- Designer: Andrew J. Smith
- Publisher: Wizkids
- Players: 2-6
- Ages: 14+
- Time: 15 minutes
Palm Trees was one of the small box games that I received at Origins 2019. This year, there have been a number of games in this small box format. In this game, players try to grow a Palm tree in their hand. In order to make the game seem more realistic, there are palm tree trunk “tattoo sleeves” which are included in the box.
The game itself is made up of a deck of 78 cards – some frond cards and some coconut cards. Each group is shuffled separately and decks are constructed based on the number of players in your game. The coconut cards are placed on the table and then the frond cards are placed on top. This single deck is the draw deck for the game. The top two cards are placed faceup next to the deck to generate the supply. It turns out that there will be 8 cards per player in the deck once it is constructed.
All players now decide which hand they will use to grow their tree. They may optionally place the tattoo sleeve on their arm, and then the elbow of that arm is placed on the table. For the entirety of the game, players may not remove their designated elbow from the table.
A start player is chosen, and turns follow the same pattern. The active player takes a card from the display – either one of the two face up cards or the top card of the deck – and then gives that card to any opponent who then has to add that card to his tree. The only restriction here is that you cannot give a card to a player which would cause him to have more than 2 cards more than any other player in the game.
The cards have a printed restriction on the lower left corner. The card may need to be held with certain fingers, it may only be allowed to touch a certain number of other cards, or it may only be able to held on certain surfaces of the card. The icons are fairly straightforward, but if there is confusion, there is a handy one page guide on the back of the rules which summarizes all of the rules.
Once a card is successfully placed, that player who placed the card becomes the new active player. A new card is chosen from the display and that card is then given to any opponent. This continues until the game end is triggered. The game ends when the final card in the deck is successfully placed. The game also ends if a player drops a card from their palm tree or is unable to place a card given to them. When the game ends, the player with the most points in their tree (computed by adding up the numbers on the cards in their tree) is the winner. A player who dropped a card or could not place a card to trigger the game end cannot win and automatically scores zero points. Ties are broken in favor of the player with more cards in their palm tree.
My thoughts on the game
Palm Trees is one of those amusing activities that you can pull out when you realize that you need to kill ten minutes while waiting for the last guy in your group to show up (let’s call him Craig in this example). You head back into the game closet, pull this out, and then smirk as you watch your game group members guffaw at the admittedly amusing arm “tattoo sleeves”.
The game itself is pretty challenging. The cards feel plastic and have a silky/linen finish. This makes them super slippery, and makes it hard to keep them anchored between your fingers. Once your opponents see you struggling, it’s not long before they try to give you cards that you simply can’t contort your hand to include into your tree. I’ve yet to finish a game where all the cards were successfully placed into the Palm trees.
Palm Trees is good for a laugh, but even at ten minutes, it really kind of out stays its welcome; and once the novelty of the tattoo sleeves is gone from the initial game is gone, it’s been hard to find motivation to pull this off the shelf.
Wizkids seems to be still trying to put out twenty games a season hoping to find a game to match the taste of every gamer out there – and while I’m sure that this one will appeal to someone; it is not one that will get repeated plays here. There are other games from Wizkids in this cycle that fit me and my group much better. I suppose it did give me a good chuckle on the first time out of the box. For that reason alone, I am sure that there will be plenty of folks that will pick this up after a demo in a store or a game on the convention hall at the Wizkids stand.
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor