Updated: Oct 24
Endangered is a co-operative game from Grand Gamers Guild where players are trying to protect an endangered species (in this case, Tigers). The appeal of the game is in the theme, which has been nicely implemented by designer Joe Hopkins, ably boosted by the evocative artwork of Ben Flores and Beth Sobel.
To win, players ultimately need to meet the various requirements of a series of Ambassadors. Each player's turn is comprised of a number of phases – players take their three dice and roll. Each die is then allocated to an action, which includes revealing and adding influence to an Ambassador, moving animals together for mating, removing deforestation tiles and gaining cash. Cards can be added to the action display, usually to generate upgrades of existing actions. When using an action, the dice placed must be higher than those previously placed. Dice are only returned to players at the start of their turn, so placing a high number can lock out an action for anyone else. This also helps to create some interesting decision making.
In the next phase, the animals mate if enough mating pairs are on the board, then a deforestation tile is placed, potentially removing animals from the board, and an Impact card is played which usually has negative consequences. Finally, players have two chances to meet the demands of the Ambassadors at specific points in the game. This can be very tense because it is ultimately what determines whether players win or lose.
The demands of providing influence to Ambassadors whilst trying to keep the tigers together for mating, and also preventing the spread of deforestation gives players enough to keep them challenged and busy, and as the game progresses the demands of managing the board escalate well. Players are able to add actions to the game from their deck, which tend to be upgrades to the starting actions but must be aware of the spreading risk of deforestation as well as the threat of the Impact cards which are drawn each turn.
The outcome of the game can be very reliant on the order of the cards in the Impact deck as there is no option to influence this on the final turns (the impact phase is resolved just before players try and appease the Ambassadors). If the few positive Impact cards go out of the game early on, then players may not be able to stop the negative cards from doing serious damage.
The rules provided are simple to follow and the game is quick and easy to teach. Endangered would work well for both families and gamers, and, as it's a fully co-operative game, gaming parents could find this enjoyable to play with their younger children as all information is open. Equally though, you'll need to be wary of the risk of an 'alpha player' seizing control of the game and telling everyone else what to do. All in all, tho', Endangered is an enjoyable and challenging co-op (and solitaire) game with an interesting and environmentally relevant theme.
Shown here on Board's Eye View is a pre-release preview prototype of Endangered. The published version of the game will include upgraded components and more biodiversity (ie: you get to save not just tigers but otters and giant pandas too!).
Update: Click here for the new Kickstarter campaign where you can still get the original game as well as the Endangered: New Species expansion which offers scenarios for saving the polar bears, sea turtles, jaguars and tapirs.
(Review by Steve Berger)