Updated: May 10, 2019
Publisher: Adam's Apple Games
Designer: Martin Grider
Artist: Shirley Gong
Player Count: 2
Age Appropriateness: 6+
Playtime: 20-30 minutes
This review is based off the prototype and all components and rules are subject to change.
The debate about plants being self aware is over! The wildlife, specifically the lotus pods, have become power hungry and they are now decimating each other over territory in the once tranquil pond! Sorry, I got a little ahead of myself there, as the carnage is less brutal than you would initially imagine. In actuality, Thrive is a beautiful and methodical game that consists of evolving your lotus pods in order to overtake the opposition which is made up of other lotus pods. All of this is done on a beautifully illustrated pond fabric game board that will have you reminiscing of classic games such as chess or checkers. However, the playstyle is much more unique and will be discussed more later on in the post. Something about this game brings a calm feeling while being played, even with the game being a competitive scenario. Most likely, this emotion is developed due to the stunning art that the lotus pods are placed upon, which is discovered after retrieving the parts from the equally beautiful box art.
"Thrive is a two-player abstract strategy game with incredibly simple rules that grows in complexity as you play. You play as one of two lotus flowers, competing to control the pond. Be the first to capture all but one of your opponent's seed pods and win this game of tactical decision making! Each turn you move a piece, then add two additional pegs to any of your pieces, giving them more possibilities for movement on future turns."
What We Think
Gameplay & Rules
Thrive takes a simple and classic concept and really evolves it into its own playstyle. Resemblance of Onitama and The Duke were the first games to come to mind when going through the first playthrough. However, Thrive's customization of each of the lotus pods in play is what really allows this game to stand out while providing an abundance of strategic play. The game begins with each lotus pod starting on the edge of a 6 x 6 fabric game board which is wonderfully appealing to the eyes. Each lotus pod begins with a red center peg (which represents the lotus pods current location) and a wooden peg one hole in front of the center peg. So initially, each lotus has the movement ability of a pawn as in Chess, but this quickly changes after the first move. During your turn, a lotus pod is moved according to its movement possibilities demonstrated by where pegs are placed in relation to the central red peg. Then you will place two pegs into either two different lotus pods or into the same lotus pod. Next, each player takes turns moving as able and trying to capture the other lotus pods. This is done until either one player has one lotus pod left or a player fills an entire lotus pod full of pegs. The alternate win strategy is very satisfying to complete, but also quite difficult to do without either losing or defeating the other player first. In order to do so, you basically have to take a defensive approach and let the other lotus pod travel to your side of the board. The strategy of the game is probably easily overlooked at first glance; however, dispensing out your pegs to each pod is very important, if not even more important than the movements each pod takes that turn. When moving you have to be aware of all the possibilities of the other lotus pod movements that could capture your lotus pod while contemplating future moves by you and your opposing player. This same concept applies in other move and capture games, but in Thrive, the pods are constantly evolving their movement capabilities which in other games would mean they are changing their roles. Thrive essentially begins with all pawns that later have the ability to become queens that differ by the fact they cannot move the entire length of the game board. This blends well with the theme also because it is as if each lotus pod is evolving in order to "thrive" in the pond and become champions of their territory.
Components & Art
The art on the box and the fabric game board, as I have said many times in the review, are gorgeous. Adam also shares some cool information on the artist's process on Kickstarter. "I gave her almost full creative freedom except I started her with a color palette and the 6x6 grid. Her process is very unique too. She creates line drawings by hand, and her work is meticulous. She scans them and then paints them digitally. Finding Shirley was like this 'ah hah' moment because of the of the unanimous and instant positive responses I received when sharing her portfolio. I tend to look for artists that have not worked on board games that have unique art styles that I have not seen in the board game space yet. She's been great to work with creating 3-6 very different sketches for every piece of art." If you add some relaxing music to your gameplay like on the Board Game Spotlight's live playthrough, you will have a very serene experience. As for the components, having a 3D printer was very helpful in allowing the prototype to demonstrate closely how the production copy will be. I had no issues placing or pulling pegs in and out of the lotus pod, and I also enjoyed the weight of the pods and the detailed imprints of flowers on them. The pegs are wooden and fit nicely into their designated slots, and the Kickstarter design looks like they will be even easier to grasp to pull out which is a great improvement. I am interested in knowing more about the direction of the organization of the box, because as of now the prototype is just an open box with all the components in baggies. I do know there is a plan for an insert of some sort and hope it will be just as great as the other components. Honestly, I had trouble finding any flaws for this game, and the only big wish list item I would like to be included is a Game Trayz insert that has some thematic feel blended into it. Overall the components are great, especially for a prototype, so I can imagine the production copies will be even better.
Here at Green Akers Games we love games. It sometimes can be difficult to be a reviewer since almost every game has at least something to love about it! So what we like to do is simply let our readers/viewers know if we think this game is a game we'd choose to pay for, play, and recommend to others without hesitation. A 3 out of 3 is a perfect score while anything less means the game has missed the mark somewhere in our eyes! We chose to do this in addition to our star system above because a game should not be deemed "bad" just because better games exist! Please keep in mind, our perception of or feelings about any game should not trump your feelings about that game. We believe that if a game interests you then you should at least give it a shot! Utilize your local FLGS or local gaming group to test out games before you decide to go all in!
Thrive gets a 3/3 from us as it is a game we will happily pay for given the price point and what you get for your money. We would have no problem putting this in the game bag regularly since it has the capability to easily be stored in such a small fashion, very easy to learn, and brings in plenty of replayability! Lastly, we would recommend this game without hesitation. Again, with each of the 6 lotus pods having 20 holes for different combinations, the replayability really is heightened. If that isn't enough for you, more game modes are being integrated into the Kickstarter currently which includes solo puzzles, different starting areas variant, and a 3 or 4 player variant! I've recently begun to buy more and more abstract games because my wife really enjoys the genre, and Thrive will be a brilliant addition to my collection that I think she will really enjoy. This does not mean YOU will love this game as not every game is for everyone. Thrive is a beautiful and easy to learn game that will bode well for the both strategic or more casual gamer.
"Your purpose is to not simply endure, but instead to thrive."
Below are links to the Adam's Apple Games for other great games, the Kickstarter for Thrive, and a link to BGG to see more reviews and such for Thrive. We'd also love for you to join us in the comments section with your thoughts! Create a member profile and let us know what you think!