Papillon – Kolossal Games – Review

An abstract game with a few simple mechanics, knitted together into a beautiful package. This is "think-y" enough for more-serious gamers, but easy & attractive enough to attract less-serious gamers as well.

Drew Vogel



Theme and What is it?


A butterfly garden requires vision and a caring hand. Spring has arrived, and the world is in bloom. As your garden grows, caterpillars will congregate and morph into beautiful butterflies eager for nectar.

Papillon is a tile-drafting, tableau-building, and area majority game for 2-4 players. Over 8 rounds, you will bid for flower tiles to build your garden, attract butterflies to flowers with valuable nectar, and of course, every garden looks better with a gnome. Collect the most nectar at the end of the game and you’ll win!

Papillon Features:

– Beautiful 3D flowers and butterfly components that come alive on your table.
– Approachable rules, yet deep strategic game play for expert level play.
– Fun, innovative butterfly mechanic that encourages you to move your butterflies around the garden!

Gameplay Mechanics


The mechanics of Papillon are straight-forward and easy to learn. 

There is a “market” of up to 9 flower tiles (depending on player count), which are drawn from an included cloth bag. In turn order, players take either one row or one column of all flower tiles. 

The turn order is determined by a bidding mechanic which includes rewards for being pushed back in the turn order by other bidders. A bonus “gnome” is available for the first player who takes the row/column containing the gnome. 

Flower tiles are placed in the player’s play area and butterflies congregate in completed areas. Butterflies are attached (with neat little clothespins) to 3D flower models as an area majority mechanic. The player who has a majority on the flower model earns most points at the end of the game, with second majority earning fewer points, etc. Additional points are awarded for tile fields enclosed on all sides.

Initial Impressions


The art on the box of Papillon is beautiful and enticing. The components are of very good quality, with thick, nicely finished cardboard tokens and attractive 3D flower models. The novel components — the 3D flowers and the butterflies attached to little clothespins — are well-constructed (see a minor quibble, below).

The flower models have a lovely table presence and look great with the butterflies attached.


Game Build Quality


The quality of all the components is high. All the cardboard has an attractive linen finish.

One minor quibble (with a fix!) is that the flowers tend to drop their petals and their bases in the box. A few minutes with some Elmer’s glue and a toothpick to fasten the petals and bases to the 3D models solves it nicely and everything still fits very well in the box.

Artistic Direction


The art is beautiful and appropriate for this game. It evokes a peaceful, pastoral feeling. There are tiny moments of whimsy — the gnome tokens & caterpillar tokens are really cute — that add to the nice feeling about this game. I wish there were a few more “hidden” details on the tiles, such as little animals peeking out or more variety within the colors of flowers, to make it even more visually interesting.

This game should fit comfortably on a standard card table at any player count. It looks great on the table.

Fun Factor


This is a game with simple rules, but some complex decisions make it enjoyable strategic. This is heavier than a filler and light enough that you can play a couple times during your game night.

There is a 2-player variant that does not use the bidding mechanic. Instead, in the 2-player game, the player that takes the gnome for the round becomes the first player. This presents a slight issue — the first player can dominate the gnome tokens (they get to select first, after all) and prevent the other user from being able to become first player. This is an issue only at 2-players; the game plays well at all player counts.

The game box suggests 14+ as the age range. The BGG community suggests 10+, which feels right for me. The game is not complex enough, nor are the themes mature enough, for it to be 14+.



An abstract game with a few simple mechanics, knitted together into a beautiful package. This is “think-y” enough for more-serious gamers, but easy & attractive enough to attract less-serious gamers as well.