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NORTH STAR GAMES:  EVOLUTION: CLIMATE
Designed by - Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre and Sergey Machin. Main Artist: Catherine Hamilton

2-6 Players aged 12+ Game time around 60-75 minutes

In 2014 North Star Games gave the world of boardgaming their excellent EVOLUTION which was a long walk away from the type of family/kids games North Star Games are renown for. 
EVOLUTION is basically a strategy card game of two different species of ancient creatures, Carnivore and Herbivore, who you are trying to help survive, gaining Victory Points for your kindness and helpfulness (and for sending your carnivores to eat the other player's animals).

EVOLUTION: CLIMATE is a stand-alone game that is based on the original EVOLUTION game but has much more to it than just a change of Species.

  

Boardgamegeek has this to say about  Evolution and Evolution: Climate; the latter being a standalone game that introduces climate into the Evolution game system.

In Evolution: Climate, players adapt their species in a dynamic ecosystem where food is scarce, predators lurk, and the climate can swing between scorching hot and icy cold. Traits like a Hard Shell and Horns can protect your species from Carnivores while a Long Neck will help them get food that others cannot reach. Heavy Fur and Migratory can protect your species from the cold while being Nocturnal or Burrowing will provide protection from the cruel desert sun. With over 200,000 ways to evolve your species, every game evolves into a different adventure.

The Climate standalone game dramatically changes game play with several simple additions to the Evolution base set:

Evolution: Climate changes Evolution from a two-dimensional game (dealing with the threat of Starvation and Carnivores) into a three-dimensional game (dealing with the threat of Starvation, Carnivores, and Climate effects) while increasing the vividness of the theme. It adds additional layers into what was already a dynamically strategic game.

  

Once again the artwork is incredibly good which goes towards the $50.00-$60.00 price tage Evolution: Climate (2016) carries, whilst (Evolution (2014) is holding its price around $50.00 online and in game stores; it is a well sought-after game.

Also once again, Evolution Climate is a game of survival, though this time Climate has been added into the mix to make it just a little more complex and worthy of a fair bit more thought. Don't think that because you have Evolution that you don't need Evolution Climate because it's a clear case of if you like the first game you'll adore the second.

  

Each player begins the game with one Species Board which has three sections; the top (circles) where Food tokens are placed, Population square cut-outs (with a Green wooden marker) and Body Size square cut-outs (with a Brown wooden marker) plus a beautifully decorated cloth Food Token Drawstring Bag and 4 Trait cards plus one extra Trait card for each species they are attempting to save from extinction (i.e. those in front of them). The Climate board (new to Evolution Climate) is placed in the centre of the table and the marker positioned on Temperate.Now all players select one trait card from their hand which they place face down in the central area of the Climate board, known as the Watering Hole.Players need to choose the cards they discard into here carefully as once they are flipped over in the Modify Environment phase of play (phase #4) they activate two very important effects. Each card has a number in its bottom right corner; this can be a negative number but it's usually positive and it is the number of food chips that are to be placed in the Watering Hole this turn. Some cards also show either Sun icons or Snowflakes - these move the Climate marker towards the heat (Sun) or the cold (Snowflakes). Check the number of Sun icons against the number of Snowflakes and if one side is greater than the other then move the Climate marker ONE space in the direction of the winning weather. If you are not careful in your Trait card choices it is quite possible to send the Climate marker in the direction not good for your species.

After receiving their Trait cards and setting one of these aside into the Watering Hole it is the players turn to play Trait cards onto their Species Boards, one at a time and face down. Each Species Board can hold up to four Trait cards but these must not be duplicates but can change the habits that relate to the Species (see below).  Some Trait cards supply Food tokens, either Plant or Meat (the Food tokens are double-sided Meat/Plant) while other Trait cards have useful effects which may protect their Species, raise their Body Size or Raise the Population etc. Once all cards have been played they are turned over and then the Environment is Modified, meaning the Climate marker may move and the number of Food Tokens for the Watering Hole are determined. Generally players take turns in feeding their non-carnivore Species by removing Food Tokens from the Watering Hole and placing them on their Species Boards, starting at the far left space and never passing the Species Body Size; at the end of the round these Tokens are placed in the Player's personal Bag and count as Victory Points towards winning.

  

Carnivore Species also have to eat but there is never any meat in the Watering Hole so instead the Carnivores have to attack the Species of either their Player or those of other Players. To attack another Species the Carnivore has to have a greater Body Size than its potential food and may require Traits that better or negate the Traits of the attacked Species - there are some neat Trait cards that limit the attacking possibilities. Successful attacks can reduce a Species Population. Herbivores if given the Trait Scavenger or Cooperation may become Omnivores (eaters of Meat and Plants). Horns on an animal often prevent it being attacked, but even a horned Species can be attacked if a Species needs to feed and nothing else is available - this means your Carnivore Species may have to attack another of your Carnivore Species.

If a Species has its Population reduced to zero then that Species becomes extinct. Players can always create a new Species by discarding a Trait card face-up. If they do this they take another Species Board and the two wooden markers (one Green, one Brown) and then they have to attempt to keep this new one alive, which means ensuring there is enough food available, either through their Traits or from the Watering hole. A good tip is not to create a Carnivore Species at the beginning of the game unless you are dealt a real doozy of a hand that allows you to build up its Body and Population quickly. Depending on the amount of space you have on your games table for each player - EVOLUTION: CLIMATE does take up a fair amount of Player space - the Species cards are designed to be flipped over and laid vertically instead of horizontally; it's also a matter of personal choice as it makes no difference to the game play at all.

  

The main difference amongst the small subtle differences between Evolution and Evolution: Climate is, as mentioned already, the Climate. Some Species thrive in the Heat and others thrive in the Cold, thus you need to play cards that will live in the Climate you are helping to create. There are nine sections on the Climate Board, changing from the Ice Age (which affects Species with Body Size 1-6 by -4 Population and reduces the amount of Plant Food available, by 15 or 30, depending on the side of the Climate Board in play - on side is for 2-3 players the other is for 4-6 players). Freezing and Cold also affect Species who have no Cold protection. Cool, Temperate and Warm have no effect whilst Tropical, Hot and Scorching affect Species who have no Heat protection. The Climate change is often the cause of Species becoming Extinct and thus another Hint is to get your Species Body Size up as fast and as high as you can.

  

Apart from the Rules booklet the game comes with two folded glossy glossaries which give brief descriptions of the Trait cards, a slightly more extensive description can be found in the Rules book.

Following the rules via the booklet is as easy for new players as it is for experienced players. They flow quite nicely and bring up very few questions that cannot be answered by simply re-reading and understanding. However if you dislike reading rules there is a How To Play instruction video on Northstar Games website

Remember that EVOLUTION CLIMATE is a reasonably quick paced game and is designed so that it should be completed within 60 minutes (though in our games where people like to think a bit longer this usually extends to around 75 minutes), it ends when the draw pile is extinct.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015