Gameday First Play – Scoville

Posted on by Jesta

“Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour.”

~ William Cowper

The town of Scoville likes it hot! Very hot! That means they love their peppers – but they’re too busy eating them to grow the peppers themselves. That’s where you come in.

You’ve been hired by the town of Scoville to meet their need for heat. Your role as an employee of Scoville is to crossbreed peppers to create the hottest new breeds. You’ll have to manage the auctioning, planting, and harvesting of peppers, then you’ll be able to help the town by fulfilling their orders and creating new pepper breeds. Help make the town of Scoville a booming success! Let’s get planting!

I always think the best games are VERY simple to play yet can still be played well, or played poorly. This is one of those games.

Each round starts with a bid for turn order. Players reveal cash from their closed fists simultaneously and players act in this phase from those that paid the highest, down to those that didn’t.

Players will draft a face-up auction card which will give them between 1 and 3 Peppers. They then choose their position in turn order. Turn order is important.

Then, in this newly arranged turn order, players will Plant.

To plant, the active player will place any Pepper from behind their screen, placing it next to an existing Pepper on the board. Plaques containing bonus points can be claimed if certain colours of Peppers are planted. The hard the Peper is to get, the more points they’re worth.

Then, in REVERSE turn order, players will harvest. Starting on that little Golden star in the first round, players will move their Farmer 3 steps forward (without turning 180), cross-breeding any pairs of Peppers they walk between. In future turns, the Farmer moves forward from where they ended their previous turn.

Peppers are harvested according to this chart…

Peppers are made by simple colour mixing. So if you walk between a Blue Pepper and a Yellow Pepper, you gain a Green one.

After Harvesting is Fulfillment, which is back in normal turn order. Here a player can do 3 things once each…

Fulfill Market Card – Trade in a couple of Peppers for one of these cards that give more Peppers, Money and/or End Game Points. A player can do this once.

Fulfill Recipe Card – Trade in several Peppers for lots of end game points. A player can do this once.

Finally, sell Peppers. A player can sell up to 5 Peppers and their value is ‘$1 for every 2 of that colour Pepper on the board’. All sold Peppers must be the same colour.

Then comes the Time Check… This is the game end timer and the game starts ‘In the Morning’. When performing a Time Check, if there are fewer Recipe cards than the number of players the game will end after the next round. If there are fewer Market cards than players the game goes into the ‘Afternoon’ which is the same but with more advanced Market cards.

If there are fewer Market OR Recipe cards than the player count in the Afternoon, play one last round. If both are fewer, the game ends.

Players score points as shown on claimed Plaques, Recipies and Market cards as well as 1 point per remaining $3.

All players have 3 bonus tiles which have one shot abilities, any unused are worth points too.

Most points wins.

Positives

As I said at the beginning, it’s very simple. Actions are easy to understand… Plant, Move, Claim, Trade in… No problem.

It’s very tactical too with plenty of forward planning. If you Plant first you Harvest last so your well-placed Pepper could be blocked (maybe deliberately) by those that Harvest before you.

Snaking turn order for actions in this way is something I always enjoy and it comes back to my favourite game that does this, Power Grid. It means going last in turn order isn’t a bad thing, in fact, sometimes you’re bidding to make sure you’re last.

Everything works together very well.

The theme is unique.

Negatives

The theme is pretty dull for me and it’s quite an abstract game.

The board starts to look tatty quite easily from people trying to place the Peppers in their recess. (The recess is a nice touch, but fiddly)

Summary

Not a bad medium weight Euro, I’d play it again.

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