Games with a solid gardening theme always draw me in. It’s almost Spring and I’m spending more time in my backyard garden preparing for the next couple months. Three Sisters is a game that not only connects with were I’m at in life but it continues to call me back again and again to build a better garden.
Three Sisters is a new roll and write from Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle. This is the first release from their new studio Motor City Gameworks. Ben and Matt are the designers behind Ladder 29, Fleet the Dice Game, Wasteland Express Delivery Service, Stellar and more.
Get Ready to Grow
In Three Sisters, you’re running a backyard farm and apiary. You’ll plant crops, care for perennials, grow fruit in the orchard, tend to bees and bring goods to the farmers market. Plus, you have a shed full of tools to assist you and compost to modify your die rolls. During the course of 8 rounds, players will record everything on two sheets that represent their backyard garden.
If you’ve played Fleet the Dice Game, you know how deep a roll and write can be. In my opinion, Three Sisters takes this formula to the next level. It’s a roll and write that has some real weight to it! At the heart of the game, players have to focus on creating combos that will allow them to plant more seeds, water the garden and harvest goods. Every column and segment of the garden has something to unlock.
Each round in the game have three phases. The dice are rolled and then added to an action rondel for the round. The Farmer Edith token will be moved clockwise and ahead of the highest grouping of dice. Each player drafts a die in turn order. This die allows the player to plant seeds or water in that segment of the garden AND take the action where that die came from.
All players will receive a second die and second action based on the closest remaining die to the Edith pawn moving clockwise around the rondel. At the end of the round all players take the event for that round. These come in the form of visiting the shed, having it rain on all the crops or visiting the farmers market.
After the 8 rounds, players score their backyard garden and the player with the most points wins.
Combos on Combos
Three Sisters is a game that is at it’s best when you realize the depth of the combos that are available. Creating massive combos are extremely satisfying! Within the garden where you grow the corn, beans and pumpkins, your goal is to fully grow these crops to score the most points. By focusing on the pumpkins around the edges of the garden, players earn bonuses to grow perennials.
My first couple games, I chose to ignore the perennials. Now I know better. Each of these flowers give bonuses and a big point payout for bringing them to full growth. Erin often focuses on her apiary which can produce wax, honey or can split into another hive. Picking fruit in the orchard will not only earn you points but it can give you valuable goods that trigger so many combos.
On your Goods Track, players will trigger bonus actions each time they hit a star on this track. Ben and Matt have created an incredibly satisfying system that rewards players for focusing their energies on the various areas of the farm.
Three Sisters carries the theme of being a backyard gardener through every aspect of the game. Making decisions on which tools to acquire in the shed feels like you’re routing around for just the right tool for the job. I’m so impressed with the care that has gone into every aspect of this game. Even after more than half a dozen plays, I know I can learn something new when Three Sisters hits the table.
I really enjoy how the drafting of the dice are shaken up by the action rondel. Since the die is tied to the action space on the rondel, drafting a specific die can be more or less valuable depending on its action space. This is just one of many design decisions that sets Three Sisters apart.
As much as I love Fleet the Dice Game, I think I may have a new favorite roll and write.
Three Sisters is currently on Kickstarter now through April 1, 2021.
A prototype of the game was provided for this coverage. Components and rules covered in this preview are not finalized. Read more about our preview policies at One Board Family.