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Gift of Tulips (2022 Top 20) - Number 20

Updated: Feb 12

Gift of Tulips is a game for 2-6 players where you are collecting sets. The value of those sets will change throughout the game due to people adding cards to the Festival. In this sense, people are simulating the changing fancies and whims of the Dutch people during the height of the Tulip Craze in which tulips became a speculative market for investing and trading.

To play the game you will select the correct number of cards for your player count.

If playing with fewer than 5 players you remove the 24 cards with a 5 and 6 player count. Then, shuffle all the remaining cards and remove cards based on your player count: 18 for 2, 4 for 3, 6 for 4, 14 for 5, and 10 for 6

Player scoring cards showing 1-50, but these are double sided to go to 100. Reference cards remind players of three actions - Add to Bouquet, Give to Friend, or Add to Festival. I chose the small purple teapot for my player piece.

Each player gets a scoring card, a cute little token in their chosen color, and a reference card. The four festival cards marked with the correct player count will be set up in a row with 1st place on the left, and the 4th place on the far right.

The Festival cards show a Windmill, Dutch house, a blackbird, and a small fishing boat as well as different numbers for Giving, Majority, and Bouquet

Reveal two Tulip cards from the deck and place the higher value tulip under the 1st place Festival card and the next card under the 2nd place; if they are tied, randomly assign them to 1st and 2nd. Just make sure these are different Tulips to start. The Festival cards and Tulip cards underneath them is called the Festival. Place the Tulip tracking card with the 4 Tulip tracking tokens near the Festival. These will always be on the card numeral relative to Tulip's value they are tracking. To start there will be a value for the two starting Tulips.

Deal each player 2 Tulip cards. Players now choose to place one card face up in front of them. This is the start of their bouquet. The other one is facedown next to the Festival and is part of the Secret Festival. Gameplay has started because each player is started to speculate on the final market.

Throughout the game, players will take turns. On a turn, a player will draw one card from the Tulip deck, take one of three actions and then draw a second card and take one of the remaining actions they did not perform with the first card. The actions are to: 1 Keep a Tulip in your bouquet, 2 Give a Tulip to a friend, or 3 Add a Tulip to the Festival.

When adding a Tulip to your bouquet, you will score points immediately if that Tulip is currently ranked 3rd or 4th in the Festival. If the Tulip does not yet appear in the Festival, you cannot score these points.

The Keep symbol looks like a hand holding a Tulip

You can also choose to give a friend a Tulip by placing it face up in front of them. You then gain points equal to the giving value of the Tulip you just gave. Check the Festival for this number too; again, if a Tulip is not yet present in the Festival then you cannot score these points.

The Give symbol looks like a hand outstretched with a Tulip, showing a number and the plus sign. This symbol is found on the Festival cards and refers to the Tulip in the relative position underneath it

Finally, you can add a Tulip to the Festival. When you do, there are two different ways you can Add cards. You can still only do one Add action per turn. First, you can Add to the Secret Festival cards. Why would you do this? Well, at the end of the game, these will be added to the Festival to change the final scoring position of Festival Tulips. Or, you can just Add a Tulip to the face up cards. Put it with the same type of cards and whenever this changes the relative value of the Tulips, change their order in the Festival. For example, if a Tulip wasn't present in the Festival but now has the highest value because it is a 4 and the former 1st was a 3, then now this new Tulip is in the 1st Festival position, the 3 is now in the 2nd position, and a 2 would now be in the 3rd position. This re-ordering happens throughout the game.

Different Tulips showing a 4, 3, and 2 value

The game ends when the Tulip deck runs out and the last player finishes their turn. All players will always have the same number of turns this way. After the last turn, shuffle the Secret Festival deck and draw 5 random cards from it. Add these to the Festival Tulips and adjust the values as necessary. Now, scoring may begin.

For each of the top 3 Tulip varieties in the Festival, check to see which player has the most cards, ignoring value. That player scores the Majority points shown on the relevant card. The player with the second most gets the 2nd Majority. Do this for each of the top 3 Tulips. Ties are broken by value. If there is still a tie, then it is friendly and all players gain points.

The game is broken up by a nice bit of randomness and important choices. There is no way to predict what cards you are going to get and what cards someone will give you. The Secret Festival adds to this randomness. I've played similar games, but nothing quite this game and I have enjoyed the surprising depth of the game.

Why didn't it make it higher in my list of games for the year? The game is just different enough that when I have taught it to people it was hard to pick up on their first play. Other than that, I really enjoy the calm art and subtle play.

Box for Gift of Tulips by Sara Perry shows a brightly colored windmill twirling behind a field of tulips

Making different sets via speculation is an amazing way to show how the original Tulip Craze was quite absurd. You can't always pick what is going to come and your best laid plans may get somewhat wrecked. You just kind of have to hedge your bets and be nice to people or you won't do well at all.

Gift of Tulips - published by Weird Giraffe Games

Designed by Sara Perry

Artwork by Katy Grierson, Emily Hancock

Teaching 7/10

Aesthetics 8/10

Strategy 6.5/10

Gameplay 9/10

Time 30 Minutes

Players 2-6

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