Everdell: Pearlbrook – Starling Games – Review

Pearlbrook adds just the right amount of content to influence the gameplay strongly and give tons of new stuff to explore. 

Joseph Summa



Theme and What is it?


Everdell: Pearlbrook represents the expansion of the animal tribes that have taken residence at the Evertree.  They stayed close for a long time, but now it is time to explore the nearby regions.  The Pearlbrook river was not too far away.  A strange race of waterfolk live in the waters and have access to precious pearl resources.  These pearls pave the way to constructing fabulous Wonders that will last the ages and give access to simple but powerful adornments.

Gameplay Mechanics


Everdell is a game with worker placement to gain resources.  Those resources are then used to build cards from hand or the shared meadow.  Many building constructions allow for playing certain critter cards for free.  These cards get played into a unique city with a maximum of 15 cards played throughout the game (with a few specific exceptions).  Players will return workers as they enter new seasons of play and gain bonuses at the start of each season.  

Pearlbrook adds new amphibious frog workers and frog exclusive spots on a side river board.  It replaces normal awards with wonder construction spaces.  Pearlbrook gives each player 2 adornments that cost a pearl to play and give an instant reward and some sort of end game scoring bonus.  

Initial Impressions


Pearlbrook looks like it is adding just the right amount of content to influence the gameplay strongly and give tons of new stuff to explore.  But it took very little time to learn the new mechanics and enjoy playing the game with Pearlbrook included.  

Game Build Quality


Pearlbrook has excellent quality components.  The cards have a linen finish feel and are a bit glossy.  The round pearls have a flattened bottom so they behave nicely.  The insert nicely fits the new constructions and handy open/closed signs.  This is a very nice addition to the game making it much easier for other players to know when your open card spots are available for use rather than figuring it out right as someone goes there. 

The collector’s edition copy that I am reviewing is absolutely stunning.  If I take the insert out of the base game, I can still store everything in the original box if I wanted to.  I rather like both inserts though.

Artistic Direction


It took me a while after they released Everdell to play the game.  Everyone had the same thing to say.  Over and over.  IT IS SO PRETTY!  The Evertree gives it enormous table presence and the tableau of cards will always look excellent.  

One of the nicest parts of the new components in Pearlbrook was how the wonder construction overlays exactly match the main board artwork on all edges. You can say the same thing of the river board itself as it connects to the edges of the main board.  Everything is a seamless, aesthetic masterpiece.  

Fun Factor


Pearlbrook adds to the thing that makes Everdell itself fun.  Building your city carefully.  When there are cards you can play for free to get an advantage now, that is super awesome. But if you do this too many times, the 15 sized city will cut you off.  It is extremely well designed so that while everyone else is jealous of all your free stuff early; you run out of space to put all those saved resources to use.  

Pick which chains you make carefully and don’t forget to construct some wonders.  They are great points!

Age Range & Weight


13+ is high of a rating for age.  They must have picked it because of complexity.  If you don’t teach Everdell carefully, it might feel overwhelmingly complex.  It really is a quite simple rule set.  But there are a fair few things going on between resource collection, drafting, playing from a shared pool, free build chains, and end game scoring in a bunch of different ways.  



Pearlbrook has improved my opinion of Everdell considerably.  I thought the game was all right the first time I played it with 4 players.  But it seemed chaotic and was difficult for new players to make it clear to each other what they were doing and what they could build at that moment.  

Pearlbrook didn’t add much to complicate that experience but make the worker placement part more fluid.  The open-and-closed signs do a great job of making players better able to follow a key part of the game using the cards other players put down.