The clever gameplay of Canopy now takes a trip to the Pacific Northwest in this sequel, which also has a few new tricks!
What Is Canopy: Evergreen?
Canopy: Evergreen is a forest-themed set-collection game for 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 20 minutes per player. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $40 for a copy of the game, or $55 for the deluxe edition. Canopy: Evergreen is a sequel to Canopy but not an expansion; it is a stand-alone game that takes some of the core ideas from the original card game and adds other features.
Canopy: Evergreen was designed by Tim Eisner and published by Weird City Games, with illustrations by Vincent Dutrait.
New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.
What’s the Difference Between Canopy and Canopy: Evergreen?
While I’ll go into more detail in the rest of this review, it’s worth noting some of the primary differences between Canopy, which I reviewed last year, and this new title.
- The original Canopy was set in a rainforest, but this one is set in the Pacific Northwest instead.
- Wildlife cards are now separated out into their own deck and you attract animals by spending food (which can be gained through certain plant cards).
- Trees are now 3D models on your own forest board rather than just cards, with opportunities to earn bonus tokens depending on where they are placed.
- Canopy was initially designed for 2 players, with variant rules that allowed for 3 or 4 players (but you ran out of cards more quickly). Canopy: Evergreen was designed to accommodate up to 4 players.
Canopy: Evergreen Components
Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality.
Here’s what comes in the game:
- 1 Wildlife mat
- Tree tokens:
- 29 Root tokens
- 34 Trunk tokens
- 24 Canopy tokens
- 5 Growth Cone tiles
- 80 Rainforest Cards
- 36 Wildlife Cards
- 8 Tallest Tree Awards
- 12 Wildlife Tokens
- Seed Cards token
- 4 sets of player components, each containing:
- Forest mat
- 11 Bonus tiles
- 100-Point token
- 1-point marker
- 10-point marker
- Food marker
- Player Aid card (not pictured)
The tree tokens are one of the big changes from the original Canopy: they’re notched cardboard and are designed so you can fit any number of trunk pieces between the roots base and the canopy. (Okay, not any number, but during one playtest a player tried stacking pieces until it became too lopsided for the base and it’s safe to say you won’t ever get too tall in an actual game.) The trees, arranged on each player’s own forest board, make for a nice visual, though I will note that you need to be careful when reaching across the table that you don’t knock your trees down.
Canopy: Evergreen features illustrations by Vincent Dutrait, whose detailed paintings are always among my favorites. From the box cover to the forest boards to the cards, there’s plenty of it to admire! All of the cards are small, half-sized cards—they aren’t my favorite, but given that you’ll be collecting a significant number of them over the course of the game and need to arrange them in your play area, it would take up too much table space if they were full-sized cards. It does mean that the flavor text at the bottom of each card is pretty tiny and could be missed, though, so if you like fun facts about the Pacific Northwest then be sure to take a closer look!
The animal tokens correspond to the abilities—you flip them to the black-and-white side to indicate that the power has been used during the season, and then flip it back to the color side at the end of the season.
The seed cone tiles are nice, thick tiles with a pinecone illustration and are used to hold the various card piles. They’re not strictly necessary but are nice to have. (The original card game did not have these for the 3- and 4-player games, so you just arranged the piles of cards around the table—these help keep things in order a bit more.)
How to Play Canopy: Evergreen
The goal of the game is to score the most points by developing your forest ecosystem with trees, plants, and wildlife, over three “seasons.”
Place a seed cone tile between each set of players, plus one in the center of the play area. (Note: in a 2-player game, you just put three seed cone tiles in a row.)
If playing with fewer than 4 players, you’ll need to remove some of the cards from the forest deck. Shuffle the forest deck and make a stack of 3 cards per player; set this stack aside and place the seed cards token on top of it. Then place one card on each seed cone tile, with an extra card on the seed cone to the right of the first player. (In a 2-player game, you place 1 card on the first tile, 2 cards on the second tile, and 3 cards on the third tile.)
