Ring Side Report- Board Game Review of CO2

Game– CO2

Producer– Stronghold Games

Price-~$55 here http://www.amazon.com/Stronghold-Games-8007SG-CO2-Board/dp/B00AKVLMY2/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1407249487&sr=1-1&keywords=CO2

Set-Up/Play/Clean-Up-35 min per player (2-5 players)

TL; DR-A few problems mar an otherwise good game. 83%

 

Basics-The world is in trouble, and you have to fix it through capitalism!  In CO2 you play a company specializing in green/renewable power starting in the 1970s.  Each round starts with players gaining money, coins or both based on how much research their companies have in each type of green energy.  Then, each of the six areas of Earth gains more CO2 producing power plants if they do not have enough power plant in that region for each decade( 2 in 1980, 3 in 1990 and so on).  Each CO2 producing power plant increases the global CO2 parts per million rating and can lead to ecological disasters on a continent.  After that, in each decade you are given a number of turns based on the number of players.  On a turn you can do one of three actions: propose, implement, or build a green power plant.  When you propose a power plant, you place a project token in one of three sections that either gives you money, technology cubes, or scientist meeples.  When you implement a proposed plant you spend a carbon credit to gain resources depending on the type of plant with resources ranging from technology cubes to money or both.  If your company has enough research in a particular type of plant and enough money, you can build an implemented plant gaining more research in that plants type as well as victory points.  Also on your turn, you have several free actions where you can move a scientist meeples, buy/sell carbon credits, and play cards.  Scientist meeples can be moved to an implement or proposed project, from one project to another, or from a project to a research convention with the same energy type as a project the meeple was on.  If all the spaces on a convention are covered, all companies gain research in each type of energy the scientists were on as well as one research in any type of energy from that meeting.  If you implement or build a project with another player’s meeple, that player gains one research in that type of energy, get to move that meeple for free, and you must pay them an extra dollar for the privilege.  In the center of the board are the carbon credits.  On your turn you can buy or sell credits, but not both.  The cards are UN mandates give you bonus points if you build specified types of power plants.  The cards in your hand give you bonus money, credits, tech cubes, or scientists if you do an action specified on the card.  You may only perform one free card action each turn.  At the end of your turn, you gain one research in one type of energy based on a project one of your scientist meeples is on.  And the game continues like this.  After each player has taken a turn, and the first player advances the action counter.  When there are no more action spaces left for this decade, the decade advances, and research points/money are given out, disasters happen, and then the turn counter is reset based on the number of players.  The game continues like this until a few events happen:  1) the CO2 level gets high enough that mankind dies/everybody loses 2) the decade is 2030 or 3) the CO2 level drops below 350.  At the end, players who controls the different areas of the board based on number of power plants in each area gain carbon credits based on the region, the players spend those for money, get research money/points one last time, sell money for points, and the player with the most points wins.

 

Mechanics- When you get past the instructions (see below), this game is really fun!  The game makes you think on your feet a lot while having to make smart choices based on what the other players are doing.  You CAN’T build stuff alone.  You need to work with the other players to get the power plants built and experience to do it, but if you let the other build everything, you will lose.  This game does semi-cooperative really well, maybe almost the best I’ve seen for a while. 5/5

 

Theme- The game does do some justice to the theme of different green energy companies working together/against one another.  The mechanics do enforce the theme of needing other to help you and the theme of environmentalism.  An example is the ecological disasters.  When an area of the world has a problem, each company WITHOUT power plants in the area has to pay a cube to the region or be seen as callous.  These cubes can be used by other players who build in the region because now grants are available to help fix the damage.  I do have some problems with the theme as the components could use a bit more to make things a bit more thematic.  Yes, this is a euro game, but that doesn’t mean it has to have cubes.  Give me some other kinds of meeples like little computers or something. 4.5/5

 

Instructions- This game was written by a lawyer.  The rules are divided into sections and subsections that make this game not fun to read.  The rules are several pages of three columns of words with few pictures.  The pictures that are in there are awesome and really help to explain the rules.  But, there are not many!  The rules reference sections like 2.2.1.  DON’T DO THAT!  Have a nice flow that invites me to read!  I’ve been sitting on this game for a long time (six months) because I couldn’t make it through the rules.  When you do read the rules, you see the game is pretty standard euro-game fare, so it’s not too complicated.  But even after the several subsections in the rules, I and my gaming group were still left with questions regarding scientist movement and other important aspects.  Overall, it’s not the worst set of rules I’ve read as I was still able to play the game without a visit to Board Game Geek, but only just. 3/5

 

Execution- The game components are not bad, but I would have liked a bit more.  The game uses small, half standard cards for all the cards in the game.  That’s not bad, but there are less than 60 cards in the game.  So, the cards are more of a pain.  Adding to the pain, the cards don’t have any words and unless you know what cards you’re looking for, it’s really a pain as you need to constantly look at the rules to find which cards are separated into which piles.  Bigger cards with different colors would have really helped distinguish the types of cards.  Also, the box is kind of flimsy.  The board is well done and the iconography is good, except where the rules fail it.  Overall, it’s the product is ok, but some minor problems hamper the whole.  4/5

 

Summary-This is a fun game.  The game itself is a great Euro game.  The theme is fun as it’s a controversial subject-global warming-while being executed well.  This game is semi-cooperative worker placement on two different levels-projects and scientists- which I haven’t seen for a while.  If you love worker placement/development/resource management euro games and can get past the dry, boring instructions, you will have a blast trying to outwit your opponents on a global scale.  83%

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