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Digital Subscriptions > The Best Games of 2019 > The Best Games of 2019 > PLANET

PLANET

Want to try your hand at world-building?

PLANET

Want to try your hand at world-building?

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 ecododeca– 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 that, you’re arranging them in an optimal pattern around a threedimensional 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.

DiTherent 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 Theld. 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 aThects 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 outdoyour- 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.

JAMES WALLIS

WE SAY

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.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

► Four plastic planets

► 50 magnetic tiles

► 40 animal cards

► Five biome cards

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED… AZUL

If tile-placement with lovely pieces and family-friendly mechanics are your thing then Planet will sit comfortably next to 2018’s most awarded game.

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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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