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Top Games to Celebrate Plastic Free July!


Did you know that July is international Plastic Free Month? It’s a global movement started up to help shine a spotlight on the damage caused by plastic pollution. By doing so, it is hoped that solutions to our tricky trash problems can be found.

And our hobby incorporates a lot of plastic – from cellophane wrap to components, there’s no denying we all own cardboard boxes full of the stuff. But some publishers are recognising the responsibility they have and are forging ahead with eco-friendly efforts. And so David and I are celebrating 6 games that are as green as they are great to play!

Carcassonne - By David

A real go to game for me in my collection. I’ve got many versions or themes of this game but I’m talking about the original. Set in the French city, Carcassonne was the game to bring us the meeple made of wood! The remaining components of board tiles and the score tracker, all made from cardboard. Carcassonne is a classic! This original is now over 20 years old and somewhat ahead of its time on being a plastic free board game. It is still incredibly popular as well with a huge love and affection for the game, whilst also remaining ultra-competitive should players want that. Having just competed in this year's UKGE Carcassonne UK Championship, trust me, there are some ultra-competitive players out there. For anyone not familiar with the game and mechanics, players create a map in play. They use their meeples to score points in 4 ways, on monasteries, cities, roads or in a field scoring all the completed cities at the end of the game. Your meeples stay on the board until a player completes the feature, scoring the feature and the meeple returns to your pool. Your meeples in fields do not return. Meeples are finite so you have to be selective in how you use them. Then there are the wider strategies in merging with other players’ roads, cities or fields. This creates the competition over scoring these features. Carcassonne has been in my collection since 2005, and will remain in there for a long time. It never occurred to me then that the game was plastic free but given the amount of copies of the game that have been sold since creation, what a brilliant game to be a part of the plastic free community, and a pioneer at the same time.

Fish ‘n’ Flip - By Favouritefoe

As you might expect from the FUN BY NATURE range from Helvetiq, this game is eco-friendly as well as being great to play. And, given that it can be played co-operatively or competitively in multiplayer mode, as well as solo, there’s no reason not to!

Fish ‘n’ Flip has a really unexpected and fun Tetris-y vibe! And, confession time, I love playing it solo best. The rules are super simple – the aim of the game is to rescue as many sea animals as possible by the time the deck runs out. Action cards allow you to flip/move specific cards (and players have a power animal booster which can be applied) to remove adjacent cards of the same species that are swimming in the same direction after the cards have moved around. As soon as animals are rescued the remaining animals in that column drop down, and, in true Tetris style, if another set is made, they can be removed too! At the end of each turn, a new animal is drawn and added to each column (any sets formed at that point don't count) and new action cards are drafted into hand. If any row ever reaches the boat on the 7th row, the game is lost. If the boat is avoided, scores are based on how many animals were rescued. Trash cards (including those showing discarded plastic) are thrown into the mix and can’t be removed easily so, just like in real life, they clog up the sea and compromise the ability to rescue the animals.

As well as being spot on in terms of theme, the eco-friendly credentials of this series are commendable - the components have been made without plastic and using FSC certified components/biodegradable glue!

Plant Based Riot By David

A much more recent creation, Plant Based Riot, created by Bubblegum Stuff in 2022 is a pure card game keeping it well clear of plastic components. However, even the cards have been wrapped with a minimal amount of plastic to protect a new game. What’s also great is the small amount of plastic the cards have been wrapped in can actually be reused as the cards just slide out and slide back in again. So from a sustainability point of view this is very good. Onto the game itself and this one is all about fun and a lot of laughter. The game was first pitched to me as a game where you get to “screw your opponents over”. This instantly strikes a chord with me and gets me excited as I love games where you get to stitch your opposition up. Yes Please!!! The game is for 2 to 6 people and quite simply assemble your gangs, destroy your rivals and overthrow the ruthless cartel. The mechanics are simple, and the play is fast. You should not be much more than 30 minutes with this one. On your turn the play is straightforward as you draw 2 cards and take 3 moves. There is a possibility of 5 choices with your moves. The winner is the player who creates 2 full gangs first, then starts a turf war with the cartel and beats the corresponding cartel with their gangs. The artwork is also something worth noting as special here and highly amusing. All the cards revolve around fruit and vegetables, and it looks brilliant. There’s probably a little argument as well for the game having that sustainable focus being plant based and certainly plastic free, but that could be clutching a little. I have a fondness of quick card games with stitch up elements and this game is very welcome as part of that collection of games.

Sounds Fishy By Favouritefoe

Now you might think that I am going for a meta theme here, but I promise you that I am not obsessed with fish games! Sounds Fishy is on this list because it’s not just a fun game, but it’s also a Big Potato game. And Big Potato have been championing environmentally friendly production for a wee while. Reducing plastic wrap and becoming B-Corp Certified, the focus on responsible creation is evident across their range.

Sounds Fishy is a clever party game which is all about sniffing out the fake answer amongst a shoal of truthful tuna fish! You don't need to necessarily know the right answer to get points, but if you let the fibbing fishy get away with spinning their lies, then you'll be cast off into loser lake!

The components are gorgeous – glittering fish really catch your eye – and knowing it is an eco-friendly production somehow makes it feel even more enjoyable to play

Kavango By David

This game just ticks all the boxes for me, and that is not least in how it is another completely plastic free board game. The concept of this game focuses on conservation in Botswana as well as the wider global challenges facing the environment and planet in general. With a game so heavily focussed on this, it is great to see that Mazaza games have considered this in their component creation. They have looked at every detail. Having spoken to the creators personally, I know they are using the game to send a message and make people think about the challenges society faces and I for one think they have done a marvellous job. They use wooden meeples within the set. The bags are plant based and compostable, they’ve used a card sleeve instead of plastic wrap around the box (everyone needs to be doing this for me) and recycled card for the playing card trays, stunning! I was privileged to play the demo version of the game at UKGE 2023 and was happy to back their Kickstarter afterwards. Players are tasked with creating a nature reserve in the Botswana Kavango. You have to be sustainable in your approach to building in order to be successful and win. Filling it up with predators might not quite create a balance. Play is simultaneous in how you draw cards to pick the creatures and species to populate your reserve. There are also other research tasks to complete through the rounds, that only get more challenging in where to focus your efforts on conservation as you have more to balance. The game is due out imminently and at time of writing available for pre order. I truly hope this game is a success and gets well recognised in the gaming community. Other board game publishers could also stand to learn from Mazaza a in the creation of a more sustainable product. Kavango is well worth a go.

Quixo By Favouritefoe

A game that is completely plastic free is an easy win for July, and Gigamic (distributed by Hachette Board Games UK) have a huge range that tread the fine line between sculptures and games! Chunky, quality, and not a flimsy plastic token in sight, Quixo is noughts and crosses reimagined for those wanting to level up their strategic play. Not only that but you’ll want to keep on the table long after the battle is done!

In Quixo, you still have to get your matching symbols in a row (5 in this case), but each turn you must slide a cube (either blank or showing your symbol) from the outside edge back into the grid to somewhere where there’s a gap. Blank sides then get rotated to show X or O, and so, as you may expect, each turn changes the game space!

If you like what you see, there are mini travel and giant versions too. Plus Quixo turns Xs and Os into a 4 player game through adding an orientation element to the game. By having to choose from only the pieces where the dots are closer to you than your teammate, this game just levelled up again!