Joe Hopkins On EndangeredApril 29, 2021
In this Meeple-Sized Interview, we sit down with the designer, Joe Hopkins, and talk Endangered.
For readers that may not be familiar with Endangered, players are working together trying to get the UN to either save the tigers or the sea otters from real-life threats (deforestation and oil spills). What makes Endangered different from other co-op games and what inspired its theme?
Joe: Endangered is a cooperative worker (dice placement) game where the players get to choose which action spaces are in the game. As the game continues, players can play cards from their deck that make up the tableau of actions. To win, the players need to satisfy certain goals that are hidden at the start of the game. These are the UN Ambassadors that get revealed during the game.
When designing a cooperative game I wanted something that players could feel connected to. The environment has always been a passion of mine, so it was an obvious choice for me. We worked hard to make sure we were providing a fun experience, but also appropriately representing the work that conservationists really do. I think what we made is fun, educational, and emotional.
Let’s talk about that education aspect. How much research did you put into the scenarios? How true to life are they?
Joe: I spent several hours researching each animal and the threats they face. Since this game is set in modern-day and is a sensitive subject, I wanted to make sure I was accurately portraying the threats and the conservation efforts. Each animal has its own threat deck and each card in the deck has a sentence or two explaining what that represents. For example, the main threat in the sea otter deck is an oil spill. Many of the cards in the scenario are actual methods that are used to clean up oil spills, such as skimmers, booms, and oil-eating bacteria.
As tiger habitats shrink, tiger-human conflicts become more problematic. I represented that with a mechanic that makes tiger sightings trigger more problems as the game continues. Each animal has its own threat deck and its own mating habits.
Like any game, there are abstractions, but each action is an incremental push toward winning. No one action card will win the game and no one thing can save a species. But, everyone has a part they can play
This year a new expansion (Endangered: New Species) comes out that has six different animals in it. Will they all play differently and do you have a favorite module in the expansion?
Joe: Yes, all six scenarios in the New Species expansion play very differently. The sea turtles migrate to the shore to reproduce and the polar bears have ice tiles that melt out from under them. There is also a scenario with both jaguar and tapirs, so you have a predator/prey relationship and you have to protect both species. I’m excited for players to see the breadth of content we’ve created.
My favorite is probably the Devils Hole pupfish. It is the rarest fish in the world. My wife really pushed me and the publisher to include it. The other species are more well known, so I’m glad we reached the stretch goal to put them in.
Would you like to see more games come out that are about conservation and environmental responsibility?
Joe: Yes I would. Honestly, I love any game with a science theme, Wingspan, Compounded, Evolution.
On that note, as we wrap up, will we be seeing more Endangered in the future after this expansion?
Joe: Grand Gamers Guild and I have already started planning for the next expansion after New species. It will probably have three or four new animals as well as a new player role. We haven’t nailed down which animals yet.
Thanks, Joe, for taking the time out to do this interview.