Through a hard day’s work and valuable friendships you can save Stardew Valley from the clutches of the nefarious Joja Corp!
Everyone hates doing chores, except if they are digital and cute. I can’t speak for everyone, but I jumped on that Animal Crossing: New Horizons train the moment it left the station, but inevitably, that train brought me back to my ultimate Simple Life Simulator: Stardew Valley. The popular video game drops you in an untended farm and asks you to clean it up, turn a profit and hopefully make enough to keep the duplicitous Joja Corporation from buying up the whole valley. Stardew Valley is a few years old at this point, but has remained relevant since its release. But now with all the everything that’s going on in the world, it’s picked up Steam again, this time headed up by a board game which perfectly encapsulates the vibes of the video game.
Stardew Valley (the video game) doesn’t really have any objectives or goals. It’s a life simulator and you can basically play however you want. Still, there are a couple of big things people tend to focus on: farming, mining and making friends. But there’s also plenty of other things the player can do like fishing, cracking open geodes, and donating hidden treasures to the museum. Stardew Valley (the board game) does a fantastic job of bringing all of these elements to the table.
However, this is a board game and board games need an objective (….or do they? #thinkingEmoji). Stardew Valley is a cooperative worker placement, resource collecting game where the players are hoping to complete all the objectives set out by your grandpa, as well as rebuild the community center. Each of grandpa’s objectives are things like “fully explore the mines”, “catch a legendary fish” or “earn a bunch of money”. They are all very concrete within the rules of the game. To rebuild the community center is a multistep process.
Each room of the community center requires a bundle of resources to be turned in a number of times equal to the number of players. So players will have to crop crops, fish fish and mush mushrooms in order to complete the bundles. However, these bundles cards are hidden at the start of the game. Revealing a bundle requires friendship, which is the most adorable sentence I’ve probably every said here at BoLS. During their turns, players can gift gifts to the other residents of the town, earning heart tokens. Each heart token earned can be spent to reveal community center bundles.
Which brings us to the meat and potatoes of the game, in a very literal sense. Stardew Valley is like a half dozen mini games packed into one. Players can spend their turn taking actions in the various spots around the valley. They can buy seeds to turn into crops, then harvest the crops, to sell for money to buy more seeds. Or they can tend to the animals by rolling the animal dice, collecting a resource for each animal rolled that the player has. Earning additional resources, if the player spent an action petting their animal to make them happy first. Like I said, this game is adorable.
But for the folks who shun the farmer’s lifestyle in favor of the epic pro-gamer hack-n-slash action of the mines, they can spend their turn fighting the monsters there. They roll 2 Stardew Dice and reference the current Mine card. They can take the resource at either cross-section of the results of their dice.
If that’s too thrilling, players can also spend their days fishing. By rolling the Stardew dice, the player can match the dice to any symbols on the fish tokens, taking multiple if they can.
This isn’t even everything Stardew Valley has to offer. The rules are not complicated in the least, but there’s just so much to do and so many options for everyone. It’s like a worker placement game but there’s enough space for everyone. With plenty of objective cards and community bundles to spare, each game will require new things of the players and discussion and planning is paramount. I love the idea that this game has so many mechanics and options that everyone can be off doing their own thing, but still ultimately working together towards a common goal.
That’s the real heart of Stardew Valley.
Stardew Valley: The Board Game – $55 – Available Now
Stardew Valley: The Board Game is a cooperative game where players work together to restore the Valley. They accomplish this by growing crops, raising animals, expanding their farm and collecting resources from across the Valley.
By befriending the local villagers, players earn hearts that allow them to reveal hidden goals. Only by working together will they keep Joja Corporation from moving in and spoiling everything. So choose your profession and pick up your starting tool; Stardew Valley needs you!
- 1 – 4 Players
- 45 min / player
- Ages 13+
Thanks for reading!