Play Meadow Instead Of Going Outside

Play Meadow Instead Of Going Outside
Image: Kotaku Australia
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It was a rainy afternoon when I unpacked Meadow for the first time. The sky was puke-grey and the rain was drumming my window so loudly I had to stuff my new Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds in to focus even a smidge (their noise cancelling mode is great, by the way). Instead of looking gloomily at the outside and imagining what life is like on the other side of coronavirus, I pulled out Meadow and the mood instantly shifted.

Meadow is a new board game from Rebel Studio. It’s all about going for a nice walk, and finding creatures and objects along the way. As you travel, you find new sights and sounds and build out your personal meadow with beautiful, watercolour cards representing your findings.

And on that dreary Tuesday, it was the perfect antidote to the humdrum of life in lockdown.

Whether you want a relaxing solo board game adventure or a gorgeous romp with mates, Meadow has it all — and it’s the perfect, wholesome board game for these “trying” times.

Meadow: Setup and how to play

meadow board game how to play
Image: Kotaku Australia

To set up a game of Meadow, you’ll need to lay out the main board and fill each ‘discovery’ slot with cards for the North, East, South and West piles (these change depending on which gameplay round you’re on). Then, you’ll lay out the ‘campsite’ board based on how many players you’re with, and give each player a number of cards and coloured path tokens.

That’s it! Then you’re ready to play.

As far as the actual ‘learning to play’ process goes, it’s also pretty simple. Gameplay itself is easy to explain, and the only real challenging part is learning how to form your very own meadow. Each art card in the game contains symbols you need to interpret and rules to follow about how you can place them — but a quick whiz through the tutorial guide or this handy video should tell you everything you need to know.

Then, it’s just a matter of sorting out who goes first (or kicking off the AI’s turn if you’re playing solo) and beginning your ‘walk’ through nature.

Here’s how a game of Meadow plays out.

How Meadow plays

meadow review board game
Image: Kotaku Australia

Meadow takes place over six rounds, and lets 1-4 players go on a journey of discovery through nature. Each player begins with a set amount of cards, and these can be placed into individual meadows (and ‘surroundings’) to form a record of this journey.

On each player’s turn, they’ll be able to choose one of several actions to take, including placing cards into their meadow area, picking up art cards from the board, layering their discoveries on top of each other, or claiming ‘road’ tokens to build out their surroundings and score more points.

As each round passes, players can lay more discoveries on top of each other, with higher scoring discoveries needing more established meadow features (such as houses, flowers or fences) before they can be played. For example, some discoveries will need a house and a fence in your meadow area before they’re placed. Others require animals like insects or bugs.

At the end of the game, the person with the highest score wins.

If you’re playing solo, there’s no proper ‘win’ state, but you can still enjoy the game and its slower pace regardless.

Meadow is a game that wants you to stop and smell the roses, and it really is an absolute joy.

At six rounds, it never feels too long — a whole game will last around 40 minutes to an hour — and making new and more beautiful discoveries keeps the action going at a solid pace.

While the structure of the game means it’s still competitive, everyone can build their individual meadows as they like, meaning the game is more wholesome than stressful. There’s always options for building out your meadows and everyone has their own playing area, so you can just sit back, take cards that look interesting and watch as your meadow blooms.

Even at the end, you’ll find your final score doesn’t really matter. Meadow is fun even if you don’t win — after all, it’s the journey you go on and the friends you make that really count.

meadow board game gameplay
Image: Kotaku Australia

I don’t cry easily, but 2021 is testing my fortitude. Meadow pushed it even further.

On an awful day, it was a breath of fresh air. Between simple gameplay and gorgeous game art, I was totally rapt by everything Meadow had to offer. Even in solo mode, the game’s flow works great, and there’s a real joy to be had in discovering new art cards and placing them in your personal meadow.

Animals you meet along the way are adorable, and the action is so fun that for the hour or so you play Meadowyou’ll be instantly transported to a better place. A place where the birds are singing, the air is fresh and the only thing you have to worry about is what you’re going to cook for your campfire dinner.

The arrival of Meadow is fortuitous because it perfectly captures the long treks in nature many of us are currently missing out on, but regardless of timing, it really is a great little game.

If you’re in the mood for some wholesome adventuring and you’re currently stuck at home, Meadow is a great option for entertainment. It’s not quite the same as going outside in real life, but it’s still an excellent, nature-filled time.

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