Author’s Note: I’m breaking with our traditional review format today, so this will be a review that integrates the gameplay description with my thoughts on the expansion. Also, for the uninitiated, today is the fourth day of Everdell Week, a project I’m doing to commemorate the changing seasons. This review is based on a review copy from the publisher.
Everdell Bellfaire is the most recent expansion in the Everdell line. The expansion is modular, meaning it comes with different pieces that can be mixed and matched. While it changes gameplay less than Pearlbrook and Spirecrest, and is less thematic, I consider it the most functional of the expansions, since it has some cool elements that integrate nicely with the base game. While Pearlbrook is my favorite of the expansions, if you’re looking primarily for a few extras (including components and rules for 5-6 players), Bellfaire is where you should look first.
My favorite addition comes from 15 cards which introduce asymmetric player powers. At the start of the game, each player gets 2 player powers and chooses 1 to keep. These are small bonuses that help guide your strategy. For example, the “Mice” player power allows you to gain 1 of a resource you don’t have when you visit a basic or forest location. The “Otters” can use resin as any resource. The “Cardinals” have a hand limit that is 2 higher (so 10 instead of 8 initially), and, when they draw cards, they draw an additional one. In all, there are 15 new player powers, and they add an interesting and engaging amount of asymmetry without adding much complexity. Though they aren’t necessary (and may clash) with the other expansions, this is a straightforward and effective way to spice up Everdell for experienced players.
Besides these cards, the biggest change is probably the Bellfaire board, which sits atop the base game board and eliminates the need for the tree. Like the tree, the Bellfaire board has spaces to hold your workers for future seasons, as well as spaces to put special events. In the middle of the board, though, are some new elements: the flower festival, a space for a garland award, and the market.
The flower festival is a new basic event that requires one of each card type for four points. This works just like the other basic events, and it is such an intuitive add that I kind of started to wonder why it wasn’t in the base game.
The garland award introduces a majorities aspect to the game. It gives 6 and 3 points at the end of the game to the 1st and 2nd place player, respectively, for certain objectives, such as most production cards, or most critters. There are 7 garland award tiles, and only 1 is in each game. This mechanic adds interactivity, as they are more common objectives for which players are competing. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard of Everdell is that it can veer into multiplayer solitaire, but this majorities bonus — and some of the content in the other expansions — fixes that.
The market is, arguably, the most intricate of the new concepts on the Bellfaire board, but even it is straightforward. Each player can have, at most, one worker there at a time. There are four tokens in the market — one each for 3 wood and a card, 2 resin and 2 cards, 1 pebble and 3 cards, or 2 berries and 2 cards — that start at the top of the market area. When a player goes there, they can gain those resources and shift the token down. Once a token down below in the trade territory, a player may shift the token back upwards and trade in those shown resources for 3 point tokens and 2 resources of choice. This is a nice addition, especially at the end of the game, since players can trade in excess resources and cards for victory points.
Like Pearlbrook and Spirecrest, Bellfaire comes with a few extras that don’t add new gameplay elements, but that nonetheless accentuate your base game. It has player pieces for two more players — cardinals and toads — and each of those come with the ambassador you’d need for the Pearlbrook expansion. There are 4 new forest locations and 9 new special event cards, and the new special events are less specific (and thus arguably easier to achieve) than the ones in Everdell. There are also new player boards which have areas for your resources and cards, but I consider these superfluous, as they just occupy tablespace with little new functionality.
As I mentioned at the start of the review, players can mix and match the different modules. If you’re playing with basic Everdell, I think it is easy to mix in the Bellefaire board and everything on it, and to throw in the new player powers.
This is the simplest of the expansions, and also has the lowest price point. While I prefer the new mechanics of Pearlbrook, this is a logical first step for expanding Everdell, since it adds so nicely to the base game. I’m a big fan of modular expansions — I like being able to pick and choose gameplay elements — and Bellfaire is one of the better modular expansions I’ve tried. Throw in the fact that it has the same great production of Everdell, and I’m happy this is in my Everdell collection.
- I love it! Chris Wray
- I like it.
- Not for me…