Game Buzz: Inhabit the Trees

There are a couple of games I mentioned in last week’s Kickstarter Blitz that I wanted to give a closer look.  We’ll start out with the one whose campaign is ending first:

image by BGG user Richard Breese
image by BGG user Richard Breese

Inhabit the Earth is a game by Richard Breese that was published at Spiel 2015 by his company R&D Games.  Game Salute is running the Kickstarter campaign to bring it to the States.  The game is for 2-4 players and takes between 60 and 90 minutes to play.  Inhabit the Earth is all about spreading animals across the earth – multiplying, adapting, and evolving them to meet their needs.

image by BGG user Richard Breese
image by BGG user Richard Breese

The game comes with six continent boards, 162 creature cards, 24 wooden creature counters, 24 black movement cubes, 24 colored trigger cubes, 58 tokens of various types, 4 token racks, 30 transparent sun markers, and some baggies (yay baggies).  In the beginning (pun intended), the six continents are placed out on the table, though you only use four in the introductory game.  They can be placed in any order, though it’s recommended that you use a geographically correct setup.  Green, blue and red tokens are spread out face down across the board in designated spaces.  Cards are sorted into decks by their numbers (1-2-3); then each player is dealt a predator card and five cards from deck #1.

On your turn, you take one of three action types: menageriebreed, or movement.

MENAGERIE: There are four different Menagerie actions: introduce, multiply, evolve, and adapt.  You can do any number of this actions any number of times and in any order, but you must discard one card per action taken.

  • Introduce: Place the creature card face up in front of you.  It cannot be of the same class as another creature you have in front of you.  The corresponding counter for that class goes on the indicated continent board in the first available space of the trail.
  • Multiply: Place a creature card of the same class underneath the card in front of you that you are multiplying.  Only the icons will be showing.
  • Evolve: Place a creature of the same class on top of a card in front of you.  Only the icons of the previous card will be showing.
  • Adapt: Place a creature card, not necessarily of the same type, upside down and underneath a class of cards.  Only its icons will be showing (no class icon).

BREED: This action allows you to draw new cards.  You may discard any cards you wish to, then flip one counter on the continent boards.  You may draw as many cards as you have in that class, plus the number reached by that class on the trail.  You have a hand limit of six cards, and you may only draw up to that.

MOVEMENT: Play any card or token as a trigger.  Any creature with one or more matching icons may then move one space on their trail.  You can also migrate a creature to a new continent as long as that continent is represented on the icons of that creature’s menagerie.  It goes to the first unoccupied space of its current region on the corresponding continent board.  After movement, the creature’s counter is flipped to its white side, meaning it can be used to breed again.  If you crossed over any counters, you may collect them.

The game ends when there are counters on the finishing space of two different continent boards.  At this point, each counter scores based on its final region, unused tokens score 0-3 points, and scoring creature cards are evaluated accordingly.  The player with the most points wins.

After the success of Keyflower a few years ago, I’ve been more interested in Breese’s designs, though I’ve still only played that one and Reef Encounter.  He puts a lot into his games – a lot of variety, a lot of complexity, and a lot of depth.  There are often a lot of agonizing choices to be made, and it looks like this one falls right into line with that.  I like the theme of developing animal species, which you don’t see a lot.  It’s different from something like Evolution in that you’re not really competing for resources, it’s more like a race.  This looks like a fascinating game that I’m very eager to hear more about.  You can see Rahdo’s Runthrough of the game here, and if you’re interested, back the Kickstarter campaign here.  You only have until the 5th, but the game is already produced and is planned to be available through retail, just at a higher price.

image by BGG user Action Phase
image by BGG user Action Phase

Kodama: The Tree Spirits is a game by designer Daniel Solis and published Action Phase Games.  It’s for 2-5 players and takes between 20 and 40 minutes.  In the game, you’ll be growing a tree, trying to create chains of different items in order to score points, and trying to appease the Kodama.

The game comes with 65 branch cards, 20 Kodama cards, 12 decree cards, 6 trunk cards, 12 player tokens, a season token, a first player marker, and a score track.  Each player receives a random trunk card which will have one of six features on it – mushrooms, caterpillars, flowers, fireflies, stars, or clouds.  The tokens that show this feature are yours for the score track.  Each player is dealt four Kodama cards, and three branch cards are laid out face up.  One decree per season is laid out face down (there are three seasons in the game).

At the beginning of each season, the decree card for the season is flipped face up.  This gives the player a special rule for the season (mushrooms may be scored as flowers, for example).  This decree goes away at the beginning of the next season.

image by BGG Action Phase
image by BGG Action Phase

After the Decree Phase, players take turns choosing a branch card from the display and adding it to their tree.  Basically, you’ll place the branch so it extends an already placed branch.  You then look at the icons on your newly placed card, and see if there’s an uninterrupted line of them between cards.  So, essentially, if the icons appear on two branch cards (or the trunk) in a row, they score one point per icon.  You can’t play a card that would cause you to score more than 10 points (which seems like a really odd rule – I’m sure it keeps the game more competitive, but geez, that’s limiting).

After each player has had four turns in one season, each player plays one of their Kodama cards.  This card gives you conditions for extra points, which you score immediately.  You then move on to the next season.  After the third season, the game ends and the player with the most points wins.

One of the appeals of tile laying games is that the world plays out differently every time.  This is similar because every tree that is ever built will be different than any other tree.  Branches may go off in weird directions, icons will play out in different combinations, and the tree spirits will guide your decisions in helping you shape your tree.  It’s a beautiful looking game, and I think this one will be a great gateway game.  You can watch Rahdo’s Runthrough here, and if you want to back, the Kickstarter campaign runs until November 12.

That’s it for today – thanks for reading!

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