Tile-laying games appear to be growing in popularity at the moment. This is the latest such game from Blue Orange games.
Should you add Planet to your collection? Read on below for my take.
The Game and Set Up
Planet is a 2-4 player game, designed by Urtis Sulinskas. In Planet players are trying to attract as many animals as possible to their planet. This is done by creating a planet with terrain which meets the animal’s requirements. Animals either require players to have the most of either one type of terrain touching another, one type of terrain which does not touch another or simply the most segments of one type of terrain.
Set up is relatively straight forward. The magnetic terrain tiles are shuffled and placed into ten piles of five. Space needs to be left for additional piles at the end of the line although no tiles are placed there during set up. These piles will be populated by tiles discarded in earlier rounds. Each pile denotes a round of the game.
The animal cards are shuffled. Only 20 of the animal cards will be used in each game. These are then placed individually, face up on the table, below certain piles of tiles. There are no animal cards placed under the first two stacks as these rounds are simply to gain terrain and begin to build your planet. The number of animal cards increases as the round number increases and this is set out very clearly in the diagram in the rule booklet.
Each player then randomly draws a secret objective card. The cards each have a different type of terrain and if a player obtains enough terrain segments of that type they will gain points. Players should be aware that they will need different numbers of segments to score points for different types of terrain; this is linked to the frequency with which they occur in the game.
Finally, each player takes a globe and you are ready to begin. The youngest player starts.
How to Play
In each round players take the five tiles from the leftmost pile and draft them in turn order. Once a player has selected their tile they then add it to their globe. Any tiles which are not selected are then placed in the piles for rounds 11 and 12. Players are not required to line up terrain types when placing a new tile and, in some instances it is to a player's advantage not to do so.
After round three players have the opportunity, each round, to add animals to their planet. Each animal has specific requirements as set out above. Players look at their globe to see if they meet the requirements of that animal and if they do they take the card and place it face up in front of them. If no player meets the requirements or there is a tie the animal gets moved under the next pile and is available to be claimed in the next round.
The game continues in this way for 12 rounds, with players placing terrain tiles and then checking the animals to see if they meet their requirements.
Once all 12 rounds have been played final scoring takes place. Firstly players reveal their secret objectives and score points according to the number of segments of that terrain they have. Then the animals are scored. If your animal matches the terrain type of your secret objective you score one point, if they are of a different type you score two points. The player with the most points wins.
Before I say anything else, I really do enjoy a tile laying game and this one is no exception.
However, the artwork is rather disappointing. The terrain segments all look the same, each just being a wash of a different colour. There is none of the individual detail that make the tiles interesting such as you would find in Kingdomino, for example. Furthermore, the animal cards do not match the style of the tiles, nor do they add to the aesthetics of the game. It feels like they were trying to go for a realistic look of the animals, but this does not come through. There is also no link between the animal and the background of the card, so it just looks a little thrown together.
If you can look beyond the artwork Planet is a very fun, quick, slick tile laying game. There are interesting tactical choices, do you gain an animal, if so which animal, or do you go for more terrain segments of the type you need to get bonus points. The 3D globe is a great addition as it adds a layer of interest to the game and makes the theme really pop. It also adds to the puzzle-like dynamic of the game when you have to try and optimise your tile placement.
The theme is fun and engaging, with a bit of a different spin on the genre. The game is also very replayable with only a proportion of the animal cards being in play at a time and with the cards that are in use coming out in a different order each game.
Overall, I find Planet to be an enjoyable game. It is a shame about the artwork, but I still enjoy the base mechanics of the game enough that this shall remain in my collection.