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Stardew Valley: The Board Game Review

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Quick Look: Stardew Valley: The Board Game


Designers: Eric Barone, Cole Medeiros

Artists: Alex Van Der Aa, Luke Aiello, Gustavo “Goose” Gutierrez, Rachel Lapidow, Christine MacTernan, Ed Puella, Gina Salvador, Justin Williams

Publisher: ConcernedApe
Year Published: 2021

No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 45-200 minutes.
 
Find more info HERE.
 
From the Publisher:

Stardew Valley: The Board Game is a cooperative game where players work together to restore the Valley. They accomplish this by growing crops, raising animals, expanding their farm and collecting resources from across the Valley.

By befriending the local villagers, players earn hearts that allow them to reveal hidden goals. Only by working together will they keep Joja Corporation from moving in and spoiling everything.

So choose your profession and pick up your starting tool; Stardew Valley needs you!

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Review:

As a family, we have collectively lost hundreds of hours of our lives playing the video game incarnations of Stardew Valley. My wife for example has done everything that is possible in the game, which is no small accomplishment considering all of the time that is required to catch all Legendary Fish or delve thru the end game volcano…

When we heard that there was going to be a board game adaption a few years ago, we were eager to get our hands on it, but a small and limited print run meant we would have to wait for a reprint to obtain a copy.

Fast forward to summer of 2023 and our trips abroad in Asia, where I managed to find what appeared to be a legit copy in a one of the many board game shops we visited while in Indonesia. Needless to say, we walked out with a copy.

Just how much of the video game made it into the board game? That was indeed the question at hand. Could the tabletop experience somehow manage to capture the magic of the highly addictive video game?

It stands to reason that thru obtaining a proper license, the design team behind the board game of course manages to match the visuals of the video game. Pelican town and many of its residents are largely intact in the art used in the board game. 

But just because they share similar art assets does not necessarily mean that the experiences will feel the same. That was my big worry walking into this, as I can think of several IP’s where a board game did not at all feel like the video game or tv series / movie it was trying to depict.

 

 

Let’s see how things fare under the microscope…

First of all, the components are mostly all good. The dice look spectacular, the cardboard punch outs are excellent, and the board looks and feels just like Pelican Valley. The player tokens are a bit different (but still nice), and the rulebook is clearly laid out and intuitive.

I will say however, that the cards, even though vibrant, felt a bit on the flimsy side, so I may just sleeve these, which has been the first time in a while where I have felt this was necessary with all the reviews I have done lately. 

The game itself is surprisingly simply to learn and play. Player actions will constitute variations of either moving or taking actions on the map, which will of course include everything from buying and planting seeds to fishing and mine delving—all of which are very familiar activities to anyone who has played the Stardew video game.

 

 

The main objectives are twofold : Fulfill your dying grandfather’s last wishes, and restore the community center. 

This cooperative game thankfully perfectly scales in difficulty based on player count, as the number of resources, materials or friends required to “win” is always a direct multiple of the number of people playing, ie, 2 fish required for 2 players, 4 fish required for 4 players, etc. This makes for an experience that rather atypically translates to a nearly identical experience regardless of how many people are playing. 

Once all objectives have been met, you can declare victory. If you cannot do this prior to the change of the 4 seasons (tracked cards each round, that are made up of 4 cards per season for a total of 16 rounds) the “evil” Joja corporation moves in and takes away the magic of Pelican Town.

Players can do quite a few of the activities they are familiar with from the video game. From fishing to donating artifacts to the museum, or foraging from bushes to giving gifts to friends, many of the same “actions” are available between the two game formats. 

 

 

But do the actions “feel” the same?

For the most part, I would say yes. But there are some exceptions.

I do think that a lot of the essence of the video game is captured, which is something I had initially worried about being lost in the translation. But harvesting crops still fills like you are back at the farm. Delving thru the mines still feels like delving thru the mines (which is rather impressive considering that it doesn’t really feel like you are fighting monsters which may be  lurking there, unlike the video game, where monsters could really mess you up).

The one area I particularly find lacking is how all players are shoehorned into a role in the beginning. One player may choose to be a Miner for example, while the other is a Fisher. In the video game, you could literally assume and excel at any role possible. The board game has players (mostly) stay with the same role throughout the game (though this has a small chance of changing depending on event cards that may be drawn throughout the course of the game).

This is mitigated at least by giving players a sense of character advancement, and being able to “level up” their starting tools and profession.

Other strong points include great internal storage and organization—it is not only great that the seasons chance in the board game just like the video game, but the items available to collect and harvest do too. But this would mean an annoyance if the game didn’t have great storage to hold all these unique components, and thankfully it doesn’t fall short in this department.

Perhaps the strongest point to consider is that Stardew Valley was manufactured in the USA. While I have no contentions with the fact that virtually everyone needs income to survive (regardless of where they live), it is important to consider the side effect of outsourcing too much for the sake of cost reduction ; there are always our own locals to consider, who also need the necessities of life, so it feels very Stardewey being able to purchase something that was made in the Stateside community. Just as I would like to support shops such as Pierre’s over Joja, there are times I would also like to be able to do something beneficial to businesses who are these days less likely to receive support. 

 

 

In closing, I would like to say that Stardew Valley gets a very solid score from us, and that was something I was originally skeptical that it could pull off. I have heard several reviewers mention it wasn’t as close to the video game experience as they would have liked (the game resets after each play and isn’t a persistent world, not all item, actions and characters have a presence, etc…), but for my family, it mostly managed to capture the magic. The game is very accessible in terms of grasping the mechanics, but nevertheless a fair challenge to win. And even though there is “tension” in not knowing whether or not you can save Pelican Town, even in losing, Stardew Manages to feel pretty chill throughout the whole experience, much like the video game does.

Since I returned from Indonesia, it seems indeed that another print run of Stardew Valley has made its rounds, so there is no need to worry about obtaining a copy of Stardew Valley as of this writing, if you are interested. Just check out your Friendly Local Game Store, and tell Pierre that Jazz Paladin sent you.

 

Final Score : 8/10

 

After reading Jazz’s review, if this sounds like a game for you at the time of this posting Stardew Valley: The Board Game is available for purchase. Check it out and get yours HERE.

Disclaimer: Anytime you see a link to Amazon on our site, it is another way to get your product there for the normally listed price as well as a way to support Everything Board Games and everything we’re doing here, without paying any extra. We appreciate the support!

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Check out Stardew Valley: The Board Game and ConcernedApe on:

    

Disclaimer: Anytime you see a link to Amazon on our site, it is another way to get your product there for the normally listed price as well as a way to support Everything Board Games and everything we’re doing here, without paying any extra. We appreciate the support!

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jazz Paladin- Reviewer

 

Jazz Paladin is an eccentric at heart — When he is not learning to make exotic new foods at home, such as Queso Fresco cheese and Oaxacan molé, he is busy collecting vintage saxophones, harps, and other music-related paraphernalia. An avid music enthusiast, when he is not pining over the latest board games that are yet-to-be-released, his is probably hard at work making jazzy renditions of classic/retro video game music tunes as Jazz Paladin on Spotify and other digital music services.

CD’s are also available here!
See Jazz Paladin’s reviews HERE.

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