Morels is a two-player game released in 2012 by Two Lanterns Games, designed by Brent Povis. It is a card game where you forage/cook/sell different types of mushrooms, that plays in about twenty to thirty minutes (forty minutes tops if you're insanely slow).
As with all my other reviews, this review will not strive to cover all the rules. If you prefer a more in-depth intensive rule walkthrough, I suggest you take the time to look elsewhere (or perhaps watch a video tutorial
The game comes in a square box with a serviceable insert. It comes with a bunch of cards (about 90+ of 'em if I'm not mistaken) a couple of player aids, a rulebook, a couple of small wooden pans and a handful of miniature wooden sticks/twigs (at least my copy did, as I understand you can get a copy that includes counters instead of wooden pans/twigs).
Photo Submitted by: Kim K || Taken From the BGG Database
The rulebook is very easy to read and comprehend, allowing you to play the game with minimal confusion after a quick read. The cards are of decent quality, but the artwork on the cards are superb. The artist took great care to ensure that every picture (be it night or day) comes alive and seems to really pop out of the cardboard.
The player aids serve as great reminders on how many mushrooms are left in a specific deck and also serves as a quick refresher when you forget what actions you can or cannot take on your turn. I like how they made it nice and big as that makes it easy to peruse all the information on it.
Lastly, the wooden pans and twigs were a very nice touch. It gives an even more "outdoors-y" feel to the game. Makes me feel like I'm camping out after a day of foraging for yummy mushrooms.GAMEPLAY:
Setting up the game is easy. Put the wooden twigs in a pile and set it aside. Then you separate the night deck from the day deck, shuffle each deck properly, then set aside the night deck. From the day deck, deal each player three cards, and then lay eight cards down in a line in between both players (this serves as your "trail"). Set the day deck on an easy to reach spot beside the line, give each player a wooden pan along with a player aid and you are ready to begin.
On your turn you can do one of five things:
- You can take a card from the "trail". The first two cards in the trail are free to take. Every subsequent card costs a certain amount of twigs, depending on how far along the "trail" they are.
- You can cook some mushrooms. For this you need an open or free pan, and in order to cook mushrooms, you need to have three or more of the same type. If you have four or more mushrooms of the same type, you can cook 'em in some butter. If you have five or more mushrooms of the same type, you can cook 'em in some cider.
- You can sell mushrooms. In order to sell mushrooms, you need at least two of the same type. This earns you twigs which gives you some flexibility.
- You can lay down a pan from your hand.
- You can pick-up the cards from the decay pile. The decay pile can have anywhere from one to four cards (when a fifth card is about to be laid down, the initial four cards are discarded and the decay pile begins anew).
Whatever you end up doing though, there's some upkeep that needs to be done at the end of your turn. You take the mushroom that's at the beginning of the "trail", you set it aside in the "decay" pile, and move all the mushrooms forward on the "trail" and draw more cards from the day deck until the mushrooms in the "trail" once again reach eight.
Picture Submitted by: Matthew Marquand || Taken From the BGG Database
There are some special cards, like the moon card that lets your draw from the night deck (where the mushrooms are double in value) and the basket card which allows your hand size to increase (initial hand size is eight), but I won't be tackling those in this review.
The game continues until BOTH the day deck and the "trail" runs out. As soon as it does, game end triggers.
All the mushrooms you cook score points for you at the end of the game. The butter and/or cider you cook along with said mushrooms gives you more points (heck, yummier is better after all). Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.FINAL THOUGHTS:
Morels is a surprisingly good two-player game that can either serve as a filler or as something semi-meaty to play on a busy night. The components and the art add greatly to the thematic feel of the game, and the mechanics don't end up feeling too "math-y" (if you know what I mean). I actually like it better than Lost Cities or Jambo (though some may argue Morels is not quite as strategic as Jambo) and so does my wife. Having a "food" theme also helps it up a notch in my book. I can see us playing this game more in the future and I look forward to teaching it to my kids as well. My honest recommendation? Get a copy if you spend a lot of time playing two-player games (specially with your significant other) and you're on the lookout for something light yet meaty. What can I say? I'm a sucker for cooking things in butter!