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Board game review & gameplay of: Ark nova

Game design: M. Wigge

  • 9/10
  • 14+
  • 1-4 players
  • 90-150 minutes


Players get to manage their own zoo by building enclosures, accommodating animals and supporting conservation projects.

On a turn, players play 1 of 5 available actions of which the power is determined by the slot that card is currently in (1-5):

CARDS: gain new cards (animals, sponsors and conservation projects)

BUILD: build enclosures

ANIMALS: place animals in the built enclosures 

ASSOCIATION: carry out different tasks like supporting conservation projects, starting a collaboration etc.

SPONSORS: play a sponsor card which gives you some perks and benefits

After the card is activated it slides to the 1st slot, moving the other cards' up.

Through the actions players earn appeal, scientific reputation and conservation points. Appeal will gain (drafting) benefits and when the scientific reputation and the conservation pointmarker meet, the game ends after calculating some end of game bonusses and the player who has the biggest distance between the two, wins the game.


👍 The use of photography in the artwork works surprisingly well imo. It fits perfectly in this semi-serious themed game.

👍 I LOVE the seriousness of the theme. There is a lot of emphasis on doing good for animals. Makes me happy!

👍 Playing certain animals becomes easier after playing certain animal or sponsor cards. This ensures a buildup of tension. It reminds me a bit of playing cards in Terraforming Mars.

👍 The gameplay is simple yet deep. It's not that hard to explain and the overall design feels extremely logical to me.

➖ It's a bit dependent on luck of the card draws

➖ It seems to be long with 4 players, I still want to try this myself


The solomode plays the same as a regular game with a small tweak to substitute the break system. Games take a set amount of turns after which they need to reach at least 0 points to win. It plays solid and is simple to maintain. If you like playing solo, I recommend it!


A copy of this game was provided to me by White Goblin Games for the purpose of writing this review. My opinion however remains my own.

Boardgamegeek BGG

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