Wonder Woods [Micro]

2 – 5 players.
Play time: ~20 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Logged plays: 3 

Full disclosure: A review copy of Wonder Woods was provided by Blue Orange Games.

I’m enjoying the whole “micro-review” scene; it really does let me get through some games that have been out for a while or I’ve reviewed in some capacity previously or that I just want to write a micro review for. I’m trying very hard not to give y’all the impression that the size of the review is how I feel about the game; I just kind of enjoy writing different amounts of text for different games. Lets me change up the format or how I explore the game. I’ve been thinking about additional ways to change things up with my reviews, so keep an eye out; there will be more things being tried this year! Can’t promise all of them will work, but that’s the joy of experimentation. Speaking of going out and trying something new, let’s check out Wonder Woods, new from Blue Orange Games!

In Wonder Woods, players take on the role of mushroom foragers looking for their ideal mushrooms in the forest. As is often the case, some mushrooms are a bit more valuable than others, but you and your fellow foragers only know what these mushrooms aren’t worth. That may give you different places that you want to focus your time, but you’d like to take home the most valuable ones, you know? You’ll need to do a bit of deduction (and occasionally some bluffing) if you want to get there. Each turn, you’ll have the opportunity to explore and pick up one variety of mushroom, placing baskets from your supply on the corresponding card. Have the most on the card at the end of the round and you get a bonus mushroom! Each mushroom is worth 1 / 3 / 5 / 7 points, but you’ll have to figure out which is which on your own (heck, they might all be worth 1). Will you be able to take home the most valuable forage? Or will you end up being little more than morel support?

Overall: 8 / 10

Overall, I really enjoyed Wonder Woods! Not going to lie, and this is a bit embarrassing, but I didn’t realize that Wonder Woods was a retheme of Curios until I started writing this review. Now that I’ve taken the time to look at it and read my old review (honestly, hard to remember anything from before the pandemic), yeah, they’re essentially the same game with a theme and component tweak. That said, the theme and component tweaks work in Wonder Woods’s favor, I think. Curios was a fun and interesting game (despite me typing it several times already as “Curious”), but it didn’t have a particularly cohesive presentation. The Archaeologist pawns were generic, the crystals were as well, and I think it had a bit of trouble making a splash in an otherwise crowded 2019. Wonder Woods, on the other hand, went a bit more to ground, thematically (and a bit literally), and went for a fun, off-the-beaten-path theme. Though, I will say, the number of games about mushrooms is going up, per capita, over time. I think that Wonder Woods’s retheme is a stronger overall move; having physical mushroom tokens and little baskets to gather them in is cute, and I appreciate moving back towards a standard box over a tin for game storage. I would have liked some sort of an insert or way to organize the pieces so I’m not just digging into a paper back every game, but what can you do.

Beyond that, though, the shift in publisher, strangely, seems to have helped the game land a bit more in its target audience. I always saw Curios as a fun light strategy game, but it didn’t quite fit inside of AEG’s brand portfolio. Blue Orange Games, on the other hand, tends to target families and fans of light and quick strategy games at the most complex end of its catalogue, so Wonder Woods fits right into that. It tells a more consistent brand story, and Blue Orange seems to have been able to more effectively steward the game through to production (the components are a lot nicer and the game feels a lot more cohesive, as a result). Brand identity and strategy isn’t necessarily a huge component of this review, but frankly, the game was smooth enough that I didn’t even realize I had played it before, which is a huge point of praise to Wonder Woods’s development and design team. There’s not much to be done about the one issue that I’ve seen across games, which is that sometimes you’re just benefitting from luck (especially in a two-player game, where the value of some mushrooms can be literally unknowable as nobody sees some leftover cards), but the game plays quickly enough that it’s not a huge deal, all things being equal. I think Wonder Woods has done a great job breathing new life into a game that I previously enjoyed, though, and I’m glad to see it coming back around. If you want to try mixing a bit of deduction and a bit of luck, you enjoy a quick and simple game, or you just like mushrooms a lot, I’d definitely recommend giving Wonder Woods a try! I’ve quite enjoyed it.

If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

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