Stardew Valley is an absolute favorite game of mine. I’ve spent hours building up a farm, harvesting crops, raising animals, exploring mines, foraging, and fishing. It’s simple and calm, which is great for my anxiety, but there’s also so much to explore and do that you can always find something to work on. I first played Stardew Valley on the PC, but we have copies for the iPad and the Switch too. When I found out that Cole Medeiros was developing a board game adaption with Stardew Valley creator CorncernedApe, I was immediately curious. A preliminary peek at the rulebook had me floored at just how many features of the game had been brought to the tabletop. I received a copy of Stardew Valley: The Board Game for reviewing.
Stardew Valley: The Board Game is a cooperative game of farming and friendship based off of the extremely popular PC and console game. It is designed for 1 to 4 players, ages 13+, and takes about 45 minutes per player to play. It retails for an MSRP of $55.
Stardew Valley: The Board Game is a very component-heavy game and I will suggest that, before playing, you factor in some time to punch out and sort components. The Supply items have their own tray, but others will likely need their own bags or rubber bands when putting away to make it easier to sort them out for your next game. Stardew Valley: The Board Game contains the following:
It’s a significant list of components, but my first reaction at seeing everything was the delight at how much the artwork was pulled from the original game. The more you look at the components, the setup, and the gameplay, the more you see that this game is a real labor of love by someone who loves the original game and not someone who is just slapping a license on something to make it sell better.
The board is large, beautiful, and certainly sturdy. It recreates the oh-so-familiar map Stardew Valley fans should easily recognize and adds in convenient places to sort a number of the tokens and cards to help organize gameplay.
The Tiles, Tokens, and Player Mats are a sturdy thick cardboard and boast the same level of beautiful artwork as the board. Many of the tiles will either be placed in one of the bags (think beginner dice bag) or the very useful plastic Tile Tray, which probably saved my sanity. I wish there had been a second tray like that for putting away the other pieces and cards because that Tile Tray made things so nice and easy for me.
The Cards again use the same delightful game-inspired artwork as the other pieces but use design, size, and color to clearly help differentiate between the different types of cards that players will encounter.
The Pawns are a lightweight plastic but easy to tell apart by color, and the dice have delightful pictures on the side which allows them to have numerous uses during the game.
The Rulebook has a lot of really helpful diagrams and tables that make it an absolute asset during gameplay.
Overall, I’m a fan of the components and their quality. They line right up with what I would expect from a game that has an MSRP of $55 and I love the attention to detail in the artwork.
I will admit, this is a game that takes some time to set up, especially the first time you play because there are a lot of Tokens and Tiles to punch out and organize. That being said, the Rulebook does do a really nice job of streamlining the setup process. Players should also note that the Rulebook contains suggestions on adjusting the Difficulty Setting and Game Length. After setting things up, we choose to play the game on “Seedling” which is great for learning the game and sets a win condition of “Complete 4 of Grandpa’s Goals Only.”
Complete the following steps to setup your game:
Your game is now ready to play!
Each game round has three phases, although there will be lots of actions and choices during these Phases. Your first time playing may go slower and result in longer than estimated gameplay time, especially as you find yourself looking up symbols or rechecking rules on different Actions. The game does get faster as you get more familiar with everything though.
Draw a Season Card and carry out its instructions. Each Season Card has a series of icons that match a diagram. Festivals have a single effect and Season End cards have a series of events. For regular cards carry out the instructions top to bottom. Cards can include any of these effects:
At the end of a Season, Players will be asked to trade out Foragables and to draw 2 Profession Cards, keeping one and discarding the other.
Players trade Item Cards or Resource Tiles during this Phase as well as place their Pawn onto any Location. The Action phase comes next.
Players take actions at this point with the Starting Player going first and play moving clockwise. A Player may take 2 Actions in their Current Location or Take an Action, Move, and Take Another Action. When Players move along a path they make claim an available Foragable that they pass. If they get a Worm, they draw from the Artifact & Mineral Bag. If the Worm has a Mineral Icon, the Tile they draw goes Mineral side up. If the Worm has an Artifact Icon, the Tile drawn goes Artifact side up.
Here’s a breakdown of the action options:
After a Player finished their actions, they may do one of the following End-of-Turn choices as they return their Pawn to the Farmhouse:
The Game Ends after the Season Cards reach the End of Winter Card. Whether or not the Players won depends on which Game Difficulty they played at and whether or not they met the conditions for that game.
The game difficulty can also be set by which Season Cards you use. When learning, it is recommended you use the Standard Season Cards (they are marked as such), but as you want your challenge to go up you may draw any 4 Cards for that Season to be used.
*Note: There are also additional rules for Solo Play available.
Overall, this is a beautifully made game that is clearly a loving tribute to the PC/Console game on which it was based. It really is impressive just how much of the game got captured in board game form. Anyone who has already logged many hours playing Stardew Valley will love seeing so many game aspects they are familiar with and the artwork that they have come to love. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to log more time in to your farm immediately after playing the board game. At the same time, Players who have never played the original game will still find a game that they are able to catch onto and enjoy.
The game contains nicely made components that really do their job in covering a vast assortment of activities. Luckily they were also designed in a manner which helps to tell them all apart from each other to make gameplay run smoother. The Rulebook also contains some very useful charts and diagrams to help guide game play.
Setting up does take some work, as with any game with this amount of components. The process does streamline nicely and I feel like it will get faster as you play the game more.
Gameplay itself is broken down into a few simple steps with a number of choices you can take. That is where the real strategy for your team takes place. Having a wide variety of resources makes it much easier to befriend people and complete bundles, but you also have to decide if you want to concentrate enough to build up some Buildings and raise Animals, if you want to hit the deepest levels of the mines, or if gathering Artifacts and fishing are your thing. It’s a careful balancing act to accomplish, and your Goals from Grandpa will certainly play into this. There is a bit of luck involved as well. Between dice rolls and randomly drawn Fish, waiting for those Legendary Fish to pop can be hard (especially if you start off your game with a bunch of Trash and Treasure Chests in your Fishing Track). Luckily, the point of this game is cooperative play. True to the spirit of the original Stardew Valley, the board game isn’t about trying to beat out others. This is also another advantage for families. The game may list at ages 13+ and I agree in the sense I wouldn’t expect my ten-year-old to be able to run a game with other kids his age. However, do I think he can play the game with the adults and catch on enough since there isn’t a secrecy aspect to the game? Yes, I do. As long as you have a player or two who knows what they’re doing, you can fudge that age limit a little bit and make an evening of it. Just note, the game may run slower the first time you play at as there are a lot of choices and options you’ll be rechecking as you get a feel for things.
The game has an MSRP of $55, which is absolutely fair for a game this well thought out and detailed. The game can be purchased from the Stardew Valley Shop here. Currently, the game is listed as sold out but another wave of copies is in the works. Sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of the product page to be informed of when you can get a copy from the second batch. You can also follow @ConcernedApe on Twitter for updates.
This post was last modified on March 1, 2021 3:12 pm
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