We thank Genius Games for their generous donation to St Thomas Hospital and the Evelina Children’s charity.

A science based, card drafting game about the systems of nature, systems of animal interactions which allows people to build a space for nature, that they might want to  take a stroll through the meadows, dip their toes in the streams and watch the bees buzzing. It all sounds a lot like bliss. ECOSYSTEM lets you and up to 6 players, aged 10 and over, to do just that. Add anything you like, from meadows, streams, flowers, birds and the like, to create a space that maybe you might like to explore and also possibly could gain a high score from, after all you are here for points as well.


Inside the rather twee and small box, is a well written booklet. Nice illustrations of play that give enough game play mechanic to aid play but the written parts are a touch longer than it need be. Then you get, six laminated player cards which outline what each card does and how it scores. Alongside some of the diversity elements. A player score sheet for the games and rounds you may play. There are a lot indeed. This is a good thing. Never should a score sheet set be few and far between. Finally the big thing, the cards themselves. 130 playing cards in total. Small and compact. Featuring wolves, dragonfly, bears, hawks and the aforementioned. All nicely illustrated. Serviceably in truth.


Give each player a player card. This will allow them to understand the most effective card placement and territory goals. Shuffle the 130 cards together and deal 10 to each player in the game. You will do this again, once all these cards are exhausted. A player then chooses a card from their hand and pass all remaining to the player on the left to them. Players now reveal their card and place it in their Ecosystem. The structure of your Ecosystem is 4×5, so you cant go over this. Four high and five wide. Take the cards now and lay another one from the 9 you have in your hand. It must be placed next to the card you just laid down. The cards move around until they are exhausted. That is round one over and done with. Then shuffle the cards and deal them again to players. 10 in all. Once these are exhausted, you have your 20 cards in front of you and can score. That is it. Simple, fast and sensible.


The game is pegged at 20 minutes max.  It actually runs a little longer than that. The length of something can resolve how it interacts with players. This length is conducive to a better experience. It actually makes for a gentle, easy but quite tactical play. Players draw on their wits, foresight and how they effectively read a player card. This process at first can be tedious for serious players and medium score hopers. Once this is over and the slow review is completed, things change. You have an effective game going on and how one step effects another. Draft cards, link up options and max scores seem easy but it can be tricky. Add to that the diversity element and you have quite a nice game. A nice, playable, game.


Of course this then plays into the rating on the box. These are often pointless but 10 and over mention on it, misses that probably 6 and 7+ year olds will understand the moves that are simple and the placement elements which link them. The other rating on the box is player number. The 5 – 6 player game does not work. It is harder to get a swift flow going for players and order collapses. This makes play stagnant.


The game is very one note. Play, build and score. Play, build and score. Nothing more than that. It plays well thanks to the simplicity of the drafting process but it is very simple. That will not bode well for its current retail value.


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