Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sink Your Teeth into Morels

by David Kempe, 6/18/13


Morels is a mushroom-themed, two-player, card-based strategy game by Two Lanterns Games. Players can take one of several actions on their turn. They can take cards into their hand, either a single card from from the card row or all of up to 4 cards in the Decay (the area for cards that go too long without getting picked). Players can also cook or sell mushrooms they have collected for victory points or walking sticks respectively. Lastly, players can play Frying Pans out of their hands to use in the cooking process.

There are several different types of cards: Mushrooms, Frying Pans, Baskets, Moons, Butter, and Cider. Most of the different Mushrooms have a sale price in sticks and a cooking amount for points, except for the Destroying Angel, which reduces a player’s hand size for several turns. Frying Pans are required to cook mushrooms. Baskets increase a player’s hand size. Moons get a player an extra special double mushroom card. Butter and Cider get a player extra points for cooking, provided the player cooks a large enough group of mushrooms at once.

We found that the hand size mechanic was integral to gameplay; the stringent hand size affected our decision-making process more than any other mechanic in the game. As such, there was never enough incentive to take Destroying Angels, even if one could get a few good Mushrooms with them, since the mushrooms we wanted never got to the Decay.

Players use the walking sticks they acquire through selling mushrooms to take cards from the far end of the card row, which they could not usually take. Although selling mushrooms can really open up a player’s options during the game, we found that a single good sale of mushrooms could give a player enough sticks for the entire game.

Morels has a very similar feel to Jaipur, while borrowing the card row mechanic that Copycat steals from Through the Ages. It’s very strategy-oriented because players can always get exactly the card they need, provided they have hand space to wait and sticks to grab the cards in a pinch. I highly recommend Morels, not only for the casual gamer interested in more strategy, but also for veteran board gamers looking for something quick.


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