Bosk Board Game Review
Updated: Mar 1, 2022
WBG Score: 8/10
Player Count: 2–4
You’ll like this if you like: Photosynthesis, Medina, Bunny Kingdom
Published by Floodgate Games
Designed by Daryl Andrews, Erica Bouyouris
Resplendent trees follow a formulaic yet fantastic journey across all four seasons. New shoots emerge in spring, basking proud in the summer warmth. Leaves tumble and cascade in autumn, carpeting the woodland floor come winter. It’s a story of two halves: of growth, followed by their preparation for winter dormancy.
What if we switched out the roots, trunks and foliage, and replaced it with 3D cardboard? Swapped brittle, browning leaves for bright, laser-cut wooden tokens? And what if we chucked a cheeky squirrel in for good measure? What you’re now imagining, my gaming friends, is Bosk, by Floodgate Games. This design comes with a tagline: “a game of majestic trees and falling leaves.”
The definition of the word ‘Bosk’, in case you’re wondering, means a wood comprising of small trees. (If you win a future pub quiz thanks to this answer, feel free to transfer me 10% of the prize.) Bosk is an abstract-strategy/area-majority game by Daryl Andrews and Erica Bouyouris. Andrews co-designed the colourful Sagrada, also by Floodgate Games. That’s where the similarities end, though. Let’s take a closer look…
Bosk In A Nutshell
There’s four rounds to Bosk, each being a separate season. In spring, everyone ‘plants’ (places) their trees on the board – a national park. In summer, everyone scores their trees, according to their locations. In autumn, everyone’s trees start to drop their leaves. These scatter and tumble due to the ever-changing wind. Last of all in winter, everyone scores their leaves, according to where they fell.
Four phases then, but two of them comprise of scoring, alone. The meat of the game occurs in ‘spring’ and ‘autumn’. This is where all your planning and calculating come into their own. Summer and winter take less than five minutes to add up the respective scores.
A Spring In Your Step
Each player has eight 3D trees in their own colour. Each has a number (1 – 4, twice). The board is a grid of squares that overlay the national park’s terrains. The first player places any one of their eight trees on a vacant intersection on the board. (As in, the point where two grid lines meet to form a +, so it can’t be on the board’s outer edge).
Players take turns, clockwise, placing one tree at time onto the board. You can place them in any numerical order. In a three-player game, for example, 24 trees end up on the board. But why place a tree in one spot over another? And why do your trees have numbers 1 – 4 on them?
Scores Out For Summer
Once the last player’s placed their final tree, summer scoring begins. You look at each row and each column of the board one at a time. The player with the highest value(s) of trees present ‘wins’ the row/column. For example, if red has two trees (of value 1 and 2) in the same row, their total is 3. Purple has one value 4 tree in the same row. Orange has two value 3 trees in this row (so a total of 6). Orange wins this row, with purple being the runner-up. Red gets nothing for coming third.
A scoring table explains tie-breaks for joint-first, or joint-second. If you’re the solitary tree type in this row/column, you earn extra points. But if this were a football match, it’s half time. Don’t fret if you’re in last place. The second half is a whole different ball game…
No Fooling Around In Fall
The last player gets to place the all-important Wind Board. This sits along one of the four edges of the main board. Deciding where to place it can be game-changing. It dictates the direction the wind begins to blow. Eight arrows run along on the Wind Board, left-to-right. Each arrow rotates a further 90° clockwise from its predecessor. The first four arrows are numbered 1 – 4, while the latter four are mere asterisks.
There’s eight rounds in autumn, like there were eight in spring. (You’ve guessed it – one for each tree.) The active player triggers one of their trees that matches the number stated on the Wind Board. You have two trees of each number, remember? In round one, leaves fall from one of your ‘1’ trees, then, in the direction stated by the Wind Board.
Each player has eight big Leaf Tiles numbered 2-8, plus one with a squirrel on it. A bit of hand-management enters the fray. You’ll select one of these, and take that many wooden leaf tokens from your supply. You place one of these leaves in a square beneath your tree. Then, you place the rest of the leaves leading away from this first leaf, in the wind’s direction. The next leaf sits in one of the three squares – either parallel, or diagonal – away from the previous. Will you drop them in a straight line, a total diagonal, zig-zag, or a blend of all three?
If you reach the edge of the grid and you have leaf tokens remaining, return them to your supply. But that’s a waste! The aim of autumn is to cover the board full of your colour leaves, if viewing the park from above. The board’s separated into eight different-coloured terrains. Each of them score in an area-majority manner in winter.
Once you’ve placed all your quota of leaves for the turn, you remove the origin tree off the board. Then it’s the next player’s turn, clockwise. They pick a Leaf Tile of their choice, and drop that number of leaves leading away from one of their ‘1’ trees. Then they remove their tree. Then it’s the next player’s turn, and so on.
Don’t Trust The Squeeple!
Over the eight rounds you have to use all eight of your big Leaf Tiles. Each player has, in total, 35 wooden leaf tokens. Deciding when and where to use the larger (and smaller) quantities of leaves is a marvellous decision. The squirrel is a little different. This lets you use your squirrel meeple, instead of any leaves this turn. The little animeeple still obeys the wind direction (according to the round in which you use it). You can place it up to three spaces away from the tree.
Squirrels can sit on top of any stack of leaves. And we’ve all seen David Attenborough documentaries: nothing sits on top of a squirrel! Opting when to use it is a major question of timing. Smart placement could be the difference between winning or losing an terrain.
This Park Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us
Now, like any good western, you’ll soon realise that this national park ain’t big enough for the both of us. In a three player game, for example, between you all you have 105 leaves (108, including squirrels). The grid for a three-player game consists of 100 squares. There comes a time in autumn where Bosk starts to become a tad cutthroat. Because if you like, you can opt to overlay your leaves on top of others.
If a rival’s leaf sits in your path, no problem; you can cover it with one of your own. At the end of the game, remember: it’s only the leaves that are visible from above that score. The leaves on top of a pile are all that matter. But hold on there, buster. Yes, it’s in your best interests to cover up your opponents’ leaves. But it comes at a price…
Smother The Park With Your Leafy Blanket