The spark of life is about to jump from your hands to spread out in the world. Deploy your mountain ranges and your deserts, spread out your oceans and your glaciers. Handle wisely your continents to form environments suitable for the apparition of animal life and maybe you'll manage to create the most densely populated planet!
In Planet, each player receives a planet core without anything on it. Each turn, players choose a tile with mountain/ice/forest/desert on it and place it on the planet. Then the player who fulfills the most conditions for the appearance of certain animals gains its card.
Designer: Urtis Šulinskas
Artist: Sabrina Miramon
Publisher: Blue Orange Games
Price: $39.99 BlueOrangeGames.com
Planet is a unique, three-dimensional tile-laying game from Blue Orange. In this unusual family game, players take turns drafting pentagonal tiles, which they attach magnetically to their dodecahedron “planet” pieces. This game feels like a distant cousin of Blue Orange’s smash-hit Spiel des Jahres winner, Kingdomino.
Every so often, I hear an elevator pitch for a game and think, “That sounds awesome, but how could it possibly work?” Most recently, Planet from Blue Orange Games inspired this internal monologue, when I heard it described as a tile-laying game in three dimensions.
Deviating from the inherently-flat nature of most tile games, each player begins with a barren “planetary core”—in actuality a softball-sized dodecahedron with magnets on each face.
Over the course of a dozen rounds, players draft magnetic tiles to add to their planet creating unique terrestrial geographies. At the end of the game, players’ completed planets will look something like this:
To begin, players create a tableau of cards and tiles divided into twelve distinct columns.
Each round, the components from one of these sets will be used, in order from left to right.
The round structure is very simple: draft tiles and scorecard objectives. First, the five tiles for the current round are revealed.
In turn order, players each select one to add to their planet. (Leftover tiles go on to form the draft pools for the last two rounds.) There are no placement restrictions—any tile can be next to any other tile. As the game progresses, players’ planets will begin to form contiguous areas of terrain.
From the third round on, one or more cards are awarded to players who fulfill particular objectives.
The three types of card objectives are:
- Have the largest area of land X
- Have the largest area of land X that touches an area of land Y
- Have the largest area of land X that DOES NOT touch an area of land Y
The player who meets the listed requirement for a card receives it and will score points for it at the end of the game. If multiple players tie for a card, it is not awarded, but rather moved to the next column on the tableau to be resolved next turn.
Each person also has a private objective card that shows a certain land type. At the end of the game, players can earn additional points based on how much of their land type they have collected.
After the final round, players tally their scores. Each card that matches the color of a player’s private objective is worth one point, and all other cards are worth two. This total, along with points earned from private objectives, determines players’ final scores. The player with the most points wins!
Planet is a great entry in the Blue Orange catalog. It has a classic simplicity, supported by a lovely look and a cool “toy factor.” The three-dimensionality may seem gimmicky to some, but I find that it works well practically and thematically.
The game’s production is quite attractive. Its minimalistic cover art is stark but bold, belying the vibrant design of the components inside. The magnets are just the right strength—adherent enough that tiles won’t accidentally fall off, but not so adherent that they are hard to remove during cleanup. The animal illustrations on the cards are beautifully rendered, further adding to the theming.
Gameplay moves fast; I can’t imagine a playthrough lasting more than a half hour. Planet‘s strategy lies primarily in looking ahead at upcoming objective cards. Since players know every scoring opportunity from turn one, they can plan their tile placements accordingly to maximize their points. Part of the fun is figuring out how best to “double-dip” landforms to earn multiple cards. For example, if one objective is “Have the largest desert area,” and another is “Have the largest desert area that touches a water area,” players can try to kill two birds with one stone. (Or one desert, in this case.)
Planet is an enjoyable family experience. It seems like the kind of game that would get recommended for the Spiel des Jahres: simple enough for kids to understand, but strategic enough for adults to stay engaged. The theme of creating an entire world makes the experience feel grandiose. At the end of the game, it is very satisfying for players to look at their creations and take pride in what they have made.
This one gets a thumbs-up from me. Definitely check it out!
A review copy was provided by Blue Orange Games.
+ Great production and theming
+ Simple but strategic
+ Scales well between player counts
- Decisions may start to feel a bit same-y after a while