16 July 2022
Relax in the socks of a well-stocked fox
A decade ago, when I first got into tabletop gaming, I remember getting overly excited upon discovering the animal meeples nestled inside Agricola’s intimidating box. This was new. I’d already met Carcassonne’s chunky little fellows, and an abundance of faceless, formless cubes in other games, but this ligneous livestock had character. Fast-forward to today and we have games like Creature Comforts spoiling us with screen-printed, anthropomorphic animal meeples. Now that’s what I call progress.
Of course, there’s more to Creature Comforts than its tactile and generally pleasing meeple aesthetics. Designed by the folks at Kids Table BG, this is a medium-light dice and worker placement game of woodland critters diligently preparing their cosy burrows for the approaching winter months. Players will be tending to the homes of one of the families residing in Maple Valley; foxes, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, and what my brain has wrongly and stubbornly decided are echidnas.
Over the course of eight rounds (six in the short game), players will be simultaneously assigning workers to various areas of the valley in the hopes of gathering the resources needed to craft an assortment of comforts and improvements. But, in a neat little wrinkle to the expected mechanics, the successful acquisition of goods is largely reliant on die results yet to be revealed during the placement phase. Collecting the wood for a rocking chair might require a five and a six to be paired with the worker, and whilst each player’s already rolled pair of Family Dice provide some sense of their options, hopes are generally pinned on the results of the forthcoming Village die pool. This phase is handled in turn order with each player assigning their Family Dice, along with all the Village dice, to their workers before the next player does the same. Any worker/dice combos that fail to meet a location’s requirements are returned to players with a consolatory Lesson Learned token, granting some mitigation options next round.
The warm and cosy art style flowing throughout Creature Comforts effortlessly conveys the sense of ‘hygge’ that its theme gently exudes, but beneath this organic aesthetic is a clearly considered focus on structure and readability. Sure, there’s iconography here but the game does well to compliment this with a board design as logical as it is beautiful. Notably, each round is represented by more than a mere number, with the months rolling by panoramically across two separate stacks of season cards. These Valley and Meadow cards each have their own unique worker placement spot offering resources thematically tied to the progressing seasons. Consequently, some resources are harder to come by at certain times – a nice touch to the gameplay which might’ve been easy to miss had it not been for a handy key printed on the board. On the downside though, the duration is perhaps longer than one might expect for a game designed to be enjoyed with younger players.
Creature Comforts is (conveniently) comfortable in both its mechanical familiarity and its warm theme and aesthetic. It fits snugly right alongside fellow anthropomorphic favourite Everdell in both senses, to the point where the popular Starling Games’ title even makes a cameo appearance on one of the Comfort Cards. Consequently, decisions on whether to pick this up may depend on how highly one rates variety as a criteria when adding to their collection. Ultimately though, this is a clean piece of design bolstered by beauty and universal charm.
PLAY IT? YES
Whilst there’s a heavy sense of familiarity here, the game nevertheless shines as an accessible, charming, and occasionally innovative slice of comforting worker placement.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED EVERDELL
If guiding a community of cute critters through a year of growth sounds comforting, this is a no brainer.
Designer: Roberta Taylor
Time: 45 minutes
What’s in the box?
- Game board
- 15 Traveler cards
- 16 Valley cards
- 72 Comfort cards
- 34 Improvement cards
- 5 Home boards
- 20 Wooden workers
- 20 Wooden cottages
- 10 Family dice
- 4 Village dice
- River dial
- Hilltop tile
- Worm token
- 2 Wheelbarrow tokens
- 2 Almanac tokens
- 21 Lesson learned tokens
- 12 Multiplier planks
- 154 Resource tokens
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This review came from Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.Get your magazine here
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