It’s not often a game stops me in my tracks to look at because it’s so beautiful, but Bosk certainly has that effect on people! It simply looks stunning on the table with its 3D trees, falling leaves, squirrels and vibrant colours. But does the gameplay live up to the table presence?
In the box you get:
- 32 Trees (8 in each colour 2 of each numbered 1-4)
- 32 Leaf Tiles (8 in each colour numbered 2-8 plus a squirrel!)
- 144 Wooden Leaf Tokens (36 in each colour)
- 4 Squeeples (1 squirrel meeple in each player colour)
- 1 Park Board
- 1 Wind Board
- 1 Wind Direction Marker
- 1 Hiker Token
- 4 Player Boxes
Place the board in the centre of the table, use the side appropriate to the player count. One side is for two players, the other for three to four players.
Give each player all components of their player colour. That is, all eight trees, eight leaf tiles, thirty-six leaf tokens and squirrel token. Place the score track to the side and have each player place a leaf token near it to use as a score marker. The wind board and direction marker will be used later in the game. Give the hiker token to the starting player.
Bosk is played over a year, there are four rounds representing the four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter, each of which is played very differently. Summer and Winter are when scoring occurs.
Players take it in turns placing their trees on the board. Trees must be placed on an unoccupied intersection of trails (but not on the edges of the board) Trees may be placed in any order of the players choosing. Tree placement is really important as it will affect all other rounds. Each tree’s value will influence the scoring in summer and its position will influence leaf placement in Autumn. Once each player has placed all eight of their trees, play moves to the Summer Round.
During Summer players will be awarded points for having the most glorious trees on each trail. Add up the value of the trees (not just the number of trees) on each row for each player. Then do the same for the columns. Do NOT move or remove the trees!
The player with the most points scores two points, if players are tied they both receive one point and no points are awarded for second place. If no other players have trees on the row or column, the player in first place receives three points.
The player in second place receives one point, if players are tied they receive no points.
Score for each row and column, marking points on the score track as you go before going into….
The player with the lowest score going into this round goes first. Give them the hiker token.
They get to place the wind board on one of the sides of the game board, selecting which direction the wind will go in. Place the wind direction marker on the first spot of the board and move it each round.
Beginning with the start player, each player will take their turn. Firstly, they choose one of their trees that leaves will fall from this round. They then choose one of their leaf tiles and place it in front of them, determining how many laves will fall from this tree.
During the first four rounds, trees must be chosen matching the number shown on the wind direction board. In the last four rounds (indicated by a star) players may choose any of their trees. The player takes leaf tokens from their supply equal to that number, these are now active leaves. Leaves fall in a continuous path on the board from the tree, in the direction of the wind. The first active leaf is placed at the base of the tree, on either of the two spaces available in the direction of the wind. Each subsequent leaf is placed on one of the three available spots next to the previous one ie. directly in front or on one of the two adjacent diagonal spaces (always in the direction of the wind) After placing the last active leaf, remove the tree they fell from.
Leaves may also fall on top of other players leaves. Place an active leaf token on top of any other leaves in the space, then discard one active leaf for each leaf token already on the tile. So, if there are already two leaves on a square, you must discard two from your active leaf supply to place on that square.
Instead of just placing leaves, players may call a squirrel to their aid using the leaf tile with the squirrel icon. Place the squirrel token up to three spaces away from the chosen tree (again, in the direction of the wind) A squirrel may go on a tile with any number of leaves and may never be covered.
Whichever player played the lowest value tree token becomes start player for the next round. Play continues as shown on the wind board with players always removing a tree after placing leaves (or a squirrel) so at the end of the eight rounds, there should be no trees left on the board, just leaves.
The final, and scoring round!
There are eight regions on the map, differentiated by terrain colour and texture.
In each region count the number of terrain tiles controlled by each player (only the player whose leaf or squirrel is on top of a pile counts) and score as follows
The player in first place gains five points, if players are tied they all receive four points and no points are awarded for second place. If they are the only player in a region, they score eight points.
Players in second place gain three points, in the case of a tie all players get one point each.
Add the points for each region and the player with the most total points wins!
When opening Bosk with the 3D trees you can't help but compare it to Photosynthesis. With that in mind I was intrigued what new direction Bosk could take the tree / forest theme, it's fair to say that the presentation made me think that the gameplay would be very rich in theme. However, the play style comes across as fairly abstract despite the beautiful components. With the placement this comes across perhaps more like multi-player chess, it's about making the optimum placement and preventing your opponent from scoring their rows and columns through out manoeuvring them as you place your trees. The third phase act does the same thing but through the placement of leaves and attempting to get the most optimum spread of leaves in each area for the most control. It's an abstract game and if that is your bag you'll love it and you'll love it that little bit more because it's a work of art.