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Earth Board Game Review: The Best New Game of 2023

Earth Board Game Review: The Best New Game of 2023

Earth is undoubtedly the best new board game I’ve played this year, the hottest new game of 2023, and a heavy favorite to take home one of the Spiel des Jahres titles. It takes all the positive aspects of Wingspan and amplifies them, making you a little more complex gaming experience that also gives you the satisfaction of creating an engine that becomes more potent as the game goes on.

In Earth, players construct a 4×4 grid of cards featuring flora (plants) and terrains with powers that will be activated during the game by playing cards from their hands to their tableaux. A significant portion of Earth’s strategy involves selecting cards with the correct abilities that you’ll be able to invoke more frequently.

While some cards have instantaneous power, the majority have powers that you may use repeatedly when players pick specific actions during their turns. To play cards, you must pay for soil. After that, you can water the cards to make sprouts or to give them growth, or you can toss the cards into your compost pile to make more soil or to meet other card needs.

What’s the objective?

There are at least eight distinct ways to obtain victory points on Earth, and the objective is to gather as many as possible. After the game, the majority of cards and the growth and sprout slots you can fill on them are worth victory points. More end-game points are awarded by a few cards in the deck, frequently in response to the cards that surround them in your tableau. To get extra points at the end of the game, you’ll also strive to complete four public and one private objective. Additionally, each card you composted during the game earns you points.

Who created the game’s design?

Maxime Tardif created the design of Earth, and M81 Studio, Conor McGoey, Yulia Sozonik, and Kenneth Spond contributed artwork. Although I haven’t tried the solo mode, it supports 1–5 players.

It’s a card game where you design a tableau by combining various elements from other amazing games.

The Terraforming Mars icon extravaganza and the Puerto Rico “one player takes an action and each other player takes a lesser version of that action” mechanic are both similar to Wingspan.

What is the mechanism of this device?

Let’s examine this.

Every Earth player receives a player board that has their Ecosystem card (which contains endgame scoring points) along with their starting Island and Climate.

Along with your compost, the board also stores any event cards you play, such as the lightning bolt. The board also explains the meaning of each symbol and your four options for action. In essence, the board is invaluable for comprehending this game.

Your Climate card (orange) will grant you one extra ability, while your Island card (teal blue) will give you your starting cards, resources, and some sort of ability.

Because each card has two sides, you can select which side to utilize during the game. The stronger ones are worth fewer points, although they are all worth different amounts. If you don’t want to start with a lot of points, you can still receive a lot of them.

Superior to a Two-Stroke Diesel Engine

In engine-building games, gameplay satisfaction is the most important factor to consider. For a game of this kind, there are a lot of possible hazards, but Maxime, the creator, has done a fantastic job of avoiding them.

You still feel like you can accomplish something, even if your horticulture wilderness isn’t very efficient, even if you design it pretty poorly. In keeping with that idea, you rarely end up with an enormous surplus of items you don’t need because to the way the game’s cyclical resources operate. Like all other resources in the game, dirt is not always gained exponentially while planting cards. Even though they might not appear that way at first, many resource exchange activities have a one-for-one vibe to them.

Especially when contrasted to more refined games like Race for the Galaxy, it is significantly more forgiving than other games in this category. All the resources you have left are worth a total of one point when it comes to earning victory points after the game. Every card in your compost pile, every sprout, every incomplete trunk growth, and every soil token all earn points. This is a really helpful addition for novices. It indicates that they don’t consider their patch of green sprouts and meager development to be an indication of failure.

The Earth Deck

The card buffet is my favorite feature of Earth. The box contains 364 cards. Even more astonishing to me than that number is the fact that each card is different. There are variations in the artwork, flavor text, point values, titles, powers, and other differences that are incorporated into a lot of the end-game scoring cards.

The true genius of Earth lies in Maxime Tardif’s design, who managed to incorporate subtle variations into the cards so that there are an endless number of ways to alter the text. Titles on cards that are underlined? creatures. Some of the Plant cards have color-themed terms that are named in italics.

Tiny white lines surround several of the abilities on Terrain cards, signifying directional challenges. There are four habitats, and numerous Fauna milestone cards involve them as well. When playing scoring cards, you have another set of cards to search for thanks to the four different card types that function like suits.