26 September 2013

Board Games 2: Revenge of the Board Games!


Here is my second part of the board game reviews. I don't quite know how many of these I will end up doing, but they are pretty refreshing. The next game was created by Philippe Keyaerts.

EVO (2nd Edition)

By Philippe Keyaerts
Produced by Asmodee (This is the US portal site for Asmodee)

The basic background of the game is that small tribes of humans were alive before a tiny event happened 65 million years ago. These humans had an ability to alter the genetics of the dinosaurs. This obviously takes time, but each turn is over a few thousand years to show climate change. 
Speaking of climate change, there are two main things in the game that force people to alter their dinosaurs. The climate will most likely alter from one turn to the next. The map has 4 different coloured regions, white, yellow, brown and green. Every turn a counter is flipped and a dial is used that will show how the climate alters. These changes to the environment will show which region are fine to inhabit and which will need fur or thermo-regulation adaptions for the dinosaurs to survive. There is also one or two regions that are completely unable to support any life. If you are in here when the climate change occurs then your dino is a kebab....

The way to survive is by using adaptations. You can get extra feet (+1 move), horns (extra attack and defence), fur (one dinosaur can survive in a cold zone for each fur), thermo-regulation (same as fur, but for hot zones), eggs (+1 baby per turn) and special. Ignoring the special for the moment. These evolutions are one of the better parts of the game. It makes people want specific evolutions to survive the current round, but it will also allow them to play for the long game since they have a rough idea of the likely climate changes if they have played it a few times.
How people get these adaptations is by bidding for them. You can bid from 0-6 points. If you bid 6 points you get the evolution automatically. There is always number of (players -1) evolutions on the bidding board. The final slot is taken up by a card which is normally pretty powerful, but it will only work a single time. The fur/thermo-regulation adaptations are always good to have, but eggs and feet work on a more regular basis. Horns are the one that is kind of strange. Unfortunately, you can't build an effective strategy around attacking people with horns. The pay off just isn't there.
There is also a number of special adaptations. These range from extra feet (+2 move), and flying (one dinosaur can move 2 spaces instead of 1 for the cost of one move) to Killer Babies (in the birthing phase you can place a baby in an opponent's space and roll the combat die. You have a 2/3 chance of killing the opponent no matter their horns) and chameleon skin (your dinosaur token isn't removed if you lose a fight, if there is an available empty space to move to).
There is also a regular token that reduces the cost of adaptations during the bidding phase, but we don't use this as it detracts from the game itself and makes it a lot less fun.

Good Points

2-5 players. There are 2 double sided boards in the box one for 2, 3, 4 or 5 players.

Wooden dinosaurs. These are cool, especially if you are used to card or low quality plastic tokens.

Lots of variation due to the different tokens for the adaptations.

The artwork. I know some people would buy the game for the player sheets and frame them. They are that good.

The box fits everything in there without any muss or fuss after you have finished playing. This is an insane boon to anyone who buys games and wonders why they can't fit back in the box after they have opened it.

Bad Points

There are some lethal combos. Killer Babies (see earlier) and Hardened Shell (babies can be placed up to 3 spaces away). Tactical nuclear killer babies was the phrase we coined... This was devastating.

Wooden dinosaurs. How can this be a good point and a bad point, I hear you ask. Well, there are 5 different player sheets showing 5 different dinosaurs. The wooden dinosaurs are all Apatosaurus... It is annoying being the Tyrannosaurus and having your blood curdling dinosaurs being represented as a bleeding herbivore!

Colour choices for the players is.... interesting. Red, blue, black, purple and pink.... Why not yellow or green?


The game is a lot of fun. There is a chance for huge swings in momentum where one person trying to benefit from one adaptation becomes hampered when another one is, for the moment, more beneficial.

It is also pretty easy to make small changes to suit the players. I have played a slightly watered down version with some of my students in Korea (no cost reducing vial and 3 of the more complex cards were removed from the deck), which was really blood thirsty. The other was with some of my friends. The wife of one is totally freaked out be frogs. One of the tokens looked like a frog and it was hurled across the room we were playing in. That token was removed in future games....

I hope that you liked this review. Comments, as always, are welcome.


English Pillock