Players: 2 to 6
Game Length: 60-90 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 3 to 5 aspiring pepper-farmers who like treading on each others’ toes
Welcome to the town of Scoville! You’re just in time for the annual Scoville Chili Pepper Festival, where you’ll be competing with others for the coveted Scoville Trophy by trading at the Farmer’s Market, planting peppers and cooking chili. Only the grower who can generate the most heat will be crowned the King (or Queen) of Chili!
In Scoville, players will take turns planting peppers, then harvesting them by moving their farmer token between the planted peppers. The pepper they gain is determined by the colours on opposite sides of their farmer – moving between a blue and yellow pepper will produce a green pepper, for example – with the most valuable being the elusive (and sparkly!) Phantom Pepper. Players have access to a colour mixing chart which shows them what to expect when growing their peppers, and they’ll need a wide variety of peppers to complete the chili recipes or participate in Farmer’s Market trades.
You’ll have the best chance of victory in Scoville if you stick with at least one other player as they move about the field, but you will start to tread on each others’ toes as the more valuable peppers are planted and players start manoeuvring to block others from picking up the peppers they want the most. You’ll also need to pick your position in turn order carefully – going earlier gives you the first chance of fulfilling recipes and trades, but going later lets you pick the best peck of pre-pickled peppers from the field.
Scoville moves at a good pace, with several game elements that drive the field towards providing the higher-level peppers, such as the point bonuses for being the first to plant each pepper and the Afternoon phase which provides greater bonuses for trading and auctions. Higher-level peppers are worth more points, and the gentle ramping-up of the stakes allows beginner players to grasp the game in full without being completely left behind in their first game by advanced players.
Scoville works best with 3-5 players – with 6, there are a huge quantity of recipes and trades to take in from the start of the game, which can be overwhelming, and with 2 players you miss out on a lot of the interaction that makes Scoville appealing. It’s a bright and colourful game that will appeal to newcomers and is satisfying to play, as players grow from planting the humble lower-level peppers to raking in multiple Black, White or Phantom peppers in a turn. There is a good balance of tactical and strategic play, and you’ll be jostling with the other players all game long.
Scoville comes highly recommended to those wanting a colourful European-style game with broad appeal. It makes a great gateway game while still offering a solid strategic experience for seasoned gamers. If you can stand the heat, you’ll find growing and cooking peppers in Scoville a truly rewarding experience!