The Hanging Gardens - Board Game Box Shot

The Hanging Gardens

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The hanging gardens were one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, as all history courses teach. But, did they actually exist? Nothing remains of their reported splendor, which was built for the eyes of Amyitis.

Without an exact reference to follow, the 2-4 players will re-establish the hanging gardens according to their own tastes.

Card follows card with magnificent buildings, sparkling fountains, and exotic plants as the players work to rebuild the legendary gardens.

In the end, the queen will be pleased and rewards the victory palm to the player whose work on the gardens most impresses her highness.

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“A mellow, contemplative game”

The Hanging Gardens is a mellow, deceptively simple tile-laying game. (The “tiles” are in fact cards.) The box says 2-4 players, but 2-3 is the sweet spot.

The principal mechanism is the laying of cards to build large connected areas of identically colored-squares, which when created allow you to take a scoring tile. The scoring pieces come in different colors and values, and sets of the same color increase in value substantially. The larger the connected area you form, the greater choice you have of available scoring pieces.

The placing of the cards is very puzzle-centric. There are six square spaces on a card, but at most 3 will be colored in different combinations of colors and layout. Colored squares must always be placed above parts of already-placed cards, including your starting card. Placing the cards becomes more difficult after you start scoring regions, because you must place a wooden marker on a square in the region, and you cannot place cards on the markers.

At any given time, there is a small set of cards and scoring tiles available, so turns often feel reactive and tactical. With practice though, you start to get a sense for how to lay cards to set up big plays at later times. The style of play and learning curve remind me of playing cribbage, although arguably there is more strategy in THG because your card placements are permanent, and the deck continues to shrink.

In my experience the game encourages contemplative play. It is fairly short, running about 45 minutes per game, although it is possible to play much faster with experience. It is a pleasant way to spend some time with a friend or two.

 

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