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What is the second largest island in the world? How high is the highest church tower? Where is the lowest underground station? The Terra board game revolves around these and other guessing questions about our blue planet. First published in 2014, the HUCH! publishing house has brought out a new edition of this refreshingly different quiz game this year.
“Just missed is also a miss!” – Everyone who loves games probably knows this mocking saying from some fellow players when they have just missed something. In the game “Terra – Do you know how to appreciate the world?”, however, the matter of “missing the mark” is quite different. Because this quiz game not only rewards those who know the exact right answer – those who are just off the mark also get points! That’s why the term “guessing game” is even more appropriate for “Terra”.
The questions here are all about our planet (Terra = Earth): numbers, dates, facts. On the one hand, the geographical location of something is always asked. Where the Black Sea is, for example, or the Empire State Building or the Dome of the Rock, you can probably figure that out with a solid general knowledge. But who knows offhand which is the city with the most billionaires? Or where on the globe the most extensive cave is located or the tallest statue in the world? Even die-hard quiz experts are left guessing and pondering…
And when it comes to the nitty-gritty, namely exact numbers, such as the height of the Empire State Building, the number of megaliths in Stonehenge or the average number of registered tornadoes per year – even the most knowledgeable and “walking encyclopaedias” have to guess. And that’s exactly what the Terra board game, which was invented by the renowned game designer Friedemann Friese, is all about.
The Terra board game was originally published by HUCH! back in 2014 and a new edition will be released in spring 2021. New in this edition is the design, but the 150 question cards have also been updated and partly replaced by new ones. This affects, among other things, all the question cards from the original edition that refer to animals, because HUCH! already has its own game for this topic that is structured very similarly to Terra: Fauna!
Transparency note: The HUCH! publisher has kindly provided us with the Terra board game as a free review copy. However, this review is unpaid and reflects our independent opinion.
The game principle of Terra is easily explained: in each round there is a question from the field of geography or rather general knowledge about the world. In turn, the players then guess certain areas on the world map or estimate numbers. Depending on the question, these can refer to years, lengths or distances or even the number of something.
The instructions recommend approx. 5-9 rounds, depending on the number of players. In principle, however, any number of rounds is possible in the Terra board game. So you can play as long as you feel like it or as long as the question cards last. For reasons of fairness, however, all players should start the same number of times. Because starting a round can sometimes be advantageous, but sometimes also disadvantageous, depending on how well you know the topic of the card!.
At the beginning of the game, the question cards are placed in the box provided. In each round, the top question card is looked at. The visible upper part of each card contains the questions, the lower part, which is initially hidden, contains the answers.
At the top of the card is the topic, e.g. “Highest building” and a photo shows a matching picture. Next to it, 3 coloured sections represent as many questions on this topic. The first question is always about the geographical location of something. Depending on the question, only one area can be correct, or several. The number of correct areas is indicated on the map.
The two other sections ask for further facts about the topic, which can be expressed in numbers: Year (green), length/distance (blue) or number (orange). Whoever starts the round may now first give an estimate on one of the 3 questions.
There are question cards in 4 difficulty levels: 1) For beginners (yellow), 2) For travellers (green), 3) For globetrotters (blue), 4) For explorers (red). You can either agree on a difficulty level beforehand or mix them all up wildly, just as you like.
In Terra, estimating is done by placing so-called estimation stones on the game board. These are small wooden blocks, of which each player receives 6 in one player colour at the beginning of the game. The game board represents a world map and below it 3 scales labelled “Year”, “Length/Distance” and “Number”. Depending on the type of question, the players place their block on one of the areas on the world map or an area of one of the scales. On the outer edge of the game board, a score is used for scoring, for which one of each player’s estimation blocks is used.
In each round, you can use as many of your counters as you currently have available, but you may also pass. The round continues until all players have passed or have no more stones. Then the correct answer is read out, the points are evaluated and the next round begins.
The world map of the Terra board game has special features! The continents are not divided into states as usual, but into regions such as “Central America”, “Horn of Africa” or “Western Siberia”. It is quite possible that larger states such as the USA or Russia extend over several regions, while on the other hand several smaller states are often grouped into one region. The sea areas are also divided by white dotted lines into regions with names such as “North Atlantic”, “Micronesia” or “Tasman Sea”.
