Gameday First Play – Spirits of the Rice Paddy

Using Spirits to help you to produce Rice.

Just go with the water flow.

Ancient Balinese legend describes a host of powerful spirits who help poor rice farmers achieve success. These farmers have long used a sophisticated irrigation system to organize rice cultivation by integrating religious devotion and social responsibility with traditional farming methods. Even modern farmers seek to placate the spirit world in their quest to produce an abundant harvest.

The game starts by getting a set-up card. This shows you how you lay out your player (where to put the rocks) and also your starting resources.

Spirits of the Rice Paddy Starting Board

The first thing you do once a round begins is reveal a Rain card. This tells you how many tokens representing water is available for the round. This is important as water is required for rice to grow, (obviously) but it flows down the players in turn order. If you’re last, you may not get any.

Then you play a spirit card… These are drafted at the start of the round and give you great abilities. Some are one shot, some last for the rest of the game. The better the card the higher the rank and your highest ranked card determines turn order which goes lowest to highest.

Then the (possibly new) first player will add the water to their pool on their player board.

Then you Allocate Labour…

Spirits of the Rice Paddy Action Places

You add your workers to the right of your player board in their relevant sections. You have little wooden workers which are quite nice as well as Ducks and Cows on little tokens you can use. Actions are resolved from top to bottom and some require the Paddy to have water, some can not.

Allocating workers is done simultaneously and most of the effects can be resolved simultaneously too so it’s VERY quick.

The first section lets you build walls and remove rocks. 3 workers or a Cow can build a wall/gate onto your player board. A Cow can clear a rock away.

In the second section you can use a worker to remove a weed and ducks to eat pests and then fertilise that area.

Then, 2 workers can harvest… The value you get depends on the size of the Paddy and if it has a Pest or Weed and if it’s fertilized or not.

Spirits of the Rice Paddy Harvest Boad

In the last section a Paddy you have that was already planted will grow (by flipping over a token) if it has water and then you can use a worker to plant into an empty paddy.

Then you can claim achievements.

These are a number of cards laid out before the game starts that give you goals to achieve for bonus points.

Spirits of the Rice Paddy Bonus Cards

Now you have the chance to used gained rice to buy more Workers and Ducks/Cows from the market. The more you buy the more you pay as you are taxed…

Then you advance the round marker and do it all again.

At the end of the game, the most money (Rice) wins.

Spirits of the Rice Paddy Water

As far as farming games go it’s pretty good. It’s not as harsh as games like Agricola but it’s lighter and more fun (and quicker) than Caverna.

Your starting board, starting resources, drafted cards and available bonuses will differ game to game so plenty of mixing up strategy.

You can play cards that mess around with your opponents which are annoying, but it will mean you drafted that over a card that benefits you… probably.

It looks pretty too.

I was terrible at this in my first game but I do look forward to going it another go.

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