#224 - Welcome to EARF


In this loamy episode of the Shut Up & Sit Down Podcast, Tom and Matt are taking a little wander through the hills and valleys of… a rather complicated engine builder. We’re talking about recent BGG darling Earth and its soil-based engines, alongside a few brief chats about seance-based deduce-em-up Phantom Ink and mud-based clean-em-up Dirty Pig. Matt also has a few words to say about the student games we got to briefly drop in on at the recent UK Games Expo!

Have a great weekend, everybody!


02:17 - Earth

26:19 - Phantom Ink

38:31 - Dirty Pig

44:52 - Student Games

I’ve played Terraforming Mars a few times and Ark Nova never, but my one play of Earth (even in the first-game version without one class of card) felt as though it had a whole bunch more moving parts – in a good way. Maybe because they played off against each other more? So I can kill off that sprout to help do a thing, but that sprout is worth a point in itself, and maybe doing the thing will cost me four sprouts and only gain me two points… meanwhile I need two more thingies for objective A and four more different thingies for objective B… and meanwhile I get a special bonus if I choose red…

Also I actually liked the art. And unlike many iconography-heavy games the iconography made sense to me.

This has gone from “not really interested” to “might at least think about buying” for me.


You’ve not played ark nova?! Highly recommended. It all fits together super nicely. Agree with the pod that it is initially quite oblique, but within a few plays it’s very transparent. My friends and I always have an asynchronous ark nova game on the go on BGA (on a run of about 5 games now?) and still really enjoy it. It feels like suburbia made into a euro - lots of adjacency rulings, and similar strategy of gaining income Vs victory points.

Trying to get my friends to play earth now. It looks very satisfying to play.


I have played a bunch of TM, Ark Nova and a few solos and a few 2 player games of Earth. And they all have this „big stack of cards make combos if you can“ feeling. I think Earth is easiest to play and get some combo or other. Ark Nova is definitely the one that is hardest to teach and easiest to shoot yourself in the foot. Earth I have only played on BGA and I keep going back and forth between „oh I want to play this more“ and „this feels fiddly even when BGA manages all the stuff for me“.

What it has going for it, that it might be easiest to setup and start a game. I don‘t quite know that as I have not played it on the table. But as you start with just a couple of cards and are building a 4x4 card tableau there can‘t be much to setup.

Still, TM is just the best (possibly because it is SciFi?)—closely followed by Ark Nova. In my last game of Ark Nova (also BGA) I built the most awesome Raubtier Zoo ever (Raubtier = predator but I can‘t think that would be the in-game translation, big cats et al).

If I am ever having a bad day, needing retail Therapy, visiting FLGS and there is nothing else I really want, I might go home with Earth and probably not regret it.


Well, I’ve only played Earth in person, and we didn’t find it too fiddly even in a learning game – we absolutely needed some bits bowls (fortunately I always have these with me when I’m going boardgaming), for sprouts, soil, growth and growth cap markers, but otherwise that was about it.

This is pretty much all we did for setup (intro game, no ecosystem cards):


Yeah, got to admit the income stage for ark nova is a little fiddly. Also the “gain 3 income when anyone gets X icon” can be a little intrusive - someone playing a card then another player asking what symbols are on the card in case it’s relevant for their board.

BGA smooths all that over massively though. No missed triggers and autocalculatiions. What takes 5+ minutes in person sorted out in a split second. Takes a lot of strain out of the game.

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