Game Length: 60 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 4-6 players who want a light game of competing over limited resources
Evolution is a light, card-driven game with direct conflict elements that sees players responsible for managing a number of prehistoric species competing for a common supply of food – which may end up being each other! Each player will be trying to maintain a number of different species, while making sure that they don’t starve or get eaten, and using combinations of cards that give their species special traits to give them the tools they need to survive, whether that is by hiding or pursuing others. The winner of the game will be the player who has the most victory points, which is largely determined by how much food your species have eaten over the course of the game.
At the heart of Evolution is the deck of trait cards. These cards provide powerful abilities, and each species may have up to three trait cards played on them. Players start with one species in play, but can gain more by spending trait cards – they will get to draw more cards on future turns the more species they have in play, but will likely need to use these trait cards to defend them, lest they become easy prey for opponents’ carnivores.
Trait cards can also be spent to increase population or physical size of a species – carnivores can only attack a smaller target. By setting up combinations of cards that synergise between your species, you can protect them, allow them to gain additional food, give them more offensive or defensive power, and more. You will be constantly tweaking your creatures’ capabilities, trying to get enough food to maintain your species without falling afoul of predators or food shortages, while putting the pressure on your opponents and staying competitive in the food stakes.
At the start of the game, players won’t be treading on each others’ toes too much – they’ll have only a handful of creatures to feed and there should be plenty of food in the opening turns. This changes quickly, however, and if you boosted your species’ population to capture additional food, you could quickly start to regret it as their numbers are cut back down due to starvation.
Evolution does feature direct player conflict, which can be unappealing to some players. Some combinations of trait cards can be very difficult to beat and other players may need to team up against a well-established player in order to prevent them from taking victory. However, the game is short enough that this isn’t too big a complaint – usually the game will nearly be over by the stage that one player becomes dominant.
Evolution is easy to learn and makes a good, light game of competing over limited resources. There’s a lot of satisfying strategy to building up combinations between your species and trait cards, and working out what strategy will be suitable for the game situation. It scales up to 6 players well, and is recommended if you are looking for a less complex strategy game with broad appeal.