A strange thing happened the first time I read the rules for Evolution…. I understood them. This was novel. It’s usually takes a good half dozen (or dozen) Reads to get me in that zone.
Evolution has got a really elegant set of rules. When you read them they all solidly clack into place. You would really need to go out of your way to get them wrong.
The theme of the game is lovely. You and up to five opponents create all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures and try to secure the most food and thereby score before the others do.
Everyone starts with one tiddler of a creature and a hand of attribute cards. Your creatures have two attributes, size and population. Your creature starts size one and population one and by burning cards you can increase either of these stats or bring in more creatures to play.
Your cards have a second way cooler ability adding up to a max of three attributes to your little creations. There’s around twenty attributes a key one being carnivore.
Creatures start as plant eaters and have to share or more accurately try and grab before everyone else, food from the central pile that you secretly contributed to at the start of the round. Certain attributes like foraging and long neck allow you to grab some of it before the others. If there isn’t enough food to feed your creatures it will cause their population to drop. If you don’t get to feed them at all in a round they go extinct. Sad face.
Now for the good bit. One of the possible attributes is carnivore and if you make one of your lads a meat eater it can attack other people’s creatures gaining you food/points and reducing your opponents population. Win win. Other attributes like hard shell, horns, climbing and so on make it harder to be eaten. Yet other attributes allow your creatures to work together as a group and provide various offensive, food and defensive bonuses.
There’s a nice line in bluffing and out thinking your opponents here. When it’s a larger group of players it becomes a bit more chaotic. I love that there’s no one route to victory and plans have to be revised on the fly. A big carnivore can be brought low by lack of food. Likewise a big population of small long necked foragers can Hoover up all the plant food before anyone else gets a look in and thrive. At least for a while.
Production values are excellent. The pieces are solid and the artwork excellent. It’s very shiny and polished. I particularly liked the loot bags and player cheat sheets.
Kids are going to love this as much as adults. The theme is so strong. All in all I’m delighted with it and want to play more. Not sure I’ll race out and buy the expansion for it. There’s a lot of play in the base game and I like that