Evolution (the print and play version is available here) is a card-based game about, well, evolution – specifically evolving species to protect themselves from predators and get a leg up on the competition for food.
A game takes about an hour. Play consists of using the cards dealt each round to create new species, add “traits” such as a hard shell, symbiosis or a carnivorous nature to critters, or to develop their growth or population. Players then duke it out for the limited food resources available that round to see which species survive to evolve again. The player with the most points (as reflected by the number and complexity of species, as well as the food stockpile) when the deck runs out wins.
The multifunction nature of the cards as food, upgrades and boosts all in one is a clever mechanic that makes for a streamlined game, and the “traits” species can adopt can lead to some interesting standoffs – for instance, between carnivores who desperately need to eat each other to survive, but with one hiding in trees and another camouflaged, can’t the food they need. Evolve or die!
The artwork for the print and play version is significantly stripped down from the quite lovely illustrations found on the full version, but functional. While no food tokens are provided, different colored beans work well as counters. Additionally, the instructions for the print and play version are somewhat confusingly worded, especially when describing the food mechanic, but visiting the forums on BoardGameGeek is a great way to clear up any ambiguity.
This print and play version of Evolution is a great way to start a collection if you don’t have a tabletop game budget. Thank you very much to North Star Games for supporting International Games Week 2017!