We say it without any chauvinism. Of all the games released (or expected) in 2023, none are generating as much excitement as Earth. However, it is a Quebecer, Maxime Tardif, who designed this playful, highly strategic jewel, the French version of which arrived on the shelves on Friday.

Board games have been part of Maxime Tardif’s life for years. From his first games of Catan to today, this trained pharmacist has amassed more than 400 titles in his personal collection.

Finding himself with plenty of free time to fill at the start of the pandemic, he answered a request from his girlfriend, who loves gardening: to design a board game about plants. The seed was sown.

“I looked at my collection of games and wondered what was missing for a gamer like me. The answer was: a very strategic game, a brain burner that is played quickly. For many of the games of the genre that I like, like Terraforming Mars or Ark Nova, games rarely last less than two hours. I wanted more speed, but also a lot of replayability. »

For two years, he worked on the prototype of his game, marketed by the publisher Inside Up Games and distributed in Quebec by Randolph.

“It’s a machine building game. The principle is that the more the game progresses, the more powerful the player’s board becomes. You have to build the best machine to collect the most victory points possible. »

At first, the game looked like a big DIY, says Maxime Tardif. “I hand-cut boxes from Staples. I played at least 300 games with the prototype. The game mechanics were there, but visually it was very ugly! »

The resident of Quebec has also multiplied research to find the most accurate information possible on the plants, ecosystems and islands that make up the raw material of the game. “The important thing for me was to achieve a good balance between game cards, so that there are no too strong or too weak. But the encyclopedic aspect of the game remains interesting. »

The whole thing is “interesting” enough to have aroused enthusiasm among board game enthusiasts. The proof: when the game ended up on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform, the stated goal was $42,000. In less than two hours, this sum was exceeded. In total, more than $730,000 was raised (and this, in just three weeks).

At Le Valet d’coeur store, manager Rachael Hardies explains, “There’s really a buzz around this game. We had 20 copies of the English version in April and we sold them all out in two days. We would have taken more! We already have a waiting list for the English version and a dozen pre-orders for the French version, which is good for a game of this genre. »

With the world of board games being very competitive, with some 10,000 new titles being released each year, there is no guarantee of Earth’s long-term success. But its author already has several ideas in mind for extensions or derivative games planted in the same universe. One thing is certain: we will follow the growth of this new shoot with interest…

Overheating in the brain. This is the first expression that comes to mind after a game of Earth. The game imagined by Maxime Tardif is a real headache for neurons.

See for yourself: you have to plant plant cards in the right place and at the right time, trying to achieve one of seven objectives that allow you to earn maximum points. You also have to ensure their growth, place sprouts in them, make compost… Result: you don’t always know where to turn!

Also, there is no downtime in Earth. The players all take their action at the same time, with a minimum of interaction between them. This may be a downside for those who like games where you can trip up opponents. Here, everyone plays on their game board, regardless of what others are doing. Another downside, some cards are difficult to decode. The addition of a glossary would have made the task easier for neophytes.

For the rest, the botanical theme is very well used, the material is of good quality and the parties are so involved that we quickly want to bring the game out again. It is not surprising that the game receives rave reviews (especially on the famous platform Dice Tower) and has already won an award in the UK.

Note: Solo and team modes are also possible.