Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Elizabeth Hargrave

Alderac Entertainment Group

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Lutz Wildt writes about the game:

After Elizabeth Hargrave had successfully integrated her ornithological experience into her game Wingspan, she has been awarded the title Kennerspiel des Jahres 2019 for this great debut work. It`s not alone the award that proofs the quality of the game. All reviews and feedback from many, many players have been consistently positive. The expectations for her new game are therefore quite high, of course. Once again, Elisabeth has chosen flying animals as the main theme for her game, but this time, the creatures are much more fragile and sensitive than the comparatively robust birds in Wingspan. Mariposas from the Alderac Entertainment Group is a game about the long flight of American monarch butterflies.

As you can learn in the rules of the game3, these majestic butterflies travel more than 3000 miles on their journey from Mexico to America and back as a whole population, but no single butterfly completes the entire round trip. The monarch butterflies reproduce over several generations on their journey. Only a much later generation than the one that started in Michoacan ends the daring adventure after the enormous efforts back in Mexico and hibernates there until the departure to the North in the next spring.


Click on image to enlarge!

In the game, the players have three seasons to guide their butterflies. Beginning in spring, they try to head their tribe to the north, where they spread and reproduce in summer, and after that players have to guide them to the south in fall again to the start and thus to generate victory points at the end of the game. Each player has a total of 10 Wooden Butterfly Markers, divided into four generations. The game starts with a single generation butterfly that begins its journey in Michoacan. On the large game board, the availabe path of the butterflies is symbolised by hexagonal spaces in different colours. Each of these spaces show one of five flowers or a large American city. The players have two Action Cards per turn as hand cards at their disposal, each showing different possible moves of the butterflies.

Now each turn, a player plays one card and moves a certain number of steps on the game board with one or more butterflies. If a Monarch butterfly's movement ends on a flower space, the player is allowed to take a corresponding Flower Token. If it ends on a city, players usually receive cards from the Monarch butterfly's life cycle, which as a Set Collection Element improve the course of the game or provide rewards for the final scoring. The Flower Tokens on the other hand are more important for the direct progress of the game. Although they do not directly contribute to victory points, they are an important part of the expansion of the butterfly population and the reproduction of the individual butterflies. If you take a close look at the well-illustrated game board and to the spaces decorated with detailed flowers on it, you can discover small round milkweed spaces between some of these flower spaces. These milkweed spaces represent caterpillars on leaves. As soon as a turn ends on an adjacent flower field, the player may reproduce a matching new butterfly by placing the token of the next generation on the same spot of the game board for the the pay of Flower Tokens. Hatching generation two butterflies costs either 2 identical tokens or any 3 Flower Tokens. As the generations ascend, the costs of reproduction increase by one. In the same way the number of available moves per player increases from season to season. While players have four moves in Spring, they can use six moves in Fall.

To prevent the butterflies from simply spreading over the whole country without a goal, there is one Season Goal Card per season, which shows under which conditions the players receive victory points at the end of the season. Points are awarded for the position of the butterflies on the board. For example, you get one victory point per butterfly north of Atlanta or per butterfly on a red square. This means that you have to plan the movements of your butterflies very carefully. After all, besides the absolutely necessary expansion of the population, the players also want to receive possible victory points in the intermediate scoring. After the scoring of a season, the butterflies of the oldest generation are removed from the board and the journey continues in the next season. After spring, summer and fall have been completed and scored, there is a final scoring. The players receive victory points for all 4th generation butterflies that have arrived in Michoacan. The more butterflies winter there, the more victory points the players receive. The player with the most points wins the game.


Click on image to enlarge!

In my opinion, Elizabeth Hargrave has once again managed to embed a theme from nature in an entertaining board game. Moreover, she draws the players' attention to how elements in nature interact and how fragile these interrelationships can be. While the game elements are comparable complex in Wingspan, the game flow and the scoring possibilities in Mariposas are kept much more simple. The rules of Mariposas are quickly explained and straightforward. The individual moves are quickly done, and the goal of the game is very clear even for younger players. So, lets fly, collect flowers, and multiply is the order of the day! Is it really that simple? After just a few moves, the players have to realise that this America on the board is pretty big! Often, they can't take that many steps, as they just need to move the furthest and most-useful way. Well, maybe the seasonal goals are also fruitful. It's just a shame that at first players can only see the goals for the spring. Only when all the butterflies have come onto the board by reproducing, or at latest at the end of the first round, the next mission card is turned over, and the goals for summer are revealed. So maybe players should fly to the cities and get to the Set Collection element of the game in order to earn at least one victory point for each Lifecycle Card they discover.... There is a bunch of possibilities that the game reveals only over time, forcing players to make difficult decisions and to adjust their plans. But the fact that the players are only allowed to play one card per turn means that there are not really complex chains that could make the game confusing. In addition, the players cannot destroy the strategy of the others, for example by occupying fields, blocking cards or hindering paths. So I think that Mariposas will be a really good family game, although the tactical elements of the game should not be underestimated! I particularly like the quality of the game material, the great design and of course the fact that the structure of the game allows you to follow the formation of a great swarm of butterflies, which sometimes separates and then unites again due to the different tactics of the players. Because there are a lot of different seasonal goal cards, each game is different from the previous one, and the journeys of the monarch butterflies are different from game to game.

As with Wingspan, I really enjoyed the immersion in the flora and fauna. I am already looking forward to the next relaxing and stimulating encounter with the butterflies, be it in nature or of course in Mariposas!

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