Herbaceous is a set collecting game from Pencil First Games that was successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2016. The game easily catches your attention with the beautiful illustrations of different herbs created by Beth Sobel. I could go on and on about how great the art is, but let me convince you why this has become one of my favorite filler games over the past couple weeks.
Planting for the Future
Herbaceous can play between 1 to 4 players. During a players turn, they must draw a card from the deck and decide whether they will place it in their Private Garden or in the Community Garden. The Private Garden sits in front of the player and only they have access to these cards. The Community Garden is in the middle of the table and anyone can grab herbs from this area.
After a player decides, they then take another card from the deck and place it in the location they didn’t pick for the first card. Players are filling their gardens and the Community Garden with rosemary, dill, lavender, mint, chives and more each and every turn. These decisions can be tough at times because you’re usually aware of what you need and you don’t want the other players to have access to those herbs.
After a couple turns, you’ll be ready to start planting these herbs. Players have access to 4 types of planters that have different configurations and scoring. One has you planting only identical herbs while another has you planting pairs of herbs. The wooden box requires that you plant all different herbs without having a duplicate. The last place to plant is in a mason jar. This has a special rule that can allow you to get a 5 point bonus biscuit if you’re the first to gather a specific combination of herbs.
Players take herbs from the Community Garden and their own garden to place in the planter of their choice. Planting more herbs will net you more points in each of the planters. Players cannot add more herbs once they have committed to planting in a box which makes these decisions really important.
One thing I wanted to point out is that this game that has a pretty solid set of rules for solo play. I know plenty of people who enjoy solo tabletop games and this is a welcome addition if you’re gaming alone or want a good challenge.
Herbaceous has a very relaxed and chill pace to it. I believe the art and color palette has a lot to do with this. After a couple games, we started to realize how much one player can affect the collections of others. Holding back specific herbs might force another player to wait on planting in a box for a couple turns. Next thing you know, another player has used most of the herbs in the Community Garden leaving you with scraps.
The game challenges players to make tough decisions and many times, plant their herbs before they would like. I’ve really enjoyed the amount of interaction that happens in Herbaceous. I found myself sacrificing my original plans just to keep another player from earning the 5 point bonus biscuit when chives came into the Community Garden during a game.
A big deal for our family is how well the game translates across age ranges and among non-gamers. The kids have all grasped this game very well and our 9 year old daughter beat us the second time we brought the game to the table. It’s very simple to teach and the mechanics are really smooth. We’ve taught a couple people that rarely play games and they really enjoyed Herbaceous. Our hobby has a ton of games that can be tough to convince a non-gamer to play. This one is an easy sell because of the beautiful art and the simple gameplay.
Games take about 20 minutes and we rarely just play one time when Herbaceous comes to the table. From the packaging of the game to the well written instructions, Herbaceous has really impressed our family. This is one filler game will be out during many game nights and family gatherings.
Herbaceous can be found at your local game shop or can be purchased online through Amazon today.
Pencil First Games supplied us with a copy of Herbaceous for review. This in no way influenced our opinion on the game.
- Can be a challenge to get high scores over other players
- Fantastic art and design
- Quick, simple gameplay and great replayability
- The theme may not connect with everyone