When it comes to my son, there is one thing he loves more than anything … animals. There are a lot of mainstream children’s games that use this theme, but not very well (Pop the Pig or Hungry Hungry Hippos), but the game play is so overly simple that it is hard to keep his attention, let alone mine. I’ve looked for some newer games in this category, such as Evolution and Animal Upon Animal, but those are hit or miss with him depending on his mood. Recently, two Kickstarter games have really caught his attention – Zoo-ography and Endangered. In the former you are building a zoo theme park, and in the latter, you are saving endangered animals, which is right up my son’s alley.
Today, I would like to tell you a bit about Endangered. The game is cooperative in nature and currently plays 2-4 players. With a higher funding level, it will support 5 players.
- Place the game board in the center of the table with the year marker on Year One.
- Make stockpiles of Animal tokens, Influence cubes, Money tokens, and the Destruction dice.
- Shuffle the blue-backed Ambassadors and deal 5 face down. Do the same for the gray-backed ones and deal 1 face down after the blue-backed ones.
- You will then setup the specific module, depending on what type of animal you want to save, both Tiger and Otter are included in the game so far. For the Tiger module, you will need deforestation tiles, the Tiger Impact Deck, and to seed the board with 8 Tigers according to the scenario sheet.
- Each player will also perform some player setup, which involves choosing a role and their Specialty. They will also receive a turn marker, dice in their player color, and a player deck. Shuffle your deck and draw two cards to form your starting hand.
Game Play – The game is played over a number of rounds (years), which will vary depending on number of players. On your turn, you will place your turn marker on top of the year marker and perform the following phases in order:
- Actions Phase – Retrieve and roll your dice. Place them on active Actions to perform abilities. (Note: When placing dice, it must be the highest die on the Actions spot of the board or Actions card.) Actions can involve revealing Ambassadors cards, which will need to be satisfied to win the game or you could also move Animals around to keep them out of harm’s way.
- Offspring Phase –If there is a Mating Pair (two animals in same square), you will roll the die. Add 1 to the number of Mating Pairs, and if your die roll is less than that number you gain an Offspring to place on an empty space adjacent to a Mating Pair.
- Destruction Phase – Choose a row or column, and then roll the Destruction die. Add a destruction tile to the environment in the column where the die was rolled. If there is already a tile there, move the tile to the nearest Tiger in the line until it reaches a space without a destruction tile, which may or may not contain an animal. If an animal is there, they are lost back to the supply.
- Impact Phase – Play the top card from the Impact deck. Most are bad for you, but there are a few good ones in the mix as well.
- Upkeep Phase – Draw a new Action card, place it in your hand, and pick a player who hasn’t played this year yet.
The year ends when all players have had a turn. There will be several voting years later in the game, which you will have to check the face-up Ambassador cards to see if you meet their requirements. If you meet the requirements, they vote Yes. If you get more than 4 Yes votes, the species is granted protected status and you win the game. If not, you have one more year to fulfill more Ambassador requirements. If it’s the second vote, and you still don’t have enough Yes votes, you have lost. Other ways to lose the game are if you ever have 1 or fewer Animals on the board or if there are no destruction tiles left to place.
For the past year, I have been gradually teaching my son more gamer’s games. We have been playing more Kingdomino and less Monopoly, more Potion Explosion and less Uno. Since we started this switch, he has been excited at the new games, the better games that have opened up to him. With these new possibilities, my wife and I have had to learn to also play more cooperative games, a genre that was hit or miss among us, but has turned into a great teaching tool for young children. My son has also started asking more questions about games on my shelf, games in the mail, and games coming soon, none more doggedly than Endangered.
As I said earlier, my son LOVES animals, especially endangered and extinct animals. In his young life, one of his biggest regrets is that he will never get to see a live dodo bird. So when I told him that there was a board game coming out about endangered animals, all I heard for months was, “Where is the tiger game? When is it coming out? Why isn’t it made yet?” Upon receiving a prototype to play, his eyes lit up like Christmas and his birthday all rolled into one. It was a bit above his age level with all the text, but with some help, he was able to experience it and was over the moon, and that is what gaming is all about. You take a game with an immersive theme; tweak some tried and true mechanics; and brilliantly illustrate it, and then you have a game that will have you longing to play it, to experience it long before it is even published. That’s what Endangered is to my family and me.
When I think about the game play, I keep gravitating back to the familiar elements of other cooperative games, primarily Pandemic. Like Pandemic, it has individual specialized roles that each player can choose from. Unlike Pandemic, each role has a deck of cards that will further expand not only your available actions, but actions available for everyone. Like Pandemic’s infection deck, there is an impact deck. Unlike Pandemic, there is potential for a few good cards to draw and help you out.
What really sets this game apart from Pandemic is theme. Don’t get me wrong. I love Pandemic, but sometimes I feel like I’m just removing cubes and not curing diseases. The Legacy version helped, but the theme still isn’t super strong. Endangered is huge on theme. The modules are thoughtfully designed. Tigers are trying to survive deforestation, and while you can move them around to provide short term help. You really need global support (Ambassadors) to save them. When you lose a tiger, your heart breaks a little bit, and you try harder to save the rest of them. When you lose them all, it devastates you!
Another great aspect of this game is replay value. There is ton of replay in this game, not just from the different animal modules, but you’ll get different Ambassadors each time. There are also four different roles to choose from (five with greater funding), which will allow you to try different strategies. With their varied action cards coming out differently each game, you’ll have to play differently each game and alter your strategy. I played this game a few times (solo two-handed) and with my family, and I didn’t win every game (not even close), which is the staple of a good cooperative game. You want to win, but not every time.
[tweet “A game about the global impact of extinction: @StuartsStudy reviews ‘Endangered.'”
Right now this game is on Kickstarter and it needs your help to fund. The art is amazing! The game company is well-established and delivers quality products. Visit the Kickstarter page and check out more about Endangered.
This is a free preview. I was not paid for my opinion. I am just a hardcore fan!
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Copyright 2019 Stuart Dunn