An important rule in the Terra board game is that you are not allowed to place your estimation tile on an area or a scale section where a tile already lies. This prevents all players from simply following the first player if they trust that the latter has known the correct answer.
However, it is allowed to place your guessing tile on an area or a section of the scale directly next to it and this also scores points!
Each estimation stone that lies exactly on the right area or scale section earns the player 7 points. A guessing tile that lies on a directly adjacent area or scale segment scores 3 points. Sometimes several areas or scale sections are correct and there are actually always several adjacent areas.
If you have enough guessing stones available and the fields are not already occupied by other players, you can also score points for one and the same question if you place several stones on the correct area and/or on adjacent areas. The same applies to scale fields and their neighbouring fields. However, each guess stone only counts once!
So, even if you don’t have a clue, what’s wrong with simply spreading your guessing stones all over the board? Pieces that score points are immediately returned to the respective players during the evaluation. Incorrectly placed stones that do not score points are collected at the edge of the board. At the beginning of the new round, all players get back at least one of their “lost” guessing stones, if available. If you still have less than 3 counters, you can fill up to 3.
However, you should not be too timid when betting. If only one of the players has placed stones on one of the scales, any points he makes with them count double! (Incidentally, this is a new rule that was added to the Terra board game for the new edition and increases the incentive to guess even on difficult questions that are otherwise avoided by all players).
We played several rounds of Terra with three players, later with four, and got into the game very quickly, because it is easy to understand and the instructions are well explained. After a few rounds with the cards for beginners, we mixed the cards and played with different difficulty levels.
The ease of entry definitely makes Terra a good game for a game night where you want to play more than one game. The gameplay is fairly intuitive and the various special rules for placing guessing stones described above keep things exciting and ensure that it’s not just a matter of how much you know, but also how clever you are in placing your guessing stones tactically (or rather not, if you’re too unsure).
What I particularly liked about this game is that sometimes it can be an advantage, sometimes a disadvantage to start the round. If you are pretty sure about the topic of the card, e.g. “Charles Bridge”, and you are the first to take your turn, you can of course easily clear the 7 points for the correct area. However, if you don’t have the faintest idea, which can happen with the higher difficulty maps, it is sometimes better to be second or third in line, because there is a good chance that at least one of the other players will have a clue. Even if the (supposed) 7-point squares are then already occupied, you can still score points by joining the opinion of a fellow player, so to speak, by placing a stone on a neighbouring square.
However, the highest difficulty level showed that this can also backfire. I drew a question about the “longest mountain range” in the world and placed my first guess stone on the board with relative accuracy. My fellow players followed suit, following my first idea. As it turned out, however, I was completely wrong and so we lost all our stones.
As a point of criticism, one could see that “Terra – Do you know how to appreciate the world” is definitely a “theme game”. By that I mean that it depends very much on how fit you are in geography and history or how much you have already travelled, whether you know certain facts or not or have any idea at all. Because even estimating numbers (e.g. how long Charles Bridge is) is only fun if you have at least a vague idea of the subject. If the previous knowledge of the other players is very different, this can quickly lead to frustration for those who are at a disadvantage in this area of knowledge.
In a group of players where everyone is about the same in this respect and everyone has a basic interest in facts about the Earth, Terra is definitely a game that will provide a lot of fun and also some surprises. The fact that it’s not just about absolute knowledge, but also about guessing, is a smart addition to the world of quiz games!
In our group of test players, “Terra” was received differently. One player said he was not very familiar with geography and history and was therefore a bit frustrated because he saw no chance of winning the game. The other 3 players, on the other hand, quite like quizzes and we really enjoyed guessing and thinking about what the correct answer could be in Terra.
If you love quiz games and have a solid basic knowledge in the fields of geography and world history, then “Terra – Do you know how to guess the world?” is exactly the right kind of game for you!
The Terra board game is all about the Earth, its geography and history and countless exciting facts about it! Exact knowledge is not necessary – the winner is the one who can guess well!
Whether Terra or another game – we wish you lots of fun at your next game night!!!
Discover even more worthwhile new games and classic games in our game tips! Or browse our wide treasure trove of brilliant, offbeat, adventurous or cosy leisure activities with friends, for couples or families. Never be bored again!
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