I promised an eventual write up of Everdell back when I covered Wingspan. I never got around to that write up as I traded Everdell away shortly after. While I had enjoyed my one play of it, I wasn't blown away and in one of my many culls, I chose to pass it onto the next person.
It then became one of a handful of games that I had second thoughts about and reacquired. I'll be doing a video on that list at some point, but the short version is that most games that I've reacquired to try a few more times didn't make it in the long run. Over time I've found that my first impressions usually stick through multiple plays. Everdell may be one of a handful of exceptions to that list.
Everdell is a card combo, worker placement, tableau building game. That's a lot all at once but it works well. When you first start a game of Everdell, you'll feel like there's no way you can do anything in this game. And when you'e done, you'll feel like you weren't ambitious enough. You start the game with no resources, 2 workers, a handful of cards and an expectation that you'll build out 15 cards by the end of the game. It literally feels impossible. But through a fairly well designed and balanced introduction of both your tableau and additional workers, you'll end up being able to do far more than you ever thought possible....but also not so much that it feels easy. In fact, the introduction of a 15 card limit to your tableue is a clever piece of game design that forces the player to optimize around timing and sequencing rather than purely going for cheap cards that will produce a lot...but score you little.
I think that's why I didn't love it the first time....both on the intro and tail end you kind of feel like the game didn't work as well for you. But after my second play....wow. I went from thinking the game was pretty good to loving this game. Now that I know what to expect, now that I know the real game that's being presented here....I am soooo on board. And it doesn't hurt that the game is absolutely beautifully illustrated. A charming world, with amazing drawings, with characters that create the world they inhabit. It's basically Redwall the board game. Although actually I think Root might be Redwall the board game....but there's room for two.
Everdell is stunning, teaches in 5 minutes, and tactically rewarding. My one caution, is make sure to tell the people you're playing with what to expect. It will make that first play go from good to great.