Mariposas: Spotlight Series

Mariposas is the hot new board game from award-winning designer Elizabeth Hargrave, who also designed 2019 breakout hit Wingspan. Players guide their family of Monarch butterflies from Mexico to the USA and back again, making sure to reproduce so their family can make it back. Mariposas is a challenging board game that’s less complex than Wingspan, but still just as fun. 

The Backstory

Hargrave’s previous game Wingspan was published in early 2019 to impressive critical and popular acclaim. While essentially a card game, Wingspan mixed in elements from heavier strategy games in a refined, polished design. This design not only made an impression on the hobby, but won one of the most prestigious awards in the world. The typically German-centric Spiel Des Jahres consistently awards excellent games every year. In 2019, the American-designed Wingspan got the honor of being the best connoisseur’s game in the world.

It's hard to talk about Mariposas without mentioning Wingspan, but the game made such a splash that Mariposas has big shoes to fill. Wingspan isn’t Hargrave’s first game design, but it’s her first of a notable scale and complexity. She knocked it out of the park, so when Hargrave’s second game was announced, the world waited eagerly to see what’s in store.

How it Plays

Mariposas hits a lovely sweet spot in its complexity. It mixes some simple elements seen in other games into a sleek design that’s easy to play. Some of these elements, though, provide interesting variability that make Mariposas fun to play over and over again.

The core of the game is very simple. Players have two movement cards in their hand, and pick one to use to move their butterflies up and down the board. Then, they check if their butterflies reproduce, and that’s it. Such a simple turn order makes Mariposas very fast to play - there’s little to no downtime in between turns. However, deciding exactly where to move your butterflies is how the game becomes so fascinating.

Mariposas can be called a “point salad” game, as the jargon goes. The victory goes to the player with the most victory points, and Mariposas provides 3 very different ways to claim those victory points. Players can get points from bringing generations back home to Mexico; visiting Waystations in big cities; and fulfilling the variable end-of-round scoring opportunities. The most successful players will get points from all 3 sources. Focusing on one source of points neglects important opportunities to win more. And since many of these elements are randomized before the game begins, every play feels fresh.

A Game That Teaches, Too

Hargrave’s passion for wildlife shines in her second major game design, just like it does in Wingspan. Mariposas not only entertains with interesting mechanics and decisions. The game depicts the fascinating life cycles of the migratory Monarch butterflies, in a way that shows a deep understanding. Players absorb this understanding and passion as well, and come to know the butterflies and their plight in a world of shrinking habitats. 

The Hot New Board Game That Does it All

All this adds up to a game that a lot of people are excited for. Hargrave is a star designer with a zeal for botany and biology and a knack for streamlined designs. Mariposas looks to be a promising game that delivers the challenge and interest that hobbyists want, while being more accessible to casual board gamers. 

Level One Game Shop will be eager to carry Mariposas as soon as it becomes available!

Find out more about Mariposas at BoardGameGeek!

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