Everdell review
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Everdell review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on August 26th, 2022
Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: LOST IN THE WOODS
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This digital adaptation of Everdell feels more like a clunky tool for playing a board game you’re already familiar with than a welcoming experience.

Developer: Dire Wolf Digital

Price: $9.99
Version: 1.1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

Everdell is a competitive board game about trying to build the best fantasy forest city teeming with animal citizens and valuable structures. Conceptually and structurally it borrows from some of the most beloved and long-standing board and tabletop games out there, but I'm not sure Everdell makes its component parts fit together as well as they should, nor does this digitized version of it really help its case.

Green cities

As a worker placement game, Everdell is one of the least complicated board games in terms of knowing how to make moves. In each game, players take turns sending their little minions out to do a task as represented by a space on the board. Occupying that space grants specific rewards, like a certain amount of a resource, the ability to draw cards, or a way to complete special actions that reward victory points.

Victory points are the ultimate currency of Everdell, as the player at the end of the game with the most wins. Of course, to rack up points you'll need to think about what kinds of buildings and villagers you want to add to your city, both of which can also grant rewards and other resources that can empower you to earn points. You have to plan all of this carefully, though, as you have a limited amount of city space and only four seasons (rounds) to try and complete your city.

Drafting duels

Between the city-building concept and the worker placement mechanics, Everdell reminds me of a hybrid of two of my absolute favorite board/tabletop games: Dominion and Lords of Waterdeep. These games also have relatively simple rules in terms of how to play them, but their interchangeable parts and competitive design make decision-making and figuring out why to make certain moves at certain times against certain opponents a deep and satisfying exercise every time you play.

That said, I find Everdell's spin on these popular and celebrated ideas to be a little too abstract. There's an internal logic at work assigning point values to cards and actions, but it isn't intuitive beyond understanding that the game designers needed to balance the game. As a result, each turn feels like an agonizing exercise in trying to tease out what my best course of action might be, all while Everdell's woodland fantasy backdrop does very little to help me figure things out.

Scroll through the woods

To its credit, this digital version of Everdell is quite eye-catching, with polygonal critter game pieces moving around a colorfully rendered forest that acts as the game board. There are also a ton of options for playing, including online multiplayer (though not much action is there), pass-and-play, and even some challenge modes that create special rules that traditional matches of Everdell don't follow.

All of this seems purposely designed for someone who is already very familiar with Everdell, though. The tutorial doesn't feel like it goes into strategy considerations enough to help newcomers succeed, and the pleasing visuals of the game board shoves some other UI elements that might be helpful aside or out of the game completely. Having to scroll around the screen to see what other players are doing, objectives you're working toward, or even having to tap and hold on cards to get a full view of them just feels unnecessarily difficult, especially when playing on an iPad that could accommodate a little more visual information more comfortably.

The bottom line

The iOS version of Everdell definitely feels like a tool for folks who already enjoy the board game to do so on-the-go. Even in this capacity, though, the game does feel a little overly clunky and the online multiplayer is hardly existent, which limits its appeal.

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