Shuffle the wildlife cards and place the deck on the wildlife mat, revealing the top 3 cards.
Give each player a set of player components. Each player shuffles their bonus tokens and places one on each circle, and then reveals them. Place your markers so that you start with 1 food and 5 points. Each player also gets a starting animal at random along with the corresponding token.
The first thing you do on your turn is attract wildlife. If you have enough food, you may spend it to take one wildlife card from the board and place it in your player area. There are three types of wildlife: points, active, and foraging (in the photo above, that’s the wolf, raven, and salmon, respectively). Points wildlife are just worth 2 points at the end of the game. Active wildlife have an ability that you can use once per season—take the corresponding wildlife token so you can flip it face-down when you’ve used the ability. Foraging wildlife will score at the end of each season based on meeting a specific criteria. (Refill the wildlife board after a card is taken.)
Then you get to choose cards. You always look at the piles of cards on the seed cone tiles nearest you—from left to right in a 3- or 4-player game, or in the established order for both players in a 2-player game. After you look at a pile, you can either keep the cards in it and end your turn, or return it face-down and add one card (without looking!) from the deck and continue to the next pile. Once you’ve passed on a pile, you cannot return to it. If you pass on all three piles, you draw the top card of the deck and either keep or discard it. (If you keep a pile, put one new card in its place.)
Some cards have effects that trigger immediately: For instance, huckleberry cards will give you food based on how many huckleberry icons you currently have, both on cards and from bonus tokens. Some of the plant cards also have a little mushroom icon on them, which means you collect 1 food when you gain that card.
If you take tree cards, these are immediately used and then discarded. The root/trunk cards are used both to start a tree and to add to its height—you can place the root base in an empty space on your forest board, or add a trunk piece to an existing tree. The canopy card lets you place a canopy to complete a tree, and then you get points based on its height. (Some cards give you 2 points per tree segment, and others give you 1.) If you take a canopy card but can’t use it because you have no open trees, then you discard it and don’t get anything for it.
Finishing trees is how you collect those bonus tokens on your forest board. If you complete two trees that are connected by a path, you collect the token on that path. If the trees were the same height, you flip the token over and you get 1 point. If the trees are different heights, then you take the token and set it in your play area—that icon now counts toward any abilities that require it for the rest of the game. Note that bonus icons count toward cards, but they do not do anything on their own. For instance, you still must have at least one salal card for your salal token to be worth points.
End of Season
The season continues until a player has no cards to take at the beginning of their turn—that is, all three of their available piles are empty. Everyone in turn order gets one more chance to attract a wildlife card, and then you follow these steps.
For each “seed cone” card you have, you may draw two cards from the seed cone deck and keep one non-threat card.
Threats are evaluated: If you have two disease or wildfire, you must discard two wildlife or plant cards, respectively. If you have three or more, the disease or wildfire spreads and everyone discards 1 of the corresponding type instead. The Heat Wave is a new threat card: when you take it, you must immediately discard a card from your tableau, and then if you have any wildfire cards, you must keep it and it counts as an additional wildfire card at the end of the season.
For each foraging wildlife, you score points based on its criteria.
The player with the tallest tree gets a tallest tree award—these are worth 3/4/5 points in season 1/2/3. If there are ties, all tied players split the point value. The tallest trees are marked with the tokens, and are ineligible for the tallest tree award in future seasons.
For each set of rain + sun icons, you get 1 point. The player with the most sets gets a bonus 5 points, and second-most gets 2 points.
Score plant cards based on how many you have collected.
After scoring, discard all cards except wildlife. (Keep your bonus tokens!) Flip all of the wildlife tokens to the color side. Shuffle all of the forest cards together to form a new deck, create a new seed card deck, and start a new season. The player with the lowest score takes the first turn.
The game ends at the end of three seasons. After scoring for the season as usual, you also award 5 points to the player with the largest forest—the most completed trees (regardless of height).
