A Gentle Rain arrived on my doorstep unannounced after a series of grueling workweeks. I had been working nights and weekends on a project while raising twins in a pandemic. I needed a breather. Knowing absolutely nothing about the game found within the small package, I read the game box: “a contemplative solo or cooperative game to clear your mind.” Open the box to reveal the rulebook, and it reads, “take a deep breath and relax.” The rulebook took about a minute to read and understand the rules, and I was off playing. As the packaging conveyed, it was an enjoyable and relaxing experience. Taking all of 10-15 minutes to complete a game, I found myself playing it during breaks throughout the day. It was precisely the game I needed then and there—my little slice of board game zen.
A Gentle Rain is a solo game (that can technically be played cooperatively with more people) published by Mondo Games and designed by the great Kevin Wilson (i.e., Descent, Arkham Horror, Cosmic Encounter, and Fury of Dracula). Games of A Gentle Rain finish quickly, usually about 15-minutes in length depending on how leisurely you want to play. But be warned—this is definitely the kind of game where you may find yourself playing a few times back-to-back.
The game comes in a small, beautiful box filled with equally gorgeous tiles and blossom tokens. The tiles are shuffled up and are drawn one at a time, placing the following one next to another tile, aligned the flower symbols. Once you’ve managed to form a square of four tiles, you may put the token matching one of the flowers found on one of the matching tiles. The game ends when you’ve placed all of your blossom tokens, or you’ve run out of tiles. Each blossom token used is one point, plus any unused tiles. It’s easy, and at the end of the game, you’ve created a sprawling oasis filled with flowers.
At first glance, there’s not much strategy to be found in A Gentle Rain. But that impression is misleading. Looking at the scores people have been posting in Facebook groups, it turns out I’m quite good at it, and there is actual skill involved in the game (my high score is 20, and I consistently get around 15). The more you play, the more apparent it is that the placement of tiles makes a big difference. It’s vital to create tile formations that optimize the number of possibilities you’ll have to create a square at any given moment while ensuring that you have a diverse set of flower symbols available to be completed. In addition, after you’ve placed a blossom token, it can’t be used again. So you need that information into account when placing out future tiles.
Overall, I rather do enjoy A Gentle Rain. It found me when I needed it the most. If you’re looking for an ultra-simple solo game, I recommend you check out A Gentle Rain—but no pressure.
Paul Shapiro is Founder and Editor of Board Game Squad. He enjoys all types of games and experiences, but has a particular penchant for medium to heavy eurogames.