¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás?
You may wonder why I’m speaking Spanish to you, and the reason is clear; Mariposas is the Spanish word for “butterflies”!
Every year, millions upon millions of these beauties migrate upwind to North America to spend the spring and summer. It’s not an easy process, and sadly, not all these fluttering creatures can make it back to Mexico in the fall before the winter freeze. It’s up to your strategic thinking to reproduce as many mature butterflies as you can and return them home before the winter freeze.
Think you have what it takes to be a butterfly farmer? Read on to find out!
Brief Overview of Mariposas
Mariposas is a stunning game full of flora, fauna, caterpillars, cocoons, and butterflies!
To play Mariposas, you’ll need around one hour and can have up to five players. I don’t recommend playing this game with only two players, it’s a bit tedious and less enjoyable. Three is a decent number, and four is the best!
Your main objective is to spawn as many butterflies as possible, all the while leveling them up to their full potential, collecting Life Cycle cards, and migrating them home to Michoacan. Any butterflies left in the winter cold will perish.
The game comes with the following components:
- 50 Butterfly Markers (10 of each color)
- 5 Player Score Markers
- 36 Action Cards
- 60 Lifecycle Cards
- 15 Bonus Move Cards
- 120 Flower Tokens (24 of each type)
- 16 Waystation Markers
- 6 Lifecycle Ability Tokens
- 1 Map Board
- 1 Waystation Board
- 1 Flower Die
- 5 Green Token Boxes
- 1 Rulebook
Overall, the game board takes up much more space than the usual boards I’ve seen. While it’s not a downfall technically, it can be a bit reachy for larger groups to play and interact independently.
While the board is massive, and there are 200+ tokens, cards, and markers, I can’t help thinking this game would function just as well if it were half the size.
Let’s dive into component quality.
The game itself is for ages 14+, but most logical thinkers 8+ could play it easily. Thankfully, the board is designed to withstand wear and tear and holds up quite well. It’s cardboard, sturdy, and easy to understand. It folds out smoothly, without upending the tokens. Both the butterfly and player markers are wooden, polished, and painted. Plus, Mariposas includes five plastic token boxes to keep your table organized.
The visual elements hit all my marks but could improve upon the written elements. I would have liked some labeling on the flowers, especially when it came time to cash them in for new butterflies. “Pass me three tokens of the pink flower,” just isn’t enough. Still, the nerd in me appreciated the Life Cycle cards, and flower depictions across the board. It brings spring energy, even on the coldest winter nights.
How to Play Mariposas
It’ll take you a bit of time to set everything up for your first round of gameplay, but after that, everything gets easier from there. There are a few rule tidbits that pop up throughout playing, so it’s best to consult the rulebook for detailed explanations when needed.
Place all the larger pieces on the table first: the playing board, waystation table, and tokens. You’ll need to set up the season goal cards randomly, allocate waystation tokens to each city, and stack the Life Cycle cards in the waystation table according to the number of players.
Each player can potentially farm up to four Generation Four butterflies if they’re lucky, without the bonus x2 token. All butterfly farmers begin the game with a Generation One butterfly of their color and their scoring pawn on the scoring table. After cards, butterflies, and farmers are prepared for the season, Spring awakens and the cycle begins.
As a professional butterfly farmer, you want your butterflies to grow to their mature stage known as Generation Four. By using action cards, strategizing your farming capabilities, and planning your time wisely before the seasons change, you’ll level up your butterflies to their maximum point value.
The game plays out in three seasons: Spring, Summer, and Fall. In Spring, players have 4 turns; in Summer, players take 5 turns; and in Fall, players take 6 turns. In total, each butterfly farmer will have 16 turns to produce as many Generation Four butterflies as they can muster.
Turns are quite simple; play an action card from your hand. Every space has its own return, whether it be a flower token, Life Cycle card, or a new generation butterfly. Check out the specifics:
- Landing on a flower space: Collect 1 or more flower tokens of that fauna species as you pass through and when you stop your movement. You can’t return to the same space over and over on the same turn to harvest multiple of the same resource.
- Landing on a Waystation/City space: You may receive a Life Cycle card, or bonus token rather than a flower card.* There are four Life Cycle cards of each color, and snagging all four in a season can give you a pretty amazing bonus, like another butterfly or added movement actions.
- Landing on a space adjacent to Milkweed: Pay the flower token price to spawn a new butterfly. A Generation One butterfly can only produce a Generation Two butterfly, and so on.
*At the end of the game, players receive bonus points for each Life Cycle card they collect. There is an added point bonus if you collect a Life Cycle card of each of three colors.
In Mariposas, points are added up at the end of every season. Players accumulate points by their positions on the playing board, flower tokens in hand, and more.
Now, a few actions happen after each season:
- Discard all the action cards played last season.
- Score the goals reflected on the Spring/Summer/Fall goal card.
- Hatch one Generation Two butterfly for free. (If you haven’t used them all already. This varies between seasons).
- Remove all Generation One butterflies from the game. (This also varies by season).
Butterfly farming comes to a halt after players’ sixth turn in the Fall. All players then score based on the Fall goals, Life Cycle cards in hand, and points for every Generation Four butterfly that made it safely back to the Michoacan/Start space.
Whichever player has the most victory points, wins!
Pros & Cons
- Casual, effortless gameplay.
- Easy to learn after the first playthrough.
For newbies to the board gaming world and experts who want a breather, Mariposas is their cup of tea. Once you get the rules down, the gameplay shifts from chaos to a zen-like race of your own proportions.
Every way you choose to play the game harvests different outcomes. I’ve played with players who camp in the south and factory farm their butterflies to Generation Four to get them back to Michoacan quickly. I’ve personally tried two different strategies:
- Collecting Lifecycle cards.
- Doing butterfly things and flying wherever the wind takes me.
It’s exciting to try different routes of winning once you get a grasp of actions, points, and seasons.
- No player-to-player interaction.
- Less depth than other player picks.
If you’re looking for chummy interactions with other players, this shouldn’t be your first choice. Although butterflies do migrate together in the spring, these flock independently. Your main objective is to reproduce as many Generation Four butterflies as possible before winter brings the freezing cold.
I’ve only played this game twice. We set it up to play a third time, but it didn’t seem to pick up traction so we ditched it. I played with newbies for the first game and found it more fun than playing with experts. The reason? Experts tended to focus on camping and point farming, rather than fluttering around and switching up decisions. It became repetitive and reminded me of a dungeon crawler, like Clank! when players grab the first artifact in the dungeon and flee to safety.
Mariposas Review (TL;DR)
Mariposas is an hour-long commitment to butterfly farming that anyone should try at least once. Switch up your technique between seasons, and hunt down the legendary x2 Generation Four butterfly for those extra points. The grid will remind you of Catan, without the pesky need to trade resources with your opponents.
The end-of-the-season point scoring in Mariposas is a fresh way to revitalize or supercharge your strategies. It gives players a checkpoint to analyze their competition, switch techniques, or carry on butterfly farming.
I didn’t enjoy the first playthrough because it seemed chaotic and disorganized. The butterflies were littered across the board, some stacked on top of each other without a logical rhyme or reason. I had to remind myself that it’s a game about butterfly migration, and those little creatures are always sporadic. The second game was smooth, effortless, and a bit calming. I didn’t have to think much and tried different strategies each season to see what picked up points the fastest.
For more casual gamers, it’s a solid pickup. For experienced gamers who want challenging mechanics, you should pass, or check out the game designer’s first release, Wingspan.
We hope you enjoyed our Mariposas review! Have you tried this beautiful board game? Drop a comment below and let us know your thoughts! We’d love to hear from you.