When the box with the prototype of Wild: Serengeti arrived at our door it looked just like any other parcel. That is until we’ve opened it and were blown away by the amount of colours and charm overflowing from the game. Seeing a title that looks so great and plays even better is rare, especially at the prototype phase.
Wild: Serengeti might have a peaceful theme, but the fight between players is quite heated until the very end, thanks to many different ways to score points and outsmart your opponents. Let us tell you more about the game now, as its Kickstarter campaign is just about to launch.
Welcome to Serengeti
Serengeti is an African region and a large part of it is considered a national park with lots of nature reserves with plenty of migrating animals.
In Wild: Serengeti a certain non-profit organization invites players to direct a documentary about animals living in the area. Whoever wins will have their creation shown in cinemas all over the world. Numerous actions and cards in the game provide means to gain documentary score, and whoever ends up with the highest becomes the winner.
Time to Begin Filming
Let’s start talking about the gameplay. First: it’s really easy to grasp thanks to an incredibly well written manual with tons of examples and explanations covering every single rule and situation that can occur.
The main board with squares representing various animal habitats serves as the central part of the game. Each square can host a single animal. All animal meeples start on the action board and are divided into 4 groups like carnivorous predators or migratory herbivores. Round tracker is a neatly designed 3D rock that reminds us of a certain popular animated movie from the 90s. When setting up the game you also place 6 scene cards near the main board (more about them later). Other components include a number of food and sfx tokens as well as coins used to perform actions every round.
The Documentary Develops
Wild: Serengeti is played over the course of 6 rounds. Each of them has players perform so-called basic actions. These cost 1 coin each and for an additional payment you can perform a second one. Some actions can also be boosted with money but keep in mind that your cash is limited and you gain either 6 or 7 coins each turn.
So what actions are available to you, provided that other players aren’t occupying their action spaces (worker placement style)? First: there are four devoted to “discovering” (placing) different groups of animals. You can also use the swapping and movement actions to arrange the animals in certain ways. Finally: it’s also possible to take cards from the scene pool or redrafting it. You can also pass but this makes you unable to perform actions until the end of the round.
After a round concludes you gain money and resources useful to make your scenes into reality. And what exactly do we mean by scenes?
Scene by Scene
The scene deck is quite huge and consists of 168 cards, each describing a way in which the animals need to be arranged to grant you rewards. Some require them to be placed in certain terrains such as water or woodlands. Others will award you for placing specific animals in a straight line on the map. Finally there are some that want you to place certain wildlife near other wildlife.
You may for example need to place two crocodiles in water spaces following a single gazelle or create a scene where a giraffe is standing in the vicinity of a majestic elephant. There are tons of different situations you may need to arrange on the map using actions, which makes the replayability quite insane.
If you want to create your scenes faster or complete them without fulfilling all requirements you can use food and sfx tokens gained through rewards. These two allow for free movement of animals or ignoring terrain conditions on scenes.
Points, Points, Points
Completing scenes gives you rewards in plenty of ways: from specified amounts of points to multiplying points gotten from specific cards. Completed scenes also grant you icons used for scoring and generating resources like food.
The sheer amount of scoring options makes Wild: Serengeti a fantastic engine building game where it’s worth starting to create your strategy from the very first turn. For example: it might be a good idea to focus on completing scenes that award having different plant icons. You can also for example try to focus on getting rare, highly awarded scenes or ones that get you hearts (aka social media “likes”).
Some points are also gained by fighting for awards, 2 of which are randomly drawn at the beginning of each game and require you to have animals of a certain type on your completed scene cards.
What Do We Think About Wild: Serengeti
Wild: Serengeti is one of the best prototypes we’ve played in recent years and certainly a fantastic game. It felt different each time we played thanks to a big number of cards and endless situations that can occur on the map. And if you want to get even more out of it, there’s also a set of advanced rules that introduce specialist cards that give every player their own special way of scoring points.
The game also looks incredible thanks to high quality, colorful animal meeples, 3D cardboard components and high quality cards. Just take a look at the photos we took when playing it.
Wild: Serengeti is easy to learn thanks to great explanation of its rules, but will take time to master as there’s quite a lot of tactics available when trying to become the best documentary director.
The game is about to launch on Kickstarter as soon as August 18th and we couldn’t be any less hyped!