Filler Games · Reviews

Review of Thrive

Game: Thrive

Designer: Martin Grider

Published: Adam’s Apple Games

Players: 2

Playtime: 20-30 Minutes

Play Type: Grid Movement

Kickstarter Link:


You will be playing as a lotus flower who must compete for space in a small pond. Your goal is to take over the other flower’s space before they crowd you out.

Game Play:

Players will make two actions each turn. First players will move one of their pieces. Second players will place pegs in any two spaces on their pieces. The goal of the game is to knock out their opponents pieces until only one remains. Alternatively, if both players have two pods remaining, a player may win by filling one entire pod with pegs.

When players begin playing, each pod will have two pegs already in place. One colored peg in the center of the pod to represent the players current space. A second brown peg directly in front of the colored peg. This peg allows the pod to move one space forward. Each peg that is added to the pod provides that pod with a new way in which the piece may move. As players add pegs, the piece gains more flexibility in how it can move.

Players add two pegs to any pod each turn. The pegs do not have to be added to the pod that was moved, and they can be added to two different pods if players wish.

When a player’s piece is moved onto the other player’s piece, the other piece is removed. Pieces are able to jump over other pieces without touching them. Pieces are only removed from the game if the space the pod lands on is already occupied.


I received a prototype copy of Thrive for review, so all components are subject to change.

Thrive is a lovely abstract game. The cover art draws the eye in with a simple watercolor design. This design continues onto the board, which has a beautiful watercolor pond on it. The game features a cloth board, which lies flat and seems like it would hold up well to wear and tear. The spaces on the board are easy to decipher without the squares distracting from the art.

The pods are made up of 5×5 squares. The pegs fit easily into the squares without any trouble. The game comes with six white pods and six black pods. I do worry that if players are not gentle with the removal of the wooden pegs, that they might snap and make a pod (and peg) unusable. The pegs are pretty thick, but if players are trying to take out multiple pegs at once for clean up, it is possible that they could break off.



  • Easy to Teach
  • Thinky Game Play
  • Quick to Play
  • High Quality Components
  • Family Friendly


  • Analysis Paralysis Prone
  • Lacks Thematic Elements

Thrive is a beautiful abstract game. It has the familiar feel of Chess, while providing players with a new though process of building their own pieces. I could see this being especially nice for families who would like to introduce Chess to their children. It has the same basic mechanics, but gives children visual reminders of what each of their pieces can do. The game is also short enough to maintain the attention of children, and only has one page of rules to teach.

I would not just suggest this game though for families. It is thinky enough to hold the attention of adults as well. The game rewards players who are able to think ahead to future turns and plan their peg placement well. This can lead to some analysis paralysis though, because it can be difficult to figure out where the other player is able to move, especially as the game evolves. It is very easy to miscalculate a player’s movement when not paying attention to peg placement. In general our turns took anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute and a half, and we generally do not struggle with analysis paralysis in most games. However, it is evident that the game provides deep game play in spite of a simple rules set. The thinkiness is what made me enjoy this game to the extent that I did.

There is no doubt that Thrive is beautiful. The watercolor artwork and elegance of the pods and pegs is brilliant. I do wish that the theme was more evident throughout the game. As it is, the game’s theme mostly feels as though it is an after thought. This can be true with many abstract games though. I wish to bring the theme out just slightly that the pod pieces were colors that felt closer to the lotus flower. While I see the benefit of keeping the colors close to the typical chess set, I would love to see the pods be more representative of lotus flowers and the theme. However, the current pods pictured are from the prototype and are subject to change. The current draft shows blue and white pieces which would be more reminiscent of the theme.

Overall, I felt that Thrive was a welcome addition to my abstract game collection. Being a big fan of Chess growing up, I enjoyed the challenge of building my own pieces on this grid movement game. The game encouraged a lot of depth of thought, especially for such a short and simple game. It was very easy to get to the table, and everyone I taught wanted to play again immediately. Despite having a prototype copy already, I will be backing the game on Kickstarter to get additional copies for my classroom. The game provides great opportunities for students to develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

I would suggest Thrive for players who enjoy Chess, Checkers or games that players focus on creating their own mechanics like in Dice Forge. Thrive is also great for those looking to expand a family board game collection. If you enjoy abstract games, you are likely to enjoy Thrive as well. Interested in learning more? The Kickstarter will be live starting today until March 29th. The link is listed above.

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