Quick Look: NEW KINGDOM: GARDENERS
Designer: JACK DUNBAR
Artists: Melissa Murakami
Publisher: NEW KINGDOM GAMING
Year Published: 2023
To read the rules and watch the official how to play video follow the link, Sign Up Now! — New Kingdom Gaming
Inside the Box you will find:
84 cards consisting of 28 worker cards, 16 seed cards, 16 thorns card, 8 gardener cards, 3 miracle cards, 1 Mater Gardener card and 12 Solo automa cards.
4 player mats
15 purple fruit tokens
30 yellow fruit tokens
15 dove tokens
1 first player token
Solo score tracker
And the Rulebook
New Kingdom Gardeners is a non apologetic Christian game themed around the concept that God is the Master Gardener. God had grown a beautiful garden and appointed leaders over the garden and over time the gardeners began to disobey the Master Gardener allowing sinister thorns to grow in the garden. These thorns choked out the good plants and began to kill off the fruit bearing trees in the Garden.
Not all is lost though as there is a prophecy that speaks of the return of the Master Gardener, and that he will rebuild a new kingdom. Where the fruit bearing trees will live free from the harm of the thorns. When he returns The Master Gardener will examine the work of each gardener and reward them with the one who produced the most fruit being titled the Head Gardener.
New Kingdom Gardeners at the core is a Tableau Building game where players play cards in the form of workers or plant seeds in their garden. As the player draws cards thorn cards might appear which must be planted immediately and on occasion will cause the player to lose one of their fruit bearing plants.
Along with the tableau building mechanics, New Kingdom Gardeners has elements of worker placement and resource management. During your turn you can assign doves to worker cards in the tableau or your main gardener to perform actions. These actions can be to pray so you can gain more cards to your hand, appoint workers to your or an opponent’s tableau, plant seeds in a tableau or prune which allows you to remove a thorn card from either your tableau or the tableau of another player.
The resources in the game are your yellow and purple fruit. These fruit resources allow the gardener to take the prune action. This prune action is a new experience to me in gaming. Most games have a take that element to them in which you are trying to sabotage your opponent. In New Kingdom Gardeners there is a Have That mechanic in that in order for you to gain the most points you help your opponent. Which plays in perfectly with the Christian theme.
In the case of the prune action, you can remove the thorns from your tableau, which gives you room to plant good seed, but it also keeps your opponent from pruning your garden. If you prune another player’s garden or if they prune your garden, it gives 3 victory points.
Another way to gain Victory points and benefits is by helping other players by appointing workers from your hand or tableau into your opponent’s tableau. The more you help the better the reward. This concept goes against everything that I had come to know about board games, and it was a welcomed change. “I am trying to beat you but I will beat you by being nice and helping you out.” This concept is something I had not seen outside of children’s games.
The artist did a tremendous job with New Kingdom Gardeners. With the use of softer colors, you get the feel of the theme. One of compassion and looking to help your fellow player. As a child of the eighties the artwork gives me the feel of the old Christian cartoon Greatest Adventure: Stories from the bible. I really enjoyed playing the game as a comfort game and the artwork helped to immerse my thoughts into the idea of a calm garden. But beware those thorn cards will appear to disturb that calm and with the use of a very dark palette it definitely disrupts the tranquility of the game. And there is no denying when you look at the tableau you know when there is a thorn present.
At the time of this review, I have been playing on a print and play version of the game. But the designer and publisher did an amazing job building the Print and Play files and I can play a game that does not lack in any way compared to the retail version. However, I have seen the retail version, and the components look amazing quality would tokens and the card quality is on par with other card games. After backing and playing the print and play version I will be upgrading my copy to the full retail very soon.
For setup each player will be given a player mat and 2 player aid cards. You will then shuffle the 8 gardener cards and at random give each player 2 cards. They will choose one of the 2 gardeners returning the other one back to the box. Make separate supply piles of the dove, yellow and purple fruit tokens. Then each player takes 2 doves and 3 yellow fruit tokens. Before the game begins you must assemble the draw pile to learn about that please refer to the publisher website and the rules in the link given above. Players will start with 5 cards in their hand.
On the players turn they will place a dove on there gardener and take one of the gardener’s actions either to pray, plant, prune or appoint. At the beginning there are very limited areas where you can send your doves but as the game progresses more opportunities arise. If there is no worker location for your dove, you can send them out to retrieve yellow fruit for you. After all your doves have been sent out you then recall your doves and draw two cards from the draw pile, if any thorns or miracle cards are gained you must play them in your garden immediately. There is a strict hand limit size of 7 if at the end of your turn you have more than 7 you must discard down to 7.
New Kingdom Gardeners is a refreshing edition to my gaming shelf. It is a quick to setup and quick to play game that is relaxing and focuses more on helping others than trying to get the hand up on someone else. I love a good competitive game, but New Kingdom gardeners allows me to have that competitive side but do it in a way that does not feel competitive. I have heard many people saying that Christian games should not lean on competitiveness. However, I feel that New Kingdom Gardeners does a competitive game well and still is true to the Christian theme. I have enjoyed bringing this game out to play with my family and friends, and it is nice to not have to sit in deep thoughts trying to crunch out your next strategy for victory. While New Kingdom Gardeners does have some strategy to make sure that you are setting up the best way to get points by helping others and knowing just when to play them in your tableau or your opponents, overall, the game is chill and calm walk through the gardener with a few thorns to poke you in the side.
Along with the great multiplayer side of the game. New Kingdom Gardeners as a great solo automa that will test your skills at the game. It isn’t just a points race you have to actually play it like you would another player. Because believe me the automa is looking to help all she can to get those points.
The only thing that holds this game up is that it is a little light, and does not get all those brain muscles firing at times. If you are looking for something to be crunchy you will not find it in New Kingdom Gardeners, but that is ok it knows what it is and does that amazingly. The only other issue I have had, is getting it to the table with some of my gaming friends because the game is like I said unapologetic when it comes to the Christian theme, so it isn’t made for all tables, but it is a great way to share your faith, when you get those friends to play.
After playing New Kingdom Gardeners many times both in multiplayer and solo. I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a game that expresses their Christian faith and is looking for something beyond Bible trivia. The game is fun to play when you just want to get some friends together and relax. The mechanic of helping others is a welcome change to gaming and one I hope to see more games utilize. Overall, I highly recommend New Kingdom Gardeners, perfect add to any family’s game shelf. Other than a little reading can even be played with younger children with a little guidance on what cards say.
To purchase New Kingdom Gardeners please go the publishers website.
Check it out and get yours HERE.
Do you find that you’re missing too many reviews as we drop them? Provide your name and email below and we’ll keep you in the know of what we reviewed that week as well as other hot news!!!!!