Monday, June 4, 2012

HOT BOX - 'Walnut Grove' (What's in the box?)

You may have heard of the game 'Welcome to Walnut Grove' or more specifically how it's most commonly known and listed: 'Walnut Grove'

Or maybe you haven't....?

Well, just before Essen 2011 I did a blog post listing games of interest to me coming out around Essen: TIMELY TOPICS - ESSEN release games that look interesting to me & why

Near end of the long list I had a 'theme' section of games that I was interested in due to...ah...theme. Interestingly, the game at that time was the former longer name I listed above. Somewhere during or after Essen it seems to have been shortened to just 'Walnut Grove'

Anyhow, Walnut Grove was on my 'theme' list for a couple of reasons. One was that it represented 'small town' life, much like in Village and Helvetia which represented 'village' life, so WG seemed to be in that same range. Another reason was it was the location of the American TV Series 'Little House on the Prairie' about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her life living in early pioneer America. I watched the show and also read the series of books as a child, so it had special meaning to me.

Well, I have a friend that goes to Essen and I got to play several Essen releases in the months following Essen, mainly due to her, although I never quite got to play Walnut Grove (looking at her game list, I'm not sure if she even had it actually)

Regardless, I didn't get to play it right after it came out, but it seemed to keep bubbling up in my mind. Then another friend of mine played it and really liked it. So, without me actually having played it, I ordered it (along with Hawaii) from and had my friend Chris bring it with him to EGG (Eugene Games Gala) so I didn't have to pay shipping :)

During EGG, we ended up playing someone else's copy of WG as 4P and I loved it (even though I did pretty terrible - we all did fairly poorly as I recall since we had all just learned it)

Anyhow, I was glad I'd picked it up as it is relatively fast but also has lots of interesting/hard decisions to make. This isn't a review but an opening of the box to see what it is that you actually get. Hopefully I'll have time to write a review soon to go into more detail.

So, here goes, in my usual fashion of taking you through the wonderful goodness of cracking a game and smelling the wonderful smell of fresh cardboard. Enjoy!

Here we have the box, ready to be opened:

You can see the lovely artwork showing a covered wagon hauling a couple of workers/farmers (Is that 'Pa' driving the wagon? Doesn't quite look like him...), with Ma on the left holding baby Carrie, and it looks to be Laura there carrying a couple of buckets of water or perhaps grain.

Very nice artwork on this box. And somehow it looks familiar...why is that...?

Here's the side (notice the picture wraps around):

Oh, there's Pa! Now HE certainly looks familiar...can't quite put my finger on it.....  :p

And here's the back of the box:

Hmmm, down at the bottom it says it was designed by Paul Laane (who also designed and did the art on Toscana and also runs Aqua Games). In addition, it says it was designed by Touko Tahkokallio (who also designed Eclipse, a game I have sadly not played yet)

And, the Illustrator appears to be Klemens Franz. Clicking through to his page I see he also did art for.....ah, wow, Agricola, Le Havre, Bohnanza - hmm, I sense a common EWE thread here - plus Automobile, Endeavor, Glory to Rome!? - ah, the German version, and a bunch of other well known games. Well, no wonder it looks familiar! And, no wonder Walnut Grove is getting some comparisons to Agricola (although that's not really the reason I think)!

Well, let's get cutting and tearing....


Ah, the lovely smell of a freshly opened game....

Lets see we have the rules sheets:

The resource cubes - wood, dairy (although I think they look more like sheep than a blog of milk), grain, fish and stone.

The farmer and hired hand pawns (nice wooden pawns, but it's hard to tell which one is 'Pa'):

Two cloth bags (one for the coins, one for the tiles):

The coins:

The town board:

Here's the back of the town board with the same art from the box cover:

Some of the various tiles (mostly landscape tiles here):

More tiles (in particular season discs, bonus tiles, houses and sheds, and neighborly help tiles):

And finally the player boards:

I will say I really like the look of this game - the colors, the pieces, etc, although it might be neat to replace the resource cubes with appropriately shaped tokens. Perhaps even with some of the special Agricola tokens.

Finally, here's an overall shot of all of the components:

I want to do a full review eventually, but my initial impression so for is that the game is very intriguing because it is extremely tight - most times you feel like you're barely sustaining yourself and your workers, let alone trying to go for a lot of points. The scores tend to be fairly low, especially in the first couple of times you play. These facts, for me, make me want to play it again and try to do better. And, because it's so short, you're likely to be willing to play another game right after.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed looking into this box as much as I did!

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