Planet review

22 March 2019
planet-54406.jpg Planet
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When publisher Blue Orange pulls out the stops it really pulls out the stops – anyone who was wondering how it could top the boxful of trees that was Photosynthesis stopped in their tracks the moment they saw Planet. This is a game about building an ecosphere in which you literally build a... well, not a sphere but a 12-sided planet: an eco-dodecahedron. Not just one of them, but four.

And they’re magnetic. Or, rather, the tiles are magnetic, and the eco-dodeca– look, I’m just going to call it a planet from here on – the planets have metallic discs on each side. Each tile is divided into two or three biomes, out of five: oceans, grasslands, deserts, mountains and ice caps, and you’ll be arranging the tiles so they line up to make bigger biomes. Except you’re not laying them flat, you’re arranging them in an optimal pattern around a three-dimensional object, and for most of us that’s not going to be easy.

12 sides means 12 turns, and for the first couple you’re just choosing and placing tiles. From the end of the third turn onwards animals will come to live on your planet if you’ve created the right conditions for them, in a fashion that would make Darwin roll his eyes and reach for the nearest bottle of gin. 

Different species want different things. For example, pandas will move to the planet with the most forest, bears look for the largest single forest that’s connected to mountains, while squirrels will go to the largest forest that’s not touching an ice field. So your task is to look at what animal cards are coming up – they’re all face-up – and create spaces on your planet that they’ll like more than your neighbour’s.

There are also biome cards. Everyone gets one facedown and it affects your score; you get one point for every bit of your biome on your planet, but animals of that biome in your collection at the end score half. Do you aim for a monoculture on a desert world, or biodiversity?

It’s the animal collection that’s the heart of the game. On paper this is a great example of elegant and clear mechanics coupled with clever components: part puzzle, part outdo-your-friends gameplay. In practice it’s a little thin on strategy: the 3D boards make it hard to keep tabs on where everything is on your own world, let alone everyone else’s. 

It’s not a gamers’ game, but it’s good entertainment. It’s easy to teach, choosing and placing the tiles is fun, the sense of the planet coming together is satisfying, and looking at your collection of animals at the end to work out what crazy biosphere you’ve made is a delight, except perhaps to any geologists and biologists around the table. 



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It’s a shame the gameplay isn’t as brilliant as the components, but that doesn’t mean this is a poor game. And despite the theme, don’t expect any educational content whatsoever.


Designer: Urtis Šulinskas

Artist: Sabrina Miramon

Time: 30 minutes

Players: 2-4

Age: 8+

Price: £30

This review originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

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