We often think that one of the most important features about board games, is art. Of course the gameplay has to be good and the game has to be well designed. But if the art is just not to your liking, no matter how good the game is, it will feel different. With Meadow, we fell in love with the art instantly, every little card being a unique small painting itself. We were just in awe when we were unboxing Meadow and couldn’t wait to play it. The art in this game in our opinion beat many, if not all the board games we have ever played. Big props to the illustrators Karolina Kijak and Katarzyna Fiebiger responsible for these amazing pieces of art.
How to Play.
The set up for Meadow is thankfully very fast and easy. Place the game board on the table and place the card holders in the holes of the board. Then shuffle and place the card deck facedown in the following sequence: W-S-E. The N deck can be placed with it’s card holder above the main board. Fill the main board with faceup cards, following the arrows on the board. This is also very well explained and shown in the rulebook. Next, place the campfire board with the right amount of players, shuffle the goal tokens and randomly place them faceup on the boxes of the campfire board and place the round marker on the first rock of the round tracker. In a two player game, cover up two notches of the campfire board with the green block tokens provided. Each player can choose a color, takes five path tokens of their color and three bonus tokens of the matching color. Also take a road token and a two sided starting card. Then, starting with the last player, each player chooses a row on the main board and takes all of those four cards. Also take one card from the N deck. In the firsts game, it might be easier to deal four random cards from the corresponding deck to each player. Lastly, choose your starting side from the starting ground card, and place it in your Meadow area in front of you. Now you can begin creating you mini eco system.
On your turn, you must perform an action with one of your path tokens. The pointy top side of the path tokens are used for the main board to take and play cards. The flat bottom side of your path tokens are used for the campfire place to perform special actions and complete challenges. If you want to draw a card from the main board, you have to place a path token with the pointy side into one of the notches of the main board. Then count a number of spaces from the token, equal to the number showing on the path token to see what card you have to take. If you place a number three in the left upper corner for example, you can take the third card from the left in the top row. If you would place a one on the same spot, you would have to take the first card on the left side from the top row. The rulebook also shows good examples of this action with clear pictures. Always place a new card on an empty spot on the main board. Once you have drawn a card, you may also play a card in your play area.
To play a card in your Meadow area, you have to start with a ground card. Every eco system needs a place to grow, like a grass or rock ground. You can have up to ten ground cards and every new ground card needs to be placed adjacent to a previously played cards. Once played, you can’t move them anymore. Always keep the bottom symbols visible to see what ground cards you have. Once you have placed some ground cards, you can place observation cards on top of them. Observation cards can present flowers, animals or plants for example and they can start growing on the ground cards you have placed. Each observation card has requirements your Meadow needs to provide before they can grow there. You can play them either on top of a ground card, or on another observation card, but your card columns must all start with a ground card. If your Meadow show all the symbols that matches the requirement symbols on the card you want to play, you can place the card on any card that shows one of those symbols. If you want to place a card that needs a tree and litterfall symbol for example. You need to have a litterfall ground card somewhere in your Meadow, together with a visible tree symbol. You may then choose to place that card in the column of the litterfall ground card, or on top of the card with the tree symbol. Note that for every card you place, you will cover the previous symbol of the card underneath, making it unusable, but you will gain the symbol of the card you have just placed. You should always leave the victory points visible when placing cards.
Some requirement symbols are divided by a slash, meaning you can choose one of those symbols. Or you can come across requirement symbols who have arrows next to them, meaning you have to place the card to an adjacent card that has the required symbol. If you want to place a card that has a home symbol with arrows as a requirement for example. You can place the card either to the left or right from a card that has a house symbol in your Meadow. If you want to play a card, but you are missing a symbol. You can also discard two cards in your hand to replace that symbol, you can do this multiple times. The main board can also provide you with landscape cards. Landscape cards are placed above your meadow on top of a road token. If you have used a road token, flip it to the side without a road icon to show it is used. Landscape cards sometimes also have requirements for certain symbols, but they always need a road token before you can place them in your area. If you come across a discovery card, you can try to fulfill the requirements in order to place them on a landscape cards. Discovery cards are items and souvenirs you find during your travels and they always need at least an empty landscape card in order to place them. Some discovery cards also need other symbols. As with other cards, for landscape or discovery cards you can always discard two cards in order to ignore one requirement symbol. You can never ignore a landscape or road token symbol.
If you want to use the campfire board, you have to use the bottom of your path tokens. There are four actions you can choose. You can take any face up card from the main board. You cannot play a card this turn if you take this action. You can also take two road tokens and place them above your meadow. You again cannot play a card during this turn. Another action to take is to look at the top three cards of any deck, choose one and place the other two cards at the bottom of the deck. With this action you also can’t play a card. Or you can play up to two cards from your hand in the same turn. There is also a path token with a question mark that let’s you chose any special action from the campfire board. If you would like to play a card, but all the notches around the main board are full, you can place a path token on an empty bench on the campfire board. This allows you to still play one card, but you can’t draw a card this turn. If you collect many symbols in your meadow, you might be able to fulfill some goals on the campfire board. If you have both symbols visible of a neighboring pair or tokens on the campfire board, you can place a bonus token (starting with the lowest number) in between those symbols on the campfire board. You can place one bonus token per turn if you have placed a path token on the campfire board.
When each player has placed their path tokens, the round ends. Collect your path tokens and move the round tracker to the next spot. Also pass the first player token to the next player. Once the round marker reaches the hourglass on the campfire board, discard all the cards from the main board and replace the S deck with the N deck. Then refill the main board with the new deck included. Once the final round has been taken (the last spot on the round tracker), the game ends. Count the victory points from all of your cards and bonus tokens to reveal your score. The player with the most victory points, wins the game and has build the best eco system.
Playthrough of the game.
We are absolutely in love with this game and I even think it’s our favorite game so far of 2021. I often have the problem with many games that I lose points because I want the most pretty cards. In Meadow, simply every card is beautiful and satisfying to collect. The more rounds you play, the bigger your Meadow gets and the more you have to look at. That doesn’t mean it gets easier though. It actually get’s harder to maintain your eco system as it also does in real life. The more complex the eco system becomes, the more symbols it might need in order to add the cards with the most victory points. I often had the situation (especially in our first game) that I was saving up for a card that needed three hard to get symbols. When I finally thought I had them all, I noticed I covered one of them up, in order to gain another symbol needed. The way you plan and map your meadow out is very important in order to score the most points. The designers made this game also connect in the most brilliant way. In order to place a butterfly, one of the symbols needed is often a larvae for example. Or birds often need insects or fruit symbols.
The way the path tokens work is also really well thought of. You only have number three on one path token for example, and it also has the special action to draw to cards from a deck and add one card to your hand. If you use this special action, you can’t use the number three to draw cards this round. The spaces at the campfire board are also very limited, so if you want to use it, you better be fast. Especially if you play with more players. The quality of this game is also amazing, the cards feel great as well as the boards and tokens. Everything combined, this is in our opinion one of the best games we have played so far.
Meadow is a strategic card collecting game where you have to collect as many matching symbols as you can, in order to place the most cards and collect victory points. Each card is 100% unique and holds a stunning piece of art. In our opinion this game is designed brilliantly. To be able to play a butterfly, you probably need a larvae somewhere in your ecosystem before you can place it. You also have to plan ahead very well in order to gain the most points, since you have a limited amount of actions each round. You can also use only one action of the two actions printed on each of your path tokens, so choose wisely. We are very happy to have contributed to such a beautiful brilliantly designed game. We can easy say that for us not only the art in this game beats everything we have played so far, but this is also our new favorite game of 2021 so far.