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5 Games To Shine A Light On Climate Change

Co2 Second Chance Review

Climate change is not just a worrying prospect for the future. It’s a fundamental reality and pressing concern for the present. It's a slow-motion catastrophe that will affect all our lives and especially those of our children. But that’s not to say there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re currently living in a small window of opportunity where this man-made problem can be limited and mitigated. There’s a chance that global warming can be capped at 1.5 degrees, but this will take a concerted worldwide effort!

The first step is awareness. Education about climate change, its causes, impacts, what we can do to help, what we need our governments to do to make a difference. There are many ways to drive awareness and this is where our beloved hobby comes in. Yes, even board games can teach us, our friends and our children about this important subject. The Zatu blog team have prepared a list of games that shine a light on Climate Change in a variety of different ways:

CO2 Second Chance - Dan Hilton

We, as a species, are not simply human. We're not simply animals. We are a disease on this beautiful planet we call home. If we really did consider it our collective home, however, why would we allow our fellow man to contaminate and pollute that which we need to assure our very survival? Why would we continue to poison the waters we need to drink? To choke on the smog-filled air we need to breathe? CO2 Second Chance does a great job at incorporating the industrial side of this theme and demonstrating to us just how hard it is to elicit change in the world.

Throughout a cooperative game of CO2 (this theme doesn’t suit the competitive mode), you will be tasked with working together in order to supply the great nations of our world with sustainably green energy and scrambling desperately to put a stop to the rise of even more fossil fuel facilities. Building solar farms, wind turbines, hydroelectric dams, recycling centres etc, it becomes a race to reduce carbon emissions and supply power to the world before it is simply too late. Before we hurdle over the line that we cannot recover from.

Part of your objectives is to develop your scientists’ knowledge in different green energies, and then send them off to summits all over the world. This mechanic reflects the need for more of such summits in real life, as, at some point, we ourselves will undoubtedly hurdle over the point of no return. We need to all do what we can to save our home.

CO2 Second Chance really does shine a light on this topic matter and shows us how challenging it is to get the world to work towards this common goal. I am yet to win a single game, and I do not intend to for a while. Saving the planet from ourselves should not be an easy task! Unlike the board game, we will not get a second chance!

Evolution Climate - Fred Cronin

With the recent news regarding the effects we have had on our climate, it is more important than ever to be teaching people about how deadly the consequences of climate change will be. We need people to come together so that we can make a positive change as a society and fix what we have broken. However, learning about the dangers of climate change doesn’t have to be a boring affair. This theme is so important that everyone should find a way to get invested. Luckily for us board gamers, there is a game for that: Evolution: Climate.

For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of the game, the Evolution line of games has players competing to make their species top dog. Each player must adapt their animals so that they can overcome hurdles such as predators or food shortages. Evolution: Climate has much the same basis, however, this time players are kitting their species out to adapt to the perils of a rapidly changing climate. Creatures that once lived in freezing tundra must now contend with scorching deserts, and fish that swam in tropical shallows are now having to hunt in icy open water. Not only does this add an extra layer of strategy to the game, but it also teaches players about the difficulties species face when the climate changes so rapidly.

Evolution: Climate is a fantastic way of making players both young and old aware of the dangers our planet and its ecosystems face when the climate changes too rapidly. This game highlights the struggle countless species face as the climate changes too fast for them to handle. While this game is informative, it remains fun and so is the perfect way to get friends and family invested in the climate.

Planet - Favourite Foe

Climate Change is a BIG issue. And not just big, but cascading. Because rising and falling temperatures, modified weather patterns, and alterations to the Earth’s atmosphere are HUGE. They literally affect EVERYTHING. But tackling something so enormous and sprawling can be overwhelming. Where you start and where you finish is an ever-moving target. As a parent, however, I cannot shy away from engaging my child in discussions about the natural world, as well as our effect upon it. After all, it is going to be his generation that will inherit our legacy and try to fix our mistakes.

Without a doubt, our Mini-meeple is far more aware than I was at his age. Despite only being 6, he knows that trees are the lungs of our world, and that recycling is a no-brainer. But, it is still a big ask to expect him to process the complexity of climate change in one lump. And so, when his curiosity is piqued, we bring out the super accessible Planet from Blue Orange Games and Coiledspring Games.

