Winter is coming - prepare your burrow so you and your family can be comfy cozy!
Life in the forest is a lot of fun, at least while the sun is shining and the leaves are on the trees. Those days don’t last forever though, and long before the weather starts to change, the wise animals start to harvest for the long cold winter ahead. You will spend many months tucked into your burrow and you want to make it as cozy as possible. A nice bowl of soup, a comfortable rocking chair, and some toys and games will go a long way to make those dark winter days pass by quickly.
In Creature Comforts, you spend the Spring, Summer, and Fall gathering different goods from the forest and spending them to collect items that will make your home more inviting while the world outside is covered in a layer of snow. Each round you send family members out to various locations in an attempt to gain supplies. If they fall short of their goal, they’ll learn a lesson and be better prepared next time. The family that has created the most comfortable den wins the game.
—description from the publisher
Creature Comforts is played over 8 rounds (or months) and you progress through the 3 seasons: Spring, Summer and Autumn.
At the start of the round a new Traveler is revealed. You can visit the Traveler by placing one of your workers there to perform a strong action only available this round.
After that all players roll their two family die (in their player colour) and they can send out their workers to the the various spots on the main board. Once everybody is done the current start player rolls the family die (4 white die).
Players take now take turns to allocate all the die (4 white die + 2 family die) to their workers. Some worker spots need specific values or sequences to activate. If they full-fill the die requirements they can take the worker action and return it to their personal board. Workers that can't be activated give you a "Lesson Learned" token which can be used on a later turn to increase / decrease a die value. Worker actions include building improvements, collecting / converting resources, visiting the traveler and acquiring new comfort cards.
At the end of their turn players can create comfort goods from their comfort cards by paying the required resources. Once all players are done the next round begins. If this was the last Autumn month player proceed to final scoring.
Creature Comforts is one of those games that immediately catches your eye because of its lovely artwork and table presence. Once that happens I immediately am curious if the gameplay and mechanics are as interesting as it looks. I've disregarded Creature Comforts for a while because of this, because I thought it lacked depth and that is was too simple. After trying it at a local meet-up my thoughts changed, let me tell you why.
The core of Creature Comforts is indeed quite simple. You place workers on various spots, collect resources and construct comfort cards to gain points. However the thing that makes Create Comforts unique is the way you activate those workers. To activate you need to have the required dice and this adds a bit of push your luck. Do you go for the spot that gives more resources but with harder requirements or do you play it safe? Since you've only rolled your family dice (2 out of 6) at the point your placing you workers you're never 100% sure you can activate everything you would like. Luckily if you can't activate a worker you get a compensation in the form of a Lesson Learned token.
The worker activation, the traveler changing each round (and triggering some special rules for that round) and the changing worker spots in the forest and valley add quite a bit of decision making. This gives the game more depth than I initially expected.
Besides the unique worker activation there is not much new innovation in the game. Actions can also feel pretty repetitive as it usually entails one of 3 things: get resources, convert resources or get cards. With two players we sometimes had a hard time finding the right cards in the deck. While there are duplicates in the deck it did sometimes let us miss out on a better scoring opportunity. I also found the scoring mechanics of comfort cards pretty boring (pairing cards or placing resources on them) and I think with a bit of effort this could add some more strategy to the game.
There has already been a lot of discussion on the game length of Creature Comforts. When playing with experienced gamers I don't think this is an issue, if you play with kids they could lose focus while it's not their turn. While I'm probably not part of the core target audience for Create Comforts, I've still enjoyed my plays so far. I think it will stay in my collection for a relaxing night of gaming or use it as a gateway game to introduce new players of varying experience to the hobby.
👍 Looks gorgeous on the table
👍 Theme and iconography make it an accessible family game
👍 Interesting worker activation that adds an element of push your luck
👍 Has more depth then one might think
➖ Actions can feel repetitive
➖ Comfort cards could have more interesting scoring capabilities
➖ At two players you sometimes don't get the cards you need
➖ If you're playing with adults the game length is alright, kids could lose focus because of the long play time (there is a shorter variant included)
Creature Comforts is not only about creating comfort goods for your critters, but it's also about having a comforting experience yourself. If you're looking for relaxed and comforting experience suitable for ages young and old look no further. Overall it's a solid experience and it's good at what it tries to achieve. Nothing groundbreaking or spectacular just a fun game.
Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)
Looking for alternatives or similar games? Have a look at Everdell or Meadow