Updated: Nov 24, 2020
I’m not the biggest fan of Philippe Keyaerts best known title, Small World, but when I first heard about Evo I thought it might be a bit more up my street.
In Evo players control a herd of dinosaurs. Each round the climate will change and you must buy evolutions or cards to allow your herd to survive. Over the course of the game your herd will change and evolve to survive better in different situations. Perhaps they will be faster than the other herds, able to move farther across the map and reach relative safety. Perhaps they will have more horns and can force other less well armed dinos out of the temperate zones. Maybe they will just procreate more, or be able to survive in arctic or subtropical temperatures.
At the end of each round, any dinosaurs that survive the climate change score a point and the whole thing starts again as the climate changes once more.
So tonight was our first play and I am still undecided on if I like this one or not. I can certainly see the similarities this one has to Small World, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The game was a little long (closer to 90 minutes) but it was a learning game so I can forgive that, but it is repetitive too. Reveal climate, bid on a new tile, move dinos, have babies, see what survives, repeat for 9 - 11 rounds.
This repetition definitely makes learning the game easier. Once you’ve gotten past round 3 everyone should have a good idea how the rest of the game is going to play out. However, I didn’t get the epic feeling of evolving my tribe I was expecting. I thought the game would provide a civilisation-like progression, as the turns when by my tribe would become more powerful, but really that is not what this game is about, it’s about providing a legacy so that future generation might survive.
The game is very much an area control game. You score points only for each area you can control and each round there is only one safe terrain type on the board. You may be able to control a handful of other areas too but the safe areas are finite. If you have lots of movement you can reach areas further away. If you have lots of horns you might be able to force your way into desirable areas. Controlling the turn order can be very important too as you want to reach the scoring regions before your opponents and hopefully control other regions as areas to place your newborn babies.
So there is a lot of strategy and many different paths to victory. However the game is very repetitive and despite all the strategy the point margins are slim, you can score a minimum of 2 points per round and a maximum of 8, but the scores are likely to be much closer. In the end then I want to play it more, one game is definitely not enough to judge this one. I like the simplicity and I like the variety in how you can evolve your herd and I’m really interested to see how this one plays with a bigger crowd, maybe even the Game Night Crew. Will Evo survive in my collection.., Only time will tell!