniature of the pig that represents them as well as an enchanted land player board, which is where they build the homes. This is also where they store any resources they acquire.
In a 2-3 player game 3 resource area tiles are placed out. The Forest, The Fields, and The Brickyard. With 4 players an additional tile the market is placed out. At the bottom of each resource tile is a listed amount of each resource that will be placed on the matching tile. Players will then choose a gather deck consisting of 3-4 cards (again depending on the number of players) in a color matching the base of the pig miniature they chose. Players will shuffle both the fable and friends deck and place them within easy reach. Finally, the first player token goes the player who has most recently eaten bacon.
This little Piggy built a house made of Wood
Grimm forest is a game of hidden movement. Each player will choose a gather card, which is the location they will gather resources from, which they will place face-down. They can also choose to play a fable card if they have one which will be placed face down. Once every player has chosen they will all flip the face-down cards up. Players will then move their pig to the appropriate resource tile they chose. Fable cards give text stating when they go off and where. (I.E. at the start of gather phase, after resource gathering but before build phase. You might place one after everyone has placed their face down gather cards on a specific tile but before gather cards flip over.) Fable cards can dramatically change the outcome of things. They might place a monster on a resource tile that destroys resources before anyone gets a chance to gather them.
If more then 1 player is on a resource tile, all resources from that tile split between players. Due to the fact players will now know what resources others are choosing, this can make for some interesting mess over your neighbor action. Players will specifically try to guess what the other players are going to choose in order to maximize their own resource gathering but hamper their opponents. Once all resources and fable cards resolve we move on to the build phase.
This little Piggy built a house made of Brick
The build phase begins play with the first player. Players have a few choices in this phase. If they have 2 resources they can build a straw, wood or brick floor. If they have 4 resources they can build a wall, which also gains them a friend. Friends are colorful characters from fairy tale lore. Some will impose a benefit that persists, others may create problems for other players. If they have 6 of a resource they can finish a house by placing the roof on top. Since the goal is to complete 3 houses before other players, resource management is critical to building homes.
Players will have 2 actions they may use during the build phase. They can build 2 structure pieces, draw 1 or 2 fable cards (1 for each action). They may also elect to gain a single resource type once or twice. Friends cards will allow for special actions, which give some benefit to the player but count as taking an action. If a player is the first to build a straw home, wood home or brick home they also get the first builder card which nets them a special bonus.
First builder cards will let a player take 1 of each resource, draw 2 fable cards or draw a new friend card. It is important to note a player can only have 1 friend card active at a time. Once a player achieves the first builder bonus, it is gone. This occurs even if something happens to the house they built.
The wolf huffed and he puffed…
Monsters play an interesting role in Grimm Forest. The Big Bad Wolf tears down sections of houses built. The Bridge Troll takes half of a players resources and gives them to the player who summons the troll. The Dragon forces all players at a location to discard all resources on their board. The Giant makes them discard their friend, any fable cards, and 1 of each resource. The Wolf takes all resources at a given location. As monsters are fable cards placing one can make or break another players success.
In the end, the first player to build 3 houses no matter what type of houses wins. In the rare event two players tie (as all players get to finish their turn even if the first player completes their 3 homes) the winner title goes to the player that build the sturdiest houses. Gameplay generally takes between 45 to 60 minutes, with clean up taking maybe 3-5 minutes.
They all lived happily ever after…
Grimm Forest has to be one of the most well thought out products I have ever seen. From the game design mechanics down to the game components themselves, everything just works and works well. The game comes with a set of trays that hold everything perfectly. The components pieces are well molded with to no flash on any of them. The cardstock for the resource pieces and tiles is sturdy stuff sure to last. The cards themselves are excellent and sure to resist multiple shuffles. The miniatures beg to get a coat of paint upon them. All in all the creators certainly capture the feel of a fairytale world.
The final piece for me was the accounting for a different amount of players so cleverly. If there are just 2 players a dice comes into play that simulates a greedy prince attempting to stockpile resources to move out of the palace himself one day. Grimm Forest is the perfect family game with little assembly, easy setup and break down and most importantly easily replayable. It encourages friendly competition without the rage that can occur in other games. You can read more about Grimm Forest as well as watch a playthrough video of the game here. Please consider picking up Grimm Forest at your local gaming store or online retailers today!