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Museum designers new board game sends players across the globe to research beasts and birds

Darwin some, Dar-lose some.

The pair of designers responsible for creating 2019’s card-drafting Museum have announced another board themed after 19th-century academics - this time following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin. The competitive dice and worker-placement Encyclopedia launches a Kickstarter campaign December 16th.

Encyclopedia posits one to four players as aspiring naturalists hoping to make a name for themselves through publishing researchon animals from around the world. Designed by Olivier Melison and Eric Dubus, the game features artwork from Ronan Toulhoat, Jérémie Prugneaux and Joëlle Drans on its 75 creature cards illustrated to match the field journal and natural science themes.

Players have been tasked by Darwin’s predecessor, the Comte de Buffon, with collaboratively creating the world’s first Encyclopedia of Natural History. But not all contributions are equal, and everyone must vie for the highest prestige - and biggest payout - by gathering notes that are both thorough and well organized.

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This is accomplished through Encyclopedia’s dice drafting and worker placement mechanics. On their turns, players will roll their dice and place the results on specific actions, such as studying previously captured animals or mounting an expedition to the remote corners of the globe. The geographical region where the dice are placed, along with the colour and value, will affect the results. Money obtained by selling completed research can be used to increase the value of rolls.

The eager ecologists will do much more than just point at a giraffe or eagle - top dollar will be paid to manuscripts that can outline a creature’s habitat, climate, diet and taxonomy. Submitting animals that share traits also increases their value, so spending time scouring the savannah or compiling an exhaustive treatise on birds might prove to be a winning strategy.

If someone doesn’t like the way their dice are rolling, they will have opportunities to change the composition of their collection. Alternatively, they can take part in the time-honoured tradition of simply stealing their opponent’s hard work by nabbing one of their dice. This does give the victim a small boon, so risk and reward will need to be carefully weighed. A reputation system will gradually award legitimate benefits that might alter the dice or provide other bonuses.

It wouldn’t be academia without some likely underpaid and overworked hirelings in the mix. Encyclopedia players can visit either the embassy or the academy to mix up their current strategy. The embassy will change dice colours to perhaps better fit the region where they have invested resources, while the academy will offer hirable experts to confer their own background to an new expedition or ongoing examination.

Encyclopedia will be published by Holy Grail Games, which also handled Melison and Dubus’ Dominations: Road to Civilization and 2020’s Rallyman: GT and Rallyman: Dirt hex grid racing board games. Pricing and a release date have not been released and will likely accompany the December 16th launch of the crowdfunding campaign.

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Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter


Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.