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This is a theme that needs a good game. This game is attempting to be a fun little card game and it succeeds on some level. I wish I had been taught the game as the rules were very confusing to me. I could see non gamers could like this game but they would never get past the rules.
The game isn't really that fun as the race for the higher numbers is what the game is about. If you get a higher number first (or sooner), then you are more likely to win. The game isn't without strategy, but it is not overly deep either.
The cards are nice and the art is of real animals. This will appeal to kids and animal lovers. But the circle of life is here and animals eat other animals.
The main problem with the game is that most of your decisions are either lucky or pretty obvious. I think some people will have fun with this game as filler, but it is not for me.
The components are simple. You get a deck of small cards. The art work is fine on the cards and you get a lot of information on the cards that are used for everything you need in the game.
I have zero issues with the cards.
The rule book is a hot little mess. There are some rules (scavengers) that I am still not sure how to play. The rule book makes the game much tougher than it needs to be. I found it much easier to go online and find out how to play. At the end of the day, it isn't a very hard game to learn.
Flow of the Game:
The game is really simple at its core.
You are trying to build chains of animals from 1-8 (this can be over multiple chains). The main thing fighting against you is that certain animals eat only certain types of animals (i.e. a herbivore only eats plants). This prevents you from just laying the numbers down in a row.
On a turn, players (at the same time) place animals into food chains.
Then, players in turn order, can do 1 of three things:
1. Play an event card - do what text says
2. Territoriality - You can basically take animals out of other food chains (i.e.e hurt your opponents)
3. Rescuing - Take animals from the starving display (i.e. rescue animals) - it has to be placed at the head of the food chain
Finally, everyone draws 2 cards from the deck
There are a few other minor rules, but this is the main flow of the game.
Should I buy this Game?:
There is learning in this game, but the game is lacking. If you have some kids that are really into animals, this could be a fun, neat little game.
I would say try before you buy. As for me, this is an instant purge. There is luck in the game so kids tend to do better with it.
BryceCon Game Convention Jan 15-18 in Southern Utah www.brycecon.com
Whenever someone asks what the most underrated game is, or what game gets the least amount of love for how much fun it is, I always say Habitat.
I've played this game with my wife literally more than any game we own other than Pandemic (we had a long spree of playing that), and enjoyed it a lot. The scavenger rules were confusing to me at first, then I re-read them with fresh eyes and it all just clicked.
Now it's not going to attract a lot of attention (my wife won it at a convention or we'd have never heard of it), the artwork is good, but not popping out at you like most games. The play is simplistic, and there is some luck involved. But my experience has been that it's a pretty fun game.
That said, good review and not all games are good for everyone.