Evolution – Viva la (R)Evolution
Slowly the head of the long-necked creature sinks towards the waterhole. A few water lilies form the meal for this strange creature, which lives well camouflaged in the tree tops. The slow carnivores are not well equipped to hunt the long-necked creature. So it is only a matter of time before evolution will make the carnivores disappear. In our review we briefly introduce the card game Evolution with its card diversity to you.
No space for dinosaurs
The bottom line is that Evolution is just a card game. It is quickly explained: You draw cards, play these cards and collect food. At the end of the game the food is worth victory points. Done! The interesting thing about this game is that you use your cards to create your own creatures and to give them evolutionary advantages.
You can also discard cards to create a new species. This species can then fill a gap in the ecosystem that your opponent has not considered.
Each round you will be busy optimizing your creatures or adapting them to the ecosystem that is populated by the other players’ species. This is because your opponents are also pushing the Evolution of their species in order to survive.
Making one species extinct to make room for a new one is a common tactic. When the first carnivores appear, you must also adapt your species evolutionarily to avoid being eaten. There are many possibilities. Species may grow faster than the predators, or you may use a feature such as climbing to keep your species safe from the predators.
But already in the next round, it can happen that the predators can climb as well, and there it goes away your evolutionary advantage.
Evolution requires you to ask yourself every round again how you can get more food from the waterhole. Does your opponent perhaps have a weakness that you can exploit? To question everything over and over again and to break up solid structures, that is evolutionary playing.
Cards are the cornerstone of Evolution. They describe traits of the species and can be as simple as horns or a thick shell. Such features make it more difficult for predators to hunt for prey. But they can also be characteristics with synergetic effects. Why not create a scavenger that gets food when some predator eats. Or you could create a chain of cooperation: as soon as one species eats, all the others get something to eat as well. Making your species a predator is also the trait of a card.
In the basic game, there are 15 different traits that you can apply to your species in any combination. Each animal is assigned up to three traits. In the game with three or more players there are 4080 combinations. In a two-player game, you can only assign two cards at a time, so there are only 220 possible combinations.
Each card has not only one trait, but also a food value. At the beginning of each round each player plays one card face down into the waterhole. The sum of all food values determines the amount of food that is added to the food supply in the waterhole during the round. The result can be either positive or negative. You can also use this method to scarce food to cause a starvation. If a species does not get food, it will die out – preferably on the opponent.
What I like most about the cards are the beautiful graphics. Most of them are illustrations by Catherine Hamilton. Her style offers a high recognition value in the card game area.
Evolution is the perfect game for people who always want to adapt to new situations. The rules of the game are quite simple and quickly explained. The game theme of Evolution is also very fascinating for me.
Already back in 2014 I was able to play Evolution: The Origin of Species and was enthusiastic about the topic. However, the game did not feel round yet. North Star Games were also enthusiastic about the game, but it still needed an evolution of the game rules and game material to create a really good game.
Unfortunately, evolution hasn’t felt like a big fan base in Germany – here it was published by Schmidt Spiele. Maybe it is because of the variety of traits and their possible combinations. With us in the player round, the new player is scared off at first. In between they look very often at the explanations of the cards. As a result, the downtime between the players’ individual moves can sometimes be agonizingly long. Furthermore, the beautiful packaging can be very misleading. Because of the beautiful and graphic implementation with pastel watercolours you might expect an easier game. But the fight for survival is a tough strategy game.
If you are interested in Evolution, you can also choose a simplified version. North Star Games has streamlined a few rules and made the game a bit faster. Evolution: The Beginning is the name of this version.
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