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Daniel D
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Dear All,

There are now 3 versions of Evolution, these are separate games and not really expansions:
1. Evolution Base + Flight
2. Evolution: Climate
3. Evolution: The Beginning

I've looked online but can't find a source which compares all 3, I know in general what is the difference between #1 & #2, but how does #3 come into play?

I want to add Evolution into my collection, but don't know which is the more complete, more refined, more corrected/streamlined version.

Which one should I get? What is the difference between 'The Beginning' & 'Climate'?

THANKS!!!!
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Todd
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I asked something similar here. FYI

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Mandy Benanav
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The Beginning seems like a REALLY stripped down version of a game that is already basically gateway-level. I suspect the only good reason to get it would be for playing with children. So unless that's your situation, I think you can pretty safely rule it out.

I haven't played Climate yet (waiting on my preorder to ship!) but early impressions are pretty universally positive. I wouldn't usually recommend a game I haven't played yet over one I have, but I think Climate might be the best way to go. It has everything from the base game, but with extra stuff for Climate, so you could in theory just play the base game without the Climate stuff (may involve ignoring some Climate effects on cards though).

Base + Flight is great, but Flight mostly adds some breadth to the game without changing it up substantially. Climate seems like it will make for a more interesting and challenging twist on the formula, and like I said, worst case is if you don't like Climate, you just end up playing with the base cards from the Climate set.

And note - while Flight + Climate aren't compatible, since Climate contains everything from the base game you could use Flight with the Climate set as long as you sort out all the Climate-related cards (and ignore any Climate effects on remaining traits). I doubt there's reason to do this unless you end up becoming a diehard Evolution fan, so I would just hold off until you see if you like it.

So yeah... my vote is for Climate. It's cheaper than base + Flight and seems like a more interesting challenge.
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Daniel D
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Great! Thanks!

So I'll go from Climate.
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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Evolution: The Beginning is a great game with more than enough depth for gamers - especially as a 2-player game. In fact, it's one of my all-time favorite 2-player games.

I did not design the game for kids or for Target. NorthStar just happens to be releasing it at Target first because it allows them to make a first print run of 40,000 units. My design goals were simply to make a version of the concept that is more intuitive, simple to learn, and more forgiving of rookie mistakes (which is what turns off new players). You should try it before dismissing it as a kids game. We play it in the office everyday at lunch. It's a more casual experience than Climate, but it's intellectually engaging, more fast paced, and just as fun.

We also play Climate in the office, but it's more of a commitment and doesn't come out as often.
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Isaac Shalev
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The way I see it:

Evo:TB is the 2-player version. (Reg Evo doesn't play well at two, Flight is basically totally broken at two b/c of the trait limits, and I haven't tried Climate at 2). Evo:TB is fantastic at 2.

Evo Base+Flight: Good game, best at 4p, I really dislike the simultaneous play at 6, and just got a little messy to me with all the promotional and expansion content.

Evo Climate:A more comprehensive, polished and interlocking experience for 3+.

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Dominic Crapuchettes
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ender7 wrote:
The way I see it:

Evo:TB is the 2-player version. (Reg Evo doesn't play well at two, Flight is basically totally broken at two b/c of the trait limits, and I haven't tried Climate at 2). Evo:TB is fantastic at 2.

Evo Base+Flight: Good game, best at 4p, I really dislike the simultaneous play at 6, and just got a little messy to me with all the promotional and expansion content.

Evo Climate:A more comprehensive, polished and interlocking experience for 3+.

There are various opinions about these issues depending on what you're looking for in a game. I understand most where most of your opinions are coming from except your opinion that Flight is broken with 2 players. I can see how it might not be your favorite, but it is clearly not broken (at least to me). Here are the 4 opinions from the poll on the Flight page:

1 person: "Best" with 2 players
2 people: "Recommended" for 2 players
1 person: "Not Recommended" for 2-players

I will also share Mina's opinion about CLIMATE as a 2-player game since she is a well-known reviewer and her opinion differs from yours. She might even be the person who likes Flight best as a 2-player game.
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1618327/minas-not-so-mini-r...

milenaguberinic wrote:
5. Rather strategic with two
Evolution is a strategic game with only two players. And because it is full of interaction and requires that you keep a close eye on other players, I wouldn't want to play it with more than 2. I think additional players would just add time and chaos to the game. I have enough trouble trying to out-think Peter and trying to keep track of all his species. If there were more people around the table with species that have even more traits than we are allowed to bestow upon ours in a 2-player game, I would just get frustrated with all the craziness that would unfold. So Evolution is a perfect 2-player game for me.

Climate does not change this because when I'm playing with one other person, I have more confidence over my ability to predict and manipulate not only the food, but also the climatic environment. Of course, I can never be certain that the cards I play will have the exact effect I desire, but I can have more of an influence over the climate and preparing for events and climatic shifts than I would be with more players. Some people may prefer the chaos that would ensue with more players, but for me, the game contains the perfect amount of control with two.

