The whole world can be captured in one drop. And it does not have to be big, yet it will cover the ground from one side of the horizon to the other. Just for a short, joy, happiness, sadness and all our experiences glitter in it. And then it gets lost, but feeling of water jolting as it hit the ground remains. Water is the basic and most important thing we find in our world. No money or salt. Just simple and ordinary clear water.
We all want to be heroes and save the world. But imagine a land without water. If there were no clouds, then it would turn into desert in a moment. And the only one who has the power to keep these hungry and warm fingers of our sun away are the clouds. David Chircop decided to remind us of this fact in his board game and he named it Petrichor. This is a game that came out under the auspices of Mighty Boards and Ape Games and was introduced at the Spiel 2017 in Essen. Even with illustrations, created by Daniela Attard.
The whole experience begins with a beautiful white box. There is a drop of water on its lid and a field filled with crops. Their cultivation will eventually be your goal, but path is the most important part of it. For the beginning of the game, players will prepare board with different scales – one big running around the whole board counts victory points. There are two minor other tracks – auctions victories and turn counter. First two of these are equipped by the players with one wooden column in their chosen color. Turn counter will then receive its own pointer. Right below this board, players will create a map of fields from several large squares.
In the middle of the scoring board, there is also a place for voting on the weather, but above all a crop dice mark. One of the participants will roll dice at the beginning to determine the initial state. But then everyone is interested in their own property – players get transparent stones of drops and small voting tokens. There are also seven random weather cards, that are distributed to each opponent. Remaining tokens and cardboard clouds are placed next to it all. At the beginning, each player takes one cloud, fills it with one drop of water and puts the cloud in any position on the field map.
Each match consists of several rounds, which are always about playing cards. An active player has first choice of seven cards in hand and can with card decide, which of the four available actions to use. It always matches the icon in the upper left corner of the weather card and it may be sun, frost, wind or rain.
Depending on the option selected, player can affect clouds in a different way – add water from his reserve, rain to the ground, shif it on the board by wind (and marge them with other clouds), or even adding completely new clouds out of stock. In the base, clouds are divided into common gray and dark stormy.
Second phase of each turn is the ability to influence the weather and the most wanted will happen at the end of the round. Player may select a checkbox according to their played action or one adjacent clockwise. On the corresponding box on the scoring board, he puts one small voting token in his color. Players play one card at a time (no drawing!) until one of them passes or uses them all. During that time, plants can sprout if there is sufficient water drops (according to numbers at the bottom). Such a place is marked with a token. Instead of voting, player can choose to get victory points and at the same time lower the value of one harvest dice in the middle.
At the end of the round, players evaluate which weather types received the largest number of votes (two most voted for). These two actions then gradually become reality and players who have been involved with largest part of their votes will move their marker on track of auction victories. Again, these actions affect state of the water on the board, but they also allow the transformation of ordinary clouds into storms (this can also happen normally due to the large amount of water in the cloud), and pour water out of them. Each cloud that becomes empty is immediately removed from the map. As a result of sunshine, coffee with special cultivation conditions can sprout.
If there is no grain symbol on all three crop dice, the next round continues. Players get seven new cards and fight for more water on the plan. Majority of drops lying in each field will determine the points breakdown. This happens either in the case of a harvest (if all the dice are reduced point after point to the grain symbol) or at the end of the game. All players, who were watering this crops will get points. Their budget is visible in the numeric line of each big tile. Players will add any bonuses for earned grain tokens and winning auctions, and whoever has the most points will win.
Petrichor will be primarily interesting with its theme, that is transferred to the mechanisms in a great way. Players affect weather and thus interfere with life of the clouds. There is not too much options to choose from, but strategic decisions themselves are waiting for the players in unexpectedly sufficient amount. That’s because every selection has not only a short-term, but also a medium and long-term impact. So, participants really need to consider what action they use at what time.
Of course, random cards at the beginning of the round will decide about the possibilities. Here’s a bit about luck to get the right weather. On the other hand, there is always chance to use any action, if player pays with two cards (any) instead of one.
After all, there is a fight for majority. Not only in the fields but also in the auctions during each round. All that spilling water from clouds and watering plants serves a clear purpose – to be the one, who produces the most crops and has biggest share on their growth.
Cloud movement also brings a real weapon. They merge together, water accumulates and there is a risk of overflowing. This happens in the case of eight drops of water in one place. Such a cloud immediately flows out to the space, where it is located. But above all, it is possible to influence the opponent’s majority in some fields by moving clouds or even drops (in final weather phase). At the same time, combining two clouds instantly means, that its marked with a lightning symbol and becomes a storm cloud.
Whole match is very variable. Placement of crops on the board is always different and random. This is also related to the course of cultivation and struggle for victory points, because plant have different options and rewards. The size of the plan varies according to the number of players, but with more opponents there is still more conflict in the game than in the two. But that does not mean you can not enjoy the fun with Petrichor in a duel. On the contrary, in two, the game is great! The entire bout is between thirty and forty minutes, according to the number of opponents, which is an excellent and reasonable number for this thoughtful game.
Game looks absolutely glorious. Everything is subordinate to the overall impression. Clouds are perfectly resolved, transparent stones are a great choice and everything is white and clean without excessive amount of graphics or illustrations.
Petrichor is an absolutely unique board game. We place it amont the most interesting games of this year’s Spiel fair, because its being smart and fun at the same time! Being a cloud is just a perfect fun that has ideal bit of luck and conflict combined with the player’s planning skills. Petrichor is a great game that rains fun to anyone, who wants it.
+ beautiful theme and processing
+ you really manipulate clouds and weather
+ well-done combat of superiority
+ weather voting
+ enough choices
+ Everything can change in the end
+ reasonable playing time
+ excellent in varying numbers
- under a beautiful coat, it's still a common majority game