Review – Gift of Tulips

Share the flowers!

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Designer Sara Perry

Artist Katy Grierson, Emily Hancock, María Gabriela Patiño

Publisher Weird Giraffe Games

Category Set Collection, Commodity Speculation

Length 20-30 minutes

Release Date 2022

Player Count 2-6

Gift of Tulips sees players visiting Amsterdam’s Tulip Festival, and trying to end with the most points by playing Tulip Cards as gifts, keeping them to bolster their own endgame rank, or using them to manipulate the market. With four beautiful tulip colors, and deeper strategy than you might notice at first glance, it’s time to take a trip to Amsterdam!

Review

There are plenty of competitive, cooperative, and semi-competitive games, but how many games are there in which being generous to opponents is a viable strategy? Gift of Tulips manages to almost weaponize player’s kindness, as giving away the most valuable cards is a boon.

The tulips are ranked from first to fourth place, and a tulip’s rank can mean a number of things. For instance, if the blue tulips are first-ranked, a player can score up to 7 points just by giving away a blue tulip. But if those same tulips are fourth-ranked on the next turn, the player can only get the card value for giving them away. The game actively incentivizes players to donate the most valuable cards, which can lead to some interesting strategies.

All of the game's components, laid out. Tulip cards are stacked up, but also layered so players can see the four different colors (purple, blue, orange, and pink).

On a player’s turn, they will twice draw a tulip card and take an action. Players may keep a tulip in their bouquet (tableau), give a tulip, or add a tulip to the festival.

Keeping a tulip only scores points immediately if that color is currently ranked 3rd or 4th – otherwise the player is just adding more of the most popular color to their bouquet. Giving a tulip is smart if that color is high-ranked as it will net a lot of points. But players need to be careful to not pass out so many of the top-ranked flowers that they can’t win the endgame bonuses. Adding a tulip to the festival means playing a card underneath a different tulip’s rankings, which will change if that color is now equal to or greater than any tulips previously ranked above it. For example, if blue is in first with a pair of “4” cards in the festival, pink has a single “3” and purple and orange have none, if I add a “3” to orange it will replace pink in the #2 spot, and purple will be last with no flowers in the festival. Players may also add a card to the Secret Festival deck, which is revealed at the end of the game and may alter the rankings. 

The game is set up for two players; the market is a the top with the blue tulip in 1st and pink in 2nd. The player on the right is starting with a blue card, and the player on the left has a purple card.

The game setup for 2 players.

Before each game, a number of cards are removed depending upon the player count. This means the quantity of tulips in each color may vary from game to game. I really like that you can play Gift of Tulips with as few as 2 but as many as 6; happily, the game scales well by altering the number of cards used. 

Also rare is how players have to help their fellow tulip enthusiasts to win; I can’t think of any game with a similar mechanic that requires gifting cards to opposing players. It really feels backwards but I quickly realized that hoarding cards for myself and trying to alter the rankings in the festival wasn’t nearly as good of a strategy as giving high-ranking cards which can net as many as 7 points a turn. Players should be careful not to have any Anne Wheaton-type moments where they bump a scoring card; since the market is always changing, it would be difficult to count back.

Four columns of Tulip cards, from Left to right: Orange (3, 4), Pink and White (4, 3), Purple (3, 2, 2), and Blue (3, 2, 2, 2).

My beautiful bouquet at the end of the game. You may notice that one of the purple cards has the wrong (orange) symbol on it – the publisher is fully aware of this and has taken steps to rectifying it in the final print.

Other than that possible scoring issue, there is a lot to like here. I found Gift of Tulips to be a deeply strategic experience with beautiful artwork, and would love to break it out with my usual game group and surprise them as it surprised me.

A prototype review copy was provided by the publisher. 

The Bottom Line

Don't let the beautiful flowers and sharing of cards fool you- this game has a deep strategy, and isn't over til it's over.

 

8

Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.