Mini Garden Review
By Josh Hartley
I always know that a game is going to be good when it causes a row between my parents.
It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m back in Cumbria visiting and I have brought Mini Garden by Mozi Games with me. This pitches itself as a light puzzle game that can be played in 15 minutes so I thought this would be ideal to try out on my mum and dad who, other than Scrabble, don’t dabble too much into the world of tabletop gaming.
Moments later, curse words are being thrown around the kitchen.
In Mini Garden, players are tasked with making flower beds by layering cards of colourful plants over each other. The first player to make their flower bed with the right number of flowers wins a point and play continues for nine rounds.
So how does it stack up?
The first thing to say is that this game is very pleasant on the eye. From the cartoon dog tending his garden on the box art, to the bright cards of flowers to the colour coordinated dice everything feels very consistent and satisfying.
The quality of the components are also of a high standard. The card stock feels sturdy with a slight gloss finish; I’m not concerned at all about these cards warping over time. Some of these could be a bit better – the dice feel a little light for me – but overall it doesn’t feel like any corners have been cut in this department.
The instruction leaflet is also very clear and concise. It should be noted that Mozi Games are based in Taiwan and yet they have managed to write better instructions in English than many native English speakers.
In Mini Garden the players are all apprentice gardeners working under Master Scabbers (The happy looking dog sporting a pair of secateurs on the box). Master Scabbers is testing all of us to see how skilled we are at flower arranging.
I don’t know about this Master Scabbers character. It seems to me he’s making his apprentices carry out all the hard work while he rakes in that sweet gardening dollar. I think his staff need to consider unionising.
In all seriousness though, Mini Garden could easily have been an abstract game with no theme at all. While that does it for some gamers I personally prefer my games to have at least some story or setting to it, so I’m glad that Mozi Games have put in some effort to this effect.
I don’t get the feeling of this theme informing any aspect of the gameplay at all, but not every game needs that, and Mini Garden doesn’t feel that it is lacking for it.
In each round, the five dice are rolled to determine how much of each flower we need to include in our flower bed. Up to four players all simultaneously arrange their cards to match these numbers, either by stacking cards on top of each other or side by side, and the first one to complete their flower bed with all of their cards wins the round.
That’s about all that there is to it but do not be fooled – this is actually fiendishly difficult. And because the numbers are randomly generated each round is a new puzzle for you to solve. Overall the gameplay is simple, quick and very satisfying – just what you want from a light game like this.
Mini Garden sells itself as a quick puzzle game and it would be hard to argue that it doesn’t deliver on this. It’s cutesy art style belies a surprisingly tricky game that will no doubt keep players occupied for longer than many of its peers.
I don’t typically like to make too much of a point about price, however with an MSRP of £7 I cannot ignore the fact that this game gives fantastic value for money. I think for that price you would struggle to find a game that would deliver more.