Mind your peaceful fall forest floor by covering it in serene leaves, collecting bonuses along the way.
Android & iOS
# of Players
Indian Summer is the Uwe Rosenberg tile placement game brought to digital by Digidiced. The game tasks up to four players to cover their forest floor area with leaves, earning special abilities along the way to help them cover the floor faster. The first player to completely cover their floor wins the game after that round is completed, this usually takes about 15 minutes with animations on normal speed.
A basic turn in Indian Summer has a player simply placing one of the tiles from their personal supply onto the forest floor board. The tile must be placed within the bounds of the board, tiles cover anywhere from three to five spaces on the floor. Each tile has one space with a hole. Should this space be played on top of a bonus tile on the floor, that space is covered with a bonus item. Once an entire 4x3 section on your floor is covered, you retrieve any bonus items from that section, each board is made up of six of these sections. These bonuses allow you to expedite the process of covering your floor by allowing you to play multiple tiles, refill your tile row, or place a squirrel which covers a single space. With all of the available bonuses in play, each turn can look quite different, but in the most basic form, a player plays a tile onto their floor and then the turn moves to the next player. Play continues until one player completes their entire floor, the remainder of that turn is taken normally followed by one final turn in which players convert all of their bonuses to nuts and place as many squirrels as they need (or is possible) to attempt to complete their board.
At the end of the game, the app counts up a score for players which isn’t mentioned in the physical game, but provides a measure for those players who didn’t win. One point is provided for each tile covered and additional points are earned by those who completed their entire floor for any nuts the player possesses. The winner will always be the player who completes their floor, with ties being broken by the number of nuts (or blueberries should the nuts also be a tie).
Indian Summer is a race, the player who finished their floor first wins the game. It is a nice design touch that the available bonuses don’t mean much of anything at the end of the game, they are only used in tiebreakers, you need to earn the bonuses and use them to help you win. This goes against my “hoard everything because I’m sure I’ll need it at an even more crucial time later” instincts, and I appreciate that aspect. It can pay off to have hoards of bonuses if you are behind, as the final “use all of your squirrels” round can result in some drastic comebacks where boards with a bunch of gaps can get filled, but even in this case, the bonuses are used to help fill your board.
The bonuses themselves are clever. Blueberries are used to replenish your tile row (which would replenish automatically should you run out), or add an additional sixth tile to your row if your row is already full. As you can see the line up incoming tiles from the general pool, use of the blueberries can be crucial to get the tiles you need. Nuts are used to place a squirrel on your board, another vital action as you will inevitably be left with rouge single spaces between tiles. Mushrooms and feathers take things up a notch by allowing you to play two tiles in one turn. Mushrooms allow you to play the first tile from two of your opponent’s rows, which is great for you and also steals from them, a double win. This also places importance on players minding what is sitting in their own first tile spot, knowing it might be swiped from underneath them. Feathers allow you to play two of your own tiles on one turn. There is also a trading system in which you can trade up these bonuses. Each bonus type can be traded at a rate of 2:1 for the bonus above it. Two blueberries for one nut, for example. All of this adds up to a lot more to think about than just “grab a tile, place a tile.”
The final rule twist are the animals. These are a separate set of tiles which can be placed at any time during your turn as a free action, should an acceptable place be available. Every space an animal tile is to cover must be filled by a leaf tile with an empty hole in it, no exceptions. This is kind of clunky to explain, and the tutorial will cover it, just know that animal tiles can provide repeat benefits of bonuses you earned earlier in the game. This is another important aspect of the game and players who plan for it will be greatly rewarded for their efforts.
All in all, Indian Summer is a really slick game. It has a great mix of “easy to explain, difficult to master” that, in my opinion, is one of the most desirable traits a game can possess. “Place tiles, cover your forest” is an incredibly simple introduction, then add some very meaningful bonuses to that and you have a simple, but deep game. The game fits nicely in the medium-light category, with a lot of strategic aspects to consider, but falling well short of being a true brain burner.
