R-Eco Review
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Players: 2-5 (ages 10+)
Playing Time: 15-30 minutes

R-Eco, the eco-friendly card game of dumping and recycling, is the perfect game for the Gore family’s game night.

With R-Eco, players get to act as contracted garbage collectors, earning a living by transporting garbage to disposal facilities without illegally dumping.

Before play can begin, you need to set up four disposal facilities (in four different colors), each with a pile of reward tokens, in the center of the table. Players are then dealt three garbage cards (containing paper, plastic, cans, or bottles) each.

Each facility has a dump side and a factory side. Players take turns playing cards delivering garbage to the factory and, at the same time, picking up garbage cards from the facility’s dump.

The details of the game are pretty difficult to explain in just a paragraph or two, but it all comes down to playing cards, picking up cards, and earning points—without getting more than five cards in your hand (at which time you have to “illegally dump”). Players earn points by delivering trash to the factory, and they lose points by dumping. And, in the end, the player with the most points wins the game.

The rules of R-Eco are surprisingly complex and confusing—so it takes a while to learn how to play. Once you figure it all out, though, it’s actually a fast-paced and easy-to-play game that’s built on an original idea. And although the basics are simple enough for the recommended 10-year-old players (and maybe even a bit younger), the numerous strategies will keep adult players interested, too.

My biggest complaint with the game, then, is that the cartoonish recycling-and-ecology theme doesn’t really fit with the game’s audience. It looks like a kids’ game—and the recycling theme would be perfect for a kids’ game. But it’s not really a kids’ game; it’s recommended for players ages 10 and up. For younger players, who would be most interested in (and who would especially benefit from) the eco-friendly lesson, the game is too complex. And for teen and adult players, who would enjoy the strategic gameplay, the theme feels a bit too childish.

In addition, the game’s environmental message tends to get lost in the gameplay—especially when you consider that my opponent won the game by strategically (“illegally”) dumping all kinds of trash in order to get the most reward tokens.

So while the game’s concept of playing and picking up cards is new and interesting and even strategically challenging, the theme just doesn’t fit the audience. It’s still a good game for family game night (as long as your kids are old enough), but it’s not really something you’ll pull out for game night with the grown-ups.

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