‘Abandon All Artichokes’ proves even heartless card games are adorable
Abandon all artichokes, like many things in this modern existence, is a game of cognitive dissonance. Artichokes are cute and fun, and come with a variety of facial expressions that you will probably enjoy. You also want them to walk away from you and basically spend the entire game throwing them in the trash.
Designed by Emma Larkins, Gamewright’s latest deckbuilder is another entry in his adorable yet surprisingly strategic designed card game series like Go Sushi! and Go nuts for donuts. Featuring cute vegetable illustrations by Bonnie Pang, the game starts you off with just artichokes – 5 in your hand and 10 in all – and the goal is to get rid of all of them. Each turn you collect a different vegetable from the common Garden Row, and each card gives you different abilities, with the overall goal being to either get rid of (composted) artichokes or just get more cards.
A potato, for example, allows you to compost an artichoke if you pull one from the top of your pickaxe. An onion compostes an artichoke with your hand, but then you have to put the onion on another the person’s discard pile, making it essentially a one-time card. Each vegetable has a unique circumstance for the game and also has an impact on your draw total, artichoke total, and whether other players can find that vegetable in the garden on their own.
Other cards allow you to recycle and reuse other vegetables (corn, pepper) in different ways so that the cards move from your draw pile and discard into your hand. The main objective is to get rid of the artichokes, yes, but you actually win when you hit a five card hand with zero artichokes. So there are several ways to do this, including filling your deck with cards without artichokes.
The game starts out slowly, as players take a single card from the garden, play that card, and then their turn is basically over. But it grows rapidly, using all available cards and trying to find the best way to get rid of cards and collect more useful veg as the game progresses. As the game continues, some vegetables become more useful than others, while some valuable early game cards become unimportant filler. Broccoli, for example, allows you to compost an artichoke if you have three or more in hand. But later in the game, this map is largely useless, as you might not get three artichokes in total if you play it right.
Abandon all artichokes offers plenty of strategy options that turn a cute, fast-paced game into something you might think about long after you’ve finished playing. It’s also hilarious to catch yourself wondering if you should have picked up a carrot instead of peas and it wouldn’t be on a trip to the supermarket. As fast as it is played (20 minutes indicated on the box) it also doesn’t seem like it ends abruptly, as you will often feel one or two rounds away from victory even if someone steals the victory from you. .
What I really liked about the game in particular is that it works well with two players, and even with the small group there are several strategies you can use to win. Keeping as few cards as possible in your deck works as well as quickly stacking it with cards to reduce your chances of drawing artichokes. There is still a bit of variation depending on what other players are doing, and just enough luck to keep things interesting until the last draw. In three or four player games, there are more possibilities to use other player’s decks to your advantage, stealing cards and sticking early game cards with little use to another player in exchange. more useful cards as the game continues.
If you want to be extremely invested in strategy, you can keep an eye on which cards people are picking up, where they are in their decks, and help inform the decisions you make with your own cards. Playing an Onion card and giving it to whoever you think is least likely to win, or perhaps taking a card from an opponent’s draw pile that you think a carrot might happen, could make a difference. in a game and steal the victory from another player. It could also, conversely, turn completely against you and give someone the victory.
If this all sounds like too much of a vegetable-themed card game, you can also worry about your own cards and have fun. The game is extremely fast-paced, with towers moving quickly once everyone knows the rules. It’s also quite easy to pick up, so even a bad or unlucky trick is quickly forgotten as well. In the pre-pandemic game, a lonely friend rejected the game after just one turn, but for everyone else it clicked pretty immediately and they wanted to replay it right away. For those who can’t be sold initially, a second part is usually even faster, meaning they won’t have to endure Artichokes for a very long time. However, anyone looking to dig deeper into the garden row will find a lot of strategy under the very cute surface.