Review: Evolution – Origin of Species – genesis in cards

Evolution: Origin of Species - packaging

Lizards are the cornerstone of evolution. Would you like to make them into bloodthirsty predators? No problem. Just add a little height and teeth and you are done. Their speed is great and only a few prey can outrun them. Or would you prefer them to be sea creatures? Please. Only add the gills and that’s it.

Lizards are the foundation of everything. Even your desk can be made of them. Your mouse takes the form of lizards and maybe even mobile phone. Everything has its origin in lizard form. You do not believe? Well, you are absolutely right..

You must not take us quite seriously. Although the lizard creatures are nice, the main reason, why we are talking about them today, is a new evolutionary card game from russian publisher RightGames. Game created already in by and , but unfortunately only few know about it till now. And this review is intended to change it.

Evolution: Origin of Species - game is ready

is essentially a card game, which is located in a box with a lizard image. The interesting thing about the package itself is mainly, that the box is bulit-up differently, than other games we know – it is like a slide-out drawer with all pieces inside. It looks really nice and it’s simple. You will not succeed in ejecting the inner part, so it is not difficult to get the contents back.

And you can not expect much of anything other than cards inside. And it is really so. In box, there are 84 cards hidden and all have picture of lizard on their back side. This is the animal, which will really guide you through the entire game, because the cards can be played on the table with both sides up. On top of it, you will find one or two skills on the other side of the card. You can add them to your little animals and make them evolve into something with more chance of survival. If the card has two abilities, you can play them either side up.

But because this is an evolution game, you have to have food for your animals and take care of them. And yes, there is a bag with food and two dice in the box. Both of them will serve to watch available food. Dice will determines, how many food is available for this round and a small square tokens can then be accordingly distributed. The little tokens have several colors depending on the type – red for herbivorous, carnivorous are blue and yellow is fat.

Evolution: Origin of Species - game in progress

At the beginning of the match, you should thoroughly mix the whole deck and deal six cards to each player. You put the remainder of cards into the center of the table as a drawing deck. Likewise, food tokens will creates a reserve for the next round and both six-sided dice will be just laying there, for now.

During the game, players take care of their animals, breed them, and especially have to take care of their stomach. It should be full and the animals should not suffer from hunger. Once the drawing deck is empty, you have reached end of the game. Players then gain points for all of their surviving animals and their abilities.

The round consists of four phases, which players gradually play through. The whole game and also each new round starts with a development phase, that is most important for the entire game. Players will alternate in playing cards from their hand and create their animals or improve their various skills. Each card can be played in two ways. If you play it with a picture of an animal (lizard) up, you have just breeded youself a new creature.

Evolution: Origin of Species - cards

The opposite side of the card contains abilities, that you may gradually give to your animals, thus improving their chances for survival. There is a lot of card types in the package and each of them gives other capabilities to your animals. It is especially important to watch your opponent creatures and respond to their evolution.

After playing of cards, the round continues with throw of two dice to determine the availability of food in this round. According to the number of players, you will throw one or two dice and determine how many food tokens will be available in the pot for this round. Players will now begin to take food tokens one after another and place food on their animals to satisfy their needs.

Every creature in the game has a basic need of one meal per round. But moreover, you can also have a great body mass or parasite, which will increase your consumption. In this case, you need to get more tiles for your animal.

Evolution: Origin of Species - game in progress

Then there are ways to bring food from one round to another. This option comes with a fat tissue card, which has an important place in the game. With animals, which have higher food consumption, it is good to insure the next round with one yellow square, that can be placed on the fat tissue card.

Players can also attack each other. If your pet is a carnivore, then you can attack the opponent’s creature. This can only help, if it does not have some ability to protect it against predator – it can be able to hide or is really quick and will run away the enemy. Predator gets two blue food tokens for each animal killed, and they can be used for feeding in this round instead of the regular red ones. But only if you were able to catch something.

At the end of each round, all animals with insufficient food to meet their needs, will die . They leave the game and you put them into discard pile. Animal goes ther, of course, with all of its ability cards as well.

Evolution: Origin of Species - cards

An important moment comes up in the very end of each round. Players draw cards from the common deck. Each of them will get as many cards as he has surviving animals, plus one. This means that more animals will survive, the better positioned you are for the next round. And the more you will run your foes ahead. This creates interesting feeling of evolution. But also creates a runaway problem, where players with less creatures have hardly chance to catch up on you.

Once a deck of cards runs out, final round of match starts. At the end of the extinction phase, the players count their victory points for the first and only time in the game. You will get two points for each of your surviving animals and one point for each ability card they have on them. In addition, you can also get bonus points for ability cards with +number written next to their ability. Player, who gathered most points is declared the winner.

