The Legend of the Cherry Tree That Blossoms Every Ten Years
- Designer: Hinata Origuchi
- Publisher: IELLO
- Players: 2-4
- Ages: 8+
- Time: 15-25 minutes
- Times played: 4, with review copy provided by IELLO
The Legend of the Cherry Tree That Blossoms Every Ten Years (TLotCTTBETY) was one of the games that I got a sneak preview at Essen 2017. It looked to be nearly finished, but the final product was just released around GenCon 2018. I had not recognized the name of the designer at first, but it turns out that I own a number of other games by him (Tezuma Master, Kaleido and Colors of Kasane).
TLotCTTBETY is a simple appearing set collection game with a push your luck mechanic added on. In the game, players each are given a cardboard screen. They try to collect flower blossoms (in six different colors) placing some in the open in front of their screen while keeping others hidden behind their screen.
There is a vinyl (or maybe Naugahyde) pouch which is stocked with equal numbers of pink, yellow, light blue, dark blue and white flowers – 5 per player in the game. There is also a smaller number of black flowers which are placed into the bag – 1 per player in the game. There is also a set of three mastery cards – players choose either the pink or the blue side to play – which are placed face up in the center of the table.
The players take turns in order around the table until the bag is empty of flowers. On a turn, the active player first collects flowers. Without looking in the bag, the active player draws out flowers. You must draw at least one flower each time. After drawing flower, display them on the table. Now look at all of the flowers collected thus far this turn. If you have collected 3 flowers of the same color OR you have five different colors of flowers; you have failed. If you have drawn a black flower out of the bag, it always counts as the worst possible color for you (i.e. it is a wild card that helps you fail). Otherwise, your turn is still active and you then decide whether you want to draw again or voluntarily stop. You may draw up to three different times on your turn; and you may never draw more than 8 flowers total from the bag.
When your turn ends – either because you fail or because you voluntarily chose to stop with a valid draw – you then add flowers to your display.
IF YOU FAIL – first, put any black flowers back in the bag. Then choose any two flowers of different colors and place them in front of your screen. If you only have one color drawn, you only collect one flower. Return all the other flowers to the bag
IF YOU VOLUNTARILY STOP – first, check to see if you meet any of the criteria on the three mastery cards (such as two pairs or four different colors) – if so, you can take ONE special action amongst the cards whose criteria were met. Then, you MAY choose any one color and place all of the flowers of that color BEHIND your screen. All of the remaining flowers are placed IN FRONT of your screen.
Once you have displayed your flowers, give the bag to the next player around the table to take his turn. Again, the game continues until the bag is completely empty. Then, it’s time to score the flower collections. There are different rules for flower behind the screen and for flowers in front of the screen. Before scoring happens, players must assign their wild flowers.
In front of the screen, only the black flowers are considered wild flowers. Organize the flowers by color and then place black ones in the group of the color you want them to be. In back of the screen, place the pink and yellow flowers in the “warm” group and place the two shades of blue in the “cool” group. Then, distribute any white OR black flowers into the groups as you wish.
Flowers in front of the screen are scored by color. You generally score more in each color for having more in that color (see the chart). Flowers behind the screen are scored based on your relative standing in number versus the other players. Ties behind the screen have the different placed added together and divided amongst tied players. The player with the most points wins. There is no tiebreaker.
My Thoughts on the Game
IELLO has had a steady stream of releases of games which were originally released in Asia – and this is a fine addition to that line. Unlike some of the micro Japanese games (Welcome to the Dungeon, etc) – this is a small (but not miniscule) 7” square box.
TLotCTTBETY has a very minimalistic rule set – but there is more strategy here than first meets the eye. You can play it safe and draw a smaller number of flowers on your turn – but then, you also only get to put a smaller number of flowers behind and in front of your screen. The game entices you to push your luck and draw more flowers; and since you get a consolation prize of two flowers in front of your screen even when you fail, I am often enticed to keep pulling flowers from the bag.
The other factor which often sways your decision to draw or not are the mastery cards. Sometimes it is worth the risk to try to get the bonus action granted by meeting one of the mastery cards. In my games, the most prized one is the one which allows you to draw a flower at random and place it behind your screen without anyone else seeing it. It does add a bit of mystery to the flower count, and it can make it more difficult for people to decide how to distribute their white and black flowers behind their screens at the end of the game.
The flowers have a nice feel in your hand, and I like the player screens. They helpfully recap the two different scoring methods on the inside, though I do wish they also had a reminder of the two different ways of distributing flowers. By the end of our third game, everyone had the distribution rules memorized, but there were some repeated questions on that in the initial games.
I like the game thus far, and I’m tempted to find a slightly larger bag than what was provided in the box because then I could essentially make the game become a self-contained travel game with everything toted within the draw bag. I have liked or loved almost all the Japanese games that IELLO has republished in the past few years, and this is no exception – TLotCTTBETY is quick to teach, quick to play, but yet offers enough to consider that I would not mind playing it a few times in a row.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Chris Wray: I really enjoyed this press-your-luck game, so much so that I might buy a copy. I have a lot of set collection games, so I don’t know how often I’d play this, but I’d imagine more than once every 10 years
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y, Chris Wray
- Neutral. John P
- Not for me…