A Card Game!
Over the holidays, my brother (a game enthusiast) gave my partner and me Morels: Strategic Foraging and Feasting for Two. Morels is a strategic card game of mushroom foraging with a mycophagist bent. It has won several gaming awards, including the 2014 Fairplay À la carte and 2014 Games Magazine Best New Card Game. The objective is to go into the forest, collect as many mushrooms as you can, and cook them. Add butter or apple cider vinegar. Or maybe sell them. You can be cooperative or mercenary with your gaming partner, and occasionally hunt at night when the quarry is fresh and hasn’t been picked over. The artistry of the cards is beautiful. There are a few poisonous mushrooms, but not enough to spoil the hunt. And while simulating a successful mushroom foray may seem an impossibly tall order to ask of a card game, Morels does a great job of evoking what it’s like to stumble across that unlikely mushroom you’ve been eager to find, and the bittersweet inevitability of sometimes not having enough space in your basket for everything you want to carry home. And in the off-season, it’s a way to play make- believe, perhaps while some mushroom you dried and saved from last season sizzles on the stove.
For those with more than two interested players, or who are simply interested in adding more mushrooms and elements to the game, there are expansion packs available. (For more info, see The Internet.) Handcrafted game pieces can be purchased (they aren’t necessary, but are beautiful) and there are also many ways the creatively inclined can supplement the set with their own made or found game pieces.