Disclaimer: This review is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by Sidekick Games to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Game: Bloom Town
Publisher: Sidekick Games
Design: Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen
Art: Brigette Indelicato, Jessica Smith
Mechanisms: Tile placement
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Game Time: 30 – 40 minutes
Description: Bloom Town sees players amassing victory points by placing buildings into their city grid and scoring them based on each building’s unique rules. The player with the most points after final scoring wins the game and becomes mayor of Bloom Town!
The game begins with each player receiving a player board (with sides A and B that have different layouts), 2 random building tiles, and a bonus token. The bonus token can be discarded once per game to take one of 3 bonus actions, 2 of which are covered below while the third is re-scoring a building type that hasn’t already triggered a re-scoring, also explained below. The market is created by shuffling the remaining building tiles with the 10 community tiles (2 of each of the 5 building types) and then creating 5 stacks with a number of tiles based on player count. Excess tiles are removed from the game unless they are community tiles, in which case they start in the community area of the board.
Beginning with the randomly chosen start player, players take turns placing a tile from their hand into any open space on their board, triggering scoring for that tile, then taking the market tile from the market space that matches the icon they covered on their board. They then flip the top tile of that stack to refill the market. If a community tile is ever revealed into the market, it is moved to the community area and a new tile is flipped into the market.
Placing tiles can also trigger bonus effects if the placement space was a blooming square. When a player covers a blooming square, they choose whether to score the tile just placed for double points or take an extra turn without refilling the market after they take their replacement tile. A player can never take the same bonus action twice before refilling the market (so you can’t take an extra turn, cover another blooming square, and then take a third turn) and this includes when they discard their bonus token (which can be used to take either of these bonus actions without covering a blooming square).
When the second community tile of a building type is added to the community area, it triggers re-scoring of that building type. All buildings of that type on player boards are re-scored according to that building’s specific details. The bonus token can be discarded to trigger this early for a chosen building type, but only if a re-scoring has not already been triggered for that building type via community tiles (i.e.: a building type can never re-score more than once during the game).
Once a number of market stacks based on player count run out of tiles, the end game is triggered and players finish the round (so that all players have the same number of turns). Then, players choose 1 of the remaining tiles in their hand and re-score all buildings of that type on their board. Points are tallied, and the player with the most points wins!
Review: You’re going to see reviews that compare this to the game Quadropolis, which is a tile layer from Days of Wonder. And, when you first see it, it’s definitely reminiscent of that game. You’ve got a city board and you’re gaining points based on adjacency. You can tell they were definitely inspired by Quadropolis, but I think this game is much more approachable for new gamers.
One of my favorite parts of the game is just how simple it is to dive into. The rules are pretty basic to understand – you play a tile, you get a tile from the matching pile, ta da. But, don’t let that fool you. The game is definitely quite a challenge when it comes to determining what moves are best for you and how you want to build your map. There are so many great choices in this game, and every single one of them can be agonizing to make, especially as you get closer to the end of the game.
Some of the symbology can be a little small sometimes. My eyes are not the best, admittedly, but it can be a little hard to strain your eyes and figure out what colors you need for that one shop. Compare the colors to what you see in the book and you’ll be ready to go.
Speaking of colors, we did find that the game isn’t the most colorblind/low vision friendly, but you can definitely enjoy the game as long as you have friends willing to help you determine what is what. Most information is open (except the tiles in your hand), so you can adapt as necessary.
All of that being said, I actually do really like the art. It’s very cute and simple. I also enjoyed the way that they went with the “people” in the game. They’re just people – no real gender or race markers, just people. And nothing has bursts of color except the buildings that you’re placing – the rest looks like it’s been sketched out with a pen or pencil. The art choices there are really cute and they are visually appealing – in a game like this, art could get “too busy,” and they prevented that by going this direction.
The player boards make the experience variable as well. One side has the different symbols in rows; the other side has them scattered around the board. The front is definitely for a simpler game; you get to the back and it makes the decision making even harder. The best is when you’re at the point where one pile of tiles has already run out, and you’re trying to push a little longer so you can get more points but you have to put that one tile on that symbol oh no! It’s a fabulous feeling and it melts your brain a bit.
We also had a couple questions on the rulebook (like what happens if a pile runs out at the end of the game because of a scoring tile at the bottom of the pile), but the team was very responsive and they’ve continued to be responsive over at BoardGameGeek as well.
Try, Buy, Deny: If you like tile-laying games that provide some sort of spatial puzzle, then you definitely want to give Bloom Town a buy. It’s a different puzzle every time that you play the game and it’s something that I expect we’ll bring back to the table again and again. On top of that, the two sides of the board make it great to teach newbies while still offering more complexity to more experienced gamers. Bloom Town is a Walmart exclusive, and is well worth the $30 price tag.
The Meeples of OSG