 
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Isaac Shalev
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Dominic, I love Evolution. But with two players, the limits on traits for species takes a whole bunch of combos out of the game. Flight suffers from this especially, since you're using one of only two slots for the flying trait itself. I agree that the game is strategic with two, but it's a lot less fun when so many of the things you can do in a 3+ game are out-of-bounds in 2-player. That's why I called it broken - it just wasn't the same flavor of fun, and instead of enjoying the experience I kept being frustrated that I couldn't do things I was used to do doing while playing the game w 3+.

To my mind, the game called Evolution, the one you play w 3+ players, is simply not the game you play when you play it 2 players. I think the very existence of E:TB shows that you and your company recognized that too. I would simply not recommend Evolution to players intending to play primarily w 2. To each their own, but that's what I'm telling On Board Games listeners.
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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Hi Isaac! Thanks for the conversation.

I understand that you don't like the 2-player version but to say it's broken seems imprecise. When people say a game is "broken", they usually mean it cannot be played on a strategic level. Meaning there is something about the mechanics which makes it so the game cannot be played strategically. But there is fantastic depth in the 2-player version of Evolution, Flight, and CLIMATE.

We did not release E:TB to solve a problem with the 2-player version of the game. We released E:TB because, starting in 2012, Target kept asking us if we'd come up with a hobby game for them. This was the impetus that pushed us over the edge with regards to North Star Games starting a strategic division (something I'd been wanting to do since I started the company in 2003). The fact that E:TB happens to be a wonderfully strategic game for 2-players is an accidental benefit that makes me very happy.

With all this said, here is my personal opinion on the matter:
- I prefer Evolution and Flight with 3 or 4 players over 2-players.
- I prefer Evolution: The Beginning with 2-players over multi-players. Each additional player makes the game more casual and less in line with what I'm seeking.
- I like CLIMATE pretty much equally at all player counts. I think it's great as a 2-player game.
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Isaac Shalev
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Publishers often put out adjusted rules for player counts that a game doesn't support well naturally. As a reviewer, in my mind, if that game deviates significantly from the core game, or if it leaves behind a core aspect of the experience, I consider that a major misstep. The point, in my mind, is that my listeners want to know is this the same game at 2, or are they getting a compromised experience? There may be a better word than "broken" to describe this state of affairs.

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Daniel D
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I agree. E:TB claims 2-5 players - but as stated it's best with 2.
I've played it several times with 5 players and the game, using the base rules, is not very enjoyable. The rules should have stated different end game for 4 & 5 player counts.

If I knew this game was designed for 2 players and was extended artificially up to 5 just to please Target wanting a 'family game', I would have never bought it. I have enough 2p games, I really wanted a cool 5p game.

Too bad.
 
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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QuickDaniel wrote:
I agree. E:TB claims 2-5 players - but as stated it's best with 2.
I've played it several times with 5 players and the game, using the base rules, is not very enjoyable. The rules should have stated different end game for 4 & 5 player counts.

If I knew this game was designed for 2 players and was extended artificially up to 5 just to please Target wanting a 'family game', I would have never bought it. I have enough 2p games, I really wanted a cool 5p game.

Too bad.


E:TB was not designed as a 2-player game and it was not extended artificially to please Target. Target never expressed an opinion about the player count and they never said they wanted a "family game". Any miscommunication on that is entirely my fault. I tried my best to communicate who should purchase the game. I'm sorry that I failed you on that account.

People who prefer a more casual experience have a wonderful time playing E:TB with 4 and 5 players. I've done enough testing to see it in action many times with great results. But I was a tournament chess player as a kid and a successful pro-magic player for over 5 years, so I'm on the edge of the bell curve compared to most people with regards to wanting a highly strategic experience. Most people play board games in large part because of the social component. E:TB is a fantastic game for more casual board gamers.
 
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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ender7 wrote:
The point, in my mind, is that my listeners want to know is this the same game at 2, or are they getting a compromised experience? There may be a better word than "broken" to describe this state of affairs.


The experience is different, but I wouldn't say it's compromised. 2 of our game developers who have each played the game over 100 times like the 2-player Evolution experience better than at any other player count. They like the game better because it has more unexpected turns and leads to better stories.

It's not unusual for me to come across people who prefer the 2-player version of the game best. Mina's Fresh Cardboard is quite a popular reviewer and is in this camp (as I quoted above). I think the best way to describe the difference is to say that 2-player Evolution Is a game of "controlled chaos". The game is always one step away from spiraling out of control for you. And that's exactly why it leads to more laughs and more memorable stories. If you don't play games for the stories they tell, then Evolution is not a great 2-player game for you.
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Isaac Shalev
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Dominic, from a design perspective, why did you limit the trait cards in two players?

My analysis is that w three trait cards, it's too easy to build an engine, and without two other players to oppose you, there's a runaway leader problem. Was that part of your thinking as well?

