Review – Evolution: The Origin of Species from RightGames
Designer – Dmitry Knoore, Sergey Machin
Art – Dmitry Knorre
The third of four games that I have received from Rightgames is Evolution – The Origin of Species, a card based game for 2-4 players ages 12+.
Another relatively simple game with rules limited to both sides of an A4 page, this is an interesting which ultimately about survival of the fittest. The players basically put together sets of cards for different animals where you can grow your population based upon availability of food, adding useful traits and seeking to prevent your opponents from growing their population by using the carnivorous trait. The winner will have collected the highest point score from the card combinations they create.
The quality of the cards is the same as the other games from RightGames and you also get 2 dice and colored plastic tokens which represent food, extra food and fat. The tokens are sturdy if a little small but they do the job.
I found the rules pretty straightforward and clear. The game turn process moves along nicely with little down time between turns. There are 4 phases –
Development – Through a number of rounds, you can play animal or trait cards (placed under the animal cards) – some cards give you a choice of trait options which adds more options to how you play them. Other cards can only be played on a pair of animals to be effective. This phase when all players pass consecutively due to not having any cards to play or none that can be played.
Food Bank determination – the amount of food available in the food bank is determined through a dice roll
Feeding – players take and place red food tokens on their animals – additional traits allow you to take blue “extra food” tokens. The tokens are placed on animals to ensure they are fed. You can also use food tokens to build up Fat storage for survival.
Extinction and draw – All animals not fully fed are extinct and discarded. New cards are dealt based on the number of surviving animals each player has left.
End of game – Once the deck has been gone through, the last turn begins and and after the last phase, victory points are totaled based on surviving animals and various traits.
Again, the process all works well with little muss or fuss.
Did it work for me?
The system works well and plays pretty quickly. The cards are clear, nicely laid out and look good. Of course, your strategy is subject to the luck of the draw as in all card games but the key is how you choose to use your cards. And that’s where the fun is. Choosing how and when to play your trait cards is interesting but not too thinky.
Rather than just leave you with a set-collecting game, the carnivorous trait brings in a strong “take that” element which keeps things interesting and challenging as while you are trying to build up strong animals for the most points, you will be attacked and need to attack your opponents to keep them in check. Cut and thrust as it were. Makes for a mean game I guess but with the right crowd, it will be fun. And playing until the end of the deck means there is a finite limit which is a good thing.
Overall, this is a nice, fun game and another nice filler between meatier games. One note though, if you are looking for a game which helps you understand the science of evolution, look elsewhere as the treatment of evolution is pretty generic without specific animals, traits etc. But it does emphasize the principle of survival of the fittest.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6.5 out of 10
I think that this should actually be understandable for age 10+ if you removed the carnivorous cards and just played it as a set-collector so families could have a good time with it.
For more information go to – www.russianboardgames.com