Review: CO2 – hostile molecule of carbon dioxide

CO2 - packaging

Do you like oxygen? Who would not. And what about carbon dioxide? Can he be counted among our friends or not? What do you think? The increasing level of exhalation from a variety of fossil fuel power plants is associated with global warming and the possible start of a new ice age.

is simply not a friend of humanity, yet we party with it every day, wherever we go in the car, or are warming ourselves in comfort of our homes. We can often see frightening news and warnings about its rising level, when there are some interviews with scientists. Now, for the first time, even board game adds its voice to the warning voices.

This board game was created by first as a prototype, which had a great success on the server BoardGameGeek. This allowed him to draw interest from publishing companies. And Giochix, Italian company, won the match for company, which will have the right to release the game and introduce it at the fair Spiel in Essen. Together with in America. We also have our review copy from there. Illustrations to its publication were contributed by Tappainer Giacomo and Paul Simonetti.

CO2 - game is ready

The plot of the game takes place in the present, where level of air pollution exceeded limits and harmful substances emitted by fossil fuel power plants. It is necessary to think about our needs and try to get energy from renewable sources. That is the main message. But do not worry, environmental theme is not everything there is to this game.

The game can be found in a white box with a painting on the front edge, with a name slowly sinking into its colors. The rules booklet contains an interesting phrase – if we do not stop pollution, it’s game over for all of us. And this quite is followed by whole CO2 game, which belongs to semi-cooperative category. Opponents thus become partially partners, who compete on the background of efforts to avert global catastrophe.

Under the rules booklet written in English, there is a folded game board. It contains a nice colors – mostly of yellow and blue, which make for quite cheerful appearance. Board is really smartly designed, because most of its space uses circular arrangement. This makes its look unique. You will find circle everywhere, with continents of the world inside and few square spots for power plants.

CO2 - game is ready

The most important semicircular scale is pollution, which shares its space with second half of circle – a scoring path for individual players. On the outside of the circle, there are another tracks and in the middle space for agenda and summit cards.

There is a lot of cardboard tokens inside. Most of them represent different types of power from biomass, solar, and cold fusion to unpopular coal and oil. In total there are 55 tiles in the game, divided into eight groups. Some of factories for fossil fuels begin its journey on the game plan, while those environment friendly will start on pile outside. You have to convince the world to use them first.

Furthermore, we have thirty cardboard projects, eight regional agendas and eighteen summit tiles. List of hard paper components ends with coins of four different values and marking for first player. Then of course, there are decks of cards, whether is their purpose lobbying, showing objectives or making events happen.

CO2 - game is ready

The greatest effect on weight of the box have wooden pieces. Twenty round discs for each player makes a hundred tokens only by themselves. Then there are white cubes acting as technological resources and forty large purple tokens of pollution. They are called CEPs in the game, which means Carbon Emission Permits.

How to preparing a match is thoroughly described on two pages along with illustrative images. Basic phases include a breakdown of color component among players – everyone takes his share of twenty of colored tokens and one scientist in his color too. The other scientists (pawns) start the game in a common stock. In the beginning, each player receives a little money (increasing by order) and two purple CEP permissions. Each puts one token to zero field on scoring route and secretly draw one secret mission card. Then everybody gets five lobbying cards.

Now you need to prepare round counters. Thus you should mark oldest decade (1970) with dark brown token. Then you put light brown turn counter below it. It will help you count rounds before you have to change the decade forward. Number of rounds in each decade is given by number of players in the game and starting point for counter is clearly marked.

CO2 - game in progress

Most components will begin their journey outside the board and do not need special care. Exceptions are green plants tokens, which should be separated by type and sorted in ascending order by price. You must also shuffle the event deck and put one of them openly next to the pile. Players will reveal UN objectives on eight cards.

Center of the plan is equipped with random summit tokens and regional agendas, which are always directed to a specific continent. Each region gets a fossil power plant, which is put into the leftmost box available for the construction of power plants on the continent. Then, based on number of plant vacancies, you create a pile of CEP tokens separately for each continent. These show electricity demand of the continent. CEPs starting price is set at three and makes the game being finally ready for play.

We recognize, that preparation of CO2 is not so simple and most of it will not make any sense to you at the beginning of your first game. And it may even seem counterintuitive. But, with the passage of time, your perception will change. But the lenghty preparation will remain. But we must get together closer to way, how CO2 is played.

