FlowerFall is a card-dropping, garden-building, physics-defying throwdown by Carl Chudyk and published by Asmadi Games. We’ve played the 2 to 5-player version (the pre-release copy printed for Origins 2012) from Asmadi Games but until 11:59 PM on July 20 you can Kickstart a 2 to 7 player version for $15.
In FlowerFall, you and your opponents drop flower cards onto a playing surface consisting of four randomly placed starting gardens. By strategically (or luckily) choosing to throw either flowers in your color or green flowers, you grow gardens and contend for control of the rapidly expanding greenspace. A game can be as long or short as the players make it, but the average game plays in less than 20 minutes, even with 5 players. Scoring can sometimes take longer than actual game play. The winner of the game is the gardener who has control of the most green flowers (1 point per visible yellow center) at the end of the game.
Setup couldn’t be easier – just fling the four starting garden cards anywhere. On the floor, on the table, on the beach, on the dog – wherever. For our simple game, we’re standing up and using a knee-level ottoman to make things tougher. This way we can adjust the difficulty later using our ceiling fan and add random cat interference.
Duck will throw first (she’s pink), while I’ll toss second (blue).
Duck: So that could have gone better. I blame it on the ceiling fan…
Soup: Not quite what I was going for, but a solid start controlling 7 plants. I’m feeling ok about this so far.
Current Score: Duck 0, Soup 7
Duck: My second throw is a little better. I’m barely holding on to four points but it’s still enough to get on the board this round.
Soup: Trying to break up Duck’s little floral empire, I miss my mark, but end up with some hope of controlling the west later. Didn’t really help myself with this throw, but feeling ok.
Current Score: Duck 4, Soup 7
Duck: I, ahem, actually… um, meant to do that. Yup. (Not really.) This game is going swimmingly and Soup’s starting to pick up speed. I’m sticking to the whole ceiling fan thing.
Soup: Now we’re gardening with fire! Duck’s throw ends up in the void and I take control of westgardenland.
Current Score: Duck 0, Soup 11
Duck: If I can’t get the pink flowers to stick, maybe the green ones will magically float the way I want them to. I wanted the card I threw – the near center card of green flowers – to actually make friends with the three-flower garden I had in the back. You’re welcome in advance for those points, sweetie.
Soup: Duck covered one of my blue flowers with a normal green flower card, so I try to get it back while cutting off her other pink flowers from the main garden that’s forming in the center. Feeling good about life right about now.
Current Score: Duck 0, Soup 15
Duck: I’m frustrated. Soup’s running away with the points and I’m, well, not, so I’m actually just chucking cards at the big garden developing in the bottom of the picture. Thankfully, I cover two blue flowers – a fleeting moment of victory.
Soup: Duck flops another point card over my flowers, taking two out of the equation – so I try to get then back and succeed with a gardener’s fist-pump.
Current Score: Duck 0, Soup 18
Duck: At times like these, back up against the wall, I try to rely on crafty strategy to get out of a tight spot. If you believe that, I have a lovely bridge and some land to show you too. In all honesty, this was just a throw that landed well. I was really trying to get away from the mess and start a new garden.
Soup: Duck flops a nice card in the middle of the big garden, so I stupidly try to land exactly on her card and miss – absurdly covering up 5 points in the garden I controlled. D’oh!
Current Score: Duck 0, Soup 11
Duck: So far, one garden has remained untouched. I’m trying to get control of those points so I at least have something to work with. My misjudged throw doesn’t exactly help me on that front, but it does add some confusion to the growing middle garden. I think I may have tied it up.
Soup: DISASTER! After Duck lands a money card smack in the middle of the garden covering up my flowers, adding three of hers to the mix and evening up control (no one gets the points), my card lands in the middle of nowhere in the top-left. I have a sinking feeling in my stomach now.
Current Score: Duck 0, Soup 1
Duck: I really want to get out of the mess in the middle so, of course, that is exactly where my next card lands. I’m starting to think this game is going to be won by the mysterious third player: Ceiling Fan.
Soup: Duck is starting to exert some control and makes her own garden, so I try to fling more flowers and keep the huge central garden going. I’d imagine this is just like real gardening.
Current Score: Duck 3, Soup 6
Duck: Two cards left. It’s close. I’m torn between trying to break away in a small garden or to keep fighting for control of the middle. Apparently, my cards want to fight. (And I should have paid more attention in physics.)
Soup: Duck eliminates another of my flowers while I somehow manage up to cover up two more of my own with more points. That hurt. I’m starting to think Duck has destiny on her side. I try to lure a cat over with a treat in desperation, but it doesn’t work.
Current Score: Duck 3, Soup 1
Duck: I’m going all in, with a Hail Mary drop to hopefully win it all. Based on the meager gains I make (only covering one flower) it’s going to come down to the final drop.
Soup: As the final card falls to the ground, it of course lands in the worst possible location, covering up what little hope I had, and connecting the gardens together in one very green pile of defeat, narrowly avoiding the shutout. I am humiliated as a gamer and a florist, and may never recover.
Final Score: Duck 22, Soup 1
Soup Says: This particular play with Duck was rough, but I still highly recommend FlowerFall. It’s cheap, fun, and with the new version can play up to 7 players of all ages. My only gripe is that the scoring can get a little thorny, and can take longer than the actual game itself, but it wasn’t annoying enough to overcome the fun I’ve had with it every time. It’s a breath of fresh air for me and would be a great addition to any collection. I also can’t help but think it would make a good drinking game somehow.
Duck Says: In real life, I don’t have a green thumb at all. I’ve killed kitchen counter herb gardens, an African violet, and even a shrub in our front yard (who knew shrubs didn’t like being repeatedly front-ended by the car?). Apparently, this carries over to real life. I’m no good at this game. In the handful of times we’ve played, I’ve won twice (including this game) and I can’t tell you how I did it either time. I can’t play strategically – laws of physics and aerodynamics will inevitably get in my way – so I’m left with luck which also doesn’t always turn out in my favor.
I struggle with the balance of strategy and luck in this game. If I’m going to lose to Soup, I’d rather it be because I did something ridiculous rather than because I misjudged wind speed or something like that. At the same time, I love the chaotic scoring and the ability of the game to change so quickly. Yes, I might drop cards badly but there’s no guarantee anyone else will drop well all ten times… I haven’t had a disappointing experience playing and every group we’ve played with has had tons of fun and been pleasantly surprised. This is an awesome quick game, a great game for young gamers, and a funny game after something thinky. There is a significantly challenging and delightfully refreshing experience in this little box.
We Say: If FlowerFall sounds rosy to you, hop over to Kickstarter and pledge your support. The campaign ends on July 20.