We are currently living through some interesting times. Getting together with friends to just check up on them, let alone play games, is not all that easy. But necessity is the mother of invention, and although online gaming platforms were not invented for this pandemic, they certainly have been lifesavers for isolated gamers itching to collect sets, roll dice, and plot world domination. Online tabletop gaming has had an additional effect, allowing designers and publishers to get their upcoming games in front of board game media like never before. In my alternate life as a developer and publisher, I was able to use Tabletop Simulator as a development tool with great results. Online gaming doesn’t just just provide a platform to play, but also to refine prototypes. Team members can meet across the globe to work on their latest design and work out the kinks without ever leaving their home. It’s hard to predict what the future of the hobby (or our civilization) will be like, but while we’re waiting to find out, I’ve been enjoying the gaming I can take part in, no matter the format.
It was in this new reality, that I got to try out Plantopia: The Card Game from Daryl Chow and Origame. Last week, we met on Tabletopia, so he could show off the cute, simple card game.
Plantopia: The Card Game is based on a comic called Life of a Potato and if that sounds delightful to you, read on. Your goal is to plant and grow various different vegetation, either cacti, flowers, or trees, and earn points for garden you put together. Plant cards are either babies (requiring you to spend any time of cards to plant them) or Treevolved (which cost you some combination of specific cards to be planted. Babies are a lot easier to get out on the board, but Treevolved are worth a lot more points at the end of the game.
Each player takes on the role of a fruit or vegetable, like tomatoes, carrots, bananas, or of course, a potato. They have five planting spaces and get a set of three personalized weather cards including a sun, wind, and rain. Gameplay is broken up into two phases; the planting phase and the weather phase.
The planting phase starts with everyone drawing a card on their turn. You then have three possible actions you can take. You can plant by placing one of your cards down on a planting space. These spaces look like trees, and have numbers 1-3 on them to indicate the growth of a plant. A new plant will start at level 0 completely covering the card. It will move up as it grows exposing numbers to indicate its level. The second action you can take is growing. The cost to grow a card one level is the same as it was to plant it. Finally, you can simply draw a new card.
Each card has a cost, a point value (based on the size it has grown to), and some sort of effect. Cacti cards usually allow you to draw more cards into your hand when planted, flower cards usually give you extra grow actions, tree cards often give you scoring bonuses or extra weather cards.
The weather phase is an interesting opportunity to predict what other players might do and use that to your advantage. Each player selects a weather card (five total will be revealed, with the remainder randomly flipped from the unused player cards in less than a 5-player game. Each plant needs a different combination of weather to grow. Baby plants usually only require one weather to show up, but Treevolved ones might need up to three weather symbols to get bigger. Once the weather cards have all been revealed, you can grow your plants accordingly.
Game end is triggered when one player has at least four Treevolved plants on the go. Although the games are very quick, you can usually see the end coming when players have three Treevolved plants on the go.
Despite the relatively short play time and simple ruleset, there is some interesting strategy in a game of Plantopia: The Card Game. It would be a very good introduction to tableau builders for young or newer players, but hobbyists shouldn’t let the cutesy theme deter them from trying it out as well. Plantopia: The Card Game is fun and satisfying to play and would make a good addition to anyone’s shelf or Quiver.
Plantopia: The Card Game is coming to Kickstarter on August 27. You can sign up for more information here.