The Hanging Gardens (Saturday Review)

Release Date: 2008 Players: 2-4
Designer: Din Li Tsan Length:  30-45 minutes
Artist: Harald Lieske Age: 8+
Publisher: Hans im Glück Complexity: 1.5 / 5

Strolling along the parterres, taking in the view of the stepped garden to one side and the water garden on the other, you relax and try to fully appreciate the immensity of this Wonder of the world. The whole arrangement is cleverly emphasized by carefully placed temples. The huge amount of work and dedication that has gone into this expansive and exquisitely manicured design, the countless shrubs, hedges and flowering plants, all add to the feeling that you are but a small creature in this giant world. Suddenly the zen-like peace is rudely interrupted by deafening noises, as you watch in disbelief as the water garden is bulldozed to the ground to make room for more parterres. Welcome to The Hanging Gardens by Hans im Glück, which are in constant change to score the gardener as many points as possible.

In the game, your task is to place cards from a shared pool to make groups of connected gardens. Each card is divided into six sections, showing one or more of three different garden types. As soon as you create a continuous garden of one type that is at least three squares large, you can place a temple and then choose a scoring tile from another shared pool. The scoring tiles add a set collection element, as their point value grows as you collect more of the same type.
The rules are really simple, even if they sound confusing from my description, and every player has their own garden, which means the game is basically multiplayer solitaire, except when it comes to choosing cards or tiles from the shared pools. The game is therefore very calm and peaceful. Placing cards to make bigger and bigger gardens is a lovely little geometric puzzle, but you never get too attached to your designs, as you will quickly plough over what you built to make room for the next feature.
You feel very much like a gardener for a large estate, tasked with keeping the gardens interesting all year round and constantly re-inventing the design to cater for new tastes and expectations. You clearly have an endless budget, given how frequently you rip up existing gardens and build new ones, all the while extending your gardens’ overall size.
The game is pretty compact, and if you take it out of its original box, you can take it with you very easily. Table space is needed though, to allow everyone to build their sprawling gardens. Playtime is relatively quick, allowing you to play two or three games easily in one evening. It is also very quick to explain, so should suit most people.
I appreciate The Hanging Gardens has been around for quite some time, but can I highly recommend it and hope you take a closer look. It’s a light game, but that’s sometimes the perfect way of spending time before or after a games night, or when wanting to fill an hour peacefully with friends or family.
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