Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-6
Amount of time to play: 60 min
Age requirements: 10+
Set-up time: minimal
Evolution is a game of survival of the fittest. You evolve your species to help them eat, breed and defend themselves.
Each round of Evolution you create new species or add traits to your existing ones. Then you need to feed them from a common watering hole. The food they eat is kept each round hidden and tallied at the end of the game to determine the winner.
Traits help define your species and help them get food or defend themselves. There are 17 different traits. One in particular that changes things a bit is the carnivore trait. Once a species is a carnivore it can no longer eat plant food from the watering hole. But it can eat other species. If a carnivore has a body size greater than another species it gains food equal to the prey’s body size. And the prey’s population goes drops by one.
You start the game with one species. It has no traits and a population and body size of one. Each turn you get three cards plus the number of species you have.
Each play must then use one card to determine the amount of food in the watering hole. There is a number in the lower right corner of each card. It might be as high as 9 or as low as -3. Later all these will be added together to determine how much food to add to the watering hole.
Now, in player order, you may play a card for its trait on a species or discard a card to increase a species’ population or body size. You can only have up to three traits and cannot have the same trait twice on one species.
Next the cards on the watering hole are revealed and the sum of the cards in plant food is added to the watering hole. Some special abilities trigger at this time like long neck and fertile.
Again in player turn order, you feed your species one at a time. If your species is not a carnivore you take one plant food from the watering hole (unless you have an ability that lets you take more). If you have a carnivore it may attack another species (including one of yours) as I mentioned above. A species can only gain as much food as its population. This continues going around until all species are fed or the watering hole is empty. If a species did not eat food equal to its population set its new population to the amount of food it ate. Then you place the food tokens all your species ate in your bag.
If a species population ever reaches 0 it is extinct. If it was attack by a carnivore the attacked player instantly gets a number of cards equal to the number of traits the extinct animal had. If you end a round with no species in play you automatically get a new one at the start of the next turn.
You keep taking turns passing the first player marker in clockwise order until you draw the last card in the deck at the beginning of the round. You shuffle and give each player their cards for the round. Once you finish out the round players add the number of food tokens they have, the total population of all their species and the total number of traits on all their species. The player with the most VPs wins.
Evolution is an update to the previously released Evolution: Origin of a Species. The original was a card game and the update has definitely made it a better game.
The art work for this game is great. The cards look great and of a good quality stock. The rules are well written and fairly straightforward. I do have one is sue with the components though. The watering hole artwork is too similar to the plant food tokens. This can make seeing them hard. I believe this will be fixed in a future printing with new lighter toned artwork for the updated watering hole.
I like the improvements over the original card game. Population and body size are well implemented and make sense thematically. Using cards as a resource to grow or improve a species and end the game makes for some interesting decisions too.
This game is easy to teach and learn. Non-gamers can learn and enjoy this game in minutes. And it plays pretty quickly especially if everyone develops their species at the same time. This does take some strategy away from the game but moves things along quicker.
The interaction of the different traits is cool and with so many combinations each game is always different. You also get to make some funky imaginary animals. And envisioning your creations is part of the fun.
Some players in my group were frustrated by the randomness of the card draw. They felt drawing better traits really helped players get ahead. I am not sure the cards are too unbalanced cards but there are some that are less useful or only useful in specific game situations. Others did not like the “take that” aspect of the game while others loved it. I don’t think either of these are a big deal but are both things to be aware of. Different groups will feel differently about them depending on what they like or dislike in games.
Evolution is a light to medium weight board game about survival. It is easy to teach and fun to play. Just make sure your group is ok with some randomness and “take that” in their games.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 4 out of 6
Luck 5 out of 6
Player Interaction 5 out of 6
Replay Value 6 out of 6
Complexity 3 out of 6
Fun 4 out of 6
Overall 4 out of 6