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Everdell expansions

Will you prepare for the Bellfaire celebration, or go on a long journey through the mountains to discover unknown locations?

Everdell has two new expansions currently on Kickstarter, both uniquely different from each other and both offering more adorable animal fun. So what do they add?

Gameplay

Everdell is a worker placement, tableau building game. You can read our full review here, but here’s a brief rundown. The game is divided into four seasons. Each season, players take turns choosing to either place one of their animal meeples on one of the locations on the board (if your meet the necessary requirements, you can also place workers on events for extra points), or to spend resources to play a card into their city. Each player has a city that can be up to fifteen cards in size: cards include buildings and animals, both of which can offer special abilities and/or points.

Each player chooses when to move onto the next season in their own time. When you move onto the next season, you take all your workers back and gain a new one as well.

Bellfaire

The new expansion Bellfaire increases the player count to six, and provides player boards to help you organize your workers, resources, and point tokens. It introduces special player power cards, with each player being dealt two and choosing one at the start of the game. The cardinal ability for example increase your hand size and lets you draw extra cards, while the mice card allows to gain a resource you do not have when sending a worker to specific locations.

The expansion includes new locations you can visit, including a market where players can choose to either gain resources and cards or trade. When you gain resources and cards you move the tile you selected at the market into the trade side. When trading, you pay the resources and discard the cards shown on any tile in the trade section of the market and gain three points and two of any resource before moving that tile back to the gain side.

Additionally, there are the garland awards. At the start of the game you shuffle the garland cards and draw one. This will list a type of card. The player who has the most of this type of card in their city at the end of the game earns six points and the player with the second most earns three points.

Each of these new editions are presented as optional modules, and you can swap any or of them in and out with the base game and its expansions.

Spirecrest

Spirecrest is a more complex expansion and its rulebook recommends not mixing it with other Everdell expansions.

In addition to the regular worker placement and tableau building, each player is now embarking on a journey through the mountains. There is a mountain board placed next to the main board. Each player takes a rabbit traveler meeple and places it at the start of this board. The mountain board is divided into three sections. In each section one map tile per player is placed. During set up, the tiles in the area the rabbits start in are all face up and those on the rest of the board are kept facedown.

There are also now weather cards, divided by season. Each time a season is moved into for the first time per game a weather card for that season is drawn. This will have various effects on gameplay such as making cards more expensive or forcing players to lose a worker. Weather cards will affect each player when that player is in that season.

When a player moves into a new season, she selects one of the map tiles in the rabbit’s current section of the mountain board. She then draws three discovery cards (the discovery cards are in three separate decks associated with the three separate areas of the board) and places them on the bottom of the board. The player then chooses one card. The one on the far left is free, the one in the middle costs one card or one resource, and the one on the right costs two cards or two resources (or a combination of the two). The remaining two cards are discarded. Discovery cards do not count towards your city limit. These can give you special abilities, or locations that you can send workers to, goals to meet in order to earn end game points, and big critters.

Big critters replace one of your workers (little plastic saddles are included in the game to attach your worker to the critter if you choose) and have special abilities when used to visit locations on the main board.

After selecting your discovery card, you move your rabbit to the next section of the board and flip over the map tiles on that section. Each map tile lists a point value and a number of resources. At the end of the game, you can spend the resources shown on each map tile you collect in order to score the points shown on it. However, you must spend the resources in the order you collect the map pieces, and cannot skip over one. So, for example, if you have the resources for the first map tile you collected and the third, but not the second, you will only be able to complete the first map piece.

Review

Everdell is a gorgeous game, with extremely high production value and its expansions are no different. Both Bellfaire and Spirecrest look lovely and integrate nicely with the base game. They both include new animal meeples and bring new concepts to the table.

Both expansions have different strengths. Bellfaire is great for mixing and matching concepts and playing with multiple expansions. It builds on what you’ve already learned and is less complex to learn and teach if you are already familiar with how Everdell plays. The ability to increase player count is also a positive, though you have to keep in mind this will also increase game time and down time.

If you enjoy Everdell and want more of what is already there, it fits the bill nicely. It introduces more locations to choose from and the market is a clever addition, while the player abilities offer a fun variation that makes things a little bit more unpredictable and gives you new elements to consider when making your choices. The player boards aren’t strictly necessary, but they’re nicely designed.

Spirecrest brings bigger, new concepts to the game. The map tiles change the end game significantly, and change the way you strategize and plan during your final turns. The big critters are a fantastic new component and so much fun to play with. We found it a little difficult to fit the workers into the saddles, but once in they look great.

The weather cards are challenging and often brutal, and the discovery cards give you a good sense of the journey your rabbits are taking, and offer a wide range of options. If you like the world of Everdell and its atmosphere (and don't mind extra complexity) then you will find Spirecrest delivers on both fronts splendidly.

Spirecrest may have more of a wow factor, but Bellfaire offers more simplicity and adaptability. They are sufficiently different from each other that you can buy both and not feel like you’re just getting more of the same, but if you’re only looking to buy one, since they’re very different types of expansions, it shouldn’t be too hard to choose which you’d rather add to your game. Visit the Kicksarter and choose for yourself.

Pros: High quality components, new mechanics that keep the base game still intact, both expansions have their own unique strengths

Cons: Spirecrest complicates a relatively simple to learn game, Bellfaire’s increased player count will increase downtime

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate.