Fuh-fuh-fuh-Friday F.O.M.O. is all about tuh-tuh-tuh-tile laying! This is a holiday weekend and many families may be spending some of their time to head to a local zoo — and on that note, the Kickstarter game ending in the next week that has my eye is Habitats XL from Cwali (who also published Roll to the Top!, reviewed a few weeks ago)
In this Kickstarter campaign, you have the opportunity to pledge for the 3rd edition of the Habitats base game (seen pictured above), but the focus of this campaign is on the expansion content — Habitats XL.
When I first came across this campaign, the name had me thinking that this was one of those giant-sized versions of a game — so I just assumed that when you bought this version, you were getting Extra Large tiles. That is not the case, though –> the XL references the extended play that comes with this expansion. When using these pieces, everyone is to take 3 more turns, thus giving them a final park that has 3 more tiles than you’d have with just the base game –> you’ll have an XL Habitat.
I’m glad that’s the case…giant tiles would be cool, but in a game like this, I would get very worried about table space with several players.
Since I am new to Habitats, let me start by discussing what has me interested in the base game.
To start, I love tile-laying and there is something about building a zoo or wildlife park that is a naturally fun theme in my book.
I have played other tile-laying, city-building games and sometimes you just grab your next tile from a stack, or maybe you pick one from a few available options. In Habitats, your tile selection is a constant puzzle and dance you will undertake with your opponents.
There will be a rectangular set of tiles available to choose from. The ones available to you, though, are maxed at 3 — the tile in front of you, to your left, and to your right (not the one behind). Once you choose which tile to take, adjust your Meeple to face that direction, move it forward and then put a new tile in the space you just left. I love this! You can try to plan ahead by being aware of what tiles you can reach the next turn and then the turn after…ASSUMING!!…that your opponents don’t sneak in and muddle up your plans. This game requires versatility, which I appreciate in strategy / point accumulation games.
Then, almost every tile has its own set of requirements to earn its stated points, which means that as you build your park, you will constantly be trying to manage the various needs of your animals, watch towers, roads, and tourists. Selecting a tile to complete one need, may instantly create a brand new set of requirements. The key will be selecting tiles that play off of each other to achieve goals more quickly. Love it!
On top of just trying to handle your park’s scoring requirements, there will be global objectives you and the other park rangers will be looking to be the best at for extra points. The game is played over 3 years (rounds) and the bonus objectives for all three rounds are visible at the beginning of the game. So, while you may want to focus on a year 1 objective early on, it won’t hurt to set yourself up for a future goal in the process.
I love that a game that is essentially just a large stack of tiles, plus Meeples and a scoreboard has so much going on, so much variety…that paths to victory may look very different from player to player — from game to game. That is most assuredly something that I look for when considering a board game acquisition.
Now, I will take a moment to highlight the content being featured in Habitat’s XL expansion.
Essentially, the expansion includes 16 new tiles. Eight of these tiles are new animals (including flamingos and honey badgers). The significance of these new animal tiles is that they have larger habitat requirements than previous tiles. Four of the animals will have 5 habitats listed as necessary to make them happy, while the other four will require SIX habitats! The new rule allowing for 3 more total turns is being added to help players have a better chance at reaching these animal objectives.
Four of the new tiles are camp sites. Each one requires a different amount of neighboring tiles, for an increasing amount of victory points.
Then, the last four tiles in the expansion are flowers, added to keep the expanded game balanced.
This looks like a perfect, low-dollar expansion for anyone who already has and enjoys Habitats and would love to get a bit “more” of this game. For me, this looks like it could be a perfect opportunity to jump into the game in its entirety.
What about you? What’s your experience with Habitats? Or what is your favorite tile-laying game?
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