Open Seat Gaming: Bosk Review
Disclaimer: This review is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by Floodgate Games to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Publisher: Floodgate Games
Design: Daryl Andrews and Erica Bouyouris
Art: Kwanchi Moriya, Matt Paquette
Mechanisms: Area Influence, Grid Movement, and Hand Management
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Game Time: 20 – 40 minutes
Description: Bosk (n): A small wooded area; thicket. In the game Bosk, you are building up your own thickets over a years time in a National Park. Your goal is to score the most victory points, which are calculated in two of the four seasons (phases) of the game. To do this players want to control certain areas of the park and be efficient in their placement/movement of leaves.
For your trees, the year starts with the spring phase where everyone takes turns growing trees along trail intersections. During the Summer phase, you score each column and row by adding up the values of each tree for each player.
In the autumn phase, players take turns choosing from their hand of leaf tiles, which determine the amount of leaves that will blow off of the selected tree in the current direction of the wind. Players place the corresponding amount of active leaf tokens within terrain squares adjacent to the selected tree along a continuous path, following the wind's direction. Finally in the winter phase you score each region by counting the controlled terrain squares where the players have their leaves on top. The player with the most victory points at the end of the winter phase wins.
Review: I love unique themes in games, especially ones that incorporate nature. If a game has a nature theme, I will almost always be willing to try it. The theme of Bosk is fabulous, as is the overall execution. The amazingly thematic nature of Bosk inspired me to go up and visit the Shenandoah National Park to photograph the game in a natural setting.
The OSG gang first got to try this game in prototype form at Origins 2018. At that point in time, most of the gameplay was in its final form. We loved it and enjoyed its puzzly nature, and I had an inkling that it would be an amazing game that would blow people away. The twist on area influence while utilizing such a unique theme is excellent. Parts of the game feel peaceful and zen-like, which is a rare feeling in an area control/influence game.
The artwork is magnificent, Kwanchai Moriya continues to knock it out of the park. The box cover and character art for the first player (hiker) token is quite evocative. The graphic design is well done; they worked to develop the game so it could be as color-blind friendly as possible. By having each tree and leaf color also match an actual tree species, each players' trees and leaves have their own distinct shape. Different regions of the board also contain distinct illustrations to help differentiate each one from the other.
Overall, component quality is great. The board is double sided and has different sized play areas for each player count. The cardboard components are of a good thickness. The wooden leaf tokens are great, as are the squirrels. I love the creativity that went into making the insert; each player color has their own container. My one quibble with the components would be that you have to be extra careful putting the trees together because, otherwise, they can end up lopsided and/or unbalanced. At the same time, I feel that is the nature of cardboard, so there isn't much that could really be done to remedy that issue.
Bosk has a clear and straightforward rulebook, which makes it simple to learn and teach. You can easily find things you are looking for within it, also the organization and layout of the rules is very intuitive. The nerd in me also appreciates the National Park facts included at the bottom of each page.
Try, Buy, Deny: If you enjoy nature themes and art, unconventional/ twists on area control/ area influence, and/ or quality components, then Bosk is a buy. If area influence games aren't your thing, I still definitely recommend giving Bosk a try. Because of all the things that Bosk brings to the table - the art, the sharp gameplay that is seamlessly integrated with the forest theme, and the quality production value - Bosk is unquestionably one of my favorite games of the year thus far.