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Evolution: Climate Review


What does this rating mean?

Posted by Michael on Mar 21, 2017

Before we get into Dominic Crapuchette's Evolution: Climate, let's look back on my Review Corner review of its predecessor, Evolution:

This is actually a subtly intricate, smartly designed game that richly conveys specific biological themes. Evolution is very much about how different types of animals impact each other in a biosphere. Playing this game leads to “aha” moments when you see how a very large, apex predator type animal weeds out the smaller, weaker animals and leads to other animals developing defenses and getting bigger. There are specific traits that generate symbiotic relationships between your species for protection and food-gathering. When there isn’t enough food to go around, animals tend to be in smaller population groups. Especially thriving animals remain on the board for turn after turn, continuing to earn points and adjusting to the changes introduced by other species – and other players.

The good news is that Climate, which is a standalone game that functions as something of an advanced revision of Mr. Crapuchette's original design, follows on along these lines which define what made the original game so great. The solid biological themes remain along with the sense that players are creating a living environment in which animals evolve along vectors such as size, diet, population, defense mechanisms and habitats in order to adapt to changing circumstances within their biosphere. But Climate, as you might guess, adds a new layer of detail- hope you've grown some cooling frills or heavy fur, because it's going to get hot. Or cold.

You can't really say that this is a "no frills" game at all, can you?

Climate is pretty much the same great card game but with a new board to track the environment, some new traits that impact animals in regard to said environment, and some modifications to existing cards. The environment shifts as a function of the food card ante, wherein players each pitch in a card to adjust the available food for the round. This time out, there are also indicators on each card that move the marker along a range between Ice Age and Scorching. There may also be a Climate Event that occurs on certain spaces seeded at the beginning of the game.

The way it works also keys into existing concepts. In colder climes, larger animals tend to do better and lose less population as a result of the climate. As it gets warmer, larger animals thin out and smaller ones rise to prominence. At the extreme ends of the scale, all animals lose population. Climate also impacts the available plant-based food in the Watering Hole, again with extremities in relative temperatures adversely affecting the foliage- and encouraging predation.

So there is a whole new strategic layer to picking which food card you are going to bid beyond trying to drive it down when it suits your carnivores' needs or up when you need to feed a flock of herbivores. Now, you have to consider what the climate change is going to look like and weight out the risk of playing a card that could tip it out of favor for your animals. And of course, you'll need to consider adapting traits that will help your species survive the shifting climate- maybe a little mud wallowing or hibernation will keep them thriving?

Evolution: Climate is a great addition to what is becoming a series of games, but I do question the necessity to release it as a standalone game that is not compatible with the previously released edition or its excellent expansion, Flight. It's almost like a third edition or a reboot and one that is somewhat too soon after the original. There is a conversion kit available to bring owners of plain ol' Evolution up to speed, which is a nice gesture, but I can't help but think that all of this really should have been in the game to begin with.

Yes, you get the Dinoeeple.

Climate doesn't really add much in terms of rules weight or content, but what it adds in terms of gameplay and depth is significant. I can understand thinking that this is an advanced addition to the base game, but it should have been an advanced variant in the original box. And then with Flight added and made compatible with the whole thing.

Marketing complaints aside, Evolution: Climate is an excellent card game. As I said about the original, it is also one that has rich themes and strong player interaction. It's fun, fairly fast-playing, and unique- all qualities that make it one of the better choices in its class today.


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