Earth 2.0: A Planet Review
2-4 Players, 30 Minutes, Low Complexity, Medium Strategy, Ages 8+
Cosmic dust swirls through the ether; specks of light riding the wave of the universe’s expansion. With but a gesture, you swirl the dust around your finger, coalescing it into a shape- a sphere- a PLANET. Yours and yours alone to decorate- sweeping grasslands, frigid tundra, or endless oceans? Pick and choose, mix and match, but don’t forget- the landscapes you choose will reflect the life that grows on your little planet. And much like being alive on a planet, you’ll be arbitrarily judged and awarded points for your performance. Build a perfect world brimming with monkeys, dolphins, and penguins- where pests like mosquitos and people who talk during movies don’t exist. You can do these things (and some other thematically similar things) in the aptly named Planet by Blue Orange Games.
How do you throw a space party? You...
The first thing we need to talk about are Planet’s components. It’s definitely the elephant in the room because they are, in all honesty, the crux of the game, the main attraction, and the coolest part about it. Each player gets an actual physical 12-sided plastic planet that you’ll be sticking continents on to progress the game. It’s a little gimmicky, but this component elevates this game from a more traditional tile-laying game like Cloud City or Kingdomino, and it does so in a really fun way. Trying to keep track of your continents would be one thing if they were flat on a table, but they magnetically stick to the planet, which you need to spin around in your hands to keep track of your largest ecosystems. It takes a surprising amount of spatial awareness to plan ahead as you stick tile after tile to your planet.
The rules of the game are extremely simple- every round, five tiles are flipped over and players will take turns choosing one to add to their planet. The tiles are pentagons that are divided into five different sections. Each of these sections can be a different kind of region- yellow plains, green forests, brown mountains, blue oceans, and white arctic regions. Tiles will only have two or three of these regions, but each will connect to one of the five edges so that you can chain them across multiple tiles- and mastering that skill is the key to this game.
After round three of placing tiles on your planet, you’ll add a phase to the game called “the origin of life”. Basically, every round, there’s a card or cards that will tell everyone what animals will appear this round- the trick is, they appear on the planet that matches their desired geography. Some animals just want one big region- the giant panda, for example, pops up on whichever planet has the largest contiguous forest. Some animals are more specific, and they’re looking for the largest region that either touches or doesn’t touch another region. The reindeer wants the biggest arctic plane that isn’t touching a desert, and the elephant wants a big old grassland next to some mountains. This information isn’t a surprise either, the cards for every round are laid out from the start of the game so you can decide early on which biomes to build up and which species to compete for. On top of that, players are each given a different “Natural Habitat” card at the start of the game- this card gives bonus points for building up one specific kind of region, so players are naturally inclined to compete for different tiles and different animals. The coolest part about the natural habitat cards is that at the end of the game, you score one point for each animal that matches your natural habitat, but you’ll get TWO points for animals that don’t match. This encourages you to be competitive for those tiles that might benefit someone else more. It’s a really interesting design that increases player interaction in a game where there would otherwise be very little.
Excuse me, I'm looking for a trash planet. The trashiest planet you got.
This game is a fantastic competitive puzzle that forces you to constantly re-examine from new angles. As with most tile laying games, you really feel the weight of your earlier actions later in the game, and it’s extremely satisfying to look at your planet at the end of the game and relive your little victories and malign your little defeats. Like your tiny desert patch that managed to scoop a camel right out from your opponent’s noses, or the weird forest you were forced to put in your tundra after someone snagged your arctic tiles. It’s a unique game with a lot of strategy that’s great for all ages, plays in a half-hour, and is incredibly educational for younger players. This game has more pluses than a first-grade math class which makes it a recommend from me and the perfect casual addition to any board game collection.
Also, not to toot my own horn, but 800 words and not a single joke about Uranus. That’s called integrity, people.