This 3D tile-laying strategy game is all about matching animals to terrain types that suit them best, as well as avoiding those they would rather steer clear. Innovative in its design, you get to hold the whole world in your hands as you pick and stick magnetic tiles onto your orb. Played over a number of rounds, you will be strategising your selections in order to target animal cards, awarding you points at end-game. With a personal habitat type scoring objective on top, there will definitely be times where you can’t do it all; you simply have to decide between goals.

And every time we have played Planet, it has been a lot of fun. Furthermore, it has inspired discussions about habitat destruction and preservation. Not only that, it has moved us into brainstorming about what we can do at home and at school to help our world. Believe me, trying to justify international travel and food miles to a 6-year-old is no comfortable task! And it has definitely caused us to question why we do things that are undeniably destructive.

Planet is a game that breaks the BIG issue down and presents a significant chunk in a really fun, colourful, and accessible way. Education is always better when it is fun, and, as our broken world demonstrates, none of us are ever too old to learn!

Renature - John Hunt

Renature certainly has ecological credentials. On the one hand, the theme, albeit of an excellent abstract, is to re-nature a damaged habitat and bring back wildlife. On the other, it is a game totally free from plastic: wooden meeples and dominoes, card tokens and board, and cloth bags.

It is also rather excellent. It embodies a delightfully odd vibe by being both a tactile and relaxing experience, and then at times surprisingly vicious.

Drawing and laying the beautifully illustrated dominos is extremely soothing and occasionally inhabits common space with jigsaw completion as you search the boards for where to put an owl or a badger. Selecting the different flora meeples to place in areas and scoring points is satisfying and relaxing. But this feeling belies the underlying tactical crunch, informing whether it’s a bush or an oak being placed and whether it is your colour or a neutral. By contrast, canny piece placement can rob your opponent of points, sometimes to your benefit and sometimes (even more spitefully) to the neutral ‘side’ which isn’t a player at all. Or you can set up sections of path which are impossible to fill and deny your opponent from completing an area before the game end and gaining the bonus points token.

Alongside all this, the style very much contributes to the substance: components are not only bio-degradable but they are beautifully illustrated, from the dominos to the scoring track. The bar is low for entry – I had one of my 5-year-olds playing it, albeit without parsing the tactics of flora laying – but the decision space will satisfy the most experienced gamers too. It’s a splendid 45 minutes of satisfying crunch and genuinely a game which is nice to win but fine to lose as the journey is such a wonderful thing – and you won’t find me saying that terribly often.

Endangered- Matt Thomasson

Endangered is a cooperative, dice rolling, action selection game about humankind threatening the survival of various species and it is the player’s job to save them. In the base game, you and your fellow conservationists try to save the tigers and sea otters from extinction. Players must influence the UN to save the animals and stop the destruction of their environment. If four UN ambassadors vote yes after a certain number of rounds then the players win. Until the voting takes place, however, players need to keep the destruction of the animal’s habitat at bay and keep the animals alive. Impactful events like deforestation and oil spills need to be controlled and managed.

Endangered is a powerful game, it is a game that brings to the forefront the environmental impact that we, as human beings, are having on our planet and the animals that inhabit it. I don’t think that I have had an emotional attachment to a piece of wood shaped like a tiger or sea otter before. But that feeling when you place a destruction tile down that wipes out the last mating pair of tigers or sea otters is a strong one. Endangered is a game that, for some people, will invoke an emotional response.

Not only does the game convey a message it is also a solid cooperative game. The ruleset is fairly straightforward and at first glance, it looks like a breezy, easy coop. But with just three dice and a limited number of actions you need to be super-efficient with your actions. The interesting mechanism, the hook if you like, is the restrictions on the dice placement. Any die you play must be higher by a pip (or two pips in a two-player/solo game) than any previously placed dice. Also, the action spot you are placing your die on cannot contain a die of your colour previously played. Just this simple addition makes the decisions so tough, yet so interesting. Cooperation is key in this game and coupled with the strong message it is a game that I highly recommend.