Thankfully, my urge to play board games has not diminished with this pregnancy, so I do have a new review for you today. 🙂
Scoville is a 2-6 player game by TMG (Tasty Minstrel Games) – same folks who made Aqua Sphere! It’s theme is hot peppers – planting them, harvesting them, selling them, making recipes with them. All to try to get the most points and win the game. We sat down to play this with a full six, and the first play through took about 2-2.5 hours.
One of the somewhat interesting things about this game is that it doesn’t seem to have a central mechanic to it the way many board games do these days. It is not worker placement or tile placement. It does have a few mechanics that you see across board games included in the game, but I just don’t feel any are “central” to it. For instance, there is a bidding mechanic to determine players’ turn order. And the game is about collecting different types of peppers, so I’d put that maybe under resource collection. Anyway, I don’t feel there is any one mechanic that defines this game, which is kind of nice.
The game comes with some “cheat sheet” type cards to help with various points, and the one below shows the general flow of the game.
You play over an undefined set of rounds, with the five steps above in each round. Below is a picture of the initial game setup, and I’ve marked corresponding parts of the board with numbers corresponding to the steps in the image above.
1. Bidding – Each round, players use the money they have to bid for tun order spots. The player who wins the first spot, picks a free pepper card first, plants a pepper first, and fulfills orders and recipes first. The last player gets to harvest peppers first.
2. Planting – In the center of the board are the pepper plots. During each round, in turn order, players must plant 1 pepper from their supply. The pepper must be planted adjacent to an existing planted pepper (diagonals do not count as adjacent). In the bottom left of the board, there are point rewards for players who plant the first and second peppers of each color.
3. Harvesting – Once everyone has planted, players take turns harvesting peppers. Each player can move up to 3 spaces on their turn. You cannot land or walk through other players, and you cannot walk back over a path you have already walked that turn. Each pepper combination you pass during your walk, results in your acquisition of a pepper of some kind, based upon the following pepper crossing rules. For instance, walking trough the center of the blue and yellow peppers on the board in the picture above results in a green pepper. Your farmers walk along the light brown lines in between the plots, with each dot marking 1 movement space.
4. Fulfillment – During this round, players may fulfill one order from the left side of the board, one recipe from the right side of the board, and choose to sell up to 5 of one type of pepper (sell price is based upon how many of that pepper color have been planted). Orders on the left cost some number of peppers, and give you some combination of victory points, peppers, and coins. Recipes on the right cost some number of peppers and give you victory points. The recipe cards are typically worth more than the order cards. You do not have to do any of the actions during fulfillment, and if you choose to do any of them, you may only do one – for instance you cannot buy two recipe cards in one round.
5. Time Check – Based on some conditions, the game may end or shift from morning time to afternoon. In the morning, blue cards are used for the orders on the left and the auction cards at the top during the turn order bidding. In the afternoon, green cards are replaced for the orders and the auction cards. Basically it causes a shift from the “early game peppers” (red, blue, yellow) to the “late game peppers” (black, white, phantom). The mid tier peppers (green, purple, orange, brown) seem to be around in both stacks in some amount. Below is an example of what our board looked like immediately after the game shifted from morning to afternoon (the morning auction cards remain for that initial “afternoon” round).
Players begin the game with a small set of stuff, shown in the picture below.
The three rectangle cards can be used once per game, to allow you to plant an extra pepper, move once more during harvest, or turn around and revisit a spot you’ve already been to during harvesting. If you don’t use these items during the game, at the end of the game, they are worth victory points. Most of the people we played with used them during the course of the game.
When the game ends – this is based on how many recipe and order cards have been purchased & how many players are playing – you tally up points from your orders, points from your recipes, points from any “first to plant a pepper” plaques, points from any leftover “extra move cards”, and points from any leftover gold you have ($3 = 1 point). The player with the most points, wins!
Scoville is fun, well themed, and very colorful with its artwork, which I always appreciate. I give this game a 6 out of 10. It may be a 7 after I have played this a few more times and figured out more about the strategies to play it with. It did take us a while, but I suspect it’s quicker with fewer people, or if everybody who is playing knows the rules already. It should definitely earn some points for being different from a lot of games I have played before. The resource collection and purchasing of “points” is similar to a few things, and the bidding is definitely in a few games, but all in all, the game seemed quite novel. If you are looking for something different, Scoville might be a good choice. In terms of strategy, I feel there may be other games that are a bit more interesting than this one.
Oh! Here’s something exciting for July! Ryan over at Boardgamegiveaway.com is giving away a sponsored copy of Castles of Mad King Ludwig this month! I highly recommend that game, so head on over and enter yourself in this month’s drawing! Actually, he’s doing three giveaways this month, including Castles, so that’s even better! Happy gaming, everyone!