Our friends over at North Star Games delivered our supply of Evolution, a board game about creature creation, survival and, obviously, evolution. When this arrived Chris Strecker, our man of technology at PHD, picked it up and quickly became excited to try it. A game he’d looked at, but not played, at GenCon 2014. I have to admit I wasn’t quite so excited, in fact I avoided answering his calls to play for a couple of days. In the end my need to understand games and explore Organized Play opportunities got the better of me, and I agreed to join him in a lunchtime session. I wasn’t prepared for my opinions to evolve quite as much as they would.
Let’s start with the “why did Ian avoid playing this game?” question. To be honest, subject matter. I was also a late adopter to the Jurassic Park films, so I’m guessing paleontology just wasn’t my thing… until now.
- Small woven cloth bags in which you keep your gathered resources secret from not just opponents but yourself as well. That’s kind of fun… do I have 10 or 12?
- Wooden blocks for tracking size and population size on your species trackers
- Really nice wood-effect species tracking boards. These are so cool I actually thought they were wood.
- Circular double-sided resource chits with plant food on one side and meat on the other.
- The cards, which are all traits for your evolving species, are simple, clear and functional.
Here I was, after set up and rules explanation, realizing that I had completely judged a book by its jacket. This game had a horde of fun elements and possibilities. As I stared at my opening hand I realised that this wasn’t a simple game at all. Cards were not just for giving my creatures traits and trusting lady luck that I’d draw the killer combination, but also for resource creation and creature evolution. That meant I had to quickly look for combinations of traits to not only make my species effective at gathering resources and defending against carnivores but also when was the optimal time to evolve one of my herbivores into a carnivore. Yes a species in play can evolve it’s tastes from broccoli to raw meat and vice versa. What cards I should discard to increase my species size or population. When to discard a card to create a new species… agghhh… I don’t have enough cards and I need to do all of this!!!!
Choices and decisions are huge and resources limited, creating a planning element that you hope other players aren’t going to kill with a timely created carnivore or grabbing all the resources you need ahead of you.
I mentioned size and population above. These affect the possibility of a species going extinct quickly (population size) and if a carnivore can attack you (size) as carnivores can only attack creatures they’re bigger than
How do you win?
Very simply… gather the most resources in your little bag, by the time the last trait cards are pulled. Since the amount of cards pulled each turn increase as more species come into play. There are sometimes tactics in creating large, high population species over a lot of smaller, less numerous species. That slows the card pulling slightly. Particularly if you think you’re slightly behind.
My final thoughts
Have we played again? Yes. Am I still equally excited? Yes and I’d play right now. The replay-ability of this game is enormous. It’s a deck building, fighting, resource gathering, placement game. For those as old as me, it’s very reminiscent of Quirks originally published by Tsukuda Hobby and later Games Workshop, Sunset Games and EON.
Would I buy this?
Definitely and have. It’s a gem of a game, with countless hours of fun and tactical evolution as you fight to be the dominant species.
- 129 Trait Cards (17 Carnivore Trait Cards, 7 of each other Trait Cards)
- 24 Species Boards
- 48 Wooden Markers
- 180 Food Tokens
- 1 Watering Hole Board
- 6 Food Token Bags
- 1 First Player Marker (a huge brontosaurus)
- 6 Player Aids
- 1 Rulebook
Number of Players: 2-6
Play Time: 60 minutes