2 - 4
Quick to learn/teach
Hand management and hidden information mechanics work well together
Event cards add a bit of controlled chaos to the mix and keep things interesting
Crop types don't really match the theme of the game
Art & graphic design could be better
Who can harvest the most crops when you only have a limited number of three different resources? How will you manage your Time, Labor, and Money to get the job done? You’ll soon find out while playing 3 Seeds, a fun card game by Chara Games.
I had a lot more fun playing 3 Seeds that I thought I would. The combination of resource management, hidden information, and sabotaging opponents worked together really well to form a game that was interesting, entertaining, and strategic. There were laugh out loud moments, like when my opponent swapped a huge 7 Harvest card with a tiny 1 Harvest card just before the crop was scored. This reduced a 28 point turn for me down to 4 points. And there were also moments of silent concentration while each player thought about where they should place their resources.
In 3 Seeds, each player has a set of Seed cards corresponding to their color. A set of Seed cards includes two cards each of the following: Time, Labor, and Money. I’m not sure how any of those are seeds, unless the goal of 3 Seeds is to teach us about life and the game is really a philosophical parable about reaping what you sow or something to that effect. Using something like Fertilizer and Water would perhaps be more thematic, and while those still aren’t seeds, at least they are easily associated with things necessary to make a seed grow.
In front of you, in your player area, there will be a face up Crop card and a face down Harvest card. Any player may play one or more (up to two unless they have a special Event card) Seed cards onto any Crop card in play (meaning you aren’t limited to your own play area). Each Crop card lists the number of resources needed to successfully harvest it. For example, if there is a crop of mangos in play, it might need 2 Time, 1 Money, and 2 Labor in order to harvest it. The Harvest card above the Crop card is facedown, but once the crop is harvested, it is flipped over for scoring. Every player that has a Seed card on the crop will score points equal to the number of those cards times the number on the Harvest card (which will be 1 – 7). For example, in the mango example above, if the Harvest card was a 4 and the Yellow player had a Time and Labor on the crop, they’d score 8 points. If the remaining three cards necessary to complete the mango crop belonged to the Red player, they’d score 12 points. The Crop card goes to player that controlled that area to possibly contribute to end game scoring. All other players involved gain an Event card.
On your turn, you may secretly peek at a Harvest card or (and this is fun/mischievous) swap any two Harvest cards. Harvest cards are used when a crop is scored, so strategic use of swapping is crucial for maximizing your points while limiting the points of others. If you have an Event card, you may play those on your turn as well. Events can be beneficial to you, detrimental to others, or simply cause a random bit of havoc. One Event card that caught me off guard is the Early Harvest card. This card harvests a card early, before it is mature, and causes only the current number of Seed cards to be scored, which can be devastating if you were expecting to play 4+ cards on that particular crop but only managed to play 1 or 2 before the event is played. If played in conjunction with swapping out the Harvest card for a 1 value Harvest, as happened to me, then Early Harvest is particularly deadly. When this card was played on one of my crops, instead of the (at least) 16 points I was going to score, I only scored 4 points *curses*. Another fun Event is the Crop Swap. This allows a player to swap one incomplete crop from their area for another player’s incomplete crop. If you have two crops in your area without any Seeds but an opponent has a crop that you can complete, the Crop Swap card is awesome as it gains you that crop, which can be huge for end game scoring.
Each crop has a type, as well as a name, and these don’t correspond to one another at all. The crop type, instead of being something like mangos, tomatoes, peaches, or corn is instead Agility, Strength, Speed, Energy, and Longevity. I don’t comprehend how Agility is a type of crop. The names of the crop type have nothing to do with gameplay and the fact that I’m trying to get a set of Agility crops is lost on me. I really don’t understand why Agility couldn’t equal Raspberries. Then it would at least make sense since we’re supposed to be harvesting crops after all. And, for end game scoring, it would make sense as well: players score a bonus for optimizing their fields for specific crops (Cantaloupes and Strawberries) and the player with the most of a certain type (Green Beans) could get additional bonus points. To me, this makes far more sense thematically. I’ve never thought of a plant as agile, speedy, or energetic. It would be super easy to substitute the current five crop types with five actual plant types. If this change is implemented before the game is published, I better get developer credit in the rulebook.
The art and graphic design of the cards leave a little to be desired. Instead of art, the crop cards contain text that is, I think, supposed to be funny. For example, the Hasty Honeydew crop card says, “Whip through that ‘honey-do’ list in no time”, the Supple Seaweed crop card says “The land variety”, and the Nimble Nectarines crop card says “How Jack jumped over the candlestick”. In each of the games I played of 3 Seeds, this card text was 100% ignored. No one looked at it or commented on the text at all. Certainly, I can’t speak for all gamers, but because those I played this game with (myself included) didn’t even glance at the crop text, it seems like wasted space/opportunity. Instead, playing on the theme above of crop types being actual crops, I’d like to see an image of an orange, or perhaps two oranges if the crop value was two (and three oranges if the value was three). Again, I think this would be more thematic and would help visualize the crops we are harvesting (again, if this happens I better get developer credit). Currently, there is a lack of fruit/vegetables images in the game. On the back of the Crop cards is an image of wheat and the Seed card backs feature seed pods. So, in a game about harvesting, we get two images of plants.
Aside from my minor gripes above (which actually don’t take away from the gameplay experience, well, not that much) 3 Seeds is a fun and relatively quick (taking 30 – 40 minutes) card game. I was engaged and interested in the game the entire time. There is enough strategy to keep players focused and enough “take that” possibilities to keep players on their toes. 3 Seeds has a lot more going on than would appear at first glance. Combining set collection, limited resources, hidden information, and special abilities, 3 Seeds provides a big game feeling from a small game box. 3 Seeds was certainly enjoyable and I recommend checking out the 3 Seeds Kickstarter campaign page.
((A prototype copy was received for the purposes of this review, although that did not affect the outcome of the review. Prototype components are shown and are subject to change before final production.