Climate protection concerns us all! And because it is such an important topic, its importance is not only shown to us through Hollywood's disaster cinema, but can also be found in games. This is also the case with the game Kyoto by the author duo Sabine Harrer and Johannes Krenner, which was published by Pegasus Spiele in 2020. A hand-held card management game in which it is important, as a participant in a climate conference sent from your own country, to save the world from an ecological super-disaster while preserving the prosperity of your own society. You can find out how much fun we had the climate game in the following review on Kyoto.

It all starts with the well-known “popping out”, the assembly and – oh my – mini folding instructions from the Swedish furniture store. Panic set in for a moment and quickly passed. First, you fold a small box out of a die-cut sheet, in which the smorgasbord of playing cards finds a place. You have thought about it. Instead of a wobbly inlay or rubber band, an amazingly simple trick ensures that the cards can be stowed away safely and securely after playing. The makers have thought about it.

The little map box is a detail, but there are more of them at Kyoto. You quickly notice that behind the game and the newly founded Deep Print Games publisher are experienced veterans from the board game industry. Peter Eggert and Philipp El Alaoui (formerly eggertspiele / Plan B Games), Viktor Kobilke (formerly Frosted Games, eggertspiele / Plan B Games) and Matthias Nagy (Frosted Games) as well as Karsten Esser and Andreas Finkernagel (Pegasus Spiele) are the actors who With their future projects not only provide fun, but also want to convey serious topics - and that at different levels. While the board game Renature is aimed more at families, Kyoto is aimed at connoisseurs, but not exclusively adults. With the concentrated power of experience, climate killer Donald Trump would have to lend a hand himself in order for this game idea to hit the wall at all. Indeed, Kyoto by scientist Sabine Harrer and author Johannes Krenner (including Junta - Das Kartenspiel) is refreshing, but not necessarily innovative. 

Kyoto: A climate game ?!

The artwork and the lettering of the box from Kyoto tell us that the world, represented as a globe, threatens to collapse with greed for money. What was kept in gray, blue and green on the front and immediately makes you think of air pollution, appears on the back in bright colors and in its description promises a gaming experience that should remind us of a political thriller. The instructions seem confusing at first, you have to read carefully and take a few minutes to look through the concept. However, anyone who has understood what the Kyoto process is basically aiming at will not find it particularly difficult to heed the few basic rules. Nevertheless, there are many details for such a small-format board game that cause the game to stall a little, at least in the first few minutes. Then there is an aha-effect and things are already much smoother.  

Kyoto is aimed at three to six players. Everyone slips into the role of a state representative to take part in the world climate summit - with clearly ambiguous interests. Photo: Volkmann

Kyoto is aimed at three to six players. Everyone slips into the role of a state representative to take part in the world climate summit - with clearly ambiguous interests. Photo: Volkmann

The handy game box is filled with attractively designed content, which comes from the pen of the illustrator Christian Operer. In addition to a game board, which is used to display three types of environmental damage, five animals, with a living and an extinct side, six thermometer levels, six clouds, 48 ​​prosperity cards, each one of three types of damage (air pollution, animal death and Global warming), show a CO2 value and often one of six lobby types as well as 24 study cards, 20 agenda cards, six flags (six cards and six holders), a desk, a chairman card, a central card, 63 million dollar cards Bills, six flag markers and a rulebook. The link to the real world is always present in the material, for example in the lobby cards. Among the lobbyists there is everything that has rank and name to make the world a little more unjust: agricultural lobby, oil lobby, car lobby, steel lobby, nuclear lobby and chemical lobby - all vying for it the favor of politics.

Admittedly, it doesn't look particularly inviting when someone calls for a round of "climate play". Dealing with serious topics at the gaming table, can that be fun? Already at this point it can be revealed: And whether! Kyoto not only warns and announces the impending end of the world and the extinction of species, but also convinces with a finely tuned gameplay that initially seems complicated and requires a period of getting used to, but then ignites.

Everything is still in balance on earth. Photo: Volkmann

Everything is still in balance on earth. Photo: Volkmann

The ecological collapse always hovers like a sword of Damocles over the group of players, which consists of three to six players. At least three country representatives are needed so that climate protection and the apocalypse can be discussed at all, otherwise an interactive game would not be possible with the chosen concept. And: It is better to sit down with at least four players at the table, then the Kyoto board game will pick up even more speed. The game does not take itself very seriously, although it plays with a serious background theme: superficially, the states are cheering for the climate protection measures, while in the end, what is implemented is what does not curtail prosperity. 

The basic theme of Deep Print Games hits the players with a rough trowel, and then there are the subtle undertones - from which players draw insights for the real world, at least when they open up to the setting. Amusement parks, classic car tours, fireworks at the turn of the year: everything that cracks, is colorful, is fast, is fun, causes CO2 emissions.

The material and game setup reflect the theme aptly. Photo: Volkmann

The material and game setup reflect the theme aptly. Photo: Volkmann

You can think about it and draw conclusions for yourself - or you simply nod off the downside for the climate, then sooner or later politicians will intervene to regulate it. The new CO2 levy sets a course in this country: If you don't want to work for the world climate of your own accord, you'll have to dig into your wallet. This is also used in the satirical board game Kyoto, because the choice between environmental protection and nature conservation or "money" is always thematically present. You even use the typical Monopoly money, actually a relic from long ago in the field of board games, but here the paper notes contribute to the topic. 

