Evolution from North Star Games is one of the most well-designed board games on the market. It feels more like a game system than a collection of game mechanics. The gameplay is smooth, intuitive, easy to learn and keeps up to six players constantly engaged for about an hour.
The goal of the game is survival, and the theme consists of cool dinosaur species.
In Evolution, players develop dinosaur species in body size and population applying unique traits to customize the group so it can survive in a world of limited resources and terrifying carnivores.
The core strategy of the game relies heavily on adaptation to the world that is constantly changing. If the population of a species ever drops below one, the species is wiped out.
The power of a developing species lies in the 129 trait cards that come with the game. Each species can support three traits, so the combinations are nearly endless. Should a player apply a climbing trait to escape predators? How about a long neck to reach food other species cannot? Or should a player dive into the world of the meat-eaters and build a carnivorous species? So many delectable choices.
Gameplay is simple but satisfying. Players draw trait cards each turn and choose one to convert to food by adding it to the communal watering hole. Food is crucial for survival. Players then play cards to create new species, increase the body or population size of a species or add new traits to a species.
Next, the food is calculated at the watering hole, and the starting player starts to feed. Plant-eaters eat at the watering hole and carnivores eat other dinosaur species. Once feeding is complete, food is converted into scoring points and a new round begins. Species not fed or fully fed by food are decreased in power or destroyed. Additional rounds repeat the same actions and when the trait cards run out, the game ends.
The components in Evolution are top notch with beautiful artwork, durable components and practical design. This second edition of the game has more dramatic artwork and better card interaction due to some tweaks in the trait cards. A new Flight expansion in the works will add more trait cards and new options.
Overall, this is a great game that uses the dinosaur theme well and offers tons of strategy options for gamers or families who enjoy some competition. But, there should be no crying if a species gets eaten.