2-4 players, Competitive, World Creator Animal Gathering
Designer: Urtis Šulinskas
Artwork: Sabrina Miramon
Publisher: Blue Orange Games
Release Year: 2018
Planet is one that I’ve had my eye on for a while now primarily due to its unique gameplay mechanic of creating a little hand held world. That alone lured me to the game and what I found was a simple, yet intriguing concept on set collection. Read on to gather my full impressions on the game.
Overview of Gameplay
In Planet, players will be competing with one another to gather up little slim magnetic pieces of different land types to attach to their “planet core”. Each turn a new pile of these land types will be placed out for players to pick from and attach and over the course of the games 12 rounds IF you are able to create suitable living arrangements for particular species of animals then you can collect their cards. These cards will be worth points at the end of the game. There is also a random objective card that each player draws at the beginning that kinda gives them a push in a particular direction of world such as a water world or ice world etc. So for example, if you drew the water world objective card then you would score MORE points at the games end for reaching certain milestones of water tiles placed on your core, which of course would lead you to want to pluck up those tasty water tiles.
Now, that’s all fine and dandy BUT you cannot forget the wild beasts that you are trying to get to live on your planet. There are rows of animal cards, one row for each round of the game and after the picking and placing of the land types, players will check to see if they have a particular landmass that is or is not needed to gather those animal cards. Whoever has the most (or least in some cases) of that particular kind, will snatch up that animal card to be scored at the games end. Scoring is pretty interesting as well, yes you will check your objective card points and you get a single point for any animals you collected that match you objective card. BUT the intriguing thing here is that you can 2 points for any animals that DO NOT match your objective card land type. So, they tempt you with straying away from gathering land types that will help you reach those high points on your specific objective. I like that. Whoever has the most points after 12 rounds wins!
The components are all excellent quality with only three primary pieces to view: The magnets, the planet core and the cards. The magnet land tiles have a nice thickness to them for the magnet portion and have no bend to them at all, very solid pieces. The plastic planet cores are very light initially and have recessed spaces for each tile piece to attach. These spaces have a round metal piece for the magnets to stick to that are raised a bit so you can easily push down one side of the tiles to remove them as well. I had very few issues overall with the core and magnets however there were a couple occasions that towards the end of a game as players were spinning their almost fully covered planets around in their hands, a tile might pop off here or there if not careful. The cards all have a good thickness to them as well and have a nice sturdy feel.
There isn’t a game board as you just lay out all the cards in rows along your table. That said, I think a play mat would be perfect for this game and based around the theme you could get creative with the visuals of it. I mean, I’d buy a play mat for it if it was available. Card based games like this just screech like a hoot owl for play mats.
The box and insert is very well done here with spots for each of the four planet cores and slits on each side for the cards. Running down the middle of the insert are spaces designed to hold all the hex shaped magnetic pieces and it sits perfectly flush with the box lid so even if storing the game on its side, you won’t have any spillage.
Visual Appeal /Theme
I really enjoy the theme they have at play here. Crafting your own ecosystem to support different animal species based on their real life habitats is really cool. In my experience I would look down the line of animal cards and spot one that I just HAD to have *cough the raccoon *weez and then actively try to draw tiles that would support that one card. Of course clever players would do this AND try to efficiently create landmasses that would support other critters before that as well.
The artwork on all the cards is very well done with an abundance of creatures on display, each looking more alluring than the last. I WANT that raccoon…but there’s a llama. Now I have to figure out how to acquire BOTH of those before my opponents.
The rulebook is a very short two pages front and back. It’s not a very complex game and is explained decently well here but I feel a better explanation of the tile “areas” and “regions” and how they interact is needed. There is a small blurb showing what they look like but when scoring, it got really confusing on how you viewed them. After our first game though we figured it out and it was much easier going forward. There are also a couple variations printed for younger players that simplifies it a tad more and one that adds a bit of mystery to the game by having half the animal cards turned facedown. This makes the strategy a little tighter as you need to really focus your decision making. Personally, I prefer the standard game as it just felt more relaxed.
Player Interaction/Fun Factor
Players can for sure have a direct effect on other players in this one. I mean everyone is forming their own individual planets, focusing on their own individual objective cards etc. BUT, the picking of the land tiles is huge. You see, there are always going to be 5 tiles that are flipped and exposed with whoever currently has the first player marker getting the first choice of the batch. Because of this oftentimes you will see the tile you were eyeing snatched up right before you and this will throw a small wrench in your plots. On top of that the competitions can become wild for particular animals. Now, if you view this game as a pure “points” game and just try to grab up the animal cards that you know will win you the game then it might not be as fun for some. I always play to try and grab up specific animals and have a ton of fun doing so. That said, it speaks volumes that you can play the game either way and still have a good time.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
I think this one plays well with all player counts as there are no big changes between them. You always have the same amount of animal cards on display and the same amount of tiles to draw from each round. The way the game is setup like this creates some pretty great replayability as well as any leftover tiles NOT selected during each round will transfer to the end of the lines of cards. Once the last two rows are filled with the leftovers from the prior sections, the remaining leftover tiles are discarded to the game box. But beyond that, you will use only 20 animal cards in a single game, and there are 45 completely different animal cards included! Since these are shuffled and placed randomly at the onset of the game, you will have many, many games of a variety of different animals to choose from.
Speaking more on player count I did enjoy 2 players quite a bit but saw that 4 players could create a bit of downtime if playing with those that suffer from analysis paralysis. When choosing the land tile you not only have to pick the one that would work best for the animals you are trying to acquire BUT have to place it on your core in a specific way to maximize its results. Just keep that in mind if you have a VERY analytical player.
Positive Final Thoughts
I like this one! It’s a super unique take on set collection as you are not only collecting land pieces and forming them into a fully realized planet, but collecting different animal species to live on your newly created planet. The variety of animal cards that are included along with the different variations of planets you can craft really make for a replayable game.
Negative Final Thoughts
The biggest negative I have with the game is once you start getting more and more tiles placed on your core, it starts becoming a constant search all around it. When placing new tiles and when searching for how many of land areas you have to collect animals at the end of each round you will be constantly spinning this planet all around counting out areas. These can be hard to keep track of based on how you have your tiles placed. The rules could be a bit better when explaining regions/areas and how they work as well.
The Bottom Line
Overall I find the game to be unique and interesting enough to keep in my collection. It plays fast and easy and I love the feeling of trying to acquire certain animals before others do. Loads of replayability with the wild amount of different animal cards. Now, if only there was a nice looking play mat to set the cards on…….
The Fuzzy Llama Bronze Seal of Prevalence