Evolution isn’t exactly a recent game to bring to the review panel, but it’s getting more buzz lately because of the current Kickstarter running for the Climate standalone expansion. It wasn’t on my radar to try as it was practically unheard of for a while in its first edition and I knew no-one who owned it.
The premise sounded promising, being able to develop species in a variety of ways with the use of a mix of trait cards. OK, fair enough that’s a good start, potential here for a thematic experience. Although my first knowledge of North Star Games is their popular party games Say Anything and Wits & Wagers, both of which are fine, but not on my shelf in favour of ones I prefer.
With that in mind, this seems a little out of their comfort zone, but hey I’m all up for diversification. Opening up the box however revealed a lot of boards used to track statistics by way of cubes. Uh oh, I’ve seen these before. Pandemic Contagion and Progress: Evolution of Technology, both of which were disappointments for me. Is this going to be a similar engine building game with a similar sandpaper-like theme?
There no other way for the whale to land
Our earlier plans had been so sadly upset that we now found ourselves without food or drink, and I alone was armed. We therefore urged our beasts to a speed that must tell on them sorely before we could hope to sight the ending of the first stage of our journey.
Another reason which Sag-Harbor (he went by that name) urged for his want of faith in this matter of the prophet, was something obscurely in reference to his incarcerated body and the whale’s gastric juices.
But this objection likewise falls to the ground, because a German exegetist supposes that Jonah must have taken refuge in the floating body of a dead whale.
Nor have there been wanting learned exegetists who have opined that the whale mentioned in the book of Jonah merely meant a life-preserver—an inflated bag of wind—which the endangered prophet swam to, and so was saved from a watery doom. Poor Sag-Harbor, therefore, seems worsted all round. But he had still another reason for his want of faith.
- Designer: Dominic Crapuchettes
- Publisher: North Star Games
- Age: 10+
- Players: 2-6
- Time: 60-90 Minutes
- RRP: £29.99
Survival Of The Fittest
In Evolution players adapt their species in a dynamic ecosystem where food is scarce and predators lurk. You play trait cards on your species such as Hard Shell, Symbiosis and Scavenger to develop them and allow them to survive and grow either against food shortages or other carnivores. The population and body size of each individual species is tracked on a small board much in the same fashion as Pandemic Contagion.
Players have a choice of whether to opt for an aggressive take and build up dangerous predators or to rely more on survival and defense and take a vegetarian approach. Food available will chop and change based on which cards players discard at the start of each round. If you cannot adequate feed your species at the end of a round after playing cards whether by meat or vegetable means, they will slowly die off making them worth less points at the end. Any food eaten by your species is placed into a bag in secret which makes up the bulk of your victory points at the end.
Once the game ends, players will total up the total population, size and number of traits on their respective species as well as all the food in their bags, the winner of course is who has the most.
Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better!
The component quality overall is fairly decent, but we’re not talking anything spectacular here. You get a ridiculously oversized start player marker, a ton of cube tracking boards, some food tokens of varying types (even though it makes zero difference in-game which ones you collect) and cards with fairly decent artwork, though it’s not for everyone. A board for the watering hole is also provided, although again it seems a little overkill because all it does is house the location for the food tokens. All in all though it’s good enough to justify the cost and you’ll never be short of a species board. There are some neat touches though like the player boards being double sided and able to be used horizontally or vertically. That’s clever thinking, though why the bags? They look great, but I feel there is little point in having the food tokens hidden from view, it’s pretty easy to tell who’s in the lead so just have them out on the board, save a few quid and do without the bags.