Board Game Review — Rolling America

The United States of America is made up of 50 different states, each with that own special something that makes them unique.  But while all the states have their differences, they have similarities too.  In this roll-and-write game from Gamewright, you must insure that neighboring states are filled in with similar numbers, or else you’ll be penalized!  Grab your dice and let’s go for a trip all around the country in Rolling America! 

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Board Game Review — My Little Scythe: Pie in the Sky

The Annual Harvest Tournament between the animal kingdoms determines which kingdom will rule Pomme for the coming year.  However, on the eve of the 3000th festival, something amazing happens.  The Airship Kai, long lost to the ages, suddenly reappears, bringing Fox and Owl Seekers along with it.  Will the Seekers for the upcoming tournament be able to leverage the legendary airship to help them win the tournament?

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Board Game Review – Planet

As planets form, natural habitats develop and animals find their homes.  In Planet, you control the development of your own planet, working towards developing habitats and attracting as many animals as you can.  Can you make your planet the most hospitable?

Game Play

In this game, players construct their planets over the course of 12 rounds, in the hopes of maximizing their natural habitats and attracting as many animals as possible.  Each player starts with an empty magnetic dodecahedral planet.  The magnetic continent tiles are shuffled and divided into 10 stacks of 5 each.  The animal cards are shuffled up and dealt out next to the continent tiles, starting with one next to the third stack, increasing to two for the sixth, and three for the tenth.  Each player also receives a random Natural Habitat card corresponding to one of the five types of habitats in the game.

Each round, the five continent tiles for the round are laid face up on the table.  Starting with the first player for the round, each player chooses one of the tiles and adds it to any empty spot on their planet.  The unused tile(s) for the round are added to an 11th and 12th stack of tiles until those stacks have 5 tiles.  Starting in the third round, players will be able to claim the animals dealt out at the beginning of the game.  The animals all have a preferred habitat, and are either looking for the most distinct regions of that habitat type, or the largest region of that habitat that is either touching or not touching a secondary type.  If one player has more regions or a larger region (depending on what the animal wants), they will claim the card; otherwise, if there is a tie the animal is moved to the next round.  During the last round, the tie for animals looking for the largest region is broken by the player with the second largest region of that type that touches or doesn’t touch the specified second type.  The game ends after 12 rounds of tile drafting, placement, and animal claiming.

At the end of the game, players reveal their natural habitat cards and score points accordingly.  Each card scores points based on the number of spaces of the specified region on the player’s planet.  Then, each player scores points based on the animal cards they have collected over the course of the game.  Each animal matching the player’s natural habitat is worth 1 point, while others are worth 2 points.  After totaling up the points, the player with the most points wins!

Amber’s Review

Please give me a gimmick; I’m typically here for it. Some people use gimmick like it’s a dirty word; I like to think of it as innovation. With the option to hold the whole world in your hands, seeing Planet set up on the table is an instant draw. When you see a dodecahedron with so much blank space, it’s hard to pass up at least a few Planet plays. Blue Orange has piqued my attention with the use of 3D shapes and magnetic tiles. As far as I can remember, I haven’t played anything with components like similar to this before. With games where you can build your dice, full-size swords, I wonder how elements like this will continue to evolve in the future.

With only a few different components, Planet has an easy setup and tear down with the insert. There isn’t a significant table presence to the game, making it more accessible to people with smaller spaces. One crucial element that we haven’t encounter enough is the lack of text on cards and game pieces. Having played many games designed for families, having printed words can be a setback for some players. Players at a lower reading level or those who are not familiar with the games’ language can sometimes struggle when there are many words; it’s a thoughtful choice to limit print on this game. It is also beneficial that the game’s symbology is accessible and easy to identify; even if a player hasn’t been to the tundra or desert, they can tell the areas apart by color or texture.

Unfortunately, I had a hard time playing Planet with one of the main mechanics involving turning your world over and over. I found it slightly disorienting, trying to remember which spaces were next to one another and counting the areas I had adjacent to score points from cards. I do have issues playing other games where spatial recognition is a crucial factor (I’m looking at you, dexterity games!), so I know this is a personal downfall. One solution to help counteract my lack of recognition skills could be to mark tiles with a dry erase pen, so if you are like me and need a little extra help, this could be the solution for you.

Ethan’s Review

Planet is a light and quick tile drafting and placement game.  The core mechanism revolves around players drafting pentagonal terrain tiles for their planets.  I have to say, I can’t think of any other game that uses magnetic dodecahedrons, so it’s certainly innovative and eye-catching.  The component quality of the planets and the tiles is good as well — even though it’s a little challenging to shuffle the magnetic pentagons, they hold up well, and easily remain attached to the planet cores with no fear of falling off.  One interesting thing about the 3D planets, compared to a more traditional tile-laying setup, is that you can’t see all of your terrain tiles at the same time.  While this may cause a little consternation to a player looking at their own planet and trying to figure out where to put a tile or what cards they satisfy, it also means that you can’t tell at a glance who has the biggest terrain piece or most of a given terrain.  Even though by the rules you can look at any other player’s planet at any time, I feel like most players wouldn’t want to do that for fear of slowing down the game, and this makes the tiles to draft and how to place them a bit less obvious.  I think this is good, because otherwise the game is pretty light and simple, though that is good for a family weight game!

One thing I find strange about the game is that in a four player game, there is one tile left over from each of the first ten rounds to form the 11th and 12th stacks, meaning that all but 2 tiles will be drafted (the two leftover tiles from rounds 11 and 12).  However, in a two player game, there are 3 tiles leftover each round, meaning that the 11th and 12th round stacks will be filled up by round 4.  I don’t know if this is an issue with scaling — we’ve only played with two, and it seemed to work pretty well — but it is odd that in a two-player game you will see the leftover tiles from the first rounds again but not those from later rounds.  The other drawback to this game is that it is quite light, so for serious gamers it may be more appropriate as a filler game rather than the main attraction for a game night.  However, it is fun, and the planet-building mechanic is unique and definitely worth a try if you get a chance!