Evolution: Climate Review

Evolution: Climate
North Star Games
Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre, Sergey Machin
Ben Goldman, Catherine Hamilton, Jacoby O'Connor
The original, creating unique species, *gorgeous* art

Evolution: Climate is the definitive version of an excellent game.  Climate brings everything that made the original great and adds more: more traits, more possibilities, and, with the introduction of potentially catastrophic environmental events, more ways for your creatures to get wiped off the map!

When Rob & Diana reviewed the original Evolution a while back, we all agreed that it was a solid, fun, playable game.  It was attractive, enjoyable, and hit a lot of great gameplay notes while never being overly fussy in its rules or mechanisms.  Team Gameosity loves Evolution!

Jess:  Little did we know – this wasn’t even its final form!

Note: There are no Saiyans in Evolution: Climate. Though there *is* the chance the planet will get blown up.

Evolution: Climate is the next evolutionary stage of the original (ok, we’ll stop it), keeping the core gameplay intact while adding on some new considerations, as well as refining a few key concepts.  The basics are all still there – you will use cards to create groups of creatures, grow them in size and population, and give them unique combinations of attributes to keep them alive and eating.  Because, after all, isn’t that what life is all about?

Below, the puzzle board that comes with the game. Above, the neoprene mat which can be purchased directly from North Star Games

For those unfamiliar with the original, you can check out Rob & Diana’s write-up here, but the quick and dirty on this excellent game is that each player will create unique species of creature, each trying to survive in the harsh conditions of early Earth and to stay fed, because food eaten is how the victor is determined.  There’s a limited amount of food to go around, however, so each species will have to develop specialized traits which will help them survive and thrive.

Andrew:  The similarities between Evolution: Climate and its progenitor game are considerable, but Evolution: Climate lets you do a bit more of everything.  Most notably, species can now have up to 4 traits each, rather than 3, so synergies between abilities can be even more powerful.

Jess:  Yeah!  Lots of the core trait cards that served us so well in the original are still there, so you can totally have a long-necked, burrowing, intelligent species, but now you could add on a 4th trait card to make them, let’s say, hard shelled.

That 4th card can lend itself to some really cool synergies.

Andrew:  Each chimera you build sounds more nightmarish than the last.

Jess:  Thanks, it’s a gift.  But Evolution: Climate comes with a whole mess of new trait cards, so you can be even more creative and strategic with how you develop your species!

Andrew:  Totally.  And that’s more important than ever, because of the titular climate.

The biggest difference in Evolution: Climate is the inclusion of climate as a factor in gameplay.  Now, each round, players will assess whether the climate of their world is changing – determined by the cards that get discarded to the watering hole at the top of the round.  The net change in global temperature can have significant effects, both good and bad, depending on how well your species are evolved to handle it.

As the global temperature shifts, several things can happen.  When the planet cools, smaller species lose population due to the cold, whereas smaller animals actually survive increased temperatures more easily.  Of course, landing on the extreme of either end of the temperature spectrum will cause population loss no matter how well-adapted your species may be.

Jess:  The climate also affects how much food there is to eat – extreme temperatures are really hard on herbivores.  But as the herbivore population dwindles, so too does the food supply for carnivores and, well, you can see where all that’s going.

Andrew:  Not only that, but there are Climate Event cards which can be triggered should the temperature reach certain thresholds.  These range in effect from the relatively benign to the outright apocalyptic.

This is how the world ends. Not with a bang, but…actually, yeah, that’s a pretty giant bang.

Jess:  The news isn’t all bad, though.  Many of the new trait cards (and some of the old ones) can protect you from the drifting of the global climate, like how Burrowing now protects a species from population loss due to temperature, or how Heavy Fur makes for excellent survival in cold conditions (but makes the heat more dangerous).

Evolution: Climate is an excellent advancement of what made the original game great.  It adds just enough to keep it feeling fresh, while still keeping to the core of what made Evolution so much fun.

Some old trait cards have been updated to interact with the new climate mechanisms.

Andrew:  It’s still gorgeous (the art is truly phenomenal), and its gameplay core cuts that perfect middle line of being accessible while not being too simple.  Evolution: Climate is the sort of game that will play excellently with a more casual group, but has the goods to keep gamers of all stripes engaged.

Jess:  Absolutely!  I love the puzzle of building the most efficient species I can, but I’ve seen players take different tactics and still be competitive – and I mean, heck, you can even make carnivores to eat your opponents’ species.  It’s a solid middle-weight game that kinda has something for everyone!

As far as we’re concerned, Evolution: Climate is the definitive version of a great game, and absolutely worth checking out!

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(Gameosity received a review copy of this game.  We were not otherwise compensated)

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