During a game of Kyoto, three to six players, ages ten and up, take part in a world climate conference for 30 to 45 minutes. For this purpose, they are specially sent by their countries to represent them in this important matter. It's about nothing less than saving the world. At least that is what the frightening studies that have to be dealt with say. But stepping out of the ecological crisis is not that easy. Because besides that, the fortunes of one's own society and that of the lobbies must not be forgotten. The winner will be the representative of the country that best fulfills this task. If there is significant environmental damage in the meantime, the world climate conference is considered to have failed and the player who was most profitable loses the game.

Kyoto: climate rescue in twelve rounds

In Kyoto, the players have to keep an eye on the prosperity of their country, let money flow into climate protection, convince in negotiations and bribe their fellow players. A game of the climate game runs over twelve negotiation rounds and ten, in one round with five players. The individual rounds consist of four phases. First, the players must negotiate the compensation for the chairmanship.

Unfavorable premise: What is fun is harmful to the climate. Photo: Volkmann

Unfavorable premise: What is fun is harmful to the climate. Photo: Volkmann

Then follows the phase of the study reading, followed by the negotiation phase, in which, within 90 seconds, a common reduction and financing target must be achieved, which the speaker presents to the current round and which the lobby representatives try to prevent. This either succeeds or fails. Then the impact phase is triggered. If the common goal is not achieved, environmental damage is triggered. Either an animal species dies out, the global temperature rises or there is an increase in air pollution. 

If an impact reaches threatening proportions, the game ends immediately and the world climate conference is considered a failure. For the final score of the game, the achieved ones count Spielpunkte of each player. If the conference ends early, the country with the most points wins. The country with the second most points wins. Because the one with the highest number of points is most responsible for the environmental destruction.

Turn around even if it's difficult: The tier tokens have two sides. Photo: Volkmann

Turn around even if it's difficult: The tier tokens have two sides. Photo: Volkmann

Kyoto brings the topic to the table in an understandable way. Environmental damage is already clearly noticeable in our real world. But master this in a satirical way, making Kennerspiel a fun negotiation game that leaves room for strategic tweaks. All in all, Kyoto relies a lot on the actions and commitment of the players themselves: The board game provides a more regulated framework and accompanies the events with material components. Yes, everything follows a pattern, but how much fun it is depends largely on how deep the players are willing to delve into the setting. Anyone who doesn't like to discuss at the gaming table and can't focus on interactions will have far less fun with this climate board game than a player who is passionate about the topic and the thematic discussion with his fellow players. What Kyoto doesn't do is warn with a raised index finger: Although the basic topic of "climate protection" is always present, how players deal with it is up to them.  


Number of players: 3 to 6 players
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 30 to 60 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: medium

Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
Website: Link
Year of publication: 2020 
Author: Sabine Harrer, Andreas Krenner
Illustrations: Christian Opperer
Language: German
Cost: around 20 euros


Without paying too much attention to it, Kyoto offers an impetus to think about one's own environmental behavior. Well-known climatic sins such as factory farming, space travel and oil rigs can be found on the playing cards, but also those that are not always thought of, such as cosmetics, game consoles and 3D screens.

Kyoto offers space for strategic moves in a playful way. What counts here is negotiating skills and the weighing up of the relevance of achieving global climate protection goals and the blessing of money for one's own nation. On the one hand, the lobbyists have money, on the other hand, the goals of the World Climate Conference are literally crying out for support. In between we stand as players, and sometimes the decision to be made does not seem so easy within a short period of time. Kyoto also offers entertainment potential. Be it the ingratiation of the lobbies, like that of the big game hunters, which seem quite absurd, or the environmental damage itself, which has been taken from the middle of our daily life and affects every imaginable area. From golf courses to ice cream scales to butter. That is astonishing and amusing in a peculiar way. The rules of Kyoto are kept short, understandable overall and provided with a few examples, so that you can start playing the game quickly - albeit with a somewhat slow start; The playing cards contained are also clearly labeled and provided with symbols, which makes assignments easier. Younger players and casual gamers in particular benefit from this. Despite this, children of the recommended minimum age of ten years will need help with the negotiation phases and will not be able to fully understand the scope of their decisions.

The mixture of negotiating skills, strategic commitment, bribery and variable ending of the climate conference are fun and encourage further games of Kyoto. Kyoto is too simple for expert gamers. However, the game sees itself as a satirical board game and is particularly popular with frequent gamers. Adults in particular find its appeal in the biting humor that Kyoto aims to convey; younger players will hardly care about that. For them, the process may turn out to be too abstract.

Overall, however, Kyoto is an entertaining game on climate protection, with space for strategies for players who like to challenge each other and have fun with funny, political board and card games. Thanks to the varied studies, negotiations, decisions of the players and decision options, the fun of the climate game does not wear out so quickly. In conclusion, it can be said that the satirical environmental game Kyoto is a recommendable and fun board game for different types of players that does not let the laughing muscles wither - at least if you can get involved in the special, satirical humor of the game. 

Last updated on 8.02.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API