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User Rating Comment Status
Mark Beyak
United States
Santa Rosa
California
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Combat Commander gets your blood flowing.
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10
Jun 2013
Here is another fine example of a EuroChad design. This one has quite a bit of back and forth competition. I have to remember to sometimes just ride the coattails of other players while I rebuild my species to become dominant another day.

I'm a play tester and enough time has gone by so that I can rate this game the way I feel it ought to be rated by me.
(6/11/13)
2013-06-11
Owned
Kevin Bakker
United States
Ypsilanti
Michigan
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10
Dec 2011
This is essentially the greatest game ever made. I will write more when I return home.

4/24/12: Update, played again, still my favorite game ever. After playing this one I went and sold $1200 worth of games (~15 games) because I found the perfect game here. Probably going to cull some more as I would rather play this than even take the time to try others.
2012-04-24
Owned
Pete Martyn
United States
Guilford
VT
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10
Jan 2015
Gonna give this a few more plays, but it's gunning for a 10 rating. Really fantastic work. After one play I couldn't stop thinking about it for the next few days. I had to own it, and now I do. Good work, me!
Edit: This gets a ten from me. I just adore everything about this game and wish I could play it more. It is not a game that is gentle to one's brain, as you're 100% on for the entire multi-hour length. But oh, what a ride. And also, best rulebook ever, possibly.
2015-01-18
Owned
Want To Play
Brian Barnes
United States
Layton
Utah
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10
Nov 2010
Love this game a real gamers game. Its long but I love every minute of it. Played twice so far, everyone seems to enjoy it and by the way I think it looks great.
2010-11-08
Prev. Owned
Ingo Keiner
Germany
Oberhausen
NRW
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10
Dec 2011
SS 2010 - Thank you Santa!
2010-12-22
Owned
Diz Hooper
Japan
Osaka
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10
Nov 2010
An excellent game. Very tense all the way through. The time flies by when you play. I'm very much looking forward to getting it to the table again.
2010-11-21
Owned
Andrew Garttmeyer
United States
Warminster
Pennsylvania
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10
Jun 2012
Very long game where things are changing a lot from turn to turn. You have to keep your wits about you because if you are not paying attention to many aspects there is a chance that your animals will not have food sufficient for them to exist in that space, or a glacier will fall on your group of animals (happened to me and I cried).

I do love this game because you do not have to plan super long term, but every decision you make will drastically change the course of the game. It is fun watching how much the board changes over the course of the game.
2011-10-31
Owned
Jenny Nguyen
Australia
Bungarribee
NSW
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10
Jul 2013
Revised rating from 8 (2010) to 9 (2011) to 10 (2013).

Yup, this game certainly has continued to live long and prosper in my gaming circles. It is a deep thinking game with many tough decisions to be made along the way. I continue to thoroughly enjoy it after all this time.

New players will often feel miserable as they appear to lose but there are always outs and ways to claw back in and even move into pole position. Definitely not a game to judge on a first play basis.

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This game has only gotten better with more plays. I enjoy the deep strategy and the heart wrenching decisions. The mechanics marry well with the theme. Prospective buyers/players should be warned that this is a long game, and it is a cruel one.
2013-07-16
Owned
Yoki Erdtman
Sweden
Södertälje
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Handsome devil huh?
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10
Aug 2012
Great theme, good designer, tons and tons of hype, and I'm glad I fell for it. This game is all that and a bag of chips. I love it! The worker placement mechanism is very cleverly implemented, and the way the timing of the actions work out will make you curse in frustration, or snicker with glee. The fact that the area control features 2 different metrics of resolution going on simultaneously in each area makes ones brain hurt, but it certainly is well designed and evocative of the theme. The elements work in a great way to tie the entire package together.

I upgraded to the 3rd edition board, cards and tiles, and must say that I like them a whole lot better than the 1st edition. It made it much simpler for me and my buddies to keep an overview of the game state.

Dominant Species is easily the most epic game in my collection, not only in theme, but implementation and game length. This is one heavy and very long game. The rules are fantastically well written and easy to understand, but in execution the worker placement mechanism becomes too difficult to manage, as you cannot hold all the permutations in your head. I've learned that one can keep 7 things actively in ones short term memory, but this drives past that at 65 mph and leaves it in the dust. You are faced with so many if-then statements that you are forced to play more by gut and instinct. Sure, you can have some sort of strategy from the start, but this is definitely a highly tactical game, sadly all those actions are already locked in and in many ways the game starts feeling like a programming game ala Space Alert.

This is my game of choice for gaming weekends, vacations or long conventions, but it will probably not come out at our regular gaming nights at all again.

Enjoy the ride, it's epic!


