Tussie Mussie — The Secret Language of Flowers

Love me, love me not: Tussie Mussie and the language of flowers

With the success of Wingspan, the critically acclaimed board game on birds, Elizabeth Hargrave’s latest foray is into the late Victorian fad of Tussie Mussie; miniature bouquets of flowers given to friends, family, lovers and all in between. What is Tussie Mussie? It is, in essence the language of flowers, where each different stalk has a meaning of its own.

Tussie Mussie is a one to four player wallet game that plays like a I-Split-You-Choose eighteen card game which plays over three rounds with two to four players or with the solo expansion by Mike Mullins. The average gameplay length is around thirty minutes.

Deciding what card to keep and choose is essentially the foundation of the game, because these choices will ultimately impact how much you score. The cards you keep are split into Keepsakes (face down) and Bouquet (face up). You collect up to a total of four cards and tally the points after each round for three rounds.  

Love me, love me not


The quality of the eighteen cards are top notch and lovingly illustrated by artist Beth Sobel. Each card depicts a particular flower and the meaning of the flower is listed in flavour text below each card. I quite enjoy discovering what each flower means and how grouping them with other flowers can create more complex meanings.  

The eighteen cards are shuffled during both two to four player and solo plays, but then branches out into the following:

  • Three to four players: Each player takes turns offering flower cards to the person to their left. When that is done, reverse the passing order until all cards have distributed. Rinse and repeat over three rounds and tally up the scores. 
  • Two players: Similar to three to four players, except you both take turns passing to each other. 
  • Solo (Automa): As per the solo expansion, shuffle the six solo turn cards and play according to those rules. Most points after three rounds wins.

I first played this in a concrete jungle, perhaps the least thematic of places in which to play a game about flowers. I soon realised that this game’s theme can be expanded to any space as flowers have long been a part of human society.

Which will you choose?

Playing Tussie Mussie has also taught me that there’s a lot of underlying currents in the way we communicate with each other. Sure, we don’t have to pass secret messages through flowers anymore, but the methods of with which speak to one another will be in a state of constant change.

Not only that, language, however it is communicated across, reveals a lot about both the speaker and the listener.

If that’s not beautiful, I don’t know what is.    

To conclude, I won’t call myself much of a person that’s deeply into flora but with the combination of the hidden meanings of these flowers and delightfully simple and fun gameplay makes this a game I would keep coming back to and something I would introduce to others.

Tussie Mussie is also out on Kickstarter now for $10 and comes with the aforementioned six-card solo expansion by Mike Mullins free of charge! Do back this project if you enjoyed what you’ve just read, or like me, enjoy the game for what it is — a simple, yet effective way to bond with others through the language of flowers.

Tussie Mussie’s Kickstarter can be found here and will be retailed at $12. The solo expansion, Tussie Mussie: Flower Shoppe, is $4. This game is published by Button Shy Games, as the #52 game in their wallet game line.

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