You know that feeling when you see lovely fall colours in the trees, or a sweet animal, or just anything that warms your heart in the best way possible? That’s the whole Creature Comforts vibe in a nutshell. This game, on Kickstarter now, is wholesome worker placement about your sweet woodland animal family getting ready for the cold weather to come. Kicking off in spring, you’ll have until the winter to potter around Maple Valley collecting resources, chatting with visitors to the inn and the opportunity to craft various items and workshops to make sure you’re set for all the time you’re about to spend indoors. (Anyone else wish they’d had this prep time for 2020?)
All players start with their own player board – a sweet homey setting, each different – their family workers, dice, cottages (for claiming workshops) and a couple of comfort cards. Over the 8 seasons (or 6 in a short game), players will be using their family dice and the communal village dice to resolve actions at locations around the board. What I like about this is you can plan a little, but have to roll (heh) with the village dice, whatever their values will be – at the start of the month, each player rolls their own two dice, then places their 4 family animal tokens out on the board. After that, the village dice are rolled by the start player for that month, and you can start to look at where you can use those on your turn. If you end up with a combination of dice that don’t work out for everything, you’re rewarded with a “lessons learned” token, letting you amend a die value on a future turn. It can feel really bad in a worker placement game to not be able to do the thing you really want, but this at least gives you a nudge in the right direction as the game progresses!
Locations around the board fit into the warm little village feel, with an inn, market, river, valley, workshop and the Owl’s Nest. These spots drive the game toward your ability to collect your creature comforts by the end of the game. You’ll collect a variety of resources by visiting the river & valley, and get to trade them at the market. On occasion, the visitor to the inn will also be up for trading particular items, although they’re more often there to regale with stories of their travel! (Collected story tokens can be used to craft some comforts, but are also worth points at the game’s end.) I really love this location, and the visitors are so sweet! That beaver monching on woodchips is the best.
Key locations for building up game end points are the Owl’s Nest and Workshop. The workshop will let you build new locations for players to visit with their family dice (which give you nice resource bonuses when they do!) or cool bonus tiles that let you tinker with family or village dice each round. Don’t snooze on those, getting to manipulate dice is a handy dandy thing for this game. The Owl’s Nest is where the titular comforts reside. In addition to the cards you start the game with, you’ll be able to draw new ones here to choose to keep in your hand. Getting into this early on is a nice tactic, because there’s resources to be gathered up to make sure you can build them. Not only that, but a variety of comforts will play off each other for bonuses at the end of the game – for instance, having bread to go with soup will earn you a bump in points. Got a rocking chair? Pair it with a pot of tea. I love this so much! It’s such a thematic way to tie together aspects of the game that leads to game-end bonuses.
For now, I’ve only had a chance to play Creature Comforts on Tabletop Simulator, thanks to the KTBG team. If you haven’t ever used TTS, I liken it to trying to play a game while wearing oven mitts. It really slows you down and is fiddly. Browsing the details of the Kickstarter campaign, it makes me mad that a) the game isn’t in my greedy paws already and b) there is a pandemic so I can’t play games physically with anyone right now! The little wooden creature tokens and gorgeous resources look marvellous. At least on TTS I’ve gotten to experience the beautiful art by Shawna JC tenney! All of the beautiful details from the cute homes on the player boards to the shifting seasons as the game progresses and you cycle through the valley tiles are wonderful touches. This is going to look amazing on people’s tables.
This is certainly on the ‘heavier’ end of the spectrum of KTBG games I’ve tried, and I actually wouldn’t hesitate to get this for myself to have as a lightweight worker placement game in my collection. I’m sure it’ll be a hit for gaming families. In the tiresome land of samey themes, it’s really lovely to see a game like this. Make sure to check out the campaign page (holy heckin’ adorable stretch goals) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Creature Comforts is a family-weight worker placement game for 1 – 5 players ages 8 and up, taking approximately 45 – 60 minutes to play. Designed by Roberta Taylor, with art by Shawna JC Tenney, it is published by Kids Table Board Gaming.