Indian Summer

Indian Summer, the Tile-Based Board Game – Guide to Rules, Instructions & Strategies


Indian Summer is a puzzle-like board game that captures the essence of walking through a forest in the fall. The game was designed by Uwe Rosenberg (prolific creator of Heaven & Ale, and New York Zoo which I’ve also covered). It’s a game known for its beautiful artwork and strategic gameplay. It’s part of a trilogy of games that includes Cottage Garden and Spring Meadow, but Indian Summer stands out with its unique theme and mechanics.

The game was released in 2017 and quickly became popular among board game enthusiasts, with generally good reviews and ownership in our favorite communities. The goal is to be the first to cover your forest floor with leaves, creating patterns to collect treasures and score points. It’s a game for 1 to 4 players and typically takes about 15 to 60 minutes to play, depending on the number of players.

Quick Tip for Indian Summer

Always keep an eye on your opponents’ boards. You might find a chance to block their strategy while advancing your own!

Rules for playing Indian Summer

Indian Summer is played on individual boards representing a forest floor. Players fill their boards with leaf tiles of various shapes, similar to a puzzle. Each player starts with a personal board and 6 leaf tiles drawn from a common pool. The game is played over several rounds, and each round consists of turns where players place one tile onto their board.

The tiles are made up of squares, and each tile covers 1 to 6 squares on the board. Some tiles have holes in them, which can be used to collect treasures if the hole is placed over a corresponding symbol on the board. These treasures can then be used for special actions, like swapping tiles or placing additional tiles.

Players can also use squirrels as wild tiles to fill in single squares and complete their forest floor. The game ends when a player fully covers their board with tiles. Points are scored for the number of tiles placed, treasures collected, and the first player to finish. The player with the most points wins the game.

Equipment and Setup for Indian Summer

To play Indian Summer, you’ll need the game box, which includes individual player boards, leaf tiles in various shapes, treasure tokens, and squirrel tokens. If you don’t have the game, you could potentially create a DIY version with paper cutouts, but having the original game components is recommended for the best experience.

The types of tiles in Indian Summer include:

  1. Leaf tiles: Different shapes and colors representing various types of leaves.
  2. Squirrel tiles: Act as wild tiles to fill in single squares.

Setup involves each player getting a forest floor board and drawing 6 leaf tiles from the common pool to form their initial hand. The treasure tokens are placed within reach of all players.

How to Play Indian Summer and Game Mechanics

Indian Summer is a game of careful planning and tile placement. Here’s how it works:

  1. Key Game Mechanics: Players take turns placing tiles onto their boards, trying to cover the forest floor completely. Using holes in the tiles to collect treasures is a key part of the strategy.
  2. Setup: Each player gets a board and 6 leaf tiles. The rest of the tiles and treasures are placed within reach.
  3. Gameplay: On your turn, place a tile onto your board. If you cover a treasure symbol with a hole in a tile, collect that treasure. You can use treasures for special actions. If you can’t place a tile, draw a new one from the pool.
  4. End of the Game: The game ends when a player covers their entire board with tiles. Points are tallied based on tiles placed, treasures collected, and bonuses for finishing first.

Gameplay phases include:

  1. Tile Placement: Choose and place one of your leaf tiles onto your board.
  2. Collecting Treasures: If you place a tile with a hole over a treasure symbol, collect that treasure.
  3. Using Treasures: Spend treasures to take special actions like swapping tiles or placing extra tiles.
  4. Drawing Tiles: If you can’t place a tile, draw a new one from the pool.
  5. End of Round: Check if any player has completed their board to trigger the end of the game.

How to Win at Indian Summer

Winning at Indian Summer requires a mix of strategy and adaptability. Beginners should focus on learning the tile shapes and how they fit together. Intermediate players can start to plan their moves in advance, considering which treasures to collect and when to use them. Advanced players will think several turns ahead, anticipating their opponents’ moves and adjusting their strategy accordingly.

Points are scored for each tile placed, so covering more of your board is always good. Collecting treasures and using them effectively can give you an edge over your opponents. Being the first to finish your board also gives bonus points, so speed can be as important as precision.

Best Strategies for playing Indian Summer game

To win at Indian Summer, you need to balance several factors. Here are some strategies:

Focus on completing sections of your board quickly to collect treasures. Use treasures strategically to place more tiles or disrupt your opponents. Try to anticipate which tiles you’ll need in the future and plan your moves accordingly. Keep an eye on your opponents’ boards to block their strategies if possible.

Sneaky tactics might include holding onto a tile you know an opponent needs or using a squirrel tile to complete a critical section of your board before they can. Always be flexible and ready to change your plan based on the tiles you draw and the state of the game.


Good scenarios in Indian Summer might include having a hand of tiles that fit perfectly onto your board, allowing for quick placement and treasure collection. Bad scenarios could involve drawing tiles that don’t fit well, forcing you to waste turns drawing new tiles.

To turn these scenarios to your advantage, always look for alternative placements that could open up new opportunities. Use treasures to swap out bad tiles for better ones, and don’t be afraid to use squirrels to fill in gaps when necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Indian Summer game

Here are some common questions and answers:

  1. Q: Can I move a tile once I’ve placed it?
    A: No, once a tile is placed, it cannot be moved.
  2. Q: What happens if I can’t place any of my tiles?
    A: You must draw a new tile from the pool.
  3. Q: Can I use more than one treasure in a turn?
    A: Yes, you can use as many treasures as you want, as long as you have them.
  4. Q: Do I have to use a treasure right when I get it?
    A: No, you can hold onto treasures and use them when it’s most beneficial.
  5. Q: What’s the best way to use squirrel tiles?
    A: Squirrel tiles are best used to fill in single-square gaps or to complete a section quickly for a bonus.

Other things to consider when playing Indian Summer:

  1. Player Interaction: While Indian Summer is mostly a solitary puzzle, players can still interact by watching each other’s boards and planning their moves accordingly.
  2. Tile Management: Managing your hand of tiles is crucial. Always think about the shapes you have and the shapes you might need.
  3. Endgame Scoring: Remember that the game can end suddenly when a player finishes their board. Plan your endgame strategy to maximize points.

For more information on Indian Summer, check out the following links:

Official Indian Summer Page by Stronghold Games