Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Whoever eats the most food wins

Evolution takes some of the basic elements of the ubiquitous resource management game and applies them to prehistoric evolution rather than the usual farming or civilization building. Players attempt to build up their species by giving them survival traits such as hard shells, long necks, or defensive herding, and also by increasing their size and population.

Cards representing these traits are the primary resource in the game. They can be played (in a limited number) on a player's species, or discarded to add to a species size or population. Each species is represented by a small board that tracks the species' size, population, and amount of food it's eaten that turn. A larger size protects the species from carnivores (but also provides more food for them), and a higher population eats more food, which is ultimately what wins the game.

In addition to evolutionary traits, each card is printed with a food value. At the start of each round, players secretly choose a card to play into the center of the table. The food values on those cards are added up, and the total is the amount of herbivorous food available for the turn. Players take turns taking food tokens from the center of the table until all their species are fed or the food runs out. Each species can eat food equal to their population, and if they don't get enough food, the population is reduced.

Among the trait cards players can assign to their species is carnivore, which allows that species to attack other animals (either the opponents' or, if necessary, the player's own) for food. Animals provide meat equal to their body size, and each carnivore attack reduces the population of the species being attacked.

The theme is interesting, and the cards and components are gorgeous, with great artwork and high production values. The animals pictured on the cards are often similar to those you might see on a trip to the zoo, but are unusual enough to evoke the idea of long-forgotten species at some ancient stage of evolution.

Rating: 3 (out of 5) The game play is a bit on the simple side, but the unusual theme and excellent presentation make up for it quite a bit.

Date played: November 22, 2014

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