Ideas for a shorter game:
1) Give everyone 1 extra AP. (Not sure if this won't have the opposite effect, as we already tend to take all the Domination Cards each round.)
2) Remove 5-6 of each Element from the bag, to even out the draws a bit.
3) Remove some cards, the consencus (even included in the rules) state to remove Immigrants, Intelligence, Omnivore, and Parasitism. Many add Blight to that list. I am of the opinion that removing the AP modifiers will handicap the animals at the bottom of the food chain. The Insects advantage is the initiative to grab Parasitism or Omnivore before anyone else can react.
4) Play with fewer Species cubes per player (say 5 less).

The drawbacks of a shortened game of Dominant Species seem to be that the last couple of turns are the most exciting, as players are running out of Species cubes, the Tundra is most valuable, and the Earth has grown so large that migrating across it is difficult at best. Missing out on this doesn't sound like much fun.

Cardless Variant:
The "cardless variant" by the designer is interesting though. All cards except for Ice Age are put on the board face down, and when taken by the Dominant player, kept in front of them until the End Game. They score Bonus VP as normal for how many Domination Cards they have in front of them at the end of the game.
2013-08-15
Owned
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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10
Oct 2011
LIKES:

* I like that each animal brings a special ability to the game.
* While the majority vs domination concepts can be confusing the first play, this really brings a fascinating parallel competition/game to the game. One is almost playing two different games at the same time although there is some relation between the two.
* The 12 or so different actions really bring out the flavor of the game and can really swing rounds like crazy both in regard to domination and majorities.
* When one scores a tile using the domination action, not only does the tile score points, but the person who has domination must choose and play a card that often can effect future scorings in the same round. Finding combinations that work well here are just fun and interesting. Another fascinating twist is that the majorities leader may not be the domination leader and either person could select to score the hex! I love incentive based games.
* When your species cubes are removed from the tiles for any reason other than glaciation, they are actually removed from the game. This can lead to a cube shortage for majorities!

DISLIKES:
* It is confusing to many people the concept that each cube is a species. Just make sure to hammer the concept home that when one reads/hears species, it refers to ONE cube.
* While this isn't a negative per se, this game will take 4-5 hours the first time you play. While it is straightforward to play, there is a lot to take in and think through while playing and choosing your actions.
2010-11-13
Owned
Jeremy Oppenheim
United States
Reston
Virginia
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10
Jul 2012
This might be the perfect worker placement game
2010-12-19
Owned
Joel Tamburo
United States
Unspecified
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10
Oct 2010
A euro from GMT. On the heels of Leaping Lemmings we get the much heaver but also extremely good Dominent Species.

After a few plays I revised my score upward. The rules are outstanding and the play is DEEP. It is a heacy game and some players may have analysis paralysis but to me that type of game is geek heaven.
2010-10-22
Owned
Jeff Pratt
United States
Anacortes
Washington
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Just admit it already, Small World is not a fantasy wargame...it's a Mancala variant!
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10
Jan 2012
Dominant Species is the best game I have played in years. Although many parts of it are very abstract in nature, the game does a tremendous job of creating an atmosphere of constant adaptation and struggle for survival. At times, just trying to move into a habitable set of tiles can get so competitive it feels like a knife fight in a phone booth. The Domination cards really intensify the effect, because being able to control them is often times more important than expanding your species or scoring. People will fight for them, intensely.

All of this drives the game to very competitive place. Feelings are going to get hurt, people are going to get angry. I have played with a number of different groups and I have seen it play out time and time again. You are actively driving other players to extinction and silly as it may be, you will take it personally when someone pops a volcanic eruption under your population center and instantly removes half of your species from the game. You don't get them back, so you WILL want revenge. It drives the game, so even if it makes the group uncomfortable at times, it is necessary in creating the game's undeniably intense experience. This is one of those titles that keeps you talking about a particular session for weeks after you actually played it. It's a hall of fame game, one that will stay in my collection even if I decide to someday get out of the hobby.
2015-02-10
Owned
Joshua Miller
United States
Holland
Michigan
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10
Nov 2011
Marvelous, brilliantly-constructed game.

The best way I can quickly describe Dominant Species is that it's the state-of-the-art hardcore gamer's version of El Grande. The magic of El Grande was not just plopping cubes into regions and scoring 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place whenever a scoring round rolls along. Many games have done that sort of thing. No, the magic was in the jockeying for the special game-breaking actions that put the game state in constant flux, and provided countless ways of screwing up your opponents' plans. Dominant Species has the same kind of fun in the box.

