Monday, 12 May 2008


R-Eco is my latest home-made game. It is a simple card game, and I decided to self-make it because it sounds interesting, and because Michelle prefers card games (due to shorter length). Also recycling and the environment is something Michelle cares about.

R-Eco is very simple. Every turn you deliver (sorted) garbage to one of the four recycling plants, and then pick up all the (unsorted) garbage from the dump site of that plant. When a plant gets four or more pieces of garbage (of the same type, of course, since each plant can only process one type of garbage), it will process them, and if you are the one delivering enough garbage to allow the plant to start processing, you earn a victory point chip.

Your hand size is 5, representing the size of your garbage truck. If by picking up garbage you exceed your hand limit, you will be forced to dump garbage illegally. Each garbage card that you are forced to dump gives you -1 victory point. However if you can avoid illegal dumping completely, you will be awarded a bonus. The game ends when one recycling plant runs out of victory point chips.

I have played 4 games with Michelle, and find this a rather clever card game, despite the simplicity. It is also quite thematic, to me. This game is designed by a Japanese, and I think the Japanese are very responsible and civic-conscious in sorting and recycling their garbage. In this game, to avoid illegal dumping is actually not that easy (at least for 2-player games, which is the only player count that I have experienced). There are ways to play that will make it difficult for your opponent not to dump illegally. Trying not to dump and trying to dump as little as possible is an interesting challenge.

Another clever thing is you can actually know what cards your opponents have, if you are willing to spend the effort. Players only get cards into their hands from the (face-up) dump sites of the recycling plants. You don't draw cards blind from the draw deck. So if you really want to, you can card-count. If you prefer to spend less effort, you can still roughly remember what cards your opponents have recently taken. Looking at what cards you will take by delivering garbage to the plants is important. This is a planning element. There is also a "chicken" element. Since only the player delivering the piece of garbage that gives a plant critical mass will be rewarded, usually you try to avoid setting up your opponent to deliver that crucial piece of garbage.

Yet another clever element is the -2 chip. Instead of simply increasing in value, there is a chip with a penalty among the stacks of victory chips. This can mess up your plan, and this gives the game yet another interesting twist.

There is yet another twist. (Hmmm... I seem to be contradicting myself, but honestly this is a simple game) If you only have one chip of a colour, that chip doesn't count. There can be two extremes for this. If you have a single -2, it doesn't count, and you're good. You don't mind picking up the -2. If you only have a single 5, then it is of no use to you. Probably the only good thing you get out of it is you end the game immediately by exhausting the victory point chips of one recycling plant. Timing is also important. Since the game ends when one plant is out of chips, manipulating the timing of the end game is also one thing to consider.

Michelle is the conservative type when playing R-Eco, and tries to avoid illegal dumping. In 2 player games there is a big bonus for not dumping - four points.

The cards and the victory point chips. For the cards I found the icons on the net and I coloured them by hand. For the chips I just drew directly on cardboard paper.

A game in progress. The upper half is where the sorted garbage is delivered, and the bottom half are the dump sites of the recycling plants, where the players would collect cards. The dump sites of the plants are refilled based on the number of garbage pieces at the plant plus one. The card backs are, naturally, the triangular recycling icon.

Close-up of the blue (glass bottles) recycling plant. Factory icon on one side, garbage bin icon on the other.

R-Eco is a simple game, with few components and few rules. It plays quick. Each turn is very simple. Yet within this small unassuming package, there are quite a number of clever and interesting twists. I find this a very well designed game. Very Euro, and I'd even say Knizia-like - concise and "a-game-should-be-as-simple-as-it-can-be-and-no-simpler". My salute to the designer Susumu Kawasaki.

This game is well worth the effort of self-making it. Michelle and I call this the "recycle game".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"My salute to the designer Susumu Kawasaki."

Yet, you don't bother to pay him for his efforts?