I’m not one to play solo games all that often. In fact, I’ve at times been critical of those who do – I mean, board games are for friends, right?
But then COVID hit, and it was a lot harder to find people to play games with. So, you know, I got bored. And I gave in. Yes, I’m a hypocrite! Leave me alone!
I started off with a free print-and-play game called Bargain Basement Bathysphere, which took up hours and hours of my time. It involved rolling dice, making small strategic decisions, and trying to get high scores. It was great. I loved it.
And so, I’ve tried to be more open to solo games. I’ve begun to respect the addition of solo rules into many of the Kickstarters that have been released in the past few years. But I still haven’t actually purchased a solo game.
But that might change in the near future, now that I’ve played Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden on Tabletopia. The game is wrapping up a Kickstarter in the next few days, and I’ve frequently been scrolling on the campaign page, marveling at the artwork and giggling about this little fantasy world that designer Todd Sanders has created. But with only a few hours until the campaign wraps up, is it enough for me to be a supporter?
Eat Your Vegetables
The fun with MCG begins immediately with the back story. Every year, Vernon Cabbagehead (who really has a cabbage for a head) just wants to be left in peace to create a beautiful garden. And every year, his snoopy neighbors want to come in and ruin everything. It’s up to you to help Mr. Cabbagehead create the best garden possible with the hopes of winning the blue ribbon.
The rules of the game are very straightforward. A stack of cards will be created that features a variety of vegetables, each with a different quantity and point value. On a turn, you’ll flip over three cards, choosing one to add to your garden.
Now, it obviously wouldn’t be much of a challenge if all you had to do was pick a veggie. There’s some resource management involved, as picking certain cards means that you have to move bees from your supply back to the hive, or vice versa. If you don’t have bees in the right place, you might not be able to take the card you want.
There’s also the neighbors to consider. A certain number of nosey neighbor (alliteration!) tokens will be drawn based on the two cards that you don’t take. These tokens will correspond to one of the four neighbors, and whichever neighbor has the most tokens at the end of the round is going to come over for a visit. This usually means that they’ll sneak in and take some of your vegetables, so you’ll need to keep a watchful eye on the consequences that you might be facing so you can be prepared.
A Most Excellent Garden
As you add cards to your garden, you’ll try to put similar vegetables together, as this is the only way that they’ll score. You might also keep an eye on your arrangement, as certain setups will lead to bonus points. The same vegetable in all four corners, for instance, will earn you 12 bonus points, while featuring three unique vegetables on each row – a mixed plot – will get you a whopping 30 extra points. These bonus points can make a huge impact on your final point total.
You’ll play the game over three rounds, with neighbors coming over to bother your garden at the end of each round. After the final neighborly interference, you’ll add up your points. Earn 101 or more points, and you’ve got yourself a blue ribbon!
A Little Bitter, But So Nutritious
When I first began to read over the rules of Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden, I began to worry that this game would quickly bore me. I mean, I’m just putting down plant cards. What could honestly be fun about that?
But as I began to play, I began to more clearly see the different tactics that could be involved in the game. You can’t really have much of a plan because you don’t know when the different vegetables will come up. Sure, you might hope to put a pumpkin over here, or maybe a turnip over there, but what if those show up at the same time? Which one do you value more?
After your first game, you’ll immediately want to play again and to try out a different strategy. Maybe this time you’re going to focus on getting the most bonus points possible. Or maybe you’re looking to get as many high scoring veggies this round as possible. There are just enough point-scoring opportunities to keep your interest without being overwhelming.
It’s So Fresh!
So will I finally break down and buy a copy of Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden? Honestly, I’m still not sure! I had a good time with the game on Tabletopia, and I think that a tactile experience may be even better – especially considering that Tabletopia runs like crap on my computer and it took about three times longer than it should to play a game. But I still don’t know that I’m a big enough fan of solo games to warrant actually purchasing one.
However! That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth your time. I mean, I’m writing a review of a game that’s going off of Kickstarter in 2 days! Obviously, I think it’s worth paying attention to.
I mean, look at the artwork and think of the ridiculous story. It’s so off-the-wall yet so charming at the same time. I have rarely seen this kind of absurdity in a board or card game, and I very much appreciate it.
Plus, there is a two-player version, and while I haven’t played it yet, it seems to be highly recommended and it definitely adds some more value to the game. There are also several new neighbors and a few other tweaks in the Kickstarter campaign that make the game more interesting.
For those that enjoy solo gaming, this is certainly a game to check out. For those who have been on the fence, or maybe even skeptics, perhaps it’s time for you to take the plunge. Maybe soon you’ll have a nosey neighbor problem, too, as everyone wonders what you’re doing at that game table all by yourself with those cards…
Good news: Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden is returning on Kickstarter right now! Bad news: the campaign ends in 2 days! So if you want it, you better go and get it!
- Beautiful illustrations and whimsical back story
- Several different ways to earn points
- Easy to break out and play quickly
- Intended for only one player, though there is a two player variant