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How do you like Biology? A Cellulose review

Updated: Apr 28

Cellulose is a plant biology game from Genuis Games. Cellulose is a worker style game, in which you are in a plant cell and need to compete for resources to contribute to and complete the cell wall. You'll be collecting H20 and C02 to build carbohydrates for the cell wall, all to earn health points (victory points). Cellulose draws you in with its somewhat colourful board, although it's a cell, from a afar its bright and colourful, which is enough to draw a passerby's attention.

Cellulose is all about the life of a plant from photosynthesis to growth, you'll be competing to contribute resources to the plants cell wall. And over the course of the game, you'll be scoring points aplenty from all different sources. Each round of Cellulose is broken down into three phases, morning, daytime and evening. In the morning you'll be gaining resources from your positions on the plant board. This will generally give you C02 and water although as the game progresses you may find a card or two that activate during this phase to give you more stuff.

The daytime is where the vast majority of the game takes place, each player has 3 flasks (player markers) which act as workers, which you'll take turns to place on the board and resolve the relevant action. And the evening is essentially a clean up, and the game comes with some helpful reminder tokens to help you navigate the evening phase.

The board is broken down into large spaces (Any number of player's flaks can go here) and small spaces (one flask can go here). These action spaces are broken down into resource gaining or spend resources to get new resources type spaces. Importantly, players will need to consider when they take the take water action spaces, as the water level decreases each time, meaning you may find water in short supply.

Intertwined into these action spaces are a number of different mechanisms, the water area control (sort of like an auction but not), the plant board tracks and your personal tableau of cards. The central vacuole is sort of an area control in that during the evening the player ahead gets stuff (points and an extra worker for the next round) but removes their water cubes, whilst all the others remain. The plant board activates each morning phase and gives you resources that are crucial during the daytime phase, you can move either on of your markers on the plant board through the Plasma Membrane action. And the cards are broken down into instant effects, ongoing abilities e.g. during the morning phase or when you gain play card of the same type, points, and end game scoring. Interestingly you have the option to play a card every time you've played an action. Meaning you can potentially end up with alot of cards, and the Protein storage cards which return an already placed worker feel particularly powerful here.

Fundamentally, Cellulose is a game about science. It comes with a 12 page book about the science behind the game, and every action is wrapped around this, although some actions are not very science like (take the first player marker) but for a games sake they are very much required. And throughout this game there's a thread of carrying out photosynthesis to produce carbohydrates to grow the plants roots and shoots, and ultimately contribute to the plants cell wall (which is the end game trigger). And it's the little things that keep this theme going, normally you find players oh can I have a red cube or a blue cube, Cellulose puts reminders on the board as to what the resources are called, which admittedly takes away from any potential language independence. But it's those constant reminders that meant our games weren't "can you pass me a red cube" it was "can you pass me a protein", and that's something I wish games did more, as often the theme feels detracted from when you're down to referring to resources by their appearance.

Cellulose offers a science filled worker placement game that has me excited to try Genotype next, although I can't help feel that the science may have driven the game down a certain path, leaving some game bits almost lacking. And I'm not convinced that this is best at two players. However, there was a card combo element that I found all types of satisfying as the game permits multiple of the same card within your own personal display, meaning you can (assuming you see the right cards) build well oiled point/resources gaining card combos, which feel satisfying to activate and work through. And I really enjoyed the area control auction like element, although at two players we found this basically rotated between the two of us, turn after turn. Although it's bright and vibrant colours draw you in and its got funky custom wooden pieces, I can't help but wish that all the players pieces were printed like the score markers.

As you know, I rate games on a

- Buy or play

- Wait for sale or play if you like game XYZ

- Avoid

Overall Cellulose is a solid, very solid worker placement game that probably has a home alongside Stoneage and Viticulture, however, I'm not convinced it's a game that's a must buy or play. It's a solid game, with very few flaws, but it doesn't stand out for me. As much as I enjoyed some aspects, I felt like the game lacks almost a mid-end game shift, where actions become less worthwhile and the focus on point generating actions is the shift.

It feels like the main board due to its reliance on science (not a bad thing!) means that those last rounds, feels some what underwhelming, there's no big action or sudden shift to have those big end game turns. In fact its almost like there's less actions, as you'll not take the plant growth action as you'll more than likely have reached the end of each of the two game tracks (root and shoots). So you're unlikely to the take the actions which generate the resources for plant growth. You'll likely compete for carbohydrates and dig for a final card or two, which feels a little bit underwhelming. But despite this, it's a solid game, that if you're looking to mix up your worker palcement options, Cellulose offers a completely different theme wrapped around a very solid worker placement game, it's just one that us probably not personally pick to plau very often but it's wrapped round such a great educational piece that means it could be an educational tool and a mix up to your usual worker palcement roster. Meaning I'll give Cellulose a wait for sale or play if you like Stoneage, Viticulture, Lords of Waterdeep, Raiders of the North Sea.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Cellulose to review. I wasn't paid for this review and my thoughts remain my own.

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