- Designer: Wouter van Strien
- Publisher: Gamewright
- Players: 2-5
- Ages: 8+
- Time: 15 minutes
- Times played: 4, with review copy provided by Gamewright
Bloom is the latest entry in the now crowded genre of Roll-and-Write (RAW) games. In this small format game, players work together to use the dice to choose flowers the best from their sheets. There are 5 different sheet layouts in the game, and in each game, each player gets a different layout. There are six dice in the game: yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue and white. These same colors are found on the flowers on the sheets.
At the start of each round, the active player rolls the 6 dice. Then, starting with the active player, one die is taken from the pool. The color and number of the die tells you how many flowers of that particular color need to be chosen from your sheet. All of the flowers chosen must be orthogonally adjacent to each other.
If you do not like your options, you may reroll all of the currently available dice once per game. It is important to remember that you do not have to be the active player in order to use your re-roll ability!
You can choose a white flower as if it were any color. If you choose the white die, you declare which of the other colors it is. Circle the appropriate number of flowers in the matching color on your sheet.
For each flower that you choose not to circle OR for each color of the wrong color that you choose to circle, you generate an unhappy customer. Make a mark in the unhappy customer area in the bottom right of your sheet.
After you have marked off your flowers, check to see if you have made a scoring combination. You will note that your sheet is broken up into six rectangular sections. If you have circled all twelve of the flowers in a section, you circle the leftmost available “Garden Beds” number on the right. Thus, the first finished section is worth 3 VP, and by the time you get to the fourth finished section, that one will be worth 6VP.
Also look to see if you have finished circling all of the flowers of any of the five colors. If you have done so, announce which color and circle the leftmost available number. All other players make a mark through this same value.
The round continues until all players have had a chance to choose a die. Then the active player moves one position clockwise and the game continues. The game ends at the end of a round when one player has scored in three of the five colors OR one player has finished four beds on his sheet. The game then moves into scoring. Players add up all their circled values for finished colors and sections, and subtract points based on their unhappy customers. If you have not used your re-roll, you score one point for that. The player with the most points wins. Ties are broken by the player with the fewer unhappy customers.
My thoughts on the game
Bloom is a simple RAW game; the rules can be taught in just a few minutes, and I have yet to find anyone who has had troubles with grokking the game. The art is bright and colorful, and the flower-based theme is accessible to all.
At the start of the game, players are mostly looking for 4s and 5s to mark off the maximum number of flowers without having to create any unhappy customers that will lead to negative scoring. Later, the needs of each player change as there aren’t the obviously great plays. Sometimes, you might want a small number in a specific color in order to close out a section or a color. As there are higher point values awarded for finishing a color earlier, there is a bit of a race aspect to the game.
This does bring up my only real quibble with the game – which is that there is no balancing mechanism for going first, and there is clearly a disadvantage to going last in turn order at the start. Sure, in a light game like this, maybe it doesn’t matter that much – but choosing 5th, 4th and then 3rd in the first three rounds is definitely worse than someone who might get to pick 2nd, 1st and 5th in that same series. As it’s possible to score a color by the fourth turn, this is an initiative bonus which might not ever be made up.
Once your plan is in place, you might start choosing higher numbers with the idea of creating an unhappy customer or two in order to gain a higher score for a particular color or to rush the end of the game by closing off sections in fewer turns.
But, other than that, there’s not a lot of heavy thinking to be done here. Just look at the dice on your turn, choose when to use your re-roll (thus far, I can come up with many scenarios where the point given to you for NOT using the re-roll is outweighed by the potential benefit of getting a re-roll when there isn’t a good number available to you – as any non-efficient use of a die ends up leading to a negatively scoring unhappy customer anyways…)
The game itself comes in a nice small box which is secured with a magnetic lid. It is not quite pocket sized, but small enough that it can be brought just about anywhere. This would be a great candidate to be added to my Restaurant game collection. For now, it will remain in the collection for that reason.
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor