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Board Game Review – Evolution: The Origin of Species

2012 May 20

Review copy kindly provided by RightGames LLC.

Evolution: The Origin of Species by RightGames, LLC.

Evolution: The Origin of Species
Evolution: The Origin of Species

Designer: Sergey Machin and Dmitry Knorre

Number of players: 4

Age: 12+

Time: 30 minutes

What’s the game about?

A description from the publisher…

In Evolution: The Origin of Species, players do the work of nature, putting animals into play and evolving them trait by trait to help them survive and thrive. Each player starts with a hand of six cards that feature an animal on the back and one or two traits on the front.

Each round consists of four phases. During Development, players take turns playing one card from their hand either as an animal (face-down) or as a trait on one of their existing animals (face-up and tucked under the animal). Traits include Carnivorous, Camouflage, Sharp Vision, Swimming, Poisonous and Communication; if a card has two traits, the player chooses which trait the animal acquires, hiding the other trait under the animal. Once a player passes during this phase, he can no longer play cards.

During Food Bank Determination, a player rolls 1-2 dice (possibly adding two to the total) to determine the amount of food available for the round.

During Feeding, players take turns acquiring one food cube and “feeding” one of their animals. Some traits give animals special abilities that can be used during Feeding or at other points during the game. Animals can also be carnivorous, allowing them to attack one other animal to feed – although that animal might have a defense like High Body Weight or Tail Loss that allows it to survive. An animal can’t take more food than it needs unless it has fat tissue, which allows it to store food for future rounds.

During Extinction and Draw, any animal not fully fed dies; the owner takes that animal and all traits and stacks them in his personal discard pile. Each player then receives new cards in hand equal to one plus the number of live animals that player has.

When the deck runs out, the players conduct one final round, then score points. Each live animal is worth 2 VP, and each trait on a live animal worth 1 VP; some traits (Carnivorous and Parasite) provide bonus VPs, but make it tougher to keep an animal alive. The player with the most VPs wins.

By combining two sets of Evolution, you can have up to eight players in a game.

Basic idea in my own words…

In Evolution: the Origin of Species you are trying to build up your kingdom of  species by playing them as cards in your tableu. The game ends when the draw deck runs out. The point of the game is to be able to balance having species out on the table for points, and being able to play other traits on them for more points, and being able to feed them so they’ll survive, hence, you getting points. the game has a neat balance of strategy here. (please note, for this review, I use the term animal and species interchangeably)

How do you play…

Evolution: the Origin of Species - Russian Edition
Evolution: the Origin of Species – Russian Edition

The game starts off by dealing each player 6 cards off the top of the draw deck. A game turn is split into 4 phases.

    1. development phase – in this first phase you have the opportunity to play as many cards from your hand as you can. This is either playing a new species or adding a trait to an existing species. I you want to create a new species, you just lay down a card, face down, and what’s on the other side of the card won’t matter. If you want to start giving the species traits, you cascade cards from a species, face up. The cards used as traits are the bulk of the game in my opinion. This is where you decide what the trait of species are, how much food or fat tissue it can receive, if it will be an attacking species or not, etc.
    2. food bank determination phase– during this phase, depending on the number of players and a dice roll, that many red food bits will come out, or as I like to refer to them as, chiclets.
    3. feeding phase – The number of food bits will go to all the players species, that need it, starting with the first player and going in player order. So there’s a little tension and nervousness there. You don’t want to be at the tail end of receiving food or you may not even get any, resulting in your species dying and you won’t be getting points! So there’s a point of balance here, sure, you want to bring out a bunch of species, but will you be able to feed them all, and the more species you have out, the greater target you will be to your opponents.
    4. extinction and draw phase – During this phase, any species that that can’t feed fully, get discarded, along with their traits, into your own discard pile. New cards are dealt to players. You will receive 1 + the number of surving species you have out. After all cards have been dealt, all left over food is returned back to the general supply and food is removed off of your species and the game starts over clockwise with a new starting player.

So that’s a real basic overview of this light game. To give you a summary of some of the traits…

  • carnivorous – must eat other species during the feeding phase. You don’t take a standard food token for this species. To me, this seems to be the most basic and common attacking species.
  • Fat Tissue – by adding this trait, you can give your specie an extra food supply of sorts, to use at feeding when you need it.
  • Pair – You may also lay down a card between two species to pair them. They share
  • Swimming – This species can only be attacked by an animal that also is swimming and carnivorous trait.
  • Burrowing – Can’t be attacked by a carneverous while it is completely fed.
That is an example of some of the traits available in the game. There are many more, and that’s what really makes this game interesting.
Evolution: The Origin of Species

Evolution: The Origin of Species


Components: 1/5

Similar to The Enigma of Leonardo, Evolution: The Origin of Species came in the same type of box, which I’m not a fan of, but, again, that doesn’t matter! This was a fun game! The cards are decent stock, the dice are nothing special, the rulebook is nice with plenty of examples.

Theme: 1/5

The theme I don’t care for at all. I don’t really care for any animal or species that’s not a dog and to care about playing a game with slithery geckos or snake type creatures wouldn’t excite me.

Luck Factor: 3/5

There’s certainly luck, depending on what cards are drawn, but there’s defnintily a lot of strategy in this game.

Strategy: 2/5

You must really balance out how many animals to bring out,  can you successfully feed them, can you fend off attacks, can you be successful on the offensive, etc.

Overall Feelings: 2.5/5

This game is a filler that can be enjoyed by most. While many people may not care for the theme, I would recommend giving it a try, especially if you’re looking for a filler game.

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