Evolution: Origin of Species is surprisingly interesting card game, which tries to simulate evolution. Of course it is done in a much simpler way, than Dominant Species (review available only in Czech) or Bios: Megafauna (review). But first of these two aforementioned games has now reached also its card version from publisher and we hope to have a chance to compare it with this one, once we get it for review.

Evolution: Origin of Species - game in progress

We like several things about this game. The top one is a possibility of playing cards with both sides up. If you find ability not suitable for you, you can use the card for birth of a new animal. Although there is a risk, that this newborn will happen to be easy prey for carnivores at the end of the round, unless you add some special abilities to it.

Players can attack and challenge each other with carnivores, but also attach parasites to opponent’s cards. These increase food demand for these creatures by two. However, if your monster manages to survive until the very end, you will get more points for it. So be careful, who you parasite on! Creatures in this game can also communicate with each other and gain food tokens more quickly.

Random number for the number of food tokens available for a round, along with random drawing of cards, might give you the impression, that this game is too random. Fortunately, cards are often equipped with two skills to choose from. That means, that you can play some of them in three ways, which greatly reduces the effect of luck in the whole game.

Evolution: Origin of Species - cards

And dice? Their presence here is a logical and clear. Each round will be different, because number of food for your creatures will be different. Sometimes you will have to fight to survive, while another year you will cherish from plenty of food for everybody. And why not? It is the same in nature. There, you also cannot be sure, that you have enough food to survive another day.

The game has nice and simple illustrations and you can easily see, that the creators have tryied to get the best card layout possible. It is apparent also with rules, which are clear and you will easily learn to play the game from one read. There is even an illustrated example of first two rounds of play.

Even though the game contains lots of player interaction and attacking, the game is still suitable for those, who like simple card game. Even for families.

Evolution: Origin of Species - box

Unfortunately, the game has several minor bugs, which can ruin your day. First of all, it may easily happen to you, that you lose most of your animals. That is not difficult and will be just right, because you can be in last place in a match, where there is shortage of food. This will make your animals go extinct. But because you draw card according to number of animals alive on your side of the table, you will have a hard time to catch up with your rivals. And it will not be your fault to lose then.

The other shortcoming is, that you care for your animals from turn one. But these first ones have small chance to survive until the end and provide you with victory points. This actually makes the first half of the game lose its sense, because score is counted only in the very end. It would not be a bad idea, to mix some scoring cards into the deck or name rounds, after which would scoring happen.

Despite the aforementioned shortcomings, Evolution: Origin of Species is really a nice card game, which offers a pleasant and simple fun. At the same time, it also brings a hard and uncompromising battle between players in the world of animal evolution. So if you like card games and the evolution topic, then this new combination is very suitable for you. Just watch out for the scoring.

DesignerDmitry Knorre, Sergey Machin
ArtistDmitry Knorre
PublisherRightgames RBG SIA, G3, More Fun Co., Ltd., RBG, Stolitsa Design Group, TWOPLUS Games, ТРЕТЯ ПЛАНЕТА
Year Published2010
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4+ players
Recommended with 2, 3, 4 players
(42 voters)
Playing Time60
Mfg Suggested Ages12 and up
User Suggested Ages10 and up
(28 voters)
Language DependenceModerate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
(23 voters)
CategoryAnimals, Card Game, Dice
MechanicDice Rolling, Hand Management
ExpansionEvolution: Continents, Evolution: Herbs and Mushrooms, Evolution: Plantarum, Evolution: Time to Fly, Evolution: Variation Mini-Expansion, Ewolucja: Pochodzenie gatunków – Rozszerzenie
FamilyTheme: Biology, Theme: Evolution
Primary NameEvolution: The Origin of Species
Alternate NamesEvoluce: O původu druhů, Ewolucja: Pochodzenie gatunków, Еволюція, Эволюция, 演化論: 物種起源, 进化:物种起源

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Evolution – Origin of Species – genesis in cards
Final word
Evolution: Origin of Species is an interesting russian card game. Its task is to introduce battle of evolution between animals to all players. You will determine, which specialization will your creatures have. You see their birth, you see them die. Nature is such. But here the players are predators, which attack other flocks. You have to run away from carnivores. Card game is made of playing cards as usual, but you also have to feed your pets at the end of each turn. Only then can they survive. But nature gives only what it has, depending on dice roll. But you can supress the chance by making supplies in fat tissue or gain more food by communicating with each other. Unfortunately game has only one scoring round at the end of whole game. And this can ruin your experience, because many of your beloved creatures will not make it there and will come in vain. And it does not have to be your fault. Lack of food is common there. Even the best player can lose this way. Fortunately it can be easily corrected with a simple additional rule. Except this little problem and card draw depending on luck, Evolution is really a nice card game, which deserves attention.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
simple and elegant card game
evolution in cards
food tokens
strategic options
interesting box
many card types
food quantity is decided by dice
Cons
luck
scoring only in the end
3
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