Endangered World Game Review (prepublished version)

Please Take Note: This is a review of the final game, but it might change slightly based on the Kickstarter campaign’s success. The game is being reviewed on the components and the rules provided with the understanding that “what you see is not what you might get” when the game is published. If you like what you read and want to learn more, we encourage you to visit the game’s website or visit the Kickstarter campaign. Now that we have all that disclaimer junk out of the way, on with the review.


The Basics:

  • For ages 8 and up
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • Approximately 60 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Invest in saving animals to preserve the world’s rich diversity of life

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek mixed!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Animal rights and protection have long been a topic of ethical and political conversation. One way to strengthen the need and awareness of this cause is to continue to drive home the message of how fragile our world is and the need for us – as a species – to take a higher level of accountability and responsibility. This game, designed for families, will certainly help even the youngest of geeks understand the need to protect and remind many adults, as well.

Endangered World, designed by Vlad Kazandzhy and to be self-published, will reportedly be comprised of one gameboard, 100 Number cards, 15 Animal figures, 20 Question tiles, five blank Question tiles, one cloth bag, 40 red tokens, 40 yellow tokens, 40 blue tokens, 40 green tokens, 15 Defender tokens, 15 Bomb tokens, 10 Gold coins, 15 Silver coines, and 20 Bronze coins. As this is a review of a pre-published game, we cannot comment on the game component quality. All artwork appears to be taken from photo stock.

Approaching the Preserve

To set up the game, first place the gameboard in the middle of the playing area and within easy reach all the players. You will note that the game board is nothing more than numbered rows and columns. These are used to help identify specific spaces in which a player can take possible action on their turn.

Second, shuffle the Number cards and place them in the cloth bag.

Third, have each player take a set of colored tokens (red, yellow, blue, or green).

Fourth, hand out to each player a set number of Gold, Silver, and Bronze Coins and Defender and Bomb tokens. The number provided is based on the number of players and is described in detail in the game’s instructions.

Fifth, have each player draw one Number card from the bag. The player with the highest valued card now takes the 15 Animal figures and arranges them on the gameboard. Do this so the row and column lines on the figure match the same lines on the gameboard. It’s also worth mentioning that each of the Animal figures has a fun bit of trivia on their backside, along with the points they are worth at the end of the game.

Sixth, the player who drew the second-highest Number card arranges the 20 non-blank Question tiles on the game board. Place these in the spaces not filled by the Animal figures with the “?” facing the players.

Seventh, place all drawn Number cards back in the bag.

That’s it for the game set up. The player who arranged the Animal figures on the game board is the first player.

Quick Word on Tokens

Endangered World makes use of several different tokens in the game. Their use and meaning are summarized here.

Coin Tokens

These are used to pay for the preservation of the various animals in the game. Essentially, the players are “investing” in the animal depicted. However, if the player is to obtain anything of value from these investments, they must have the majority control of the Animal figure at the end of the game. When placed on the gameboard, they add possible points to be won when combined with a colored game token.

  • A Bronze coin with a colored game token is worth 2 points.
  • A Silver coin with a colored game token is worth 4 points.
  • A Gold coin with a colored game token is worth 6 points.

Defender Tokens

These are used to protect the land (i.e., spaces on the gameboard), creating sanctuaries for animals. In game terms, this means that the space with the Defender token and all surrounding spaces are immune to Bomb token and Question tile results.

Bomb Tokens

These are placed and cause problems for the player and their opponents to create a wildlife organization focused on protecting the animals. In game terms, this means that the space with the bomb and all surrounding areas force the removal of any colored game tokens from the gameboard. These blank spaces must now be captured and controlled again. Spaces protected by a Defender token are immune.

Protecting Our Wildlife

Endangered World is played in turns and rounds with no set number of rounds per game. A typical game turn is summarized here.

Step One: Draw Number Card

The first thing a player does on their turn is to draw one Number card from the bag. Once drawn, they match the number on the Number card to the matching space on the gameboard. Depending on what resides in that space, the player will need to choose their next action.

Step Two: Resolve Space

The Number card identifies a random numbered space on the game board. The player’s action depends on what resides (or does not) in the matching gameboard space.

If the gameboard space is occupied by a colored game token of any color, the player’s turn is over.

If a Question tile occupies the gameboard space, the player picks it up and reads the letter on the tile’s back. This letter is then matched to a list noted in the game instructions that trigger an event that must be resolved. Once the Question tile and associated event are resolved, the Question tile is discarded for the game’s duration. The events, thematically speaking, are all related to the activities and goals of those who are attempting to preserve and protect the animals and their habitat. This, in turn, corresponds to a possible 20 events that shift components on the game board, awarding players points or harming the player’s chance for victory. A complete list of the events is noted in the game rules.

If the gameboard space is not occupied, the player may choose to take no additional action and end their turn or take one of the following actions:

  • Place a single colored token on the gameboard.
  • Place a Coin token with a colored token on the gameboard.
  • Place a Defender tile with a colored token on the gameboard.
  • Place a Bomb token and resolve.

