The world is dying, and it is our fault. Collectively as a species, we have spread like a disease across every corner of this once bountiful planet. We have mined, fracked, waged war, tested weapons of unimaginable power, poisoned the oceans with waste, desiccated forests, buried and burned far too much waste and even unintentionally created an entire island of discarded rubbish.
We continue to ignore the importance of reusing and recycling, we continue to ignore the rising sea levels and global temperature, we continue to ignore the dying population of endangered species, we continue our lives blatantly ignorant to the fact that the world is choking on the fumes that we pump out of our daily lives.
CO2 Second Chance gives us a look at how the world can make a turnaround in emission waste. Playing as competing or cooperating power companies, trying to turn the tide of the world's toxic fossil fuels, and make the world's energy supply green before it is simply too late.
Opening the lid on a new game can be a daunting experience. This is especially true for those who are still (like me) relatively new to the hobby. This is even more especially true when it comes to the bigger games like this. Straight away, however, I was enthralled by the sheer immaculacy of the game under the lid.
Everything was so inviting. From the delightfully sized, glossy, bright rule book; to the glossy top of each of the components begging to be punched; to the wonderfully illustrated double-sided game board. The entire game felt pristine. It felt clean. This already had me immersed in the theme of the game before I even attempted an initial set-up. I had to wash my unworthy, dirty hands before I started. I felt bad for putting the excess cardboard from the token sheets in the recycling.
There is so much to this game. To the point it is worth giving set up its own mini section in this review. These kinds of things are relative of course, as, anyone who enjoys the heavier, more involved euro-style games, the setup is probably a piece of cake. For me on the other hand, it was a bit of a beast. Figuring out what all the tokens were, where they were located, what ones to use for solo play, which board side to use, what all the components were etc it was already a little brain-melting.
On the flip side, after the initial hurdle, everything seemed to flow as effortless as a spring river. Tokens are uniquely shaped with marked spots to be placed in, components are all very uniquely shaped and are designed to slot together, each of the many card types have easily distinguishable backs etc. Any subsequent setup went incredibly smoothly.
So, let us get into the nitty gritty, the reason (no doubt) you found yourself perusing this article: gameplay! A bit of context for you: This is the biggest game I have played. Usually, you are more likely to find me playing games such as Draftosaurus, Queendomino or any other quirky little game. CO2 Second Chance really opened my eyes to how amazing (spoilers) bigger games can be.
The game, as you can see, is an absolute table hogger! The game's size is most definitely indicative of how much you take from it. And how long it takes to play. It says 120 minutes on the box, but I would take that with a pinch of salt. But there was not a single minute in any of the games I have played where I wished it to be shorter.
The aim of the game is to supply the world with enough renewable energy for its needs. If you don't do it quick enough, then fossil fuel factories will spring up and increase global carbon emissions. This is bad. There are so many little intricacies in this game, that it would be impossible to relay it all to you without my editor's brain turning to mush. So here is a quick rundown of the different modes:
In the cooperative mode, you will be working with your fellow industry conglomerates. This is in order to supply the world with renewable energy throughout a set number of decades. The decades take place in game rounds. You will need to develop different facilities in different continents, improve your knowledge of different green energies, attend summits on them, keep ahead of the global pollution levels, try and reduce fossil fuel power plants being built, balance the global and regional carbon emission permits, and make sure you bag as many points as possible by the end of the round.
At the end of each round, you will have points deducted for every face-up environmental goal you have not achieved. You'll need to spend points to mitigate the increase in global carbon emissions. So, you really need to crunch down on getting as many points as possible. You also need to complete at least 7 of 10 UN goal cards, and 1 of your 2 personal secret objectives. There are plenty of ways to lose in CO2 Second Chance.
The game is incredibly hard to win. And I am perfectly ok with this. Anyone who expects diverting a global ecological doomsday in a small amount of time would be easy, is setting themselves up for frustration.
Competitive And Solo
Competitive mode has you essentially trying to profit the most from the shifting emissions war. Butting heads with other corporations (players) whilst hiding behind a façade of assisting them just doesn't work that well for me. Competitive is more of a semi-cooperative mode, which leaves you wishing you were just working together. The game shifts and changes a little to facilitate this game mode, and I am sure a lot of people prefer this mode, but not me. Nobody ever changed the world for the better whilst fighting everyone else.
