By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on January 29, 2021
The first board game review of the year is a refreshing one, as we are going to reclaim na-ture in Renature. We played the digital version of the game on last year's Spiel.Digital and we really liked it, mostly because we got a friendly explanation and had a really good time playing it. So it might not come as a big surprise that we tried to get a copy of the game, to review the actual production version and see if it could meet the high expectations we had.
Players find themselves in a polluted valley, apparently. From that point on, it is all about re-claiming nature, by reclaiming the rivers with your animal tiles and replant the areas adja-cent to score points. To me this all sounds very refreshing and, to be honest, if I had to think of a name for such a board game, I would have called it as well Renature, as this phrase says it all!
Although the inside of the box doesn't have an insert to pack everything neatly, the game is shipped with a couple of nice cloth bags to keep your stuff sorted and your box tidy. Further-more, the box contains a Game Board and four Player Boards, fifty-five awesome Dominoes and seventy-four wooden Plants in four types and five colors. There is one joker marker enough score markers so every player gets one. Finally, there are twenty-one Area tokens and thirty Cloud tokens.
Renature starts with the basic mechanic from dominoes, all players start with three Domi-noes and place one on the river with, of course, one halve beside a matching animal already in place on the board. Next to a Domino, a Plant from your Player Board may be placed in the adjacent areas and that is mostly what you'll be doing for the rest of the game.
The interesting part is the way of scoring during the game. Plants come in four values (and sizes) and after placing one in the area adjacent to your domino, you score a point, plus one point for each other plant in the area with equal or lower value. Another way of scoring is by closing off an area by surrounding it with dominoes. If this happens, the area token will grant points to the owner of the plants. The one who closed the area receives the area token with some end game scoring points on its back.
After the very last tile has been placed the game ends and the final scores are tallied, to-gether with the points already scored in game. The areas that still have Area Tokens, will score points the normal way, but these tokens return to the box. The Area Tokens collected during play, will be flipped over and gain the points that are shown on the back. For the left-over clouds, you will score a point for each and for the leftover plants each player may lose some points. After all points are tallied, the player with the most points wins the game!
Great things about Renature: The simplicity of the rules; you could start playing it right away, with just a couple of simple rules to remember. The combination of how you score points is a very refreshing take on the classic domino mechanic of combining tiles. This game demands some good planning and gardening management on your part; where to drop your dominoes and to position your plants for the best results is key. In doing so, you will have a lot of inter-action with the other players and often you will have to change your planting plans on the fly to counteract a move another player made.
The artwork on the boards isn't really mind-blowing, but looks okay and the theme of the game is very light, but it fits the mechanics of the game very well. After all, Renature is a very abstract game. The developers make up for it with the components, which are of an awesome quality. Great wooden Plant tokens and especially the dominoes are freaking amazing with beautiful animal illustrations on them. Plus, they have a good weight to them, which feels great while playing.
Renature is created by the designer duo of Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer, with art provided by Dennis Lohausen. This game was, for me anyway, one of the best games at Spiel.Digital. I'm delighted to be able to tell you that, after receiving the actual game, I am very happy with the high quality of Renature and love playing it every single time.
Year of release: 2020
Designer: Michael Kiesling & Wolfgang Kramer
Artist: Dennis Lohausen
Players: 2 - 4 players, ages 8 & up
Playtime: approx. 45 - 60 minutes