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Thrive Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look: Thrive

Designer: Martin Grider
Artist: N/A
Publisher: Adam's Apple Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2
Ages: 6+
Playing Time: 20-30 min

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Thrive. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.


tl;dr: Elegantly simple abstract game of move-and-capture. Elementary ruleset belies deep, thinky gameplay.

Getting to the Game: A six-by-six play mat lies between both players, and they set up their seed pods on their own closest row. Each pod has a peg in the middle, and a peg in the hole directly ahead of the middle hole. You're now ready to thrive.

The object here is to capture all but one of your opponent's seed pods. Alternately, if each player has only two pods left, the first player to fill up one of them completely with pegs wins.

Playing the Game: On your turn, you'll move one of your pods based on it's individual movement possibilities somewhere on the board. Each pod can only move to spaces denoted by pegs on itself, using the center space as a marker for where the pod currently is. If you move directly onto another pod, you'll capture it and remove it from the board. Once you've moved, you then place two pegs on any of your pods. You can place both pegs in one pod, one in each, and you don't even have to place them on the pod you just moved. You now know everything there is to know about the game.

Movement in the game is the only complicated part, so let's go over that one more time. As you can see above, each pod has 25 holes, laid out in a 5x5 grid. These holes, and more specifically the pegs in them, tell you where each pod can move. The center hole is where the pod currently is, so if there's a peg diagonally to the right of the center peg, then you can move one up and one over. The black pod above has two movement options: it can move directly ahead one space, or it can move left two and up one, stopping only once it's finished. You're adding to this movement possibility every turn, so the question becomes how much do you devote to key pieces that you want to have maximum flexibility, and how much do you devote to the other pieces which will eventually be the only ones you have left?

The game soars in practice. There's just enough headiness to make it worth the time, but simple enough that you can play with your kids. I played it a bunch, and every time I played, I learned something new about it. There's just something deliciously satisfying about seeing your piece about to be captured and then moving a piece nearby, dropping a peg in the perfect spot to counter-capture, passing the turn back to your opponent and seeing what they do. It's chess without the complicated learning curve, and deserves a place alongside War Chest and Tak for ultra-elegant, two person conflict games.

Artwork and Components: There's no artwork to speak of, except for cover art, and it's suitably attractive. The watercolor vividness draws the eye to a game that's a lot more than the theme might indicate.


The play mat has a nice stretchy feel to it, though I wouldn't be surprised if what I have bears little to no resemblance to the actual product when it finally comes out. The pods similarly feel prototype-y, but in the best way. If what we get at the end is only more polished and better looking than what I have here, this is a no-brainer from the production standpoint. The pods have a nice weight to them, and the subtle flower imprint is a wonderful touch. An abstract game lives or dies by its pieces, and this one is...wait for it...thriving.

The Good: Everything. I'm honestly struggling to find a flaw in this game.

The Bad: Not everyone likes abstract games, I guess? Or thinking? Or... fun in a short amount of time to qualify as filler?

Score: I wasn't kidding above; I can't find anything about this game that prevents me from wanting to put it back on the table right away. It's a phenomenal tabletop experience that should surprise everyone who gets it. I'm giving Thrive a score of Evolutionary.

Check out Thrive on:


Coming to KICKSTARTER soon...

Nicholas Leeman - Reviewer

Nicholas has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.

See Nicholas's reviews HERE.
Thrive Kickstarter Preview Thrive Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on March 04, 2019 Rating: 5

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