One Board Family: Gardening & Gaming

One Board Family: Gardening & Gaming

The weather is warming up and the dirt is waiting to be dug into! The theme of gardening, planting and harvesting is not new to the gaming world. With so many games out there, which are the best picks for your family? We’ll give you 6 games that your family should get on the table this Spring. You don’t have to have a green thumb to have a great time with these garden themed games.


Pencil First Games has created one of our favorite set collection games and it’s all based around collecting and potting herbs. In Herbacious, players have to make decisions on placing herbs in their own private garden or the community garden that everyone has access to on their turn. Each player is trying to collect sets of herbs to plant in 4 different planters that have different requirements.

Herbacious puts you in tough situations as you try to time it just right as you take herbs from the community garden. If you wait too long to gather your herbs, another player is sure to take them and leave you empty handed. Players gain victory points based on the number of herbs planted in each of their 4 planters. The game contains the beautiful artwork of Beth Sobel and is fantastic for both kids and adults. Herbacious is a must play as we get ready for Spring.

Great for kids and adults
Plays in around 25 minutes


Cottage Garden

Cottage Garden is a tile laying gardening game from German designer Uwe Rosenberg. Players are drafting tiles of different shapes and sizes from a central grid and filling the spaces on their two personal gardens. Some spaces in the gardens are worth points for leaving them uncovered. Players earn points for visible plant pots and planting bells. The game lasts 5 rounds which lasts around 45 minutes to an hour.

If you look at this game and think it looks like the game Patchwork, you’re on the right track. They share lots of similarities but I think Cottage Garden has added depth that we really enjoyed. We’ve only played this game at the 4 player count and have really enjoyed it. The drafting mechanic for the tiles is very well thought out and it leads to some tough choices. Having two personal gardens gives you flexibility to draft a tile for a future need so you don’t feel like yours just jamming tiles into place because it was your only option.

Best with adults or kids 10+
Plays in 45 minutes to an hour


Harvest Dice

This roll-and-write game from Grey Fox Games is a lot of fun and offers enough strategy for both kids and adults. In Harvest Dice, players are rolling colored dice that represent carrots (orange), lettuce (green) and tomatoes (red). Each person is given a garden plot where they will plant these three crops. Just like many roll-and-write games, everyone stays engaged during the game because you’ll draft dice from each of the rolls that are taken around the table.

What’s unique about this game is that players have to draw the crop on their score sheet. This has led to some laughs as we check out the artwork around the table. Players can choose to feed their pet pig in order to get special abilities to modify the dice during the game. I loved teaching this to our 10 year old because she understood it immediately and had a great time with this small box game. Harvest Dice is quickly becoming one of our favorite roll-and-write games!

Great for kids and adults
Plays in under 30 minutes


Veggie Garden

I was really surprised the first time we played Veggie Garden. The game is built around a shifting economy that sets a value for the different vegetables on the board. Up to 4 players are fighting for space in the garden while using the abilities of the different items to change the values on the board. After six rounds players calculate the value of each crop by the number on the adjacent fence post. Players add their score using the veggies they harvested that are in their hand at the end of the game.

Veggie Garden plays quickly, is easy to learn and has some light strategy. In a two player game you have more control over the values on the board. In a 4 player game there is more chaos but is still really fun. This game can feel a little mean at times when players gang up to drop the value of particular vegetable. The more we played this game, the more we found a need to diversify the veggies we collect to get the most points. If you don’t mind a little “take that” in your games, Veggie Garden might be a great game to pick up this season.

Great for kids and adults
Plays in 20 to 30 minutes



Every time Takenoko hits the table, people mention how beautiful this game is. Players are gaining points by completing objective cards of three different types. One card may have you eating specific colors of bamboo with the panda while another card might have you growing bamboo to a specific height. There are a variety of ways to gain points as you compete with the people around you.

What I like most about this game is that you’re working against your opponents without knowing what goals they are working toward. The player on your right might be growing pink bamboo while you are sending the panda to eat this same bamboo to complete your goal. There’s also a weather die that gives each player a small perk on their turn.

Takenoko is an excellent gateway game, it has a very relaxed pace and is relatively easy to learn. This isn’t a game that you’ll play every week because completing objectives can get a little repetitive, but Takenoko is a great fit for your garden themed game night.

Great for kids and adults
Plays in under an hour


Garden Dice

In Garden Dice, players are laying tiles, collecting sets of veggies and rolling dice each turn. The mechanics of this game seem simple but the real meat of the game comes from the chain reaction mechanic. Players purchase seeds with their dice then place them in the communal garden. Growing your plants in this 6 x 6 grid is incredibly important because veggies chain together when they are watered and harvested. Some spaces allow you to get multipliers when you harvest your crop also.

I really enjoy how every tile placement matters in Garden Dice. If I place a tomato tile (3 pts) and surround it with lower valued tiles, watering the tomato seeds will trickle down and water everything of a lower value around it. Sometimes it pays to setup a great network of tiles instead of reaching for the highest number on the board. You can get other players to water and help you harvest your crops by setting them up just right around their higher numbered plants. I really enjoyed the “take that” mechanics when the opponents rabbit or bird came through and snacked on my crops. There’s plenty of strategy in this game for both kids and adults to really dig into. The components are a great quality and the artwork from Josh Cappel is outstanding as always.

At the time of this writing, Garden Dice is tough to track down. Visit the BGG Market to find a copy.

Best with adults and kids 10+
Plays in about 45 minutes

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