Publishers Blue Orange had a huge hit with Bruno Cathala's attractive tile placement game Kingdomino. The game proved so successful that it spawned a succession of expansions and spinoffs, with doubtless more in the pipeline. And if you are among Kingdomino's legion of fans, you're sure to love Urtis Sulinskas' Planet, also from Blue Orange and distributed in the UK by Coiledspring Games. Think of it as Kingdomino in 3D.
Whereas Kingdomino adopted a fairy tale theme, Planet is themed around Earth's fauna and the various environments they inhabit. Both, however, are games where you are collecting and placing out coloured tiles representing different environments/habitats. The most striking difference is that the pentagonal tiles you select in Planet are all magnetic so that, instead of being laid out on the table, they fix into place on a chunky hand-sized dodecagonal 'planet core'.
In each of 12 rounds, (2–4) players choose from the tiles available and place one onto their planet core. From the third turn on, cards showing animals are awarded to the player whose planet has a habitat that best meets the requirement shown on the card (for example, the largest area of ice that is adjacent to water). You make tactical choices over what tiles to take and where to place them on your individual planet based on your knowledge of what animals will be coming out each turn (this is all open information because the animal cards are placed out in a row at the start of the game) but based also on your individual 'natural habitat' objective card. These are cards dealt face down to each player at the start of the game that specify the terrain that will give them an end-of-game bonus if they have enough of it on their planet What adds interest to the scoring is that animals score 2 points if they do not match your 'natural habitat' but only 1 point if they do. You can therefore find yourself making tactical decisions about whether it's best to try to maximise your animals score or whether you should focus more on maximising your natural habitat.
While Planet doesn't involve any direct 'take that' conflict, players are most certainly competing. You can find another player nabbing the tile you want just because they suspect they know from your previous choices what your 'natural habitat' is and the tile that will therefore benefit you the most. In the main, however, Planet is a game where players will be principally focused on their own planets; not least because, with three-dimensional shapes, you won't always be able to keep track of exactly how your rivals' contiguous terrains are shaping up.
The artwork by Sabrina Miramon is great and the 3D cores give Planet an impressive table presence that will have people eager to play. And it's not just gimmickry: there's a very good 30-minute game here that's equally suitable both as a family game and as a tactile tactical tussle between experienced gamers.