Game review: Costa Rica: Collect animals and press your luck

Posted July 13, 2016

Join an expedition into the dangerous but beautiful wilds of Costa Rica looking for exotic wildlife in the game Costa Rica by Mayfair games. From three to five players take part in this quick 30-minute game about tough choices and animal collecting.

The first thing to do is create the game board by placing hexagon tiles face down on the table forming a giant hexagon of 56 tiles. Each tile has one of three terrain types (marsh, forest and mountains) on the top and one or two animals featured on the bottom. The goal is to collect animals by revealing them, but no one knows what's on the other side.

There are six different animals to be collected. For every animal collected up to a maximum of seven of each, a player will get points. However for every set of six different animals collected, 20 bonus points are earned.

At the six tips that form the edges of the giant hexagon board created by placing tiles, a player places one of their six explorers. On a turn a player chooses one of his or her explorers to start an expedition. All explorers there are allowed to come on the expedition. Tiles are uncovered to see what lurks beneath. It's tense and quite fun to see what might be discovered.

The starting player flips over a tile and decides whether to keep it and end the expedition or pass and allow other players on the expedition to take the tile. If all players pass, the starting player gets to uncover another tile and decide if he or she wants to take the two tiles. With a pass, each successive player gets to accept or decline the tiles. If the starting player is up again, another tile is revealed and the choices begin again. As soon as someone accepts to take the tiles, he or she takes his or her explorer and all the uncovered animal tiles and the turn ends.

However, the wilds of Costa Rica are dangerous. There are disease-ridden mosquitos that might be hiding under any tile. Players push their luck by uncovering tiles, hoping not to get mosquito tiles. The first one revealed is a warning but the second one revealed ends a player's turn immediately with the loss of any animal tiles uncovered with mosquitos featured on them.

If a player can ever be in a position to go on an expedition alone, it can be a sure opportunity to gain a lot of points. Not having to share the other tiles on an expedition is huge. Collecting a lot of tiles is a surefire way to win the game. The person with the most points at the end wins the game.

Costa Rica is a fairly simple game that does well with children and families. It might be too light for serious gamers but does have a charm and appeal with the tense "press your luck" mechanism and tough choices that need to be made every turn. For what it is, the game is well-designed and enjoyable to play. Check out more here.



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