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Tips & Strategies (9)

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I play green
Pick a Favorite LGS
46 of 48 gamers found this helpful
“Speciation and land control”

So I’ve played this a couple times now and I noticed something about how to speciate and dominate land so that you set yourself up for some good VP’s throughout and in the end game. Going into the game you may think that really diversifying your your species is going to get you a lot of points because you will be adaptable on many areas. This isn’t necessarily so. What I’ve seen is that the best ways to build points and get dominant is to speciate in a way that gives you three of one element and 2 of another. Whatever your species starting elements are you should try to build on the base element and acquire two of another element. The final element could be anything that you think might help. Along with this you want to try and have a different set of elements you are strong in compared to the other players. This will be harder the more players there are so be careful not to mimic another player’s elements. This will just result in a “dominance” tie.

Building on that you should look to dominate the higher scoring land types like sea and wetlands. Because these are going to be targets you want to try and maximize your dominance by adding them as far away from any tundras while also placing elements that match your two highest elements on your species card. These two lands have the highest VP payout so try to be one of the top two species on them. If you can build them correctly to match your species’ elements then once the end game rolls around you will be able to score lots of point based on having a high amount of areas where you are dominant.

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Critic - Level 5
Professional Advisor
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Marquis / Marchioness
41 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“Ration your species cubes - make sure you have some for the end”

Much of the scoring in Dominant Species is based on majority/area control of the terrain tiles. This lends itself to many players rushing to get cubes out on the board quickly to gain points. Often times, too quickly. As the number of cubes you have to start the game decreases as the player count increases, you’ll need to watch more closely in larger games.

You want to make sure you have cubes left in your supply (gene pool) for the last couple of turns. Due to every tile scoring at the end of the game, a notable portion of your score will likely come from this scoring. You don’t want to risk missing out on this end game scoring because you over played your cubes earlier.

In most instances, when cubes are removed from the board, they are also removed from the game (Glaciation being a major exception). Players that are gaining larger numbers of points early in the game tend to be attacked by their opponents to ‘bring them back to the pack’. That lead you built early can be quickly overcome late.

While playing the early/mid game, keep the end game scoring in mind, and ask yourself if you’re reserving enough cubes to take advantage of it.

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Novice Reviewer
United Kingdom
24 of 25 gamers found this helpful
“Random Ice Age”

This is not an original tip, and I’ve read it just a little bit lower on this list by Spizio, but I feel it’s worth repeating – even if I don’t get many votes as a helpful tip!
Shuffle the Ice Age card into the last part of the pack, like Spizio says, 10 cards is about right. The unpredictable appearance of the ‘end of the world’ means that strategy has to be planned even more for the shorter term, and the swing of power from play to play could at any of the later stages turn out to be the final chance.
I love this game but a couple of my friends think it’s a fraction too long. Although I disagree, the random Ice Age trims a little of the game length and keeps them happy (and prepared to play again!)

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Critic - Level 5
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Marquis / Marchioness
40 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“Thoughts for the early game - Amphibians”

A few things to think about if you’re the Amphibians player (especially for games with 4+ players).

Special Power

The Amphibians’ special power in the game is starting with a third element (water), while all other animals have only two elements. This means your starting Wetland tile is very strongly under your dominance, while you’re only one away in dominance on the neighboring Savannah and Jungle.

Exploiting Player Power

Unlike other players that will be able to choose a new spot to use their power each turn automatically, you need to actively pursue leveraging your power. The easiest way to do this (while not under your control) is if a water element comes up in the Abundance box. Every time you can get more water elements on the board, you’re gaining a greater advantage towards dominance than any other animal. Other players will generally have less desire (early) to grab water adaptations, as they give the least increase towards taking dominance compared to other animals. (If you’re successful at getting a lot of water onto the board this may change).

You can also grab adaptations of tiles around you to make a play for dominance there.

Starting Board Position

You start on the most fertile starting tile (Wetlands) which give a large number of points. You’re also well setup to get a lot of cubes out into high scoring regions (due to Savannah and Jungle giving 3 cubes each for Speciation.

That said, I would be very wary of Speciation early. It looks like a great move, and can give you a lot of points, but it also makes the Amphibians an easy early target for opponents. In fact, I would consider this strong starting board position a likely disadvantage for Amphibians. From my experience, your starting Wetlands is the most likely target of a first turn Glaciation. This can become even more of a headache if you try Wanderlust from your starting tile, as the tundra is already heading your way.

You have Arachnids and Insects to either side of you. Remember that you are above both in the Food Chain and win ties against them (but only them).

Early Turns

If you feel good about your ability to talk other players into leaving you alone even though you have a lead on the victory track, feel free to add cubes to the Wetland, Jungle and Savannah. I wouldn’t expect this to work.

With Amphibians, I want to play defensively early and limit how much of a target I am. I would strongly consider Glaciation if it’s available to you. It’s too easy for an opponent to drop the tundra on your Wetlands just because it’s worth so many points. Getting the tundra pointed away from you may help focus attention on other people. You’ll likely make an enemy for the game on whichever tile you drop it on, so you probably don’t want to place it next door.

