Make your planet as verdant as possible, especially in valuable biomes.
Evergreen is a tree-growing abstract strategy game for 1-4 players by Hjalmar Hach, designer of the award-winning game Photosynthesis, where your goal is to build a lush ecosystem, planting seeds, growing trees, and placing other natural elements on your planet, trying to make it the greenest and most fertile of all.
—description from the publisher
In Evergreen, your goal is to make your Planet become as lush as possible. Each round, you pick a Biome card from the common pool to determine where on your Planet you’ll be able to plant your Sprouts or grow them into Trees during the round.
The card you pick also grants you a special power, giving you more growth opportunities or other Planet enhancements. The unchosen cards are as important as the chosen ones, though: they determine the Fertility of each Biome for the final scoring, driving the choice of where you want to grow your biggest Trees. Keep in mind the position of the Sun and prevent your Trees from shading each other…
Light is vital for plants, but also a big source of points! You also get points for your biggest forest, so try to keep them close. At the end of the last season, the game is over. The player with the lushest Planet wins!
Many see Evergreen as evolution or sequel to Photosynthesis, the other game from Hjalmar Hach about planting and growing trees. Having never played Photosynthesis, I won't draw any comparisons between the two.
Evergreen is a pretty abstract game; while I'm not a massive fan of those in general, the looks of this one made me pick this one up at SPIEL. The drafting mechanic is exciting since you must carefully consider each card you pick, which ones your opponents will most likely pick, and which card is left over. The leftover card will be added to the fertility area each round and determines the value of each big tree in that biome at the end of the game. Each card also has a unique ability you may use that gets stronger the more times you pick that specific ability. These decisions add an exciting twist to the abstract placement puzzle on your player board.
Placing sprouts, bushes, lakes, and trees is the other significant aspect of the game. You must carefully consider every move: which trees to grow and where to place your lakes and bushes. Trees score points during the light scoring at the end of each season but also create shadows (1 space for small trees, two spaces for big trees) in the direction opposite of the sun. Each tree shadowed is worth no points during light scoring but might score in later seasons because the sun rotates each season. This is why you want to space out your trees properly. However, you also score for your most extensive forest (most adjacent trees and bushes), so placing adjacently can still be beneficial. These two scorings happening each season are a complex balance act that you're constantly considering with each placement.
Turns are very quick as drafting is the only thing done in turn order; after drafting, you can perform your actions simultaneously, so there is not much downtime. It scales well at all player counts.
The components and artwork are near-perfect, the wooden pieces feel superb and colorful, and the dual-layered player boards are sturdy and high quality. The cards have gorgeous art that is very distinctive. The two green biomes can be hard to distinguish sometimes, but luckily besides the colors, they are also marked with icons. Also, some might find the small wooden pieces too small to handle, but I had no problem with that.
It might lack a bit of variability in terms of set-up, so the shelf-life might be shorter than I would like. For now, I'm thoroughly enjoying Evergreen, and it's now my favorite abstract game. Considering the quick play time and set-up time (we can crank out a two-player game in under 30 minutes, including set-up), I can see this becoming our go-to abstract game.
👍 Complex placement puzzle
👍 Drafting mechanic offers plenty of decisions
👍 Scoring is unique and challenging
👍 Fantastic components and artwork
➖ Not much variability in terms of strategies and set-up
➖ Small pieces can be hard to handle for some
Horrible Guild has released a fantastic abstract game that is a breath of fresh air in this crowded category. It has loads of interesting decisions and it is beautifully produced. The elegant mix of card drafting and placement scoring is unique. All these elements make Evergreen my current favorite abstract game.
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)
Looking for alternatives or similar games? Have a look at Photosynthesis or Tang Garden