Quick Look: Earth Matters
Designer: Lori McDonald
Artists: Rohan Dahotre and Yuliia Bahniuk
Publisher: Lori McDonald, Turn4Turn LLC
Year Published: (Coming to Kickstarter in 2024 (Link will show at the bottom of this review as soon as available!)
“As a sea turtle, hummingbird, mushroom, redwood tree, or cheetah, move into the future, heating up and cooling down while collecting points: Critical Habitats, Earth Treasures, and Energy Tokens.”
“Game play supports Science, Social studies, and language arts core curriculum.”
I love traveling and seeing the beauty all over the world. I even appreciate the views from my own backyard. I enjoy hiking and seeing all the various plants, trees, and oddly shaped fungi and listening to nature around me. Creation is awe-inspiring and no matter which state, country or town I am in it’s always a breath of fresh air seeing the beauty all around me. I make sure when backpacking, hiking or camping to pack out everything, leaving no trace. When I see how little some people care it saddens me, I’ve often picked up other peoples trash at campsites or along hiking trails. I’ve always felt the importance to care for what I own. I’ve taught my children from a young age how important it is to treat their toys nicely, to be respectful to their books, and to pick up after themselves. So then, how much more important is it for everyone to do thier part in being kind, respectful and care for this beautiful planet we live on. After all, Earth is home to all of us. Therefore Earth should Matter!
We begin play on a time and temperature grid board, you may choose to be a mushroom, redwood tree, hummingbird, sea turtle or cheetah. You place your playing piece on one of the start squares. Each starting square gives you a specific amount of “earth treasure” to begin with, the hotter the environment that you start in, the more treasure pieces you get to start with however you’ll want to try to cool down fast or you may find yourself “endangered.” If you become endangered you must return your critical habitat and energy tokens back to the board, and return any earth treasures to the reserve then on your next turn begin over on any start space. The turn order is simple enough, each player begins with 3 cards in their hand, on your turn you play a card, apply the card’s effect, discard the played card then draw a new card. A card will allow you to earn treasures, move into the future, heat up or cool down. Once you reach the game over space in the year 2040 then everyone counts up their points from collected treasures, critical habitats and energy tokens and whoever has the most wins. It’s a fun, quick and easy game to learn with a unique design and beautiful illustrations.
There are 8 different types of cards you could potentially draw: event cards, holding cards, critical habitat, current cards, snapshots, tell us about, eco action and act out! For the most part the cards are self explanatory and the decks have a wide range of neat facts and topics of discussion. The “act out!” cards, though it adds some humor watching someone act like an octopus or other animal, I find it confusing as it doesn’t add to the card- led discussions or educational facts that I feel is the main point of the game. In addition the “Act out!” cards feel disjointed as an entire category, some of the cards state to act out an animal for 10 seconds, whereas others state “howl like a wolf! Whoever joins in gets one earth treasure and you get three,” so do we play the cards face down for all to see, so they can count to 10 for the one acting out the animal and won’t be clueless as to what is happening? Or do we keep them “secret” in hopes that other players will automatically join in making wolf noises (for the wolf card) and help you earn these treasures? Given that there are only 2 “Act out!” cards in the penguin deck, and 3 total in the “cheetah deck” it feels unnecessary to include any of these in the game. I was also disappointed that there are very few “critical habitat” cards in each deck, (1 in the penguin deck and 2 in the cheetah deck), I would’ve liked to have seen each card category have the same amount of cards in their respective decks. Another rule that wasn’t clear to me is what to do when starting a hand with 3 “current cards” that must be played on your next turn, do you still only pick one card each turn to play or do you play all 3 in one turn? Perhaps that’s a rule to be determined with your group as the rule book states there are a lot of variants and freedom to change the game.
I love the point components in this game, placed on the board are rocks that represent “natural habitats,” that you can collect for 4 points each, and small seashells “earth treasures” that you start with and continue to collect with certain cards, these nature themed components are simple yet brilliant. There are also round durable cardboard energy tokens that you can collect for points but upon collection you may have to either heat up or cool down a degree. The character pieces, also made of a durable cardboard material, are illustrated very nicely but in general I’m not a fan of these type of game pieces as the base usually gets worn fairly quickly when placed in their plastic stands. There’s an option for using cardboard stands as well in this game, but when trying these out they were very loose fitting and unstable when standing the characters up. The rule book is laid out well, it’s concise and colorful, it’s easy to read and understand, I like the more in depth description and images provided for movement examples. The game box is colorful and enticing, but the quality of the box isn’t great. The first day I received the game the inside box which is super glued to the outside overlay cover came off, and in the couple of weeks I’ve had the game the magnetic flap which closes the box has become worn in the crease. This of course isn’t pertinent to the game play whatsoever but I do appreciate a good quality game box, this one however is made with eco friendly materials- I’m not certain how the plastic footings for the character pieces fits into that, but I am impressed that the majority of it is conveying their overall theme of being earth conscious by using organic materials.
This game is wonderful for teaching purposes, the card-led conversations are interesting and thought provoking which is a fantastic way to learn. I don’t see a lot of game replay value though, at least not with the same group of players. Our family for instance, once we’ve played a few times through and have exhausted all the cards, I feel the discussions will become monotonous. This game would be fantastic for any homeschooling group or public classroom setting, it’s a fun educational game for sure which is a wonderful learning strategy! I highly recommend this game as an educational tool, children can learn to have deeper conversations with friends and family about important topics or interesting facts, and we can teach the upcoming generation to be conscientious and make wise choices that benefit the world we live in, so future generations can continue to survive and thrive on planet Earth!
Components : 6/10
Theme / Art : 10/10
Gameplay : 10/10
Fun : 8/10
Replay ability : 6/10
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