Endangered: A Wildlife Journey
Enter the world of wildlife conservation with Endangered.
Endangered, designed by Joe Hopkins and published by Grand Gamers Guild, brings players into the world of wildlife advocacy. Up to five players can work together to protect tigers or sea otters and restore their habitat in this cooperative game.
To begin, set up the board with all the components. Pay special attention to the scenario requirements – tigers will look fairly different from sea otters.
Each player must then choose a role to play: Environmental Lawyer, Philanthropist, Lobbyist, Zoologist, or TV Wildlife Host. Each role, offering a special power you can use throughout the game, corresponds to a specialized deck of cards.
Don’t forget to put out six ambassador cards; three blue, two green, and one gray, all face-down.
How to Play
Each round in Endangered is called a “year”. All players will get exactly one turn (not always in the same order).
On your turn, roll your dice, then place them on actions you want to perform. Simple actions like playing a card or gaining money are available from the very start, while you (or your teammates) will need to play cards to allow more powerful actions (e.g. adding influence, removing multiple destruction tiles, adding more animals).
You can only place a die on an action where it will be the highest number (the only exception: the “Social Media” action), and you can’t put two of your dice on the same action.
Once you’re all done with your actions, it’s time for the animals to breed! Roll the population die and see if luck is with you to put one new animal on the board. Your target is a roll at or below the number of breeding pairs, plus one.
Breeding is good, but habitat destruction is bad. Each scenario has its own variation, but you’ll be putting out at least one destruction tile in a row or column that has animals.
You’re not done yet! Draw an Impact card; some are positive and some are negative, but either way, they’ll likely change your plans. Some Impacts are persistent, meaning they stick around turn after turn unless you have a way to get rid of them.
To end your turn, draw a card from your personal deck, then choose another player who hasn’t had a turn this year to go next.
Ambassadors are the key to winning Endangered. As with many cooperative games, there are many ways to lose, but only one way to win: get at least four out of the six Ambassadors to “vote” favorably for your cause.
All the ambassador cards are secret at the beginning of the game. Find out the exact requirements of each ambassador the first time you place an influence token on them.
Speaking of which, there are different types of ambassadorial requirements: the green-backed ambassadors use die rolls, the gray/purple-backed ambassador cares about the arrangement of animals on the board, while the most common blue-backed ambassadors have all sorts of other ideas.
Any ambassador can be won to your side with enough influence. But every action you use to place influence is one you’re not using to help the animals more directly!
The number of rounds varies by player count, but the last two rounds of Endangered are always the “voting years”. At the end of a voting year, check all the ambassadors and see who’s on your side. Secure four ambassadors’ votes to win! If you don’t have at least four ambassadors on your side by the end of the second voting year, you’ve lost.
Endangered is a cooperative game that simulates its theme without getting too deep in the weeds. Even though there’s a lot going on, all the pieces fit together well.
On your turn, you’ll do what you can can to help the animals, then stand back and watch for breeding, habitat destruction, and positive or negative external impacts. You’ll collaborate with your fellow players for turn order and which actions make the most sense on a given turn.
Each role has variations and a handful of totally unique cards in its deck, so each player contributes in specific ways towards the good of all.
The use of the “voting year” for a win condition keeps players striving to do better. Wins feel like they’re by the skin of your teeth, even when they’re not, and that keeps Endangered interesting.
If you find the game frustratingly difficult or far too easy, the scenarios each have a handy guide to fine-tune the difficulty. You’ll be able to keep that “just barely won” feeling, no matter how many times you play.
We enjoy the worker placement using dice, but it quickly became obvious that we always need to spend early turns putting out more action cards. If there are only a few actions available and someone rolls high, the next player will be blocked on all those actions. It’s no fun to feel like your turn is useless.
Negotiating turn order puts a different kind of choice in the game, but can also leave a player who rolls low numbers feeling left out. More than once, we had a player go first in one round and last in the next round. In a four player game, that’s a long time to wait.
Only two scenarios are included in your $50 copy of Endangered: Tigers and Sea Otters. We enjoyed both, but if you need more, you’ll have to spend more. Endangered: New Species (the upcoming expansion) has six more scenarios, but will set you back another $50.
Learning All the Time
Even though it’s a bit pricey, I think Endangered is worth the money, especially if you have kids who love games. This is an “educational game” that introduces real-world concepts through gameplay, neither sprinkling in random facts in the hope that you’ll read a few, nor testing your knowledge of trivia. Instead, you’ll learn about specific animals and why they’re endangered simply by playing.
Did you know that tigers are territorial and solitary by nature? In the wild, they only pair briefly for mating, then separate again – and in Endangered, you’ll split mating pairs of tigers as soon as they successfully breed.
We’d highly recommend Endangered for gameschooling families, or really any family who wants to learn about wildlife advocacy.
Number of Players: 1-5
Age Range: 10+
Playtime: 60 minutes