App Review – Morels

I don’t like mushrooms.

Just imagining the texture and tasting them makes my skin crawl a little bit. I used to pick them off of my Supreme pizza, though now if I happen to get a piece of Supreme, I’ll grin and bear it because usually the other toppings cover up the taste.

Who would have thought that I might like a game about mushrooms, though?

Morels (2012 – Two Lanterns Games) was just released by Mossbark Games for iOS and Android devices, and it is a very polished app.

Morels - Main

Morels is a 2-player card game about mushrooms. Collecting them, cooking them, turning them in for foraging sticks, and avoiding the Destroying Angels that might come up.

Yummy! (Editor – Now try saying that without the grimace)

You start with a hand of three cards and a pan in front of you. The cards can be various mushrooms, yet another pan, butter, or cider.

Morels - Play area
Lots of mushroom…goodness out there.

Then there is the Forest (a row of cards) to choose from on the table. You can select one of the two cards on the right end of the Forest, but to go any further left, you need foraging sticks (I’ll get to those in a moment).

When you take a card, the rightmost card left will slide into the “Decay” off to the side. If the Decay has four cards in it already, then those cards will be discarded and the new card will start a new Decay.

You can also take all of the cards in the Decay on your turn instead of a card from the row. But keep in mind you have a hand limit of 8 cards! You also get two extra cards in your limit for each basket in front of you.

So what are you trying to do with these mushrooms?

You are trying to collect sets of at least three mushrooms of the same type, so you can cook them and eat their juiciness! (Editor – You really are trying too hard)

Morels - Pan

To do so, you need a pan.

The pan can be in front of you or in your hand. To cook the mushrooms and play them in front of you, just tap on one of the mushroom cards and all of them will light up. If you have a pan in front of you (which you start with), just drag them to your play area. If you have a pan in your hand you’re using, then you tap on the pan as well, and then drag.

On your turn, you can play a pan in front of you if you want the space back in your hand and don’t have any other actions you want to do.

Morels - Butter
Butter and four mushrooms will give you 3 more points!

By adding a Butter or a Cider card to your cooking (and having four or five mushrooms of the same type respectively), you can get even more points!

Morels - Honey Fungus
The Honey Fungus will get you one point per card, or one foraging stick per card.

Each mushroom card has a points value on the top left and then a number of foraging sticks underneath that value.

You can discard two or more of the same type of mushroom to get the appropriate number of foraging sticks. This will help you get cards further along the Forest before your opponent can.

Morels - Night card

There are also eight Night cards. When you take one of those, you will turn it in for the top card of the Night deck. There is one of every type of mushroom in the Night deck (except for a Morel, which is too good for Night apparently).

Morels - Destroying Angel

If you get stuck with a Destroying Angel (a poisonous mushroom), then you must discard down to four cards (plus two for each basket). Your hand limit is this size for one turn for each set of mushrooms you have cooked.

Play continues until the Forest is empty. Then final scores are totaled and whoever has the most points is the winner!

Is Morels a tasty morsel of forest goodness or is it a slimy mess that sits on your plate and makes you gag?

Morels, the card game itself is very simple and easy to learn. It’s just a basic set collection game with an interesting mechanic of the Decay. There’s not a lot new to it, though it is a 2012 game so that isn’t necessarily surprising.

That being said, it’s quite fun for a 2-player card game. I can see myself playing it on lunch with my co-worker, or on a trip with my wife. It could even be a nice filler while waiting for the rest of the game group to show up.

The artwork on the cards is really great (this is a comment for both the game itself and the app, as I’m assuming it’s using the same art). Just look at that evocative Destroying Angel above, but also the mushrooms themselves. The baskets, pans, cider and butter all have that down home farm feeling which just brings a sense of countryside peace to my mind.

Now that I’ve talked about the decent card game, can I talk about the phenomenal app? (Editor – You’re the boss…wait, I am, aren’t I? Sure, you can)

Morels - Night mushroom

Mossbark Games has done a wonderful job with the app implementation of the game. The graphics are crisp and clear, bringing out the colour and the brilliant art work.

There are all sorts of multiplayer options, including asynchronous play (can I polish your boots, Mossbark?). The asynchronous play is smooth as butter (of course it is, there’s butter in the app!). You can get notifications for your turn and getting into your game is really simple.

My only complaint about the online multiplayer is that they did the same thing as Temple Gates did with the otherwise awesome Race for the Galaxy: the evil Friend Codes!

Thankfully, Mossbark didn’t make the same mistake Temple Gates did right out of the..ahem…gate. You do have the same Friend Code whether you’re using your phone or your tablet (Race initially had them be different until they responded to the mob with pitchforks outside of their…umm….gates by changing it).

Thank heavens for small favours.

But I’m still not sure why Friend Codes are better than just having their username and adding it to a friends list.

That is so much simpler.

Anyway, once you are past the Friend Code nonsense and actually playing with your friends, it’s a wonderful experience.

The game is short enough that you could easily play live, so kudos to Mossbark for including asynchronous play.

It’s also cross-platform, so your evil Google-head Android user friends can play with you too.

The app is just so polished. Everything lights up to show you just what you can do. If you tap two of the same cards to discard them for foraging sticks, the discard pile lights up giving you an easy indicator of what you should do with them.

If you tap three or more, your play area lights up to show where to drag your cards to cook them. Try taking a card or the Decay cards when you don’t have room in your hand, and it blatantly tells you that you can’t do that.

In addition to a great user interface, the layout of the board is great. It’s easy to compare your current scores, see how many foraging sticks you have, how many you may need to get a card, what your current hand limit is and how close you are to it, etc. Double tapping a card blows it up so you can see it (how do you think I got all of those great pictures?)

Morels - End Game
I got an achievement for winning a game with fewer than 20 points!

Finally, I have to say that the tutorial is great. It’s a very simple game, so they could have scrimped on the tutorial, but it’s very interactive and intuitive. It gives you everything you need to learn the game (which again isn’t much) and then lets you finish the game you started if you wish.

There’s also an in-game rulebook that is brief but will answer any questions you may have. It includes a card reference to show you all of the card details.

Morels is simply a wonderful app. Games are quick so you could easily play a game (or fifty) while standing in line at the DMV. Mulitplayer is a breeze.

It’s a solid app that I will keep coming back to, though basic set-collection games do wear out their welcome after a while. It will stay on my phone for playing when that welcome comes back, though.

I highly recommend this app!

Morels is available on iOS and Android devices for $4.99 US ($6.49 for us poor Canadians)

Disclaimer: a promo code for this game was sent to me by Mossbark in exchange for an honest review


2 Comments on “App Review – Morels

  1. Pingback: Boardgame Apps – Asynchronous Play Revisited – Dude! Take Your Turn!

  2. Pingback: App Review – Chai – Dude! Take Your Turn!

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