Potential downsides of the game start with the theme, which is entirely pasted on. That’s fine, it’s an abstract game at heart, but the choice of a forest and leaves makes for a bit of a bland color pallette. The game is also another in a line of Rosenberg tile placement games that includes Patchwork and Cottage Garden. I very much wondered if I needed another of those in my life when this app was announced. It’s entirely up to the user, as both of those games are good, but for me, I think Indian Summer is an improvement over Cottage Garden. Patchwork being strictly two player gives a different feel, so I think Cottage Garden is the better comparison and I think Indian Summer’s focus on the racing aspect of filling the board works better than the point building from Cottage Garden. This will likely be personal preference, of course.
Barrier to Entry
The game is taught through three short tutorials and the full PDF rulebook for the physical game is also included for reference. The tutorials do a good job of introducing the basics and then building on them. Some of the advanced details will be missed as the tutorial scoots by at a brisk pace, but you should learn enough to start playing and you’ll pick up the more specific details as you play. As per Digidice tradition, you don’t get boring guides through your tutorials, a couple of good boy doggos guide you through Indian Summer.
Just starting a game
Finished a section
Look and Feel
Players know what to expect from Digidiced games at this point. The same familiar menu system and in-game controls are here. The game looks good and the controls, a mix of drag-and-drop and click-and-confirm, all work well. There aren’t many surprises here, but a big one is how snappy and responsive the app is. The Digidiced menus have always been functional, but have also had a bit of a delay when navigating them. Indian Summer represents a breakthrough here, as everything in the game loads very quickly. This is a small, but noticeable, change that will stand out even if it doesn’t drastically change the functionality of the app. The game features a full undo button for taking back a tile placement, which is always nice to see.
Indian Summer has all of the online features you could hope for including, deep breath, the following: asynchronous and real-time games, cross-platform play, leaderboards, statistics, achievements, notifications. Ranked games can be async with 24 hour timeouts or near real-time with short time limits. You can also invite friends for a casual game, one nitpick here is that you can’t add AI or random online opponents to a casual game, so if you want a four player casual game and you only have two friends with the game, you are out of luck. You can also play local pass-and-play games.
Update 11/1/2018: Digidiced read our review and actually added the ability to add AI opponents to casual online games. Being able to find random online opponents would be ideal, but this is still a great step and will open up casual online play quite a bit!
Indian Summer works out just fine as an async game. Turns can be short, but as the game progresses and you accrue bonuses, they will extend a bit. The game doesn’t take too many turns, so async games can be completed in a reasonable time with active players.
Note for Android users. I had issues connecting to Google Play Games (required to play online). Digidiced was very responsive in helping, their fix was to uninstall the Google Play Games app, launch Indian Summer and reinstall GPG when prompted. This worked for me and I haven’t had any issues since.
Local AI games can be played against one to three AI opponents with difficulty levels of Easy, Medium, and Hard. The physical game, as noted in the PDF rulebook in the app, does have a true solo variant, but the app does not support this mode. There aren’t any game options to select, simply pick how many opponents and what AI levels they will be, and get started.
The easy AI is fairly clueless, I was able to win my first game despite fumbling my way through some of the rules. It is a good learning tool for new players, but won’t provide a long term challenge. Medium isn’t quite the same pushover, it definitely plays with some clear inefficiencies, but took me a bit of learning before I was able to defeat them, while Hard plays a strong game.
Trading some berries for a mushroom
End of game board
Not much else to note here.
The Wrap Up
Full disclosure; I did a mini eye roll when I heard Indian Summer was the next Digidiced title. Another Uwe Rosenberg tile placement game getting the app treatment? A quick browsing of Board Game Geek indicated a lukewarm reception for the game. I’m happy to report that this doubt was washed away fully within a few plays of Indian Summer. BGG may disagree, but I think this is a stronger game than Cottage Garden. I could see some tile placement fatigue playing a role in those rankings, but I enjoy the game very much.
The app is one of the cleanest and best Digidiced has produced so far. Their apps are always functional, but this one steps it up with an extra level of polish, most notably seen in the load times. The color pallette of the game isn’t exactly vibrant, but the app does a good job using animations and other flourishes to keep it visually appealing. The only real downside, apart from whether or not the game is right for you, is the nagging issue with their online system where you can’t have a casual game with a friend and include random online opponents. If you have a friend who really wants to play this with you, you can play with AI, but playing against other online players would be better. Digidiced definitely has room for a “casual with random opponents” mode.
Indian Summer exceeded my expectations by adding a fun race factor to the well worn tile placement game format. The well designed bonuses give the game enough depth to hold up and the implementation is very well made.