My office recently got some serious finger wagging from the garbage collector, because we apparently were not doing a good enough job at recycling, and it made me think of this neat little card game.

R-Eco is a card game that utilizes a unique mechanic for card drawing, based on a recycling theme. R-Eco was designed by Susumu Kawasaki, who also designed another favorite of mine, Traders of Carthage. It plays 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, which I think is pretty accurate. My daughter and I started playing this when she was eight, if I remember correctly. A normal game takes about 20 to 30 minutes at most.

In the game, each player takes on the role of a recycling company, trying to clean up the city. There are four types of items that can be collected: paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass. There are four corresponding recycling plants where you can deposit your collected items and pick up more. If you are the player that contributes an item or items that equals a total of four or more, then you get to pick up a scoring token from that particular recycling plant. The scoring tokens are stacked in values from zero to five, using less tokens if you have fewer players. There is a negative value token in the middle of each stack that creates a wonderful speed bump in the game where players try to avoid that recycling plant; however, at the end of the game, you must have at least two tokens from any particular recycling plant in order for them to count, so if the negative token is the only one you have from that particular plant, it doesn’t count in your final score.

The game is really all about hand management, which is made difficult by this cycle of depositing and picking up new trash. Every time you place an item from your hand to a particular recycling pile, you have to take all of the trash available. The trash is then refilled with a number of cards equal to one more than the number of recycled items currently in the pile. This wouldn’t be a big deal, but you have a hand size limit. Your truck can only hold so much, right? If you go over your hand size limit, then you have to discard down to a legal hand size. You have to go and dump your trash illegally. At the end of the game, you suffer a penalty in points for every item you have to dump. The game ends when a player removes the final scoring token from one of the four recycling plants.

R-Eco is published by Z-MAN Games and retails for around $15 at your friendly local game store, or you can find it for a bit less from a trusted online retailer like Funagain.com.

It’s worth mentioning that I first learned about R-Eco by listening to Garrett’s Games and Geekiness, a weekly gaming podcast produced by my friend Doug Garrett. If you are not already a regular listener, you should check it out. I highly recommend it. You can visit garrettsgames.com or you can do what I do and just subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Disclaimer: I have recieved no review copies of this game. I have included links to funagain.com, an online retailer that I support by including affiliate links to games. If you purchase something from Funagain, and include my affiliate code, P2RX, then I get a few pennies of store credit so I can buy more games.

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