Since its debut in 2016, the farming and socialising simulator Stardew Valley has sold over 20 million copies across a range of platforms. It’s a shoo-in for a cooperative board game adaptation, with its combination of resource generation and strategic building, and now we have one, courtesy of ConcernedApe, the same publisher as the video game.
It’s difficult enough to cram a video game’s overwhelming diversity into a cardboard box, let alone try to capture the tranquilly of valley farming. So for a video game creator to attempt their hand at board game creation for the first time is a bold move. But, at the same time, it’s difficult to imagine someone better capturing the essence of the original.
Stardew Valley The Board Game
What’s in the Box
The rulebook sits at the top of the box, with a charming welcome letter on the front, evocative of the video game’s beginning. Sheet after sheet of punch-out cardboard tiles lays underneath that. Fish tiles, mineral tiles, agricultural tiles, scavenge tiles, and even antique artefact tiles are all available. Because there are so many tiles, the game includes a specific tray for sorting and storing those that don’t belong in the draw bags provided.
The contents include a fold-out board with a map of Stardew Valley and plenty of accounting spaces, as well as decks of cards, dice, and pawns. The dice are specially produced, and the game employs regular gaming pawns rather than miniatures or standees.
Everything is drawn in a lighthearted cartoon manner that is evocative of the source game without being pixelated. It provides the game a strong feeling of self-identity, recalling the video game version while remaining distinct. Even without the miniatures, the entire assembly looks fantastic when put up on the table.
Rules and How it Plays
You might be shocked to learn that Stardew Valley: The Board Game is relatively challenging, given the computer game’s smooth, tutorial-based start. You’ll be given a choice of objectives from two decks at the start of the game. Grandpa’s Goals are a set of high-level objectives that include things like each player finishing the game with three buddies or exploring the mine to the bottom.
The other deck figures out what’s needed to fix the community center’s rooms. These are resource-based games that begin face-down and need large amounts of gold, fish, or minerals. To win, your play group will have to work together to expose and complete them all.
A season card appears at the start of each turn, displaying either a festival or a series of pre-turn events ranging from rain watering your farms to the nasty Joja Corp slapping charges upon board locations. There’s a lot of variation here, including additional sub-event decks for more detail, and it really helps keep players on their toes and engaged with what would otherwise be a boring part of the bookkeeping process.
You choose a position on the board and either do two applicable actions there or take one and then move to a neighbouring area to take a second action there while scavenging along the way. Buying seeds at Pierre’s General Store in town, planting them, and then travelling to the fields to irrigate and maybe harvest them are examples of location activities.
You may fish in different places, acquire structures and animals for your farm, explore the mine, and donate objects to the museum over time. Actions, for the most part, allow you to gain or trade resources that you may employ to achieve the game’s objectives. And you could be surprised when you play for the first time. While the online game Stardew Valley is known for being a relaxing experience, the board game is rather challenging.
With some of your goals being kept a secret, you’ll need to divulge a few early on and then devise a strategy for achieving them. It’s also possible to lose if you don’t plan effectively. While the online game Stardew Valley is known for being a relaxing experience, the board game is rather challenging.
If you want a less strenuous game, Stardew Valley: The Board Game has you covered with various less severe difficulty levels. However, from the perspective of a typical cooperative board game, this is excellent.
It encourages people to collaborate and come up with inventive solutions to issues by rewarding multiple plays to grasp the subtleties of the approach. The variety of goals guarantees that this procedure is never boring, and the random shuffle of cards and dice ensures that it never gets routine.
However, some of the objectives are hampered by the random consequences. Grandpa’s goal is to reach the bottom of the mine and explore it. The game is a mix of dice rolls and card drawings, and it can be very unpredictable. Another aim necessitates legendary fish, which are extremely uncommon and require luck to pick them from a bag of fish tiles, as well as a successful dice roll to capture.
Of course, you may leave out the most luck-based objectives before dealing them out, but luck is built into the game as a whole. Hearts are required to reveal the community center’s goals. To obtain hearts, you’ll need friends, and to make friends, you’ll have to offer them a present, which you won’t know until you meet them by flipping the card.
In a game where time is of the essence, this can be costly, but all you can do is try to mitigate the bad luck by gathering as many different goods as possible before attempting to make a buddy.
It’s also a game that slows down as it gets closer to the conclusion. The joy here is in revealing goals, devising a strategy to achieve them, and then watching it all come together as your farm develops and prospers. Aside from the thrill of the tile draw, the actual turns are a bit mechanical and become monotonous as the game progresses. Usually, you’ll know whether you’re going to win or not a number of turns before you get there.
Where to Buy
- Get it at Amazon
- Get it at Stardew Valley Shop
Stardew Valley: the Board Game does a great job of bringing the video game to life on your tables, with charming imagery and a fulfilling sensation of creating something from nothing. It’s a lot more difficult than its namesake, which is OK because it’s a required step up for an entertaining board game.
However, as is common in cooperative games, it treads a fine line between unpredictability keeping you on your toes and randomness sabotaging your hard-won victory. Nonetheless, it should gratify fans of the franchise and may even win over some new ones in the tabletop community.
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- June 14, 2022