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Build, Design, or Protect the Planet With These Nature-Themed Board Games

4 Minute Read
May 1 2024
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Spring is springing, at least here in the northern hemisphere. Delight in the longer days and warmer weather by helping Earth be the best she can be.

Ecos: The First Continent

Ecos is one of those games we’ve looked at before, so feel free to read more about it here.

But, in short, Ecos is a simultaneous play game where players are building the world together. Each player has their own set of goals based on matching terrain types or features to the card in front of them. As the game evolves, players will have more options of cards in their hands to affect things more directly.

In Ecos: First Continent, players are forces of nature molding the planet, but with competing visions of its grandeur. You 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.

Ark Nova

Ark Nova is one of those games that skyrocketed in popularity when it was released. I admit it doesn’t quite fit the world-building theme. But it’s a zoo-building theme, and I declare that’s close enough. Plus, if it bothers you that it doesn’t match the theme exactly you should probably just stop reading right now.

In Ark Nova, players are building and managing a scientifically minded zoo. Players are competing to build the most successful zoological establishment while accommodating the varied fauna and supporting conservation efforts around the world.

In Ark Nova, you will plan and design a modern, scientifically managed zoo. With the ultimate goal of owning the most successful zoological establishment, you will build enclosures, accommodate animals, and support conservation projects all over the world. Specialists and unique buildings will help you in achieving this goal.

Cascadia

Cascada is as much as puzzle as it is a game. Players take turns building their own region of terrain and populating it with wildlife. It’s a game about placing the terrain tiles and the wildlife tokens as intelligently as possible in order to maximize the groupings. Each type of wildlife wants certain things and doesn’t want other things. Maximize points by appealing to everyone!

Take a journey to the Pacific Northwest as you compete to create the most harmonious ecosystem in Cascadia! Turns are simple – select a tile/token set and place each into your expanding ecosystem. Earn points by fulfilling wildlife goals and creating the largest habitat corridors. With variable scoring goals, each game of Cascadia brings a new spatial puzzle to your table!

Earth

Earth is another game we took a closer look at previously, so read more about it here. There, I compare the game to Wingspan, which I think still holds true. Earth is an engine-building game where players have to balance their supply, growth, and expansion all at the same time. By creating symbiotic relationships between their flora and fauna, players will be able to discover new synergies and combos every time they play.

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Earth is an open-world engine builder for 1 to 5 players with simple rules and countless strategic possibilities. With its encyclopedic nature and a near-infinite number of tableau combinations, every single game will allow you to discover new synergies and connections, just as our vast and fascinating world allows us to do! Players will create a self-supporting engine of growth, expansion, and supply by drafting from a deck of over 364 unique cards and strategically placing them in their tableau. 

Spirit Island

Look, sometimes Earth needs a helping hand to push back ne’er-do-wells who wish her harm (wouldn’t that be nice?) Obviously, the best way to do that is by embodying the primal spirits of nature itself to wreak havoc on the invading settlers who are ravaging the natural resources.

Spirit Island is a fantastic cooperative game where each player does that thing I just said. Each spirit has its own abilities, mechanics, and overall strategy. The overall flow of gameplay means that each player is vital to the team’s overall success but is designed well enough that no one player can really drive the whole plan. Players need to plan and coordinate together in order to win. It’s genuinely one of my favorite board games, and likely my favorite cooperative game.

Spirit Island is a complex and thematic cooperative game about defending your island home from colonizing Invaders. Players are different spirits of the land, each with its own unique elemental powers. Every turn, players simultaneously choose which of their power cards to play, paying energy to do so. Using combinations of power cards that match a spirit’s elemental affinities can grant free bonus effects. Faster powers take effect immediately, before the Invaders spread and ravage, but other magics are slower, requiring forethought and planning to use effectively. In the Spirit phase, spirits gain energy, and choose how / whether to Grow: to reclaim used power cards, to seek for new power, or to spread presence into new areas of the island.

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Author: Matt Sall
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