CO2 - tiles

Each of decades begins by distribution of income. This can be paid to players either in money or in victory points and always only to two best experts (players) on each type of energy. These types are divided in scales corresponding to individual sources, such as biomass or solar energy.

As time goes by in the game,energy demands of continents increases. Each decade continent requires one more power plant, than the previous, until satisfied completely. If place for that decade is not filled with a green plant from any of players, you must add random fossil fuel power plant there instead. This, however, leads to increased contamination of CO2. You have to raise the value of polution for amount indicated by fossil tile (20-40 ppm). Additionally, the player who controls this territory, must pay one CEP as a penalty. Now you only decide, whether you have averted a disaster (event) for that given decade. Total value of the contamination must be less than 350 ppm.

Now we finally come to core of the game – actions. Their number in each decade is equal to number of players in a given game. All players get their chance to play several times successively before the end of the decade occurs. In each of his turns, he can perform one of the available actions – design a project, implement a project or build a new power plant. Such activities must be done is firm order in each region, though not necessarily by one player, because there is no ownership.

CO2 - game is ready

In the first option, you take one draft of green projects and propose it to the continent, where you want to build it. These people must want this plant, which is dependent on each continent agenda tiles. The reward for you goes in form of money, technology cubes or one new scientists coming into your ranks. Prepared project can then be installed into the country by any player, including the one, who did the project proposal. You can do it by paying one CEP. This gives you the right to turn over the project card and receive reward for its completion (technology cubes or CEPs, depending on type).

Now you have an infrastructure for power distribution ready in this country and you can finally build one green plant. But this completing does not need only money and technology, but also adequate knowledge (expertise) in given field of renewable resources. If you meet all the requirement, you can put plant in the first free box of the continent. And then finally mark it with a token of your color. It will also provide you with some victory points as listed in upper left corner of the tile and also allows you to immediately enhance your expertise in this area by one.

During construction, some player will gain control of the region.This dominance depends on the number of plants, which he controls there. In case of a tie, everything goes by priorities of energy resources of this actual continent (on regional agenda card).

CO2 - board detail

During his turn, each player can on top of this one action perform also one or more free moves – move scientist (on another project or to the summit on particular energy type), visit the market (buying CEP) and playing or scoring a card.

Your scientists supervising projects have to gain expert knowledge you need to build power plants. At the moment, when you first receive experience in one area, you take token of your color and put it on the given track. In future, you will advance with it one space at a time. New experiences can be acquired in a summit, where he talks with other scientiest. Topics of each summit are given by summit cards.

You can also play one of your lobbying cards at anytime and receive a bonus from it. In addition, you can also meet one of the publicly known UN goals. These offers rewards for first player that meets their requirements. They give you victory points among other stuff.

CO2 - cards

The game may end up with all players losing. This is the case, when contamination of our planet by CO2 reaches a critical value of 500 ppm. Immediately, when this happens, our planet becomes uninhabitable and it does not matter, who was actually leading in points. But this is only one of possible endings. Sometimes, players can win by reaching the end of the last decade, or reducing pollution below 350 ppm, or even equipping one of the regions with only green plants. Players will now calculate victory points, add their money to the cound and value of any completed UN goals. The winner is the one, who managed to accrue the most points.

CO2 is a game full of oxygen. The very fact, that forests are included for thematic reasons only among energy sources, shows where this game is headed. But its theme surprisingly enhances it, and pushes the game towards success.

This game is not the first product of Vital Lacerda, but compared to his former child – Vinhos – CO2 is much easier and more accessible. The game has surprisingly really simple rules, which can easily be mastered on the first reading. You will have more trouble getting used to some innovative game mechanics and foremost you will find connections in theme, which can then be used in game to your favor.

CO2 - board detail

CO2 is not only game about collecting victory points. Not every method is efficient and effective, as it might seem at first glance. For example, the construction of power stations will bring you victory points, but you pay for it heavily in form of technology cubes and money. You become victory points also for money are at the end of the game, so what is the reason?

Of course, the main task is completion of the UN goals. These cards are limited and go by simple rule – first come, first served. This creates an environment of constant striving for more and more progress. Cards are rewarded according to their difficulty and you get reward for them at the end of the game.

