TERRA EVOLUTION: The Tree of Life is published by MINDWARRIOR Games (who are now a part of TACTIC)
Designed by Esa Wiik (uncredited).
It is a card game that comes in a much larger than necessary box, which lends me to believe there will be expansions
(like Dominion) or expansion packs (as in Magic the Gathering) coming in the near future.
There are several type of cards, each with its own specific deck with a different number of cards per deck. Examples
being: Continents (32) Species (148) Population (59) Catastrophe (32) Tree of Life (4) 275 cards in total.
The rules cover just 4 pages, so the first thing you might think is that this is going to be a very simple game. This is actually
not too far from the truth, it does run on quite simple mechanics, but there is also a fun challenge for all players and options
that need thinking about. However once you start reading the rules booklet - you need a physics/biology degree for some of the
words, Bilateria, Chelicerata, Insectum, Apocrita, Neopterygii, Amphibia (hey, I've heard of this one), Prototheria, Squamata,
Mammalia to name but a few - then the game-play starts to fall readily into place.
Each player begins with a single Planet, Oceanus, plus their personal startinfg deck of 5 population cards, 5 Bilateria cards and
7 Continent cards. The Continent cards are the same for each player: India, Eurasia, Australia, Antarctica, America Septentrionalis,
America Australis, and Africa. You will need to play Terra Evolution on a large playing area as each player needs their own space,
for their personal Planet which itself is made up of Continents populated by species. The central portion of the playing area has a stock
pile of cards which the players can purchase with Population cards.
The order of play is clear and has to be adhered to, but it is also important that you read the descriptions of each action. For example the
first action in this OoP is "Play A Population card" but when you read the description it says "You are allowed to play as many Population
cards from your hand ....... as you wish". The second in the OoP is "Play a Species card" and the wording on the description is "You may play
one Species card on your Planet...." My point is that both actions sound the same, but one means A card and the other means Many cards.
You need to play Continents onto your Planet before you can play Species on it - the Speciea are actually played on the Continent. You may
play Bilateria cards any time but all other cards require that you either already have one of that type of card on your Tree or that there is a
Species card there that the one you are playing can evolve from. As you play Species cards onto your Planet your Tree of Life grows in front
of you. When you evolve a card the previous card is sent to your Fossil and converted into Fossil points.
Of course nothing will always go perfectly and so Evolution created Catastrophes. Any Continent with a Species card on it is vulnerable to
these Catastrophes, though there are some cards that are specific to Land or Water. Naturally you play Catastrophes on other players and this
does also affect the Species on the selected Continent. The Catastrophe cards are quite evil but the major Evil belongs to the Virus that when
activated reduces the population of all players other than the one who activates it. Virus costs Population cards to activate but it can be used
as a way to grab an advantage or as the best way to level a game that you feel is slipping away from you.
As in games like the previously mentioned Dominion and many other similar card driven games, cards collected in a Turn are not available for
playing until they are drawn at on a later turn.
Playing TERRA EVOLUTION: The TREE of LIFE is a good game that also brings home and makes you think about the plight of the world but
not in an educational way, that is you don't think that you are being taught, but of course you really are learning about life.
As with every Mindwarriors game I have played to date, the graphics are excellent and the component quality super. If deck building is a style of
game you haven't played before this is a very good way to begin on your journey into a new wealth of gaming that has only been slightly mined.