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Subject: Run away winner/loser problem? rss

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Squishy Mu

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Patrick on Blue Peg Pink Peg recently commented that he did not like Evolution as he felt there was a runaway loser/winner problem to the game. I have played the game a couple times at BGGCON and liked the game and did not feel that this was a problem most of the time. I did feel it once when in the first turn one of my species was eaten until it was extinct.

Do you feel that this is a problem? Do you feel that there is a player count were this is more of a problem compared to other play counts?

I have been considering the game but now a little concerned.

Thanks,
Spattz
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Liz Burton
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It's more of a problem in 2p games. In other games, players will gang up on a runaway leader.

2p is usually pretty good, though. I wouldn't let the runaway leader problem worry you too much.
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Jason Bush
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My guess is that he didn't understand the management of the watering hole, or that he misunderstood the utility of some rules.
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Drew Lovell
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We've played it a pretty decent number of times at this point and I don't really feel like this is too big of an issue. In 2 player games it can happen but so far I feel like when it does it is only because the other player allowed it to happen.
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Chris Laudermilk
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I mostly play 2p, and yes there is absolutely this problem. Once one of the two knocks the other player down enough it's basically game over. With 3 or more I have not seen that it's as much of an issue.

When everyone is competitive, it's a fantastically fun game. But in the 2p runaway leader situation, it sucks.
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Doc Jones
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One of the major mechanics that my group missed initially was that, when one of your species goes extinct, you get a new trait card for each trait card lost off the extinct species. Implementing this into the gameplay made a huge difference in preventing runaway wins.
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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There are two related issues in game design that are often confused for each other:

1) A run-away leader can happen because of a couple of exceptionally good/poor draws.

2) A run-away leader can happen because of good card play.

The first issue is a game design problem but the second is indicative of strategic depth.

In my experience, Evolution does not have a problem with the 1st type of run-away leader. A run-away leader usually happens because of the experience disparity of the players. Or sometimes at a table of new players when one of them happens upon a good "engine" and no one else figures out how to counter it.

Evolution is not like other engine building games. In most engine building games, if you build the better engine you will coast to victory. In Evolution, a "better" engine is only better for the current circumstance. As the ecosystem changes, the "better" engine will have to adapt. In other words, there is no best engine in Evolution. There are just card combos that work well together for a particular type of ecosystem and when the ecosystem changes, the card combos stops functioning. So you have to continually adapt to do well at Evolution, even if your opponent happens into a string of bad card draws.
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Chris Laudermilk
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Actually, my issue with runaway leader is mainly #1. An example: my son seems exceptionally lucky with getting multiple Cooperation cards in his draws, so is able to build up a nice chain. In the same game I see zero Cooperation cards. This has happened several times; I know it's just luck of the draw, but it's hard to fight against 4 species all cooperating while you are getting things like Burrowing, Herding, Warning Call, and an odd Fat Tissue of Long Neck.

That massive Cooperation chain, often bolstered by Long Neck and Foraging allows spamming Carnivores and starvation tactics you simply cannot fight against. Again, this has primarily been in 2p games. I think the issue for me is partly not finding a good counter tactic, but it's also partly just an issue with the luck.

I'm definitely knocking the game as a whole--it can be very fun. There is just that strong possibility of one player getting so strong that it's a runaway and that session is great for him and horrible for everyone else. As I mentioned, this one is taking a break from our rotation for a while because of this.
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Liz Burton
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If your opponent has a Cooperation chain, you've got to put negative food into the Watering Hole and start creating Carnivores!
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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claudermilk wrote:
Actually, my issue with runaway leader is mainly #1. An example: my son seems exceptionally lucky with getting multiple Cooperation cards in his draws, so is able to build up a nice chain. In the same game I see zero Cooperation cards. This has happened several times; I know it's just luck of the draw, but it's hard to fight against 4 species all cooperating while you are getting things like Burrowing, Herding, Warning Call, and an odd Fat Tissue of Long Neck.

That massive Cooperation chain, often bolstered by Long Neck and Foraging allows spamming Carnivores and starvation tactics you simply cannot fight against. Again, this has primarily been in 2p games. I think the issue for me is partly not finding a good counter tactic, but it's also partly just an issue with the luck.

I'm definitely knocking the game as a whole--it can be very fun. There is just that strong possibility of one player getting so strong that it's a runaway and that session is great for him and horrible for everyone else. As I mentioned, this one is taking a break from our rotation for a while because of this.


Are you playing by the 2-player rules? The game is more prone to run-away leaders if you are not playing with the two player rules. That's why we created the 2-player rules.

Otherwise, I'd play low food (something you're bound to have with almost any draw) and create a Carnivore (something you're bound to have within two rounds) and attack anything in the middle of the Cooperation chain. The Cooperation chain stops working as soon as one of the middle species is fed. If you're playing by the 2-player rules, then there should be no problem with stopping this a Cooperation chain.
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Chris Laudermilk
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<facepalm> Obvious stuff I should have thought of...
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David A
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manutd03 wrote:
If your opponent has a Cooperation chain, you've got to put negative food into the Watering Hole and start creating Carnivores!

I still have yet to make this tactic work for me. Sure, by denying food in the watering hole I'm hurting my opponent, but I'm also starving myself out. Making carnivores doesn't work for me either because my opponents give them traits or sizes that make me unable to attack them so I'm forced to waste cards and time and effort making "feeders" for my carnivore every round just to keep them alive since my non-carnivores are starving out for a lack of food or are stuck at low population because I can't get enough food for them beyond 1 or 2.

I love this game, but I wish I understood how you guys are making these wizard tactics work.
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Doc Jones
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domcrap wrote:
Otherwise, I'd play low food (something you're bound to have with almost any draw) and create a Carnivore (something you're bound to have within two rounds) and attack anything in the middle of the Cooperation chain. The Cooperation chain stops working as soon as one of the middle species is fed. If you're playing by the 2-player rules, then there should be no problem with stopping this a Cooperation chain.


Yup, in the game we played the other day my fiancee still managed to steal the win, but I definitely put a damper on her cooperation chain by chowing her cooperative hippos in the middle into extinction; the creature that slid into place was last in her chain and had only one population.

We were like 38-58-63-69, and I think I was closer to the bottom end of the spectrum until I made a body size 3 population 6 pack-hunting airborne carnivore. The guy who came in last was a first-time player, and was at a bit of a disadvantage because he went carnivore too early but had previously pumped cards into his creature's population, so when the carnivore died of starvation that was effectively 3 cards flushed away.
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North Star Games
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Thud105 wrote:

I still have yet to make this tactic work for me. Sure, by denying food in the watering hole I'm hurting my opponent, but I'm also starving myself out. Making carnivores doesn't work for me either because my opponents give them traits or sizes that make me unable to attack them so I'm forced to waste cards.


The key to starving your opponents out is to make sure you can get the limited amount of food faster than they can. Obviously a coop/foraging/long neck combo is well suited to that, but sometimes it isn't enough.

Making a carnivore and having them replace traits to defend against that is a great position to be in however. If they've adapted extremely well, then get rid of the carnivore trait the next turn. You've expended/'wasted' one card while they have optimally used up many more than that to adapt to a situation that no longer exists.
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Adam Porter
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Doc_Jones wrote:
One of the major mechanics that my group missed initially was that, when one of your species goes extinct, you get a new trait card for each trait card lost off the extinct species. Implementing this into the gameplay made a huge difference in preventing runaway wins.


I missed this rule too, and we were having a runaway leader problem!!

Thanks for pointing it out!
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