The solo mode is very similar to cooperative with a few tweaks here and there. Giving you access to more actions per turn and the option to increase the global emissions by a point in order to get another extra action per turn is an interesting twist. The solo mode is greatly superior to the 'competitive' version, but still doesn't hold a candle to cooperative.
Luck Vs Strategy
You may not have been expecting luck to play a part in a heavy game like this, but I would be remiss for not talking about it.
At the start of the game, a lot of things are randomly drawn or placed. 10 UN goal cards (depending on game mode), 8 random power plant goals, 5 random knowledge goals, 8 random summit goals, 6 random summit tiles, 2 secret private goals (depending on game mode), 5 drawn lobbyist cards, and 6 randomly placed regional agenda tiles (one for each region). Fossil fuel power plants are also revealed at the start of each round. This is after the first, which can increase the global emissions up to 4 points.
This can work in your favour. Alternatively, it can work very much so against it. If you have a UN goal that needs you to build 2 forestation plants, you have a power plant goal that wants you to build a forestation plant in Europe, a summit goal that includes forestation, and a knowledge goal that requires level 5 in forestation, then it is pretty clear that you can fulfil most of these by concentrating on this one route. On the other hand, you can easily see how this could fall very much so against your favour.
This forces you to really consider each turn decisively though, as there is no room for errors. Thinking cap is required for sure here.
When I first started out in this hobby, I didn't initially understand what people meant when they referred to component quality. Now I know.
In short: CO2 Second Chance is a beacon of what other companies should look to when developing components. Every component here is truly, unequivocally sublime!
In long: from the 25 power plant wooden pieces to the 25 uniquely shaped project tiles, to the 47 environmental goal tiles, to the multitude of different decks and all the markers, tokens, meeples and tiles in between, everything in this box is of the highest of quality. To a point in quality, that I simply didn't realise existed before lifting the lid on this masterpiece.
I adore the way in which the project tiles are shaped so that scientists can rest inside them before the foundation pieces can slide into it. Then the way the foundation pieces are designed to allow the different power plants to slot into them, thus forming a full powerhouse juggernaut.
I love the intricate detail that has gone into the double-sided game board. Almost everything has clearly defined areas to be placed on a board that is not too busy and is bright and easy to understand. With there being so many pieces and parts in the game, the board does an excellent job at presenting it in a way that doesn't make your eyes fall out.
I love that each player has 2 different player aids that actually fit on either side of your individual player board. The graphics overflow onto them and give you details on what each of the actions do, and on the reverse, has some helpful quick references. I LOVE this so much. It was incredibly helpful during initial plays.
All the cards are linen finished and have little numbers on them. This relates to the reference guide at the back of the rulebook for easy explanations. The rulebook itself is superb. This is the biggest game I have learned how to play, and yet, also one of the easiest. The rulebook is big, easy to follow, greatly written with examples and references throughout. I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the rulebook. And the game as a whole.
If I was able to rate this game higher than a 5 for component quality, I definitely would.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that I have not included a 'negative' section in this review. And that is because, simply, there isn't one needed (and I wouldn't have room if it was). Without a doubt, my thoughts are clear on this game. I love the theme, I love the cooperative game mode, I absolutely adore the components.
There is a lot to this game and a lot to love. I tried hard not to overwhelm any potential reader with walls of intricacies of the game. I am sure from the pictures you can gauge for yourself how much of a mammoth CO2 Second Chance is. But it is presented in an easy to digest gameplay that revolves around just 6 different actions. All of these actions however open up to a slew of different options.
The game can seem like more of a puzzle that needs to be played in a certain order at times, in order to hit certain goals, summits or personal objectives. This is not such a bad thing however, sometimes playing a game that can last more than 2 hours, a specific target to aim towards can give some much-needed guidance.
Are you in the market for a new bigger game with intricate gameplay wrapped in a uniquely interesting theme? Try your hand at saving the world from the pollution you yourself contribute to.