Final cover art for FlowerFall by Asmadi Games
Over the past two weeks, we've looked back on the big splashes made at this year's Gen Con, and there was plenty of news to share. The expo hall was packed with new board, miniatures, and role-playing games, often sporting popular licenses such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and Doctor Who. But not every game needs to be a blockbuster, and no company drove that point home more than Asmadi Games when the publisher showed up with one of Gen Con's most unique titles: FlowerFall.
Compared to every other type of game, card games are the easiest and most affordable to produce. With that low barrier to entry, you are never quite sure what you are going to get, and Asmadi Games has a history of producing fun games that measure on the oddball scale. With that in mind, I decided to check out FlowerFall, and found myself immediately re-reading the game's description.
The entire game of FlowerFall is based around dropping cards onto the table, aiming your cards to earn points based on they land in relation to the rest of the deck. Somebody actually turned 52 Pickup into a real game.
There's a bit more depth to the game than that description, but not much. Cards have two background colors: green and white, which represent gardens and paths, respectively. When the green portions of multiple cards touch (after having been dropped), they merge to form a continuous garden. Paths exist simply to break the play space up into multiple gardens.
Each player is assigned one color of flower, with symbols that appear throughout the garden portions of cards. The goal of FlowerFall is to score points by owning the majority of flowers in a garden.
A game of FlowerFall in play. Photo by Chris Cieslik of Asmadi Games.
The quirkiness comes in when you consider what you are actually doing: dropping cards. The game's rules state that you drop them onto a table from eye-height, but Asmadi Games is quick to use the ability to play on any surface as a selling point. Whatever odd terrain you choose to drop your cards onto makes the game that much less predictable.
I spoke with gamer Rael Dornfest, who was able to spend some time with FlowerFall, which he described as "light, fun, and potentially tactical – albeit at the whim of luck and physics." As far as its place in your game night, Dornfest added that "when FlowerFall’s on the table, smiles are in abundance. I’d be hard pressed to find anyone unwilling to let go and enjoy it. It’s equally fun as a dessert game in and of itself and a palate-cleanser between heavier games."
Looking at the box for FlowerFall, you may recognize the designer Carl Chudyk from his work on Innovation (another Asmadi release) and Glory to Rome, both deeply strategic card games. Yet FlowerFall seems to fit in more with the oddball fun of Asmadi's We Didn't Playtest This At All and Win, Lose, or Banana.
FlowerFall' was originally funded as a Kickstarter project, and the attached video depicts the "World Series of FlowerFall," is narrated by "a cat on the internet" and describes FlowerFall as a game of "skill, luck, and air resistance calculations." With that in mind, I think we know exactly where FlowerFall fits into Asmadi's product catalog, but to remove all doubt, I went right to the owner of Asmadi Games: Chris Cieslik.
What I really wanted to know from Cieslik was whether he felt FlowerFall was a game that allowed for skillful play. He answered with a resounding yes, stating that "with experience, you can land cards the way you want them more than 75% of the time." As is common across many forms of entertainment, FlowerFall spawns enjoyment via tension; you never know when that 25% chance will result in a completely unpredictable drop. Cieslik sees his company's game in that same light as well, explaining that "FlowerFall does need that element of uncertainty to work -- the game just doesn't function if you have 100% control."
Perhaps an even bigger surprise than Carl Chudyk demonstrating wide range as a designer or FlowerFall having a high skill cap is that the game wasn't expected to ship until October. FlowerFall showed up at Gen Con and Kickstarter backers got their games early, going against the gaming industry's standard practice of delivering late on crowdfunded projects.
If you'll be at PAX Prime this weekend, be on the lookout for Chris Cieslik and Asmadi Games (they'll be appearing at the Uncle's Games and GameSalute booths in the expo hall), Alternatively, you can check out the publisher's website for a closer look at FlowerFall and other games or order FlowerFall direct from GameSalute.