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Octopus' Garden
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Octopus’ Garden is a calm and lightly strategic game from Valley Games in which players take on the role of octopuses planting an undersea garden. Pearls are traded for a row or column of three items in the marketplace and then planted in a player’s garden for points. But they shouldn’t be planted just anywhere, as careful planning will attract seahorses and clownfish for bonus points. In addition, the sea stars are worth a high amount of points, yet on each turn they move ever closer to devouring the oysters, which are the source of valuable pearls for purchasing more items.

This game has great artwork that truly gives the feeling of being underwater. It is a calm game, yet the movement of the sea stars and their effect on the rest of the garden increase the suspense as the end game nears. On the downside, the anemones and feather worms look a bit too similar and can cause confusion, and there are no octopuses in the game components at all (prompting several players to ask, “Why is this called Octopus’ Garden if there are no octopuses?”). Even so, this is a quick and delightful game that I enjoy immensely and that almost always gets a request for repeat plays.