Interesting mechanic for the entire game is free actions, which can be performed in each turn at your own discretion. Equally important is the order, in which must be completion of a power plant prepared. The project proposal, and also its installation, does not reward you with any large benefit. Such a project is own by nobody. You prepare infrastructure and then another player builds on it. What the h***! Your task is to make it more difficult for them to use your work to their advantage. And vice versa, you must be able to use advantage from opportunities, that will arise from actions of rivals.

CO2 - game is ready

Unfortunately, CO2 has gone perhaps too far in its theme regarding a cooperative tone. It may seem perhaps too strict for players. But that’s okay, because it just belongs to it. Nature itself will not grant us anything for free and we must fight to make our place on the sun. And although many people can be disappointed by its ecological theme, they must recognize the clear truth:

CO2 is game with one of the prettiest game board given its visual appeal. The overall impression of it and its colors are just perfect. and did absolutely professional and detailed work, that is a joy to watch. And even adding the non-traditional colors (purple!) for game components is really great. You have a real designer gem.

Perhaps the only flaw, that CO2 has, is the absence of significant coincidences. Fixed agendas and randomly uncovered UN tasks may seem enough, but it’s not. Fortunately, the game is catching up the lack of variability in field, that is perhaps the most important: mutual reactions of players, will move every play in a different direction. Merit lies precisely in those projects, that nobody owns until completed.

CO2 - cards

The game uses an interesting combination of already known elements. You will find victory points, but they are not as readily available as it seems. We have technology scales, which are extremely important, but improvements are outcome of construction of power plants. Then there is the dominance for each of continents and even UN goals. Maybe it looks like a hastily cooked cake filled with raw materials, but in fact it is a sophisticated mix with each component in its perfect place.

It is on its uniqueness, where the game will suffer the most. This is because its not any euro strategy in traditional sense of word. You can not apply standard analytical procedures and tactics here. Instead, you must use senses. There are no economic engine, that you start and go on their performance until the end. Here’s much more going on.

The last criticism can be directed towards game time, which easily exceeds the two-hour limit. The game can be played from one to five players, and it is advisable to learn to play it in smaller numbers. Time becomes a problem especially in maximum number of participants.

Everything is connected. This is a sentence, that would suit many of the inhabitants of Earth. We need to identify the effect of butterfly wings, if you will. Every action has immense impact. And such is CO2. Full of action and reaction, that rotate the wheels in their inevitable circling. This game is not just about the very tactics, it is about feeling and experiencing. It will not be able to give you anything for free, and do not leave your strategic twin at home. CO2 is one of the jewels of last year, so do not let it escape your grasp.

DesignerVital Lacerda
ArtistPaula Simonetti, Giacomo Tappainer, Lacerta, MYBG Co., Ltd., Stronghold Games
Year Published2012
# of Players1 - 5
User Suggested # of Players Best with 5 players
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4 players
(95 voters)
Playing Time120
Mfg Suggested Ages12 and up
User Suggested Ages12 and up
(24 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(27 voters)
CategoryEconomic, Environmental, Industry / Manufacturing
MechanicArea Majority / Influence, Open Drafting, Semi-Cooperative Game, Solo / Solitaire Game, Worker Placement
ExpansionCO₂: The Arctic Expansion
FamilyPlayers: Games with Solitaire Rules, Theme: Climate Change
Primary NameCO₂
Alternate NamesCO2

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: CO2 – hostile molecule of carbon dioxide
Final word
CO2 is a unique game about delicate topic – our precious environment. You will become a member of a powerful international company, which is building power stations across the whole globe. In effort to eradicate sources based on fossil fuels, you must buy permits, educate your scientists, but more importantly build green power plants. There is no way to success without them in the four decades, which the game consists of. Besides competition for victory points and badge of biggest green manager, the game has also a cooperative touch. In a moment, when CO2 concentration reaches a specific limit, its GAME OVER. Mechanics of this game are really unique and you have to follow paths to victory, which will no never find in other games. You can also add nice color scheme and beatifully designed board and CO2 is suddenly favourite of many board game players, who like to plan ahead. Breathe in properly and enjoy feel of fresh air, because as soon as you finis hone match of this game, you will always sense a carbon dioxide aftertaste in the air.. Forever..
Reader Rating0 Votes
unique mechanics and gameplay
beautiful game board
original colors
excellently thought-out
competing with cooperative touch
market model
variability comes from interactions
ingenious way to build power plants
requires different approach of play, which might not suit everyone
ecological theme might daunt someone
less variable, given strict placement of components
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