top of page
  • Writer's pictureboardgameoverlord

Ecosystem: Savanna, small boxed brilliance

That's it, the title alone is the review. Oh, okay I'll give you a bit more. Sitting down to play Ecosystem: Savanna I was a bit hestiant, as I've found alot of small box card games aren't quite what I expect and end up being misses with my group rather than hits. However, Ecosystem:Savanna is a small box of brilliance that has me playing solo, which is a rarity indeed.

Ecosystem: Savanna is a third game in the Ecosystem card games, I haven't played any if the others but understand they all have a similar gameplay core. A simple rule set, tied together by cards that each score in different ways, and it's the order in which you score them that are the threads that tie it all together.

Packed into this tiny little box is a 1-6 player card drafting game, fantastic player aids that do essentially all of the heavy lifting when it comes to the rules teach. You'll be building your own savanna in a 4 x 5 grid, through drafting cards. You'll be dealt a hand of 11 cards, pick one, simultaneous all players place it in their own Savanna and pass on the rest. That's pretty much it for rules. There's a few placement rules, which are easy enough to explain e.g. place next to a previously placed card. And remembering to pass cards anti clockwise in the second round.

The detail in the rules, and strategy is how each card type scores and the order in which you score them, as when you start to score the carnivores that's when you realise that Gazelle you banked on using for your lion, well the Cheetah you placed and which is obviously faster than a lion got to it first. Oh and those vultures you've got next to a herd of gazelles, well Vultures aren't interested in living creatures, so they'll go hungry and score you nothing.

This moves Ecosystem: Savanna into a card drafting game that's all about card placement in your tableau. And it's less about what card is best for me right now and more about out of these cards, which card can I take and place that might maximise my scoring opportunities. Strategic card placement is everything, but fundamentally every game you'll likely adopt a different strategy as unless playing with 6 players, you're unlikely to see everything.

The solo mode, is equally as simple to setup and play, which for me has meant its a game I've sat down and played again and oh just one more game. The solo game has you building your tableau and then after your turn placing a card from your hand into the solo bots tableau from left to right top to bottom. This creates a decision space of needing to maximise your scoring whilst ensuring the cards you add to the solo bots tableau are effectively point limiters rather than enablers, but this creates moments of needing to retain cards in your hand for later placement as you build your Savanna with then the realisation that you're going to have to place one in their Savanna which actually is a good card for them too! It's all tied together with such a simple ruleset that you aren't lost in rules, and focused on the strategy of placement for points maximisation.

However, and there's always that mid review switch. I have a few very minor issues with Ecosystem Savanna. It says 1-6 players on the box, I don't think I would ever choose this as a 2 player game, the two player game is similar to 7 wonders and just lacks something. Removing cards from dummy hands, just isn't it for a two player game and like 7 wonders, Ecosystem: Savanna isn't a good two player game. It's okay.

My other minor issue is that there's one or two animal scoring explainations that just need slightly tighter wording as we found in some games they felt open to interpretation. We also found the rulebook wasn't available online and that meant when getting to game night without the rules, we were a little bit stuck! But despite its flaws, Ecosystem:Savanna is an immensely satisfying card drafting tableau building game that is a breeze to teach and the player aids deserve praise! If only more games had player aids like these.

As you know, I rate games on a

- Buy or play

- Wait for sale or play if you like game XYZ

- Avoid

Ecosystem: Savanna is a buy or play, unless you play only at two players, in which case its a play if you enjoy 7 wonders as a two player game. But otherwise, Ecosystem: Savanna is a game that I feel everyone needs to play and is worthy of a place on your collection. And this is my 4th Buy or play recommendation in two months! I'm going soft, but equally it's a "buy or PLAY" recommendation, as there's no need in my view to have a vast collection of games, rather a curated one. Nevertheless if you're needing a small boxed card drafting game, I highly recommend Ecosystem: Savanna.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Ecosystem: Savanna to review, and was not paid for this review. My thoughts are my own and I enjoyed Ecosystem:Savanna so much I bought a copy myself to add to our game night library.

24 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page