Evo - Board Game Box Shot

Evo

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The game you've waited 65 millions years for!

The island of Krah is home to nomadic tribes and strange creatures long extinct elsewhere in the world. With a wildly unstable climate, the tribes survive as best they can by setting up camps in more or less hospitable areas. All lived with the fear that their lives and those of their beasts would be in danger someday. Thankfully, scientists were working around the clock to save the flocks of creatures. The inhabitants of Krah knew that the genetically modified creatures would survive. But for how long?

Evo board game components
images © Asmodee

Created by Philippe Keyaerts, Evo is a game of conquest in a hostile environment. To win, you will have to acquire gene that will allow you dinosaurs to improve (survive enemy attacks, face various climates or even lay more eggs, for example) in fast-paced auctions. But be careful: don't spend too many mutation points in the auctions, because the winner of the game will be the player with the most of them at the end!

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Unicorn Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
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“Dinosaurs: Evolve or Perish”

Evo is a game of prehistoric survival in the face of rapid climate change on a small island. If you have played Smallworld and Cyclades you will be familiar with some of the game mechanics right off the bat. To begin with, each player selects a color that represents a different human tribe and the species of dinosaurs they control. There is no difference in play between the five options other than color. There are four game boards of growing sizes used with different numbers of players, from three to five. Each player gets an initiative token, a player’s card to track mutations, and eight dinosaur tokens. Once the board is in place and each player has placed two dinosaurs on the board play begins by flipping a random climate tile.

Each turn begins with a change in climate according to movement around the climate wheel. Each turn changes the climate of each section of the map, with new environments becoming deadly and others becoming ideal. There are four environment colors: white, yellow, brown and green. There are then four types of climate: ideal, deadly, cold and hot. The climate wheel tells you which areas dinosaurs can survive in. Dinosaurs can always survive in an ideal spot, will always die in a deadly spot, and will die in hot and cold locations unless they have mutated the appropriate genetics to deal with them.

After climate each turn the players will add a number of mutation token to the initiative board and bid their victory points to acquire them. Mutations represent the genetic diversity of your dinosaur herds and aid in survival and combat. For example, each layer of fur you win in the mutation phase can save one dinosaur trapped in a cold climate, and each set of horns gives the player a better chance at winning combat when invading a rival dinosaurs territory. There is always one less mutation than there are players, with the last option being a draw from the deck of cards. The cards all provide abilities like the mutations, but often stronger, and always a one-time use.

Once players have finished bidding on genetic mutations, they move dinosaurs across the map. Each player starts with two movement points and can gain more by winning leg mutations. There points are then divided among your dinosaurs on the map (note: it is NOT the speed of each piece). Often times the number of dinosaurs a player controls will outpace their movement speed, leaving their slower dinosaurs to die in hostile climates. If a player wished to move into an occupied space, he makes an attack roll with the special die included in the game. The chance of success goes up with each horn mutation the players acquire. Horns on the defender serve to protect them as well.

After that, each player places a new dinosaur on the board. Player can gain faster reproduction rates in the mutation phase and place more than one each turn. Then all dinosaurs that did not make it out of a hostile climate are removed from the board, and each player scores one point for each of their surviving dinosaurs. With that, the turn ends, and a new turn begins with a new climate. Near the bottom of the stack of climate tokens will be a meteor token which ends the game immediately when it is revealed. Once that happens, the player with the most victory points wins the game.

The game is a lot of fun and will be a big hit with fans of Smallworld. The theme is great and the quality of the boards and art is top notch. There are some issues with components that I would like to see addressed. First, all the dinosaur tokens are the same. It would have been nice to see different tokens representing different species for each player. That could be remedied with tiny plastic dinosaur toys, like those mentioned in the comments section. Also, the game does not come with enough one-point victory point tokens, forcing people to constantly turn over their tokens in an effort to make change for each other. Beyond those minor issues, game play is fun and production value is great. The game is much better with 4-5 players because it places more mutation tokens each turn, giving each player more options when bidding. It was a great buy and I would recommend it to most any gamer.

 

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