I must confess, I knew nothing about Savernake Forest when I agreed to check it out. The lovely people at Kosmos Games thought I should take a look, and when I saw the beautiful box art I agreed in an instant. I rarely do this as I carefully consider every game that drops through the letterbox, but sometimes you just have to take a gamble.
I instantly wondered what it was about, my mind jumped to Severus Snape just because of the vague resemblance to the name. The cute box art ruled this out straight away. I then wondered if it would involve lots of counting: singing to myself “five, six, Savernake” to the tune of Steps! I then discovered that Savernake Forest is actually a place in Wiltshire!
When it arrived I quickly read through the rulebook and got it straight to the table. There is a bit of counting, so my little ditty continues in my head when playing! Wanna find out more? Of course you do, read on…
Unfold the market board and place this centrally. Place the first player cockerel on the cockerel space. Place the water droplet tokens above the goat and cave tokens above the armadillo space. Shuffle the two decks separately, placing the green-backed cards above the chicken and the red-backed cards above the rabbit space. From the green-backed cards deal three cards beneath the chicken, goat and armadillo spaces, and deal one red card beneath the rabbit space.
Then allocate each player a leaf token and a starting red-backed animal card. Set up will take less time than deciding on a start player!
Players will be building a four by four grid over the course of the game. The aim being to feed your animals the food they want to eat by building paths for them to follow. Food and animals are the only ways to score points, and points are how you’ll win the game!
Displayed in the corner of each animal card is the points you will score for each of the four types of food. The number in the leaf is the points that animal will score you at the end of game, fed or not. Beside the cave symbol is a number that dictates how much food that animal can squirrel away.
Animals will always eat the nearest food that they come to on the path and will stop eating when it reaches its storage capacity, regardless of whether that food is worth points to them or not, so card placement is important.
In turn order, players will take a card from those available gaining the benefit each animal grants them. The chicken will change the first player, the goat provides water which increases the value of food by one point. The armadillo grants an animal an additional storage spot for food and the rabbit is apparently sociable and is the only way you can get additional animals.
There are a few placement rules for tiles, such as adjacency and animals not being on the same path as each other. Mostly though, you will be happily puzzling out your four by four grid.
What it’s like
Don’t be fooled by the ridiculously cute look of Savernake Forest. This offers something to think about, particularly when it comes to turn order. Balancing the card you want with forgoing first pick can be an ugly dilemma! This element really reminded me of Kingdomino or The Whatnot Cabinet.
Obviously there is more card choice at two. That’s why a ‘meatier’ two player variant is included in the box. I think for the best game experience though three or four players is where it’s optimum.
I’m quite impressed by the game that has been packed inside this small box. Savernake Forest is simple enough for my boys to play, but has enough to think about to entertain so-called grown-ups too, especially those willing to play a lighter game! Overall, I agree with the ten plus age rating. While younger players could, and will be included, I think the optimisation of the puzzle will probably put younger players at a disadvantage.
Savernake Forest has cute artwork throughout, the box art carries on throughout the cards. The art by Núria Aparicio is truly adorable. You can see that for yourself though! Iconography is clear and consistent too.
The rulebook does a fantastic job of guiding you and the little wooden components are of a good quality. The massive red cock first player token is a joy to behold too!
What the kids thought
Max (8): It was very fun! I really like the theme. I love the artwork it’s really pretty.
George (12): Savernake Forest is a fun game which I like playing with my brothers. I like expanding my storage with the little lairs. I love the cards, the animals are really cute, and picking which one to take is interesting.
Harrison (15): I like the different animals and the path-making. When choosing a card the helpful abilities are good and counterbalance taking a card you might not want as much. I like how you can always do something with the card, even if it’s not ideal.
Final thoughts on Savernake Forest
With zero expectations I have been pleasantly surprised by this beautiful little maze-making game. It’s quick and light, yet still a delightful puzzle to arrange in front of you. Your grid in Savernake Forest will rarely be perfect but optimising each card is essential as the margin for victory is often tight.
While I prefer it at three or four players, the two player game is still good and arguably better with the advanced two-player variant. There is a lot to like and enjoy with Savernake Forest!
Number of players: 2 to 4
Board Game Review Recommended Age: 10+
Publisher’s Recommended Age: 10+
Playing Time: 35 minutes
Setting Up and Take Down Time: 1 minute
Designers: Rodrigo Rego
My time helping little critters store away their food in Savernake Forest has been lots of fun. It’s an adorable game that I am happy to play with my boys as it is both accessible but also offers something to think about!
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- Easy to learn
- Adorable creature cards
- Fun puzzle
- Interesting turn order choice
- Choice can be frustrating
- Not as good at two player
- Cuteness overload!
For clarity: we don’t get paid for our reviews. However, we were kindly gifted this game by Kosmos Games. We have tried not to let this affect our review in any way.