My Lil’ Everdell Review
James A. Wilson & Clarissa A. Wilson
Andrew Bosley & Jacqui Davis
Low-impact, family-friendly worker-placement games
My Lil’ Everdell, designed by James and Clarissa Wilson and published by Starling Games via Tabletop Tycoon, is a spiritual successor to Everdell, a worker placement/engine building game about woodland animals building up a settlement. To be honest, we weren’t particularly taken with Everdell – despite it’s adorable art and theme as well as its grandiose production, Everdell suffered from some bloat that obscured the most fun parts of the game for us. But My Lil’ Everdell promises to be a streamlined experience that’s intended to be more welcoming to new and younger players while still keeping the best bits of the original. How well does it succeed? Let’s take another journey into the adorable world of Everdell and find out!
In My Lil’ Everdell, you’re the new kid in the forest, and your goal is to work with the other kids of Everdell to create the greatest imaginary city ever! Played over four rounds, players are tasked with collecting goodies and playing cards to recruit critters and building locations. This is done through the placement of workers (friends) at various gathering spaces on the board to collect resin, twigs, and berries (sorry Everdell purists, apparently the pebble economy burst and they’re no longer a currency). 3 gathering spots are always available that give a single resource apiece, but there are also spots which have random offerings, represented by dice that get rolled and placed between every round – these spots are inevitably highly-sought and can only be occupied by a single friend per round.
Once you’ve gathered a sufficiently tall pile of goodies, you can always end your turn by adding a card to the tableau of your growing city. Cards are either critters or places, and in addition to giving you those precious points everyone is trying to collect, there are 5 suits of cards in My Lil’ Everdell, with each one helping your efforts in different ways:
- Green cards generally give resources and activate as soon as you play them, and then again at the start of every round. Very handy to get at the beginning of the game!
- Blue cards have a variety of effects and trigger conditions, so you will want to pay attention to make sure you’re taking advantage of them
- Tan cards give you their benefit one time on purchase, but they’re generally really valuable
- Red cards give you additional placement spaces for your friends that only you can use, opening up new strategies
- Purple cards are all about points, including end-game scoring opportunities in addition to their own face value
Every card you add to your tableau can also help you earn points from Parades – a sort of set-collection race. There are 4 parades, each with a unique scoring condition (like having 5 critters, 1 of each suit, 3 of a kind, etc.), and the faster a player manages to match that scoring condition, the more points they’ll earn. At the end of the 4th round, players will add up the points they’ve earned from cards, in-game scoring, end-game scoring, parades, and leftover resources, with the highest scoring player the winner!
The best thing about the original game was the synergy between cards – Everdell cards encourage combos that feel really slick when they work. But due to the razor-tight nature of the game (and the sheer size of the card deck), pulling off those combos often came down to luck as much as anything. In My Lil’ Everdell, cards don’t directly synergize in the same way – you won’t get the Chip Sweep for free because you’ve already built the Resin Refinery or whatever. Instead, cards are more directly useful, and those that work together do so in a more general way (get a resource for every critter you’ve got), meaning that while the complexity is lower, you’ll spend a lot less time hoping that a specific card surfaces from the depths of the deck and more time getting stuff and feeling good about it.
And that’s the core experience of My Lil’ Everdell – the game wants you to feel like you can do stuff each turn. It feels fun gathering goodies and snagging cards, watching as your tableau grows and your options open. I do wish the game lasted another round or so, so I could really revel in it once my ‘lil engine was up and running at full capacity, but the shorter playtime just means its friendlier to play and easier to get to the table. On the whole, I’d say My Lil’ Everdell definitely stands on its own as a fun, enjoyably accessible game and, if you only have room for one, our opinion is that this one is friendlier than its bigger sibling. My Lil’ Everdell is short, sweet, beautifully illustrated, and we’d recommend it any day.