I love a good card game, and I especially love a good card game that works well with two players such as Star Realms, Jaipur, 7 Wonders Duel, and Lost Cities. These really come in handy because I love to game so often and sometimes it is just me and my wife at home by ourselves. These types of games really shine in that aspect. So as you can guess I am always on the lookout for new, interestingly themed games with novel mechanics, so lets take a trip to the rainforest.
Canopy is a 2 player card game designed by Tim Eisner (The Grimm Forest, The Grimm Masquerade, Wonderland’s War, Tidal Blades) and beautifully illustrated by Vincent Dutrait where players will be competing to produce the most plentiful rainforest filled with trees, plants and wildlife while hoping to avoid certain disasters like Fire, Disease and Drought.
Beneath the Canopy
The two primary mechanics in Canopy are card drafting and set collection with some really fun push your luck involved as well. The game has some really neat thematic card play which is brought to life by the wonderful artwork on the cards. 112 rainforest cards minus 10 random cards to be removed back to the box will be evenly split into 3 seasons. Those 3 seasons represent 3 rounds of the game. Each season will be played through its entirety of all 34 cards and these cards will be set into New Growth piles of 1, 2 and 3 cards at a time.
On your turn you will be picking up and examining each of the new growth piles one at a time in order from 1 to 3. If you pick up a pile and you like what you see you are free to take it, if you choose not to, you can put the cards back down and move on to the next growth pile, however before you do, you must add a card to the growth pile from the current Season deck. This is going to possibly make that growth pile you just passed up a little more lucrative for the next player to look at it. Be very careful though, the next pile you look at may be worse and you are going to have to take something. If you should push your way through by examining all 3 new growth piles without opting to take any of the piles, you must then take the top card from the current season deck blindly, the you are stuck putting that card into your tableau.
You will be set collecting things that will give you victory points at the end of each season such as plants, and weather and trees, but the wildlife you collect will be scored at the end of the game. Seed cards will let you draw cards at the end of the round from a Seed deck and for every Fire card you have you can draw an additional card.
I love this theme of the fire expediting new growth as in true to life form where fire is a natural way of the forest to rid itself of dead plant matter an enrich the soil with the decomposing matter. Sorry, I went super nerd for a second there. If you collect too much fire however, you will lose some wildlife from your collection and you may have to a kinkajou or a sloth run away, and have you ever seen a sloth run? No? I was hoping you might have a video clip I could watch.
Trees! You can’t have a rainforest without trees. You will be collecting tree cards as they will be shuffled throughout the season decks as well. There are two types of tree cards, tops and trunks. Ideally you want to score as many victory points as you can for a tree by collecting and laying trunks on top of one another. You may also start new trees as well with trunks as they each contain a base on the card. Laying the trunk cards behind your initial base trunk will help your tree grow higher and higher, by the way there are interim bonus points for tallest tree each at the end of each season. But, if you happen to take a pile from the new growth section and it includes a top, you must cap off one of your trees and complete it. This mechanic brings in another layer of strategy and might cause one to pass up a lucrative pile of cards to avoid topping a tree and capping its growth. These are decisions you will have to weigh during gameplay.
At the end of the game you will perform the end of season scoring for seeds, fire and disease, trees, plants and weather. You will then additionally score any wildlife you were able to collect in your forest with the scoring being on the card and most having their own unique scoring element. After all of that the player with the largest forest, most completed trees is also awarded an additional end game bonus. The more trees and wildlife in your forest the better.
Canopy is very well designed, quick to learn, quick to play competitive card game for 2 players. I love the unique rainforest theme, this is a theme that I don’t have much of in my own collection, so this is super refreshing. Check out their Kickstarter which is launching on June 23rd, 2020.
Tim Eisner provided us with a prototype copy of Canopy prior to their Kickstarter campaign. This in no way influenced our opinion of the game. Previews are a glimpse into an upcoming game with the pros and cons that we experienced prior to production of the game.