Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Bees and Trees --- The Cottarton Game

Picture our domain at Cottarton, fields, winding pathways, gardens of Canterbury bells,vegetable rows, and then some special features such as the house, cabin, greenhouse, labyrinth, beehives. Not to forget special residents such as our three cats and the bees. How clearly can you see it all? Now transfer your vision to cardboard tiles, arrange them in ways that suit you. You’re not the only player in this game. There are others and they may not agree with you on how to build the gardens, where to put paths or the position of the greenhouse. All players place their tokens on pathways, gardens, special features and even fields. Points are awarded for completed gardens and paths. Special tiles that contain a bee win you extra points because bees increase the value of a garden.

Now you’re playing Bees and Trees, the table top game that Lois left for us under the tree. When I opened the box and saw the handcrafted tiles, for a moment I thought that with the assistance of a magic spell she'd encapsulated features of our domain on small cards. That if I stared for long enough at the log hive I’d see bees flying. Or that the cats would start dancing. We sat around the table, picked our token --- each player has six; pebbles and shells that Lois had gathered at the foot of Mount Olympus in Greece. And so the players each picked a card when their turn came. Like Woofers, they built pathways, gardens, planted trees and laid claim to the special features. Perhaps the one aspect not true to life was the competition for lucrative gardens and the fields that contain them. People who visit us don’t jockey to possess anything.

Gardens -- bee included

 But after all, it’s a game, not a bad place to let your competitive instincts express themselves. Or to explore how to take the cards that you’re dealt, apparently at random, and build something beautiful.