Seasons is a board game for 2-4 players, released by Libellud in 2012. It was designed by Régis Bonnessée, who is perhaps better known for his later design of Dice Forge. This is a fairly complex game, with lots of elements, lots of cards to read, and lots of interactions to balance. However, once you get used to game play a game should last about 60 minutes... plan on about twice that for a learning game.

The game has two stages. First, everyone drafts cards containing magic items and familiars; these all have different effects, and it can take a while to read them all and work your way through the drafting phase. Second, you cycle through three 'years' of four 'seasons', during which you roll and draft dice to gain resources and try to play all the cards you drafted. Doing this well results in an effective and satisfying engine that maximizes your points. In the process, you will have to balance gathering resources, gaining slots in which to play your cards, gaining new cards, and gaining victory points.

If that sounds complicated, it is. Most modern board games make an effort to be a bit easier to learn. However, for the most part the basic game play is easy enough once you've done one play-through. Unfortunately, the game designers were not a bit focused on ease-of-play, so there are some unnecessary wrinkles; for example, they use three separate terms to refer to victory points, use obscure terms to provide thematic flare, and made some design choices that are visually confusing.

This game is noteworthy in part because of the art, which is... silly, high-quality comic animal magicians. The artists for this game were Xavier Gueniffey Durin (who also illustrated The Big Book of Madness and Lords of Xidit) and Stéphane Gantiez.

There are currently two expansions, Seasons: Enchanted Kingdom (2013) and Seasons: Path of Destiny (2014), and I do not believe that any others are planned. Both expansions include new cards to add to the deck and optional new game mechanics. While the extra cards are welcome, the new mechanics are mostly not that compelling.

While this may sound like a lukewarm review, Seasons is a very good game with a lot of replayability. It is less popular than it could be simply because it is not easy to learn; the first time you play everything is very confusing; the second time, it's no longer so confusing, but there's still a lot of delay as you read through new card effects and look up terms. If you get to the point of playing it semi-regularly, it's great, but it asks for a lot of mental energy and time investment. And it's worth it. But there are a lot of other games that are also worth playing, and that are a lot easier to teach to new players. Sadly, it's uncommon to see Seasons in game shops these days, but it's not too hard to find on-line.

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