Finally, I can build my dream world where the reign of sharks is over! The mighty manatee is the new apex predator!
I’ve always wanted to be in charge of the world. I think I would be a great terraforming master of the landscape. First, we’ve got too many mountains. They will all be replaced with manatees. So imagine my delight when AEG send me an early copy of their newest worldbuilding game, Ecos: First Continent.
I sat down with my girlfriend, Audrey, and we played through a game together. We’ll both give our thoughts on the game at the end. But first, let’s go over Ecos: First Continent.
Ecos: First Continent is a competitive tile-placement, tableau-building game with resource management mechanics. The goal of each player is to have the most points by the time the game ends. Points are gained through activating cards, which are also how each player will be building the world and populating it.
Ecos uses a simultaneous turn system, somewhat similar to Settlers of Catan. Each turn, one player, known as The Harbinger, draws an Element Token from the Element Bag.
Every player then can choose to place a cube on one of their cards, where the symbol matches the drawn Element.
Once a card has filled up all of the element slots, it activates. The player gets to perform all actions on the card. These actions will be things like adding to the landscape, populating the world with creatures, gaining more elements, or gaining victory points.
But no card lasts forever. You’ll notice leaves around the edge of each card. Each time a card is activated, it is rotated clockwise, reducing the number of leaves on the top of the card. The number of leaves indicates how many uses the card has left. If the card would be rotated with only 1 leaf left, it is instead discarded.
If a player doesn’t want to place a cube on one of their cards, they can instead rotate their Dial.
The Dial is the main method of gaining additional cubes and for drawing and playing new cards. As each player plays more cards, they will have a whole selection of options of where to allocate their cubes. But as cards are used, they will eventually be discarded, so it’s important to replenish that supply of cards.
Once the Harbinger draws a Wild Energy token, their time as Harbinger is over and the next player takes over. However, if one or more players has 80 or more victory points, the game ends! Whichever player has the most points wins!
The game suggested if you are playing with 2 players to start with more cards and pull 2 energy tokens at once. Frankly, I’m glad we didn’t do that. Even playing with standard setup there were a lot of options right out of the gate. It did not take either of us very long to build up our tableau enough that there were cards in there I wish I could have discarded.
Still, having that many cards down really made the highlight of the game shine for me: combos. During the game, I was about 30 points ahead and poised to win as soon as Audrey pulled a Wild. However, she kept activating cards in a chain until she rocketed ahead and ended up winning by about 10 points. At the end, she pulled every tile except the 1 other Wild and 1 other token. With a total of 40 tokens, the odds of that are crazy small.
I really enjoyed seeing all the parts working together and would definitely be down for another playthrough to see all the different card options.
Hi! I had a ton of fun playing this game, AND continued my winning streak! This game was definitely more complex than other games I’ve played, although that might speak more to my experience than the game itself. I was a little overwhelmed in the beginning but after catching on, was able to zone in on a strategy. Unfortunately, I zoned in a little too hard on a hippo themed strategy, and Matt saw a perfect opportunity to play his own strategy involving sharks. RIP my hippos.
I can see this game being really rewarding on replays. There were so many options and ways you could play; Matt and I both picked a theme and stuck to it, leaving less opportunity to explore other cards/types of land building that would be fun to play with in a second round.
Overall it was a great time and a cool concept (ask Matt about the themed playlist I made!)
Matt’s Note: We wrote our reviews separately and just happened to touch on the same points. So that’s neat!
Ecos: First Continent – $59.99 – Available October
What if the formation of Earth had gone differently?
In Ecos players are forces of nature molding the planet, but with competing visions of its grandeur. You will have the chance to create a part of the world, similar but different to the one we know. Which landscapes, habitats, and species thrive will be up to you.
Mountain ranges, jungle, rivers, seas, islands and savannah, each with their own fauna, all lie within the scope of the players’ options.
- Players: 2-6
- Ages: 14+
- Playing Time: 45-75 minutes
Thanks for reading!