At the end of the game, the points wildlife cards score 2 points each. You also score 2 points for each pair of the same animal, and 5 points for each family of three of the same animal.
Finally, you score points based on your longest wildlife chain. At the bottom of each wildlife card, there are icons on each corner. You can chain them together, as shown in the photo above, with up to six wildlife to complete the chain, and this will score as high as 12 points if you max out the chain.
The highest score wins, with ties going to the player with the most wildlife!
Why You Should Play Canopy: Evergreen
When the original Canopy launched on Kickstarter in 2020, we were still mostly in lockdown, waiting for vaccines, so I was primarily playing games online, often with my jury-rigged iPad setup. Canopy presented a particular challenge because I needed a way to show my opponent the cards in each pile without seeing them myself, so the experience wasn’t perfect—but even with that sub-par setup, I enjoyed playing it. When the finished game arrived and I was able to play it with some other people in person, it confirmed my initial reaction and I gave it our GeekDad Approved seal.
I really like the core mechanic: look at a set of cards, and either keep it or pass and add a card. That new card might make it much more valuable to the next player, but you won’t get another chance at it unless they pass. When you take a pile, you don’t get to see what’s in the later piles, so there’s always a bit of a gamble. Is the trillium in your hand worth… well, whatever’s in those other two piles? It makes for some tough decisions, even while keeping the gameplay itself easy to explain.
The one weakness with the original Canopy was that, because it was designed for 2 players, you got an abbreviated game when you played with 3 or 4 players. Part of that was simply that there weren’t enough cards to sustain that many players, especially because the tree cards stayed in your tableau. That meant the deck of cards was much larger, but the distribution of trunks and canopies could be a bit unbalanced from season to season. Designer Tim Eisner told me this was one of the primary things he worked to remedy in Canopy: Evergreen. Making the trees stackable 3D models isn’t just an aesthetic choice (though it is fun to look at): it means that the tree cards can get shuffled back into the deck every season, so the mix of cards is more balanced from season to season.
Placing the trees onto the forest board to collect bonus tokens also adds a new puzzle element to it. Which tokens do you go for first? Where do you want to plant your trees? Do you go for a taller tree for higher point values (and compete for tallest tree), or do you finish off your trees quickly so you can pick up those bonus tokens? Since the bonus tokens carry over from season to season, the sooner you claim them the more value you get from them, but it takes at least 5 cards to do so (2 roots, 2 canopies, and at least 1 trunk so the trees are different heights).
Another trick to deciding which bonus tokens to collect is that you don’t know which elements will be of value to you in future seasons. If you go after rain tokens because you have a lot of sun cards in the first season, they might be totally useless next season because you ended up with a lot of rain cards and no sun. The cat tail moss is worth 5 points per pair; if your bonus token means you have an odd number, then it’s wasted.
The wildlife cards are another big change: instead of being mixed into the forest cards, you have to spend food to attract them. That gives some weight to the plant cards that provide food, because there aren’t alternative ways to get wildlife. And in the wildlife cards, the foraging animals are new—these provide points every season if you collected the right things. The foraging wildlife can help you pick your bonus tokens—if you’ve got the black bear and you know you get extra points for huckleberries every season, then it’s worth picking up those huckleberry tokens to feed your bear!
All in all, I’m really pleased with the changes that make up Canopy: Evergreen. It retains what made Canopy great, but adds some nice improvements and fleshes it out for more players. I’ve played it at 2, 3, and 4 players and it has worked well and feels very similar across the different player counts. I would say the primary advantage original Canopy has is the small box, since it’s mostly a card game and doesn’t have the board and tree tokens. If you typically only play with 2 players and you value compactness, then Canopy is a good fit, but for most folks I’d recommend giving Canopy: Evergreen a shot. (And I admit I have some bias in the theme since I live in the Pacific Northwest, too!)
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Canopy: Evergreen Kickstarter page!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a prototype of this game for review purposes.