This completes the player’s turn. The next player in turn order sequence now takes their turn, starting with step one noted above.

Victory for All

The game continues as noted above until the final Number card is drawn from the bag. The player resolves their turn as normal and then the winner is determined.

To determine the winner, all the players now look to the Animal figures on the gameboard and count the colored game tokens to determine which player has the most on each. This is done by counting not only the colored game tokens but also any Coins underneath them. The player with the most points invested in the Animal figure wins the animal. If there is a tie or if the Animal figure doesn’t have any colored game tokens placed on it, the Animal figure is discarded.

Finally, each player counts the points noted on the Animal figure’s back, adding any together they might have. The player with the most points wins the game.

Game Variants

The game comes with several noted “Twists and Turns” that change the game using random events. The player is welcome to create their own if they so choose. Do this by taking the blank Question tiles and adding a new letter or symbol. Match this with a brief description of the house rule invented.

To learn more about Endangered World, visit the game’s web page or the Kickstarter campaign.

Final Word

The Child Geeks had a good time with the game, but it must be noted that only the younger and less experienced Child Geeks felt any attraction to Endangered World. According to one Child Geek, “I like the game. It helped me learn about the importance of the animals of the world, and I liked how we were all fighting to do the right thing for the animals”. Another Child Geek said, “I liked the game. It was fun to play with my family, and I think it’s a good idea to be more aware of how we can all help save the planet.” As noted, the younger and less experienced Child Geeks enjoyed the game a great deal. The older and more experienced Child Geeks found the game fine to play but not very challenging. According to one of these Child Geeks, “Simple gameplay where you are trying to control an area. I thought it was fine, but the game didn’t interest me much.” When all the votes were in, the Child Geeks voted to approve Endangered World.

The Parent Geeks enjoyed the message of the game but were not overly intrigued by the gameplay. According to one Parent Geek, “I personally never felt all that involved with the game because the decisions that needed to be made were obvious and not very interesting. I did like how it allowed me to have great conversations with my kids about how we can be better at protecting our planet, but as a game, it didn’t thrill me.” Another Parent Geek said, “A great game for the kids. Easy to play, easy to understand, and a great message. I think the game is a bit too long, but you can always end the game early if you wanted to. I’d play it again if, for nothing else, it was fun to be at the table with my kids talking about something I’m passionate about.” When all the votes were in, the Parent Geeks found Endangered World to be a game that was not altogether entertaining for them but worthwhile for the family.

The Gamer Geeks didn’t care for the game at all. According to one Gamer Geek, “I like the game’s message, but that is where I stop. The game is not interesting or engaging. Drawing a random card in which I then have to make a minimal decision, one of them being I can do nothing, which is a waste of a turn and my time.” Another Gamer Geek said, “A good attempt to try to marry what a game is all about with an important message, but the only thing worth mentioning is the push to be better governors of our planet. The game is forgettable.” None of the Gamer Geeks found Engendered World to be a game that was interesting to them, which they all agreed was because the game was not made with them in mind.

There is an inherent problem with the current game design that I hope they address before production. The Number cards we were provided were flimsy. When put in a bag intended for them to draw randomly (which is not necessary), they quickly became bent and creased. For those of us who like our games in the best condition possible, the design flaw (which, again, is simple to correct) made everyone who played the game feel like they were breaking it at the same time. Not good.

Endangered World takes a good message and tries to put it into a game. The result was a game theme that felt disconnected from itself. Please make no mistake, the game works, but with such a strong, upfront message and thematic elements in place, the gameplay boils it down to controlling spaces. I never once felt like I was saving animals, nor did I feel like I was learning anything about why I should bother. The end result is a game that feels disconnected from itself. Important to enjoying the game? Probably not, but for those who like a game’s theme to resonate with the gameplay, you’ll be disappointed.

I have difficulty describing the game. It has area control and resource management elements, but there is also subtle combat and directly attacking your opponent’s pieces. Again, it works, and the Child Geeks certainly enjoyed it, but it never resonated with the other players. The result is a game that was easy to understand by all our players, but many of them couldn’t connect the game’s rules to the game’s theme. This left a noticeable gulf between mechanical action and thematic reason. Those looking for an experience where you are saving animals will be hardpressed to find it. This is a game about warring players owning territory for points. The animals are always in the background and stay there.

Endangered World has several interesting ideas and plays well enough. It isn’t a game I would normally bring to the table, but it was enjoyed enough by the Child Geeks and their families to be worth breaking out and setting up each time. Give the game a try at your family table to see if your little ones enjoy it, as well.

This is a paid-for review of the game’s final prototype. Although our time and focus were financially compensated, our words are our own. We’d need at least 10 million dollars before we started saying what other people wanted. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek, which cannot be bought except by those who own their private islands and small countries.

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About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner. Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....

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