Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Mr. Cabbagehead's Garden


Todd Sanders


No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Mr. Cabbagehead is a petty bourgeois man whose only wish is to win the annual Blue Ribbon Garden Club Contest. For those of you who don't call an allotment garden your own, let me explain that a Garden club Contest is a very important award for the owner of the allotments. Unfortunately, the Blue Ribbon club has very strict guidelines for the contest. You will understand that vegetables in the garden must be carefully arranged. As a result, vegetables are only scored in the contest, if at least two vegetables of the same kind are adjacent. But of course, it's not enough to sort the vegetables to win the contest. There are awards of Merit for particular achievements in garden design, so a garden should follow a specific pattern, e.g. vegetables of the same kind in all 4 corners of the garden, called Four Corners. Or the Mixed Plot in which each of the three rows of the garden has exactly three types of vegetables in it and each type of vegetable is only present in one row. Yes, a life as an allotment holder isn't easy...

So, let us support Mr. Cabbagehead in his effort to win the contest. Mr. Cabbagehead`s Garden from LudiCreations puts us in the middle of the allotment. In the game, the player helps Mr. Cabbagehead tending the garden. Vegetables in form of cards are planted in the garden plot in a 3x6 pattern. Each turn the player can choose from three faced up vegetable cards. But he must “pay” for the vegetables. Well, buy is not exactly the right expression. You just put a bee from the supply to a Beehive tile, if you wanna take the leftmost card. On the other hand, if you take the rightmost card, you take a bee from the Beehive and place it back to the supply. As long as there are bees in the supply and the Beehive, you have free choice. But if you don't have a bee on the Beehive, you can't take the rightmost card. The same applies for the supply and the leftmost card. Only the card in the middle has no cost. As cards cannot be moved once planted, you should carefully weigh the odds before you take the last bee from the beehive or the supply. There is no chance to know what cards you can choose in the next turn, because the two remaining cards are placed in a the discard pile, after a player took a card. After that, the player places the vegetable on a free space of the garden. As said, the position of the vegetable is fixed from that moment, but the vegetable can still be composed by discarding the card, but this results in a loss of victory points in the final scoring.

So what's the catch? Where is the challenge? The challenge come in form of vicious neighbours of Mr. Cabbagehead. From time to time Mr. Cabbagehead is taking a holiday and then it's time for the neighbours to take control of the garden. These neighbours come in form of four cards, each representing a different neighbour with unique characteristics. Now, whenever you have chosen a card, you must draw neighbour tokens and place the tokens on the matching neighbour card. When the time for holidays has come, the neighbour with the most tokens on it strikes back and makes itself comfortable in the garden. The result can be devastating. For example the Lord Carrotbody will take a vegetable adjacent to a carrot or the Widow Leafygreens will choose one lettuce, pumpkin or ruta baga with the highest vegetable number.

The game ends after a player has planted at most 15 vegetables. Mr. Cabbagehead's garden is actually a solo game, so you play against the game, trying to get as many victory points as possible. That's why you should be extremely familiar with the scoring system. For example, you will get a bonus of 6 VP, if all bees are in your supply at the end of the game. You will never loose game, you will always end with the garden full of vegetables, but to get the Blue Ribbon, you must play very effectively and cleverly.

Mr. Cabbagehead's Garden is a nice, diverting solitaire game, but there are rules included to play it with 2 players. The gameplay is very easy, but it is difficult to satisfy the jury. Luck plays some role in the game, because if you don't draw vegetables you need to achieve a specific pattern, you can't really do anything against it. Additionally, the nasty neighbours can only partly be controlled. But there is always a plan B you can follow, just make sure that you know all the patterns to satisfy the jury. The two player variant is a nice add-on, but basically the game remains a solo game, because there is not really interaction between the players. What really stands out of the this small card game are the awesome illustrations that perfectly fit to the weird theme. At SPIEL 2018, I spoke Todd Sanders, the author of the game. He explained that he not only designed the game, but that he is also responsible for the illustration and graphic design. A real multi-talent, I would say.

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Copyright © 2019 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany