Quick Look: NEW KINGDOM: GARDENERS
Designer: JACK DUNBAR
Artists: Melissa Murakami
Publisher: NEW KINGDOM GAMING
Year Published: May, 2023 (now live on Kickstarter and fully funded – Link at bottom of review) LINK to GIVEAWAY at bottom too!
No. of Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 30-60 minutes.
I played this title a few times a year or so ago during its development. I got a chance last night to reconnect with Jack and share a couple of games and get reacquainted with this project. For those that don’t know Jack, he’s one of those people that you feel comfortable around very quickly and conversation flows freely. If you get a chance and want to hear more about the project first hand, I’d encourage you to reach out and say hello. I’m confident you’ll be met with a warm response.
At the time of this review, the project is live and fully funded on Kickstarter. You can skip to the end and follow the link or read on to see why I consider this game the ideal family game that deserves a spot in your collection.
From the Publisher:
The Master Gardener is coming soon to choose a new Head Gardener for his new kingdom. You and your fellow Gardeners are working hard planting seeds, pruning thorns, and hiring workers to produce the most fruit to earn this honor. Will you be the head gardener in the master’s new kingdom?
Disclaimer: I played the digital prototype of NEW KINGDOM: GARDENERS via TTS with the publisher . The opinions expressed in the review are completely my own.
For this review, I have only had interaction with a digital representation of the game (via TTS) and have not seen the physical product. I do really enjoy the art, theme and the images I’ve seen of the physical product. However, as I have not held or interacted with it in person, I can’t attest to the quality, impression or dimensions.
I thoroughly enjoyed the small but meaningful variable player abilities which made my 4+ games all feel noticeably different. You can get a little engine building going on in this short game so you may not be able to capitalize on your initial plans but the abilities are impactful enough that they can help you formulate an initial strategy.
On my last play of the game, I ran out of time JUST when I formed the perfect combo. I did get to use it once or twice which ultimately led to a victory but I would have enjoyed basking in that sweet glory of a great engine for a few more turns. As you set up the draw deck, which determines game length, there are a set amount of cards per player – Jack told me that there are suggestions for making it last longer if that is your desire. Instead of 30 cards for 2 players, you could play with 40 and get a few more turns. So I’d have to give that a whirl but it sounds like my type of experience.
– Set Collection
– Engine Building
– Victory Points as a Resource
– Worker Placement
On your turn you will make 2 actions then draw a card. You can get additional actions by collecting more doves (the worker placement piece). Your actions include Drawing cards, playing helpers into your garden (additional ability choices), pruning a garden (removing negative points), and planting.
I have a link directly to the finished rulebook here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15TJI5KQXflNlx-IzaieIfBYRDK6S0WUo/view
Areas they did well:
• Quick setup and play
• Family friendly
• No Feel-bad actions / take that
• Work together to make everyone’s garden grow
• Co-op aspect
• Encourages great conversation and lessons
• Soft and attractive art
• Control over game length
• Nice custom meeples (fruit and doves)
• Included play mats and player aids
• Rewarded for helping others
Areas they could have improved:
• The rulebook is 11 pages (9 + front/back cover) which I feel is longer than it needs to be for the difficulty of the game. It is clear and thorough though.
• Limited options at the start of the game
• I’d like to be able to spend fruit (VP’s) for an additional worker or even 1 fruit for a single use dove once per turn to have the ability to make some cheeky clutch actions.
• The worker placement onto the cards felt a bit clunky. I like the doves and they are definitely on theme, but I am not sure they are entirely necessary. This is likely much improved by the physical play not the digital play.
I think the ability to help other players, and be rewarded for doing so, changes the narrative of the game to be about working together toward a common goal rather that a competition between each other. One player will still be the winner at the end but it’s more of a quick tally and “oh, you won this one” than leaving anyone with hard feelings.
To me, this game is an excellent tool to teach your kids some great lessons and practice building relationships and character in a fun, caring environment. It is a fun little stand-alone title that could be enjoyed by any age, don’t get me wrong. But personally, I think it truly shines as a family game. If you’d like to check into New Kingdom: Gardeners move, please visit the sites linked below.
I’ll see you next time, back here at The Game Table,
Brad Hiscock, aka Zerility
Here’s a link to their Kickstarter page and website:
After reading Brad’s review, if this sounds like a game for you at the time of this posting NEW KINGDOM: GARDENERS will be live on KICKSTARTER until Tue, May 16 2023 11:59 PM PDT, and has surpassed its funding goal of $9,500. Check it out and back it HERE.
Find out more at BGG.
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Brad Hiscock, aka “Zerility”, is a construction project manager and electrician by trade who was the owner of a 6-time award winning electrical company. His passion for board games has led him from playing hundreds of original titles to creating a design and publishing company of his own, Convivial Games. As an up and coming collaborator on many projects, he is always eager to try new games and meet new people.
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All of Brad Hiscock, aka “Zerility”‘s reviews can be found HERE.