Games are always a fun way to pass time. Dr. Louise Robinson and Dr. Ian Turnerreviewed Ecosystem to find out if it is any good.
IS IT FUN?
The game has a surprising amount of strategy for such a small and fast-paced game. The points awarded for each of the components of your ecosystem are different. Some of them are based on abundance, like points for largest wolf pack or longest stream. Others are all about attendance, like the two points you earn for each row or column a deer shows up in your final grid. However, many cards rely on conditional placement. For example, bees earn three points for each adjacent meadow. Of course, not being close to something can also earn you points, as each fox earns you three points, as long as there’s no bear or wolf nearby. Just like a real ecosystem, diversity is really important. The more eleven different options you include in your ecosystem, the more points you are rewarded at the end of the game.
WHAT IS THE ECOSYSTEM?
Ecosystem is a game about creating a beautiful and abundant ecosystem. Players must create an ecosystem of twenty different components but, just like in the real world, your neighbors really matter. Ecosystem is a card drafting game where players draw from a pool of cards to create a twenty-card five-by-four grid. The cards are turned over two rounds, each of ten cards, which means you can plan ahead and try to guess (and guess) what your opponents want in their ecosystem. There are eleven different animals and landscapes you can choose from for your ecosystem, and each has its own scoring rules.
IS IT PEDAGOGICAL?
The game’s very simple concept means that there isn’t much direct science content per se. However, the complexities of real-world ecosystems are beautifully represented in the way game cards interact with each other. Many ecological principles, such as predator/prey relationships, are well highlighted, although simple game mechanics mean not all interactions are illustrated. The game would be a great way to introduce young players to the wonders and complexity of ecosystems.
The game is simple to learn, contains a wealth of strategy, and is backed by wonderful art. Get yourself a copy as soon as possible and create your own ecosystem.
10 years and over
Dr Louise Robinson is a Lecturer in Forensic Biology and Dr Ian Turner, Associate Professor in Learning and Teaching, both work at the University of Derby