Sunday, 23 September 2012

Evolution: Time To Fly

Plays: 2Px1. (played based game 4 times before this, ranging from 2P to 4P)

The Game

One thing good about this expansion is there are no changes or additions to the basic rules of the base game. It's just more cards added, but of course these are all new cards with new (and interesting) abilities. The new cards are overall more complex, so when playing the expansion for the first time, I'd recommend reading the new cards sheet before the game starts as opposed to looking up specific cards during the game when you draw a new card. The game is still quite simple - you play cards to create new species or add traits to existing species, then food abundance is determined, and all species try to survive by either eating food provided by the environment, or eating other species. There is still that cat-and-mouse game between predator and prey trying to out-evolve each other. At the end of every round, any species short of food die. The game ends when the deck runs out, and you score for every surviving animal.

The expansion comes in a box half the size of the base game. There is a second expansion, but no English version yet.

The Play

The expanded game feels very similar to the base game, just that you have more variety, and thus many more possible combinations of animal traits. I still stuck to the approach of playing few animals and giving them many traits. This still seems to be the most reliable strategy, which is a pity. I wonder whether I am missing something. Perhaps there should be some limit to the number of traits an animal can have, or certain trait combinations to be disallowed, to prevent the creation of superspecies. Currently I think once a superspecies, especially when it is a carnivore, is created, there can be a runaway leader problem. Having more players should help to rein in any potential runaway leader, so maybe 2P is not the best way to play this game.

Ink Cloud is one of the new traits. It stops a predator from eating your animal for one round, but the predator may attack again. Specialisation B is also a new trait. It lets your animal claim a food from outside the food pool. Only one Specialisation B card can be in play at any one time.

Shell, Flight and Trematode are all new traits. Flight is interesting, because to make use of Flight to escape from an attacking carnivore, your animal must have fewer or the same number of traits as the carnivore. So, if you play too many traits on your bird, it becomes a chicken.

The Thoughts

It is still fun to create animals and to compete in the fight for survival when the food supply is always fluctuating. The Time To Fly expansion doesn't change the game structure or strategy much and doesn't make it unnecessarily more complex. The additional variety is welcome and if you like the base game you should get the expansion. Just remember this is a light game and don't take it too seriously, despite how serious and science-flavoured the subject matter sounds. Individual animal traits in the game are actually quite educational, just don't try to imagine what some of the superspecies made up of a whole plethora of traits correspond to in real life. You can only find those in Pokemon.

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