A Fistful of Daisies

I think we all can agree that dice drafting is a cool mechanism. Roll a handful of dice (or if we’re lucky, maybe even two handfuls!), and then players take turns claiming those dice for their personal use. It seems so simple and intuitive, that it surely must have been around for 50 years, but I don’t think I actually encountered it in a game until 2006’s Yspahan. And if you haven’t heard of this amazing area control game, you can actually check it out on Board Game Arena right now!

Up to this point in my gaming existence, I only encountered dice drafting in more sophisticated games such as SagradaYukon Airways, and Grand Austria Hotel. However, all that changed with one of the games we received this past holiday season – Pour Une Poignee de Marguerite – For A Fistful of Daisies. The game is published by Space Cow, the youth-focused brand of Space Cowboys, designed by Frank Crittin and Grégoire Largey, with artwork from Rémy Tornior. Playing with 2 to 4 players, A Fistful of Daisies lasts about 20 to 30 minutes, and is recommended for ages 6 and up.

How does dice drafting work in this children’s game? We’ll get there in a moment, but first let’s chat about the story of the game, which is amazing and ridiculous in its own right. 

Imagine, if you will, a meadow filled with beautiful flowers as far as the eye can see. Each flower type has its own unique flavour, and are enjoyed by the inhabiting cows that live here. Every now and then, though, one of these cows becomes aggressively defensive of their preferred flower, and if another moo-beast gets too close, they’re going to have to lock horns and throw down over who gets to munch on that tasty tulip! 

The game box is actually part of the playing area, creating a fenced-in pen for the cattle to do battle! Aside from this attractive and functional aspect, the most remarkable components inside the box are the four blocky cow pieces, which manage to be awkwardly adorable and inspire plenty of handling from players of any age. Each cow has a matching player card, allowing them to track the flowers they’ve munched throughout the game. Also included are four dice, and a handful of cardboard tokens.

Although the rulebook says the youngest player should go first, we’ve been setting the tone for the game with a moo-off … whoever can MOOOO the loudest takes the first turn! That player rolls the four dice into the pen, and then selects one for their turn. One of the dice is marked with dark circles, and whoever selects this die will be the next starting player, but that special die may not be selected by the current start player. Each player moooo-ves their cow token clockwise around the pen, and whichever meadow space they land on, they mark a matching flower space as eaten on their player card. If for some reason a player doesn’t want the flower they have landed on, they can instead take a clover token, and four clovers can be converted into any flower that player desires. Victory is achieved by helping your cow to eat the perfect assortment of flowers it desires!

But that’s not all, folks! The most critical part of the game is when two cows wind up on the same meadow space. When this happens, the shared space is marked with the included sign of epic battleness, and those two cows enter the thunderdome for a violent showdown! How is this conflict resolved? Each cow starts in one corner of the pen, and players each place one finger on the butt of their cow. The cows are then pushed into one another for a literal clashing of horns! It may take a few crashes to resolve the cattle battle, but once one cow topples, players will compare the number of spots facing up on their cow – between zero and three. Whichever player has more face-up spots wins the contest, and claims a fistful of clovers equal to their spots!

The rulebook suggests that younger players can just roll their cows like dice, taking the same sort of result to end the battle, but as the intended battle mechanic is pure, visceral fun, it’s absolutely worth taking the time to teach young players how to correctly clash these cattle!

BIG THUMBS : HOW IS IT FOR ADULTS?

Most of this game is intended for kids to be playing, with or without adults present. However, the utter (udder?) ridiculousness of the cattle battle is SO FUN, that I have regularly forced my adult friends to experience it and will continue to do so. Even with the dice drafting, though, the rest of the game feels very much like a roll and move affair, with a slight bit more control from the choice of available dice.

Older players can also choose to play with the “Strategic Cows” variant, which allows players to spend clover before a battle begins, adding that number to their clash result. Clover can also be spent to re-roll any remaining undrafted dice with this variant, which is an added layer of control over the trajectory of the game.

I could see some adult groups upping the stakes by tossing in house rules to encourage stealing clover when resolving a battle, and allowing cows to move around the board in either direction to force more battles to occur. However, these options certainly wouldn’t make sense for the Space Cow brand to include as official variants.

LITTLE THUMBS : HOW IS IT FOR KIDS?

A Fistful of Daisies has a lot to offer for child players! The dice drafting offers some interesting choices without an overwhelming selection. Cow-herding kiddos are forced to pay attention to which flowers they need to win, and which dice are needed to reach them. And introducing conflict to young players in such a playful way is really fantastic!

Although the box recommends this game for ages 6 and older, my 3 year old Little Bean was able to grasp the basics of the game. She rarely made optimal choices, but that’s not really the point for a little one who has barely graduated out of toddler-land! Giving these younger players the binary choice of carrying out a battle, or just chucking the dice-cows into the area, is an added bit of agency over the experience, which is a nice option to have available.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Despite all of its cuteness, and the absolutely brilliant cattle battle mechanic, my girls have not requested to return to A Fistful of Daisies nearly as much as some of their all-time favourite games. Perhaps they’re not keen to play fight unless it’s over stuffed unicorns or our vintage collection of Jem dolls, but it wasn’t up their alley as much as I had hoped. On the other hand, the boys of our After School Club are into anything that lets them be aggressive toward one another, and they have enjoyed the times I’ve pulled this game out for them. For that reason, this game is staying in our collection of children’s games.

I’d love to see this silly little conflict mechanic find its way into a more robust game for adults, as it’s absolutely something that has captured my imagination. As it stands, A Fistful of Daisies has the potential to be a fun experience for all ages, but especially if children are at the table! 

VERDICT: TWO LITTLE THUMBS UP!

Originally published to the Daily Worker Placement on March 3rd, 2021.

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