According to the flavour text on the back of its box, this tiny game from the designer of Coloretto and Zooloretto casts players as mystical beings vying for control of a lush and vibrant forest. In reality, through, it’s an abstract exercise in set-collection and, while it comes with some gorgeous visual touches, its gameplay is dull, flat and uninspiring.
Before you play you’ll set up its collection of tiles in three rows in the centre of the table. Each shows a different assortment of symbols. As you play, you’ll pick up tiles and add them to a collection in front of you, aiming to end the game with a majority of as many different symbols as possible.
There are a couple of complications, though. First, you’ll only be able to choose tiles on the far left and right-hand sides of each row, an approach that will be familiar to anyone who’s played the superbly duplicitous construction industry game The Estates. Second, you’ll be able to place coloured gemstone tokens on tiles, making them more difficult for opponents to pick up and hopefully driving them away from the ones you have your eye on.
Some tiles also come with random facedown chips mounted on top, and adding them to your pile can help to tilt the game’s arithmetic in your favour, bumping up your total in one symbol or another when you reveal it at the end of the game. But, while it adds a touch of uncertainty to working out who’s in the lead, it doesn’t do much to break up the cold, mathematical feel that hangs over play.
The result is that Spirits of the Forest is a beautiful game with a simple and fast-playing core, but one which unfortunately forgets to include any fun.
PLAY IT? – NO
Designer: Michael Schacht
Artist: Natalie Dombois
Time: 20 minutes
Purchase the game here
This review originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products.