While prepping for a possible topic on the Game Store Prophets podcast, we were discussing Spring and what games embodied that season best for us. Due to an illness, I was unable to be a part of that episode. But while working in my gardens this weekend, I thought even more about what games really made me think about and visualize Spring, which leads to my #Top5SpringtimeGames. I enjoy playing these games, and they reflect my favorite aspects of springtime around my home, in my garden, and while hiking.
I was introduced to this game when I worked on it as an editor for Stronghold Games. I really enjoyed its puzzle-like gameplay, but what really grabbed my attention was the theme and aesthetic. I enjoy gardening. I know my herbs and vegetables best, but I have been learning more and more about flowers, trees, and landscaping. I enjoy how the growing of the garden meshes with the puzzle mechanic. And who can forget the cute cats sleeping in the garden?!
This is a classic game I picked up in a trade that I knew my wife would enjoy, with its flower gardening theme. Much like Cottage Garden, this also is a puzzle-like game, this time focused on matching flower patterns. And much like the bane of my gardening, the weeds are an annoyance in this game. When the game is over, you have this beautiful randomly patterned flower garden, which is very reminiscent of the zinnia patch I plant each year as cut flowers for my wife.
If you have followed me for a while or have played games with me very much, you will quickly learn my family loves the various Fluxx card games. We have seventeen themed versions of Fluxx (plus expansions) as of this post. EcoFluxx (now in a new version called Nature Fluxx) was one of our earliest decks of Fluxx, soon after we acquired the original Fluxx. Eco/Nature Fluxx is a quick and chaotic game of animals, plants, and ecosystems, with hints of ecology and environmental science which I really appreciate and enjoy. The growth-related and “eating” goals really bring out the wild nature feel, which feels like a spring hike in the woods or watching a nature show about the world wakening after a long winter.
This is the newest game in my Top 5, and I was quite impressed when I played it and loved the theme. I am fascinated each spring watching trees awaken from the winter slumber to bloom, seed, and leaf out, then to watch them grow year after year over the years. I also have a background in environmental science and forestry, spending a summer doing field research in Yellowstone National Park where we were studying the regrowth of forests after a devastating fire. I have seen firsthand the patterns trees follow when filling in empty spaces in various terrains and land types. So the visuals of this game grabbed my attention quickly. Photosynthesis has that feel of springtime and new growth along with long-term forest growth. The gameplay is quite challenging, as you have to visualize your strategies from various angles over time. This game has an amazing table presence as well.
Why look, another puzzle-like game and also by Uwe Rosenberg. I also worked on this one as an editor. So, why would I like both games enough for them to be in my Top 5? Because they are quite different in game play. Yes, they both follow the Tetris-like tile placement and have an outdoor theme, but this game has new challenges to the puzzle, with the addition of animals and burrows. Plus, I love the theme of a beautiful hike outdoors, just as nature is waking up for the season. If you are a hiker, you know how spring floods the senses with the greening of the fields, wildflowers and trees bursting with colors, animals playing, birds flitting about, and the amazing aromas of rain and flower. Spring Meadow captures a small portion of that feel as you help your meadow burst into Spring.
What games make you think of Spring the most?