As mentioned above, getting more water elements on the board should be a strong play. It’ll also give you more places to go if your tiles get targeted. Taking an extra adaptation can be a lower risk move, setting yourself up for later without drawing too much attention to yourself.

As with everyone, keep an eye on the Dominance Cards. It’s very likely you’ll keep dominance of your initial tile on the first turn, so you should be able to grab at least one. I will tend to keep an eye on which can hurt me the most, and try and grab that one.

While you win ties against your neighboring species, you don’t win against the other single cube in the next door tiles. This makes it difficult to grab second place points, unless you add more cubes, which may give you first place, but also paint a big target on your flippers.

Wanderlust can be good for you, but I’d be careful of taking too fertile of tiles. If you grab a lower scoring tile, it’s more likely to be left alone. If you build from your main tile, the main joiners will be Arachnids or Insects. You’ll win ties against them, and have the dominance bonus with your water elements.

You start in the top three in turn order, which isn’t bad. Unfortunately, the bottom three species tend to really want to move up. If the animal directly below you is the first to do you, you may see yourself at the bottom of the initiative order in a few turns. I would consider bumping myself up once on Initiative, again as defense against being the primary victim of plummeting turn order. I’d rather have the Arachnids take back the spot I took from them, then have the Birds and Reptiles coming for my spot.

Closing Thoughts

Think defense early.

Amphibians are easy to gain early points with, based on board position and elements for dominance. You’ll be walking a fine line of gaining those points, and not having your terrain targeted. If you can quietly setup the board to give yourself places to move to, you can survive this targeting.

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Advanced Grader
Movie Lover
I'm Completely Obsessed
27 of 29 gamers found this helpful
“End Game area majority scoring with Mammals”

Late in the game if you start to really build up your mammals, you can use the “migration” action on your last turn to make a sweep across the different terrain hexes to establish area majority thereby taking the higher endgame score. Unlike midgame scoring the final score ignores dominance and goes strictly by majority. The mammals are especially well suited to this as they break any ties for majority, so you can tie on each terrain and take the majority for that tile. If you are one of the last to go, you can win majority without restraint and can dramatically increase your endgame score.

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My First Game Tip
26 of 28 gamers found this helpful
“Do not look too far ahead!”

In my experience, I have noticed that the cards add a huge wrench to your strategy, so here’s what I recommend
– Plan for the current round (place your workers to maximize how many points you get in the present)
– Always assume that your opponents will always pick the option that hurts you the most and always make sure you can use all of your domination actions and be the one to play the card
– Don’t be afraid to hurt your opponents, if you prepare properly, you should be able to resist most of their retaliations, I have won multiple two player games by making sure that my opponent cannot score or at least not get any cards

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Critic - Level 5
Professional Advisor
Expert Reviewer
Marquis / Marchioness
34 of 37 gamers found this helpful
“Beware of being an obvious target - Power Grid like score pacing”

Dominant Species allows for major player interaction; you can greatly impact individual opponents if you choose to. There is often a “bash the leader” element to the game. If a player needs to choose an action that will primarily hurt one player, it will often be the leader.

It will often be to your advantage to not pull too far ahead in points, as you’ll quickly see your board position dwindle, and be caught in the end game. This is somewhat akin to the often suggested Power Grid strategy of staying a little behind the leader. In Power Grid, this is due to the resource market and city buying, while in Dominant Species, it is a perceived leader syndrome. Add in some strong Dominance Cards that can knock players out entirely from tiles, and a player can see their game quickly change for the worse.

An unchecked player can build a strong lead that is difficult to overcome late, making it almost necessary to attack them. A person up by ten or more points can very quickly find themselves without cubes on the board, spending their next turns trying to rebuild while others are implementing their strategy.

If you’re near the front in points, and it’s still the early/mid-game, consider actions to set you up for the future, instead of things like Speciation that puts more of your cubes onto the board (and at risk of targeting). For instance, gaining extra adaptations can be helpful in building towards more dominance cones later in the game, or using Abundance to leave yourself more options in the future. You may choose Glaciation as a defensive move to ensure it is not used on you. Even taking Initiative to help in turn order may be a better move than actions that will make you more of a target.

Also, keep an eye on Dominance Cards. If there are cards that target individual terrain tiles (Ice Sheet, Catastrophe, Mass Exodus, are main examples), you may consider migrating from tiles where you have a large buildup to make you a less attractive target

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I Am What I Am
29 of 36 gamers found this helpful
“Cards can be too powerful”

Some cards are much more powerful than others. I enjoy the cards, but they make the final action far more powerful than any other. I suggest the official cardless variant where cards are only collected for end game scoring rather than using them for their actions.

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I play blue
45 of 59 gamers found this helpful
“Random Ice Age (house rule)”

To speed this game up we usually shuffle the Ice Age card into the last 10 cards of the deck. This will typically shave a turn off the game, possibly more depending on the actions of cards selected by the players.

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