But of course, Dominant Species is more than just Advanced El Grande. It combines the best parts of El Grande with the smooth menu selection / action drafting / worker placement of games like Caylus, Agricola, Age of Empires, and seemingly every other game released over the past five years. That sort of system works best when it creates the feeling that there are three or four or five things you absolutely must do right away, and you might be totally screwed if you don't get to do them. Agricola, for example, gets this right. Most of the other games in the genre get it wrong. Dominant Species gets it right.

And for all its mechanical beauty, Dominant Species also features an organic, compelling theme that meshes amazingly well with the game systems. I really do feel like I'm doing the sort of things I ought to be doing in a game about protean creatures that are adapting, surviving, proliferating, dominating. My role is that of a god-like shepherd and provider for my creatures. I'm not just guiding their actions. I'm also shaping the world itself to create an environment where they can thrive.
2011-07-01
Owned
James
United States
Texas
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10
Apr 2011
Dominant Species is making a fantastic first impression. It's a game of constant aggression and success to you needs to come at the cost of the other people playing. The systems mesh perfectly and the time spent (over 7 years in development from what I understand!) shows with the smoothness of play and the way that all of the systems work together to create an ebb and flow that one would expect from the evolutionary theme. I love the fact that this game has the "pebble in the pond" effect down perfectly. Decisions made have impacts that you may not be aware of until much later. Amazing game!

My initial impressions based on my first two two-player games is very positive. I think that this game is going to be a big hit with my group!
2010-10-09
Prev. Owned
The root of all evil... but you can call me cookie.
United States
Gainesville
Florida
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10
Oct 2010
The best game of 2010 hands down. This game has it all. Tight area control, worker placement tension...ahhhh you just need to give this game a try.

Tried this one exactly twice with 2 players. Once with each of us playing 2 animals and once with us each playing 1. Both were unsatisfying experiences. Both games had some elements go dead and drop off of the earth. Ugh this needs to be a 5 or 6 player game.
2013-12-09
Owned
Michael Sillion
Sweden
Varberg
Unspecified
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10
Nov 2010
Seems like one of the best game ever!
2010-11-02
Owned
Want To Play
Michel Sorbet
Poland
Lublin
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"A son seul aspect n'est-on pas terrasse? Nul n'est assez hardi pour l'exciter" Job 40:28
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10
Apr 2011
I chased this game for a long time and I was really anxious to play it. I read so many positive opinions that my expectations were very high. And... I was not dissapointed. This game has such a depth and is so intense, that I truly believe it is one of the best I have ever seen. It scales well from 2 to 6 players and the multitude of options during play is just terrific.

Brilliant!
2011-04-09
Owned
Gabriel Stern
United States
Pasadena
California
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10
Dec 2010
Only two plays. Nevertheless, Dominant Species may be *the* best game I've ever played. Can be a bit long, but utterly engaging from start to finish.
2011-02-28
Owned
Ben
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
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10
Jun 2011
Updated 10/28/10.

I’ve dreaded writing this entry. So much has been written about Dominant Species in the past month by people whose commitment to and understanding of gaming makes me feel intellectually Lilliputian. I’m not sure I can add much of value.

But I will try to follow the advice of
Железный комиссар
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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He said:
Quote:
…try to capture what makes a game tick in the NtY lists each month…


Dominant Species is an epic game. It takes hours. It is hard. It is tense, and I mean brow-sweat-inducing. And -- as any game about classes of animals struggling for survival in the face of an impending ice age should be -- it is ruthlessly interactive. Those are the games virtues.

From a design standpoint, the game is one of those rare, obvious-in-hindsight innovations. Stripped bare, Chad Jensen essentially replaced the cards in card-driven games with a worker placement-driven system of action selection. In doing so, he not only exponentially expanded the options available with each action -- resulting in greater control, and richer gameplay – but also he produced one of the most natural and intuitive uses of worker placement on the market.

Here, worker placement drives the action, but does not draw attention to itself. It is the crank that winds the music box, not the music. To this task it seems ideally suited. Indeed, something about its implementation here satisfies both my enjoyment of worker placement and my love for programming games (such as Space Alert). Moreover, the menu of actions from which players select is arranged as a logical hierarchy (with choices at the top requiring only a fraction of the gut-wrenching mental energy of choices at the bottom) that effectively provides a built-in tutorial for the accompanying board play. The angst of action selection also allows players to really identify with their species’ standing in the world (whether desperately needing to flee to parts unknown or ruthlessly exploiting a position of momentary dominance). The result is a special kind of thematic immersion.

