Zen Garden from Mayfair Games Review by David Lowry
Peace, tranquility and beautiful patterns. This is what we think of when we think of Japanese rock gardens. Now players can create their own beautiful, tranquil gardens while trying to win a quick tile laying game while blocking their opponents. Sounds peaceful right?
Publisher: Mayfair Games
Game Design: Jean Vanaise
Art by: Richard Blando & Jared Sisson
Players: 2 – 4
Ages: 10 and Up
Playing Time: 15-30 min.
Game Mechanics: Tile Laying
Game Type: Abstract/Strategic Thinking
84 garden tiles
12 lantern tiles
48 wooden cubes
1 cloth bag
Zen Garden from Mayfair Games comes with two different games inside the box, Zen Garden and Rock Garden which means two games in one! The idea is to build their signature pattern twice with two different types of terrain tiles.
In a nutshell, each player draws tiles from a bag representing different landscapes (water, trees, rock, grass and lanterns) and tries to build a garden matching their pattern tile drawn at the start of the game. Each player starts with three tiles and has the following options. Places one tile per turn, can replace a lantern tile that matches the terrain of at least one tile adjacent to it, draw a new tile or when ready, may reveal their signature-pattern.
After a player has built both garden groups of different terrain types in their signature-pattern, they then reveal their signature-pattern and score 5 points. Those who have not revealed yet score 4 points automatically and lose one point per round they have not revealed from this point on. Bonus points are available as well at end game.
Rock Garden is a more challenging game in which players try to play 12 cubes on tiles matching their signature-pattern before the other players place all theirs.
Both games come with optional rules to create more challenge to the games.
The component tiles are high quality and contain beautiful terrain art.
Zen Garden is a simple game that has very surprising depth to it. Even within a 15 – 30 minute time frame, strategic thinking is first and foremost when laying out tiles which lends to a particularly deep game in a very short time. There is a great amount of fun tension when trying to get your gardens built before the other players and you really have no idea what their patterns are to be able to gauge how soon they will reveal.
This is a great warm up game for gaming groups waiting for other members to show up or for family looking for great games for family game night. Sometimes the best games are simple and cost little and Zen Garden is most definitely worth its price of $15.00.
If you like tile laying or abstract games then Zen Garden is a great choice!
We are giving Zen Garden 7 out of 10 stars.
This game is Club Fantasci Certified!
Note: A review copy of this game was provided.
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