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Botany Board Game Review

My wife absolutely loves plants, and understandably, loves to play board and card games about plants. When Dox Somnium games asked if we wanted to look at Botany, it was an easy yes from us! And I’m so glad we did – down on the table this game is absolutely gorgeous, and while there are things that will turn some people away, I think the core concepts here are really great.

In Botany, players will be traveling the world acquiring plant and flower specimens and either transporting them back to their estate live, or pressing them to provide themselves the option of bringing home more items. On their turns, players will move about, playing cards from their hands to their wardian case or pressed flower area whenever they land on a location that matches a card they have. Overtime, as their funds to explore the world start to dwindle, they will return to their estates to deposit flowers, collect more funds, and improve their own gardens at home.

There is a simplicity about Botany that is very attractive. We play a lot of heavy, complicated games during each month, so to play something with tons of strategic depth, but that can be taught in just a few minutes, is a real treat. And I think that is one of the game’s biggest strengths. Botany could be taught to almost anyone, and while their decision making skills might make playing the game hard, learning how it’s played is so straightforward, my 10 year old son can easily grasp the various concepts.


As I alluded to before, easy to learn doesn’t mean easy to play, and I think that Botany provides plenty of strategic decision making opportunities, even if a lot of the game can be swayed by luck. Botany is card driven – cards for random events on most (although not all) turns. Cards that helps you mitigate what might happen in the random events (giving you bonuses for specific roles, more on that soon). And there are cards for the various plants you need to collect.

The biggest detractors for Botany are going to say the game relies too much on luck, and I would say that’s probably not an entirely inaccurate statement. Event cards, for example, require you in most situations to roll a die and then deal with the consequences of that roll. That’s almost all luck, although expedition cards can be purchased which will often give you bonuses for specific types of roles, or let you choose two events and play one, etc. So there is luck here, but with some options for mitigation.

The other area of extreme luck is the botany cards you draw depicting the plants you are trying to collect, and the locations you need to be in to collect them. With only three movements each turn – unless buffed by something in the game, like an event – you cannot go that far, so having cards and plants in the same region is pretty important. Thing is, you can only have 4 cards in your hand, and can only cycle those cards when at the estate. So if you have 4 cards spread out allover the world map, that just kinda sucks!

If you are playing with 4 players, that’s almost certainly going to happen to someone. They just get bad hand draws. It’s going to happen, and there isn’t much you can do about it. We had one game where I was scrambling all over the world to get to various places, while my wife was cleaning up in Europe. Sure, the points are worth a bit less since it’s so close to the estate, but when she brings back 6 specimens for every 3, it’s not a game you are going to win.


That doesn’t make Botany bad, however. There are tons of games that rely on cards and some level of luck. And as I said, in Botany certain expedition cards and leader cards can help buff the issues you might be facing, so purchasing those with your funds could be vital to your success. I think going into Botany with the knowledge that things could potentially just not go your way is a real reality – if you are OK with that, you will be OK with this.

There is one thing people will not disagree on, however, and that is how the game looks. It is amazingly detailed, so gorgeous, and one of my favorite looking games OF ALL TIME. The card quality is outstanding, as is the linen finished rulebook (may be a nod to Stonemaier Games)? The only downside to the game is that, although it looks amazing, with the wrong players – i.e. those that think TOO much – it can take a long time to play. Take that into account when selecting your gaming group!

Honestly, my wife and I have come to prefer playing Botany at 2-Players, and sometimes 3. Too many more and we feel it gets a bit bogged down – it’s still enjoyable, but there is a significant amount of downtime that might not be great for some players. Still, Botany is a game we really enjoy, and when you review as many games as I do, games come and go rather quickly. For now, though, Botany is one that will stick around – and that is high praise!


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blank Adam Roffel has only been writing about video games for a short time, but has honed his skills completing a Master's Degree. He loves Nintendo, and almost anything they have released...even Tomodachi Life.

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Twitter: @AdamRoffel