From an experience standpoint, I can’t help but link Dominant Species to Twilight Struggle, though I’ve heard comparisons range from Through the Ages(with a map!) to El Grande, The Director’s Cut. Both Dominant Species and Twilight Struggle are incredibly satisfying to play because of their slowly developing narrative arc. I’ve encountered few games that can simply allow a compelling story to unfold through good play. Although both are long, neither seems to outstay its welcome. Both produce precisely the kind of atmosphere that I enjoy most: palpable tension. In both, that tension is manifested in a struggle for survival that is appropriately thematic for each, and that I find just engaging. Lastly, each game has a large number of strategic options that are all sufficiently interconnected to allow for maximum flexibility in response to randomized elements. Neither is a game that asks you to commit to one of a few well-defined strategies, with just a little flexibility at the margins (I’m looking at you, Le Havre). Instead, both games seem to be about carving out a unique path in a seemingly unconstrained strategy space by layering small decision upon small decision.

I can’t say enough good things. I love that it provides the ability to force other players into a decision between benefiting you with their actions or depriving themselves, whether through secondary and tertiary majorities, or through adaption and dominance. I love that the random and unequal dominance cards incentivize short-term goals –- often, just avoiding the havoc another player is soon to wreak -- that are otherwise in tension with ideal long-term planning. I love that players can control the rate at which species enter the board, providing a Euro-like resource management throttle that is particularly effective because of the game’s length.

For our learning game (with 5 players) we randomly removed 10 of the cards from the deck. It didn't seem to have a negative effect on the game's balance (we kept the Amphibians out). But the resulting game, though still fun, was less epic than it should have been. I wouldn't play that way on a regular basis (I would compare it to Le Havre's short game, which I've come to enjoy less and less over time). We all agreed that the game would be much better at full length with additional strategies to develop and a wider variety of actions to take. Additionally, the game is so gripping that it's hard for me to ever view additional length as a negative. We all lamented seeing the Ice Age card come out, even after 3 hours. It's a bit like having the SuperBowl go into double overtime -- no one is mad that they have to watch more great football.

There are already a lot of threads on the artwork and components, so I’ll just briefly mention that I really, genuinely like the aesthetic of the game. I dig the clean, simple, and understated look, and it was a selling point of the game for me. I also tend to think that (1) too many games are made worse by their attempts at art, and (2) the increasing emphasis on game appearance is eroding the appreciation for a strong link between mechanics and theme (replaced by an appreciation for a strong link between artwork and theme).

To the extent that anyone is worried about this, I can attest that the game looks professionally produced in person. No one will laugh at you at game night for bringing a homemade game (and this is coming from someone who owns several small publisher games that he won't bring to game night for fear of being laughed at blush ). The photos here are accurate with respect to the colors and artwork, but the components certainly do not look cheap on the table.

Other than Cavum, which eventually became my idiosyncratic 10 (we all have one, don’t we?), no game has jumped so quickly to the top of my personal rankings. I hope I can get it to the table with much more frequency going forward, as right now it’s really the only game I want to play (it may have even ruined Essen for me). Dominant Species is a special game. It’s certainly not right for those whose ideal game is a 60-90 minute straightforward Euro with predictable mechanics, streamlined gameplay, and animeeples. It is long, complex, tense, and confrontational. Because of all that, it is also ultimately rewarding in a way that few games can manage.
2012-11-30
Owned
我爱桌面游戏像老鼠爱大米
Spain
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10
Mar 2012
Devastador, donde todos los esfuerzos de tu especie se vuelcan en una cruda y violenta carrera por sobrevivir a costa de los demás. Pura guerra. Mil maneras de actuar en el tablero. Un juego que compré por el entusiasmo que se desató por él en el foro y que para mí es todo un 10. Juégalo a dos con una especie por jugador y sabrás lo que es tener más peones que usar en un turno que en cualquier otro juego. Cuando lo catas sabes enseguida que es uno de los one's.
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A dos o tres jugadores maravilloso. Pero qué placer tener tanto peón para poner cada turno. Chulo de verdad.

美妙的,完美的游戏。有很多人感觉它很乱也很复杂不过很有趣。虽然都是昆虫,鸟类或其他动物,但是好像一个战争游戏。我推荐你们试一下。
2012-11-08
Owned
Carl Patten
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
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No, no, I'm fine. How are you?
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10
Sep 2011
As I have Evo also, this was a natural evolution of that purchase. First game was an exciting if somewhat confusing thrill ride. Much like Stone Age, half the scoring happens on the last turn. This is my favorite longer game (3+ hours).
2011-02-24
Owned
Want To Play
Juan Manuel Barroso
Spain
Girona
Girona
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10
Nov 2013
Best 2010 game
2012-11-05
Owned
Ben Steinhauser
United States
San Antonio
TX
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10
Oct 2010
I wish I could get people to commit to playing this one more often.
2011-02-15
Owned
United States
Redford
Michigan
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10
Nov 2014
Received: December 2012
2 - 3, W1
2014-11-15
Owned

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