Canopy Reviews: Choosing one card from a deck and passing the rest on to the next player is a fun and underutilized mechanic, as demonstrated by Canopy. To build a set or hand, you have to pick a card and not know what you’ll get passed on the next turn. As a bonus, you get to enjoy the schadenfreude of handing your neighbor a mountain of trash.
It’s a good idea, but it doesn’t function well in two-player board games because the two of you keep handing the same stack of cards to each other. Fortunately, Canopy has come up with a solution to this dilemma, offering a family-friendly board game that has all the fun of the draught, as well as multiplayer and solo options.
What does it do, and how does it do it?
It is necessary to shuffle and split the cards into three piles before you begin the game, one for each season or round. You then deal one, two, and three cards from the top of the first season pile to create three smaller piles. Plant trees and avoid negative cards like drought or sickness as you aim to acquire sets of scoring rainforest plants and animals. You’ll also receive a free tree trunk card to help you get started in your new forest.
Easy to learn and play. When it’s your turn, you’ll examine the first little pile and decide whether or not the cards in it are appropriate for your hand. Take them all and plant them in your expanding forest if you get the chance. Then look at the second and third piles and determine whether or not you want them, and so on. If not, add a card to that pile. Once you pass on a pile in Canopy, you can’t go back and claim it again that turn. You get a random card from the deck if you skip all three.
There are a variety of methods in which the sets you’re aiming to acquire score points. Bromelia cards, for instance, are an excellent example. Two points are awarded at the end of the season if you have one in your forest. Seven points can be earned by playing two of these cards. However, if you obtain three, the set deducts three points from your final score for that round.. Most plant sets are similar in that the score rises and falls depending on the number of plants you own.
Trees, on the other hand, are unique. The trunks and the canopies of trees are available in two different varieties. In the absence of a canopy, each tree trunk can be used to either start a new tree or boost the height of an existing one. Each time you draw a canopy card, you must finish a tree with it before scoring any points or multipliers associated with it, both of which can be zero. There’s a twist here: you’re rewarded for having the tallest tree in each round, and at the end of the game, you get a big bonus for having the most trees.
Other cards include the sun and rain, each of which is worth five points when paired together. Some animal cards come in pairs, but you don’t need both to benefit from their special abilities. For example, the Boa, which lets you take a card from a passed-on pile, has a special power that you can use just once per season. A handy source of extra trees and plants to utilize in your quest to complete your set is available to you with the help of seeds, which you may use throughout the season to draw many cards and select one from the seed deck.
Disease, for example, kills animals when played as a negative card in a forest. This doesn’t necessarily imply negative news, however. If you collect enough illness cards, it will spread and infect other players’ animals, saving some of your own. That third Bromelia is a negative card, but it’s possible to get rid of it with the help of fire, which also stimulates seeds to sprout.
Is the gameplay any good?
Drafting using Canopy is different and effective. The game moves quickly since you have to go through each pile quickly and appraise it. In the midst of this fast-paced action, though, there are many interesting choices to be made. There are apparent instances when you need a pile for the forest you’re building, but there’s also the temptation to steal a pile only to keep your opponent from getting one. However, would some of the cards in your own tableau be impacted negatively if you do this?
And that’s just the beginning of an ever-growing tree of possibilities. Pile-ups that aren’t picked up end up getting bigger and greater because of the allure of the risk. If you believe that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, you may be tempted to enter first and take advantage of the goods before your opponent does. You never know if that fire will be of assistance to you or if you’ll collect enough illness cards to start a pandemic.
There are many similarities between Canopy and the much older auction game “Ra,” which has an ever-growing number of both pleasant and harmful effects to tempt players. Canopy does a great job of capturing the delightful tension between bidding for the combination of effects and seeing them expand. Because each new card is unknown, you have to decide whether or not to accept it before your opponent does, which increases the tension even more. It could have pushed the pile into the must-have category, or it could have pushed it back into the consideration category. However, it may be too late by the time you realize it.
The suspense is heightened by the fact that each pile you pick up may or may not contain the cards you need to improve your score. This one might have a pair of animals, which would give you an extra fat point boost. The fauna you already have may be infected with a disease that it carries. When you’re seeking rare games, Canopy has a weirdly addictive element that mimics the delight of doing so in a microcosm.
Strategic uncertainty over how far to risk it is all Canopy has. The randomness of this game can be aggravating, as is the case with any other “push your luck” game. Because there’s no actual way of knowing what will work out best, there’s a constant nagging feeling that the decisions of passing or taking each pile could be for naught. Despite the game’s hefty table footprint, the beautiful artwork makes your forest of trees shine as it develops toward the end of the game.
Should you purchase Canopy?
With its ingenious drafting method, Canopy suffers from having to compete with two-player games like Targi and Jaipur in a crowded category (the latter of which tops our best card games list). Nevertheless, this is a game that can be played with a large number of players or even just one, and it can still be enjoyable at any of those player counts. That makes it more versatile and worthy of consideration if its combination of slight novelty, light strategy, and gorgeous jungle imagery appeals to you.