3 Seeds: Reap Where You Sow

I had the pleasure of playing 3 Seeds with designer Anthony Buhr at Protospiel Milwaukee 2015. 3 Seeds is a very enjoyable card game for 2-4 players. It takes 5 minutes or less to teach, and plays in 30-45 minutes.

THE COMPONENTS:

3 Seeds comes in a small box, about the size of Coup. The cards are good quality, with simple, functional design. Also included is a score track, along with a number of scoring markers, and a turn marker.

The rules in the game are very well-written. Everything is explained succinctly, and new players should understand the game after one read-through.

Overall, the components are good. The graphic design in 3 Seeds is very minimalistic, but it works well.

THE GAMEPLAY:

At the start of the game, players each receive a deck of 6 Seed cards, consisting of 2 Labor, 2 Money, and 2 Time cards. You can think of these as your resources. They also receive 1 Crop card, which lists a number of Seed cards required for completion (i.e. 2 Labor, 1 Time, and 1 Money). Attached to this Crop card is a face-down Harvest card, which determines the amount of points the Crop card is worth. These range from 1-7.

The general flow of play goes like this:

1) On a player’s turn, they draw 3 Seed cards from their deck

2) They may look at OR swap the positions of any 2 Seed cards

3) They may resolve an Event card and play up to 2 Seed cards on anyone’s Crop cards, assuming there is room (more on this below)

4) Completed Crop cards are scored

5) They return any unused Seed cards to the top of their deck

To illustrate:

Player A’s Crop card requires 2 Labor, 2 Time, and 0 Money

If I draw two Labor and one Money cards on my turn, I could play both Labor cards on Player A’s Crop. However, if someone had previously played a Labor card on Player A’s Crop, I could only play one Labor card on this Crop, since it already had one on it. In this case, I could play my other Labor card or my Money card on another player’s Crop.

When a Crop card has all the appropriate Seed cards on it, it is harvested. The Harvest card is revealed, and each Seed card a player contributed scores them that many points. For instance, if I had contributed two Seed cards to a Crop card with a Harvest value of 6, I would get 12 points (6×2). 

This is where peeking and switching cards comes in. 

Suppose that I had previously peeked at an opponent’s Harvest card, and seen that it was a 6. Knowing that this is among the highest-value Harvest cards, I decided to put both of my Seed cards on this Crop. On a future turn, before the Crop is harvested, someone else might come along and swap the Harvest card for a lower-value card. Thus, I may wind up getting 2 points instead of 12. This provides a nice dose of “screw-you” interactivity in the game.

There is also something of a memory element, because you have to keep track of which Harvest cards you have seen and where they are. Crop cards also have keywords on them (to represent the specific “type” of crop), and the owner of the card can get additional points for collecting sets of like types.

I should also mention that the game includes an Event deck. The Event cards allow players do things like switch two incomplete Crops, play additional Seed cards, increase Harvest values, etc. They are all pretty straightforward, and, while they don’t radically alter the game, they are a nice touch and they help keep the game fresh.

MY THOUGHTS:

I enjoy 3 Seeds. It is a very nice, accessible game. The length feels just right for a game of its weight. There is enough strategy to make players feel like their decisions matter, but not enough that it becomes brain-burning. Players who suffer from analysis paralysis shouldn’t have too much trouble with this game. Though 3 Seeds can be played with 2-4 players, it definitely plays best with the full 4 players.

I could see someone feeling like the game is too swingy, with Harvest cards ranging from 1 all the way to 7 points. It could be frustrating to a new player if they played a bunch of Seed cards on a single, high-value Crop card, only to have the Harvest card switched and the point value significantly decreased. Of course, the best way to avoid this (and, I believe, just a good strategy in general) is to diversify where you put your Seed cards. Unless I am able to complete a Crop on my turn, I usually try to put Seed cards on multiple Crops.

The game feels very balanced to me. There doesn’t seem to be a turn bias, and there is enough card-switching and event-playing that a newbie should be able to keep up with an experienced player.

WHO WOULD LIKE THIS GAME:

I believe this game will appeal to the casual gamer more so than the hard-core gamer. The strategy is simple, but there is enough of it that it can be enjoyed by players of varying skill levels. Because of its simplicity, 3 Seeds would work well with families. Kids shouldn’t have a problem grasping it.

I could see 3 Seeds being a good introduction to the Euro-game genre. It doesn’t fit into the strictest definition of a Euro, but the elements of resource management, set collection, and the lack player elimination could be good stepping stones into heavier, more strategic Euros.

All in all, I enjoy 3 Seeds. If you are looking for a heavy, grand strategy game, this will not scratch that itch. But if you’re looking for a quick, light card game, give this one a shot.

3 Seeds is available for purchase through The Game Crafter.

Thanks to Anthony Buhr for the review copy!

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