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Review: Cactus - by @boardgamefanatic

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Cactus Jordan Draper Set Up

If you’re a fan of dexterity games and aesthetically-pleasing thematic components, Cactus could be your next little investment!

Designed by Jordan Draper Games and featuring gorgeous little cacti and decorative pieces. This cute game won’t take up much space but will add great value to your family game nights or as an ice breaker party game!

What's the story

Cactus is a reimplementation of the game “Tribe”. Focussed around decorating some very cool looking cacti VERY CAREFULLY to earn flowers! Each turn you will roll the die; this will indicate which piece you have to attempt to stack onto the next cactus in line. You will either be matching the previous colour or shape, or be tasked with one of the special individual pieces to place. I can promise you, there are not many easy options! If sets are successfully created (i.e. three identical shapes are utilised across the five cacti), bonus flowers are also awarded.

This is a dexterity game and the shapes are all quite unique. Honestly, it's very tricky to latch onto each cactus, so you will certainly be in for a challenge! This is a deceptively simple looking game, but a steady hand and patience is key. Frustrations rise and previously carefully placed pieces are knocked off!

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Did I have a good time?

Dexterity games are not my usual go-to. I have not been blessed with delicate hands. Nor the steady and patient approach that works well for these types of games. Despite this, I really enjoyed the design efforts that have gone into creating this little beauty and I really really did try to do well. Unfortunately for me, one of the rules is that you lose a flower for every piece you knock off a cactus while placing your own. So, I suppose I should actually just be grateful that you couldn’t go into negative flowers! I would have owed the "flower bank" an entire garden by the end!

I played at a two player count which worked nicely. Cactus will play up to four players so a great little intro to a games night! I liked that the die dictated which piece was used. This meant less clumsy opponent didn’t have the advantage of just picking out the more optimal shapes from the get go, and it provided more challenge, balance and variety throughout the game.

I know the game has aimed to be small and transportable, and not take up too much space. However, personally I would have preferred it to have been a bit bigger to enable a bit more success. There were a couple of pieces that neither of us felt we had any chance of hooking onto any of the cacti in front of us!

Cactus Jordan Draper GamesQuest

Aesthetically, this game is gorgeous. The little cacti and the components to stack onto them are all very visually appealing and cute in their nature. The colour palette really suits the overall look of the game and the dyed wooden pieces both look and feel great.

I can confirm I definitely did not win this game. Honestly I don’t expect to do much better next time unless I manage to meet someone even clumsier than me!

Final Thoughts

I can’t see this getting too much table time for myself. In a group setting this will be more likely- only due to the aforementioned dexterity skills lacking! I definitely think for those who enjoy balancing and building, can see opportunities where pieces will hang well and can optimise towards this, Cactus will be a great little puzzley game for your collection! For younger ones, it may help teach the patient steady approach that I've just never got the hang of. I think this will make a lovely addition for those who value gorgeous table presence and a quirky theme!

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