Base price: Not sure.
1? – 4 players. I don’t have any solo rules, but that’s what it says on the box.
Play time: ~15 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Logged plays: 3
Full disclosure: A review copy of Mini Garden was provided by MOZI.
Let’s keep broadening those horizons! I got a box of games in from MOZI, the other day; I had reviewed Sheep Dog for them via Nice Game Shop in the past, and they wanted me to check out a few more titles. So we’ve got Mini Garden today, Horticulture Master in the near future, and The Battle of Lizard when I get around to it. Let’s dive right in to Mini Garden and see what’s up!
In Mini Garden, you play as local gardeners who have been requested by various folks around town; they’re hosting events today and they need arrangements and flowers for them! That said, you know, the first one who can deliver is the one who will get paid, so you better hurry if you want to be successful. Will you be able to be the quickest gardener in town? Or will your dreams of flowery success end up pretty solidly grounded?
Not very much. Set out the flower cards:
Set out the dice, as well:
Give each player a set of Garden Cards:
All sets are the same, so, not much to tell, there. Set out the score tokens:
Once you’ve done that, roll the dice and put each die on the flower that matches its color. You’re ready to start!
The game is surprisingly straightforward, conceptually. In practice, gardening is going to be a bit more of a challenge than you bargained for.
The dice on the flowers represent your customer’s request; they want a garden with exactly that many flowers of that color showing. Now, in real-time, you must construct a garden to meet their specifications.
Constructing a garden is as simple as placing cards, similar to Hokkaido or Sprawlopolis. You can tuck the cards, cover other pieces or entire cards; whatever you want to do. If you’re having trouble with a card, you may also turn it face-down and use the blank backside. The flowers do not need to be in one contiguous group; they must just be represented somewhere in your garden.
When you think you’ve completed it, say “done!”, and your opponents should stop to verify. If you’re correct, take a point. If not, your opponents get back to creating their gardens until someone is correct. In a two-player game, if you’re incorrect, your oppoent just gets the point. It’s faster, that way.
Play until the score tokens run out, and the player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
There aren’t really many, in this particular game. I think the major thing is just based on how we do scoring. Since I don’t really have an English rulebook, we’re kinda winging it, so we just play until the score tokens run out (so the player with the most points wins). At higher player counts, then, naturally there are fewer tokens to go around, so the scores tend to be a bit lower if you’re playing with players who are at about the same level as each other. Beyond that, the game is fairly solitary, so there’s not a whole lot more to say. Similarly, I don’t have a huge preference for any player count in particular, which is nice.
- There are 7 flowers total of every color. You should just kinda know that beforehand, otherwise your math might not work out in the long-term. Plus, it’s just a useful fact.
- Also, save one card, every card has three pairs of flowers of different colors. You should have a rough idea of what the cards are like before you start playing them, I’d argue. If you’re playing really high-level, it might be worth knowing which colors appear together so you can start trying to mix them up in your mind, but honestly, I’m nowhere near that level in Mini Garden, so I don’t really expect anyone to have spent that much effort, either. If you want to, though, go for it.
- I usually try to deal with the large numbers first. They require the most cards to be in somewhat-specific configurations, so, I find that getting them locked in solves more of my short-term problems. That said, if you don’t do a good job trying to consider your future options, locking in those flowers may just require you to start from scratch, which isn’t great.
- Remember that you can use the backside of cards as well. If you don’t want to deal with one, just flip it upside-down and use the empty back to block off certain cards. It’s also a useful way to create splits or odd numbers of flowers, should you need those.
- You really don’t want to have to start from scratch. That’s about the worst possible thing that you can do. Try to continually make sure that you’re progressing towards a solution, not just towards solving one color. If you focus too much on a single color you might lock yourself into a weird spot. It’s not like the flower groups need to be contiguous, anyways, though I’ll warn that putting them all over the place does make it harder to verify them.
- Don’t forget to verify your garden before you say that you’re done. If you don’t and you’re wrong, you’ve just taken yourself out of the round and given someone else the chance to score. Naturally, you’ll definitely wish you hadn’t taken the time to verify if someone else snipes the round out from under you, but, I generally lean towards verifying as a good practice, especially in a two-player game.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Very colorful. The art is very pleasant, as well; the whole game is bright, colorful, and upbeat, which I think works perfectly with the theme. It makes the whole thing feel rather engaging. They did a fantastic job on the art direction for this game; I like it a lot.
- Very portable, too! I usually just take the cards, dice, and tokens and throw them in my Quiver when I travel, and I’ve generally found that that works out pretty well for me.
- Plays quickly. About 15 minutes, pretty much regardless of player count, based on how we’re playing.
- It’s a nice weight for a filler. Quick without overstaying its welcome is a very good look for a game like this.
- Seems expandable. I’d really like to see a more robust scoring system, and maybe some different types of things that can go in your garden or some events or something. I think right now it’s a nice light filler, but you could add some cool stuff to really flesh it out if you wanted, I think.
- The flowers are different shapes, in case you can’t distinguish between the various colors. That’s a particularly nice touch, so I really appreciate that. Nice to see games taking accessibility under consideration. The dice aren’t different colors, but honestly, you can just randomly assign them if you’re not sure; it won’t meaningfully change the game.
- The box is a bit of a weird size. It’s one of those really small squares which, great, but doesn’t really fit anywhere. On the plus side, it makes it possible to dispense them from a vending machine, which they’ve definitely done before (which is also wild; board game vending machines). I think I would be fine with a localized version that uses tarot cards for the player cards; might even be a bit easier to manage. Who knows.
- Yeah, it really needs an English rulebook. I don’t know what the solo rules are and there’s no rules overview for that mode currently available. That’s a bit of an issue, for me. It’s not entirely insurmountable, but it definitely is still a problem that I’m having.
- I think I’m not over the moon about the scoring system, as I understand it. I’d rather see players get points for partial completion so that it’s not quite so … binary. It might make the game feel a bit fresher if it’s done properly, kind of like how Nine Tiles Panic gives every player some points, which I appreciate (as long as they have a valid configuration).
Overall: 7.5 / 10
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with Mini Garden! Like I said, I don’t love the scoring system (I feel it’s a little basic for a real-time game, since it’s you win or you don’t), and I think that I should probably stop reviewing games without English rulebooks due to the difficulties it causes me (mostly that it aggravates my Reviewer Impostor Syndrome since I’m not 100% sure I played the game correctly), but those aren’t huge deals in the grand scheme of the game, itself. It’s a very solid game for the small number of rules and components it has, and I generally like real-time games anyways. It helps that the theme and the art work together really well to sell the game, as well, so the final product looks very nice, too. What I think I really want to see from this is an expansion, to be honest. Add some more cards, add some modular components or something, and add some modifiers to make the game a bit more complicated for experienced players. This has the added benefit of introducing content you can ignore when playing with younger players so that the skill gap isn’t quite as pronounced (as it tends to be when you’re playing real-time games). That said, while I would like an expansion, I don’t think it necessarily needs one, and that’s fine too. If you’re looking for a fun real-time gardening game or you want to explore some games from outside the US, I think Mini Garden is a nice title! I’ve had fun with it.