Stardew Valley Board Game Review

26 July 2022
Grafting for Grandpa

When I think back to my (pre-fatherhood) hours spent playing Stardew Valley, my main thoughts are ‘how did I have the time?’ Nowadays it’s harder for me to pour this precious resource into these wondrous, digital time-sinks, instead opting for the more contained experiences of the tabletop. So, imagine my elation upon learning of Stardew Valley: The Board Game.

For Stardew Valley: The Board Game, original creator Eric Barone teamed up with designer Cole Medeiros, lending his talent and art assets to create a cooperative simulacrum of his one man labour of love. Taking a more structured and rigid approach to the loose plot of its digital counterpart, the game sees one to four players striving to fulfil four of ‘Grandpa’s Goals’ and restore the six rooms at the ‘Community Center’. With a bit of luck, efficiency, and a handful of mini-games covering farming, fishing, mining and more, players will strive to succeed before the year ends lest the valley fall victim to the capitalist clutches of the greedy Joja Corporation.

Each of the game’s rounds starts with the drawing of a season card detailing a handful of potential effects ranging from crop-boosting rainfall to the placement of location-blocking Joja Tiles. Players are then free to exchange goods and discuss their plans - something that feels extremely liberating, even for a cooperative game – before taking actions on the board.

Starting at any location on the map, players can choose to take two available actions at that location or perform one before travelling along a connected path and taking an action at the new destination. This latter choice not only serves as encouragement thanks to the bonus opportunity to ‘forage’ random tiles along the way, but also helps strengthen thematic and mechanical ties to the video game. Furthermore, the allure of these tiles tempts players into diversifying their turns, ensuring that players’ never become fully pigeonholed within actions geared towards the expertise of their chosen profession.

Alongside exploration and variety, the need to make friends is firmly established here as another necessity for representing the Stardew Valley experience. Here their function is to reward players with the heart tokens needed to reveal the initially hidden ‘Community Bundle’ goals, with each familiar character detailing a gift preference alongside a list of items they’ll flat-out refuse. Once befriended, they’ll also occasionally provide special abilities – a bonus that feels extremely welcome when considering the game’s surprising difficulty.

Indeed, Stardew Valley’s arguably alienating difficulty and over-reliance on luck initially feels out of place. Some combinations of ‘Grandpa’s Goals’ feel almost unattainable – especially when reliant on blindly pulling and subsequently catching (if you roll lucky!) all four ‘Legendary Fish’ from a bag of sixty. But in truth, that sense of “there’s so much to do!” fits in quite well with the original game’s masterful masking of intense productivity and time management with the more prominent – but perhaps imagined – serenity and idealistic theming.

If these accessibility hurdles don’t put you off, it’s well worth staying for the generous content. From the thick decks of item and villager cards to the cute and varied crop, fish, and minerals tiles - there’s plenty here to keep fans knowingly nodding for many games. And whilst newcomers and players unfamiliar with the video game should perhaps look elsewhere for a cooperative experience, I’m personally thankful for the opportunity to revisit the old faces and places of Stardew Valley’s cosy little world in a less time-sapping format.



Pick up your own copy here

A faithful tribute to the beloved video game that is best reserved for fans unperturbed by losing…a lot.


A more varied and luck dependant alternative to this classic game of intense cooperative efficiency and time management.

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Designer: Cole Medeiros

Publisher: ConcernedApe

Time: 45-60 minutes

Players: 1-4

Ages: 14+

Price: £45

What’s in the box?

  • Game board
  • 4 Player pawns
  • Spouse pawn
  • 3 Stardew dice
  • 3 Animal dice
  • Starting player token
  • 4 Player mats
  • 19 Starting tool cards
  • 21 Gold tokens
  • 10 Heart tokens
  • 31 Villager cards
  • 84 Season cards
  • 12 Mine level cards
  • 40 Map cards
  • 8 Goal cards
  • 26 Bundle cards
  • 64 Profession upgrade cards
  • 49 Item cards
  • 17 Epic item cards
  • 38 Event cards
  • 16 Mine event cards
  • 9 Building tiles
  • 8 Animal tiles
  • 13 Joja tiles
  • 60 Forage-able tiles
  • 96 Supply tiles
  • Supply Tile tray
  • Organiser
  • Artefact/Mineral bag
  • 40 Artefact and mineral tiles
  • Fishing bag
  • 60 Fish, trash, and treasure tiles


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