When looking for game to feature here on Hidden Gems, I try to find games that don't get the coverage I feel they deserve. Perhaps it's because they've flown under the radar, or in cases such as today, the theme may not hit the right notes with wider audiences. Cytosis: A Cell Biology Board Game from designer John Coveyou is a worker placement game that takes place within a human cell and it is excellent! The game is based on real world biology and was collaborated on by 20 PhDs and Doctors around the world. The result is a colourful, wonderfully produced and genuinely fun work placement game.
Players take turns placing their workers, represented here by beakers, on spaces around the board to collect resources. These resources are then processed through biological stages to change into chemicals the body needs to grow or remain healthy. Players collect health points by completing different sequences and at the end of the game the player with the highest health wins.
Component wise, this game looks amazing. The colours are striking and the wooden player pieces utilise different colours than the rest of the components in the game, allowing them to stand out and be identified on the board at a glance. First and foremost, the game is based soundly in science, making it educational as well as a great way to pass the time. That being said, there is a lot of complicated terminology at play here, but I feel its little different to learning names or places in other unfamiliar settings. After a couple of play throughs you'll be using words like Ribonucleic Acid and Plasma Membrane Exocytosis as second nature.
Cytosis is an ambitious and brave project which has clearly been designed with a deep love and understanding of the subject and a desire to share knowledge and educate others. It's rare that a deeply educational game using the correct scientific terminology also results in a legitimately engaging game. Cytosis is now in its second edition and, like the biological processes it presents, has resulted in a more efficient, and refined version of itself. I look forward to more games in this vein, as anything that can educate and entertain in the same breath is gold!