I appreciate that you want to talk about the games in their best possible light, and there's no doubt that people enjoy these games at various player counts for various reasons. I like Evolution for the combos and the strategic play. A more chaotic experience generated by tweaking one of the core rules is a neat trick to pull off, but it's a weird situation to be in as a reviewer, because the game is appealing to two very distinct player bases based on the number of players at the table.

Thanks for making these games, I do love them, and I want that to be heard more than any quibbling about the details.
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Daniel D
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domcrap wrote:

E:TB was not designed as a 2-player game and it was not extended artificially to please Target. Target never expressed an opinion about the player count and they never said they wanted a "family game". Any miscommunication on that is entirely my fault. I tried my best to communicate who should purchase the game. I'm sorry that I failed you on that account.

People who prefer a more casual experience have a wonderful time playing E:TB with 4 and 5 players. I've done enough testing to see it in action many times with great results. But I was a tournament chess player as a kid and a successful pro-magic player for over 5 years, so I'm on the edge of the bell curve compared to most people with regards to wanting a highly strategic experience. Most people play board games in large part because of the social component. E:TB is a fantastic game for more casual board gamers.


It really is a good game, but there is just a taste of 'a bit more' each time I play.
With 4 & 5 players hands down, for sure, there should be a 2nd reshuffle of the deck, otherwise the game is just too short.
That will already improve the situation. If there were a bit more card types maybe it would also be better.
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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ender7 wrote:
Dominic, from a design perspective, why did you limit the trait cards in two players?

My analysis is that w three trait cards, it's too easy to build an engine, and without two other players to oppose you, there's a runaway leader problem. Was that part of your thinking as well?

Yes, that is exactly the issue. Each additional trait that you are allowed to place on a species creates an increasingly static game state environment.

When we had unlimited traits, there were situations where the winner (in a 4 player game) would become evident by the 3rd round because someone had a dominant Carnivore that could squash new species. Without a trait limit, the Carnivore simply grew more and more powerful each round. Figuring out the right number of traits was an essential part of the design process. We wanted enough stability to allow players to plan ahead and have control over their own fate, but not so much stability that games could get decided early through the card draw. Limiting the number of traits per species also creates biodiversity, and that's an important part of the theme. Otherwise every species tends towards the same end: an apex predator with every trait possible.

In a 2-player game, 3 traits per species is too stable of an environment. Even among equally skilled players, it generates too many games where you can figure out the likely winner quite early in the game. That's not fun for anyone involved, and that's not great game design! In a strategy game of this depth, you want equally skilled players to have a fierce battle all the way until the end of the game, and you want games of unequal skill to be won by the more skilled person more often - but with an outside chance that the less skilled player could win. And specifically with 2-players, we wanted to increase the outside chance of the less skilled player because people who play 2-player games (like spouses) often play the same player over and over and over. It's never fun when the same player wins 100% of the time.

If you want to maintain the same experience at all player counts, then 2-player Evolution should probably allow 2.3 traits per species and 6-player Evolution should probably allow 3.3 traits per species. That's my guess, but unfortunately I've never been able to test it!

ender7 wrote:
I appreciate that you want to talk about the games in their best possible light...

I think that's the right way to talk about games (and people). It doesn't make sense to talk about Twilight Struggle as a party game. It's not a party game. If judged as a party game then Twilight Struggle is one of the worst games ever designed.

My job as a game designer is to create games that can meet a need in people's lives. And there's a plethora of needs that can get met through games - social, intellectual, emotional, and even cardiovascular. The list is endless.

My job as a publisher is the get each game into the right people's hands. It does me more harm than good to sell a game to the wrong person because they will not enjoy the experience and that reflects poorly on our brand. I think the job a reviewer is similar. They should help people understand what to expect from a game, the correct situation where the game shines best, and whether it does a good job (compared to other options) at meeting the needs of that situation. Do not compare Candy Land, which was designed for kids starting to learn their colors, to Agricola. They were designed for different people.

ender7 wrote:
I like Evolution for the combos and the strategic play. A more chaotic experience generated by tweaking one of the core rules is a neat trick to pull off, but it's a weird situation to be in as a reviewer, because the game is appealing to two very distinct player bases based on the number of players at the table.

It's not a trick. It's a matter of trying to meet needs correctly. And I think you're over-emphasizing the differences of the target markets from 2-player games to 3+ player games. I like both experiences and I'm one person. I like Telestrations and Evolution and Soccer. It's not that weird for the same person to have different needs. The games I like to play with my spouse or my 6 year old son are different than the games I like playing in the office with gamers.

ender7 wrote:
Thanks for making these games, I do love them, and I want that to be heard more than any quibbling about the details.

I'm not offended in the slightest. Thanks for engaging with me! I'm just trying to do my best to communicate how the experiences are different so the right people can make informed purchasing decisions. Cheers!

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Stefan Minor Weaver
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Climate for two
Hi!

I think it’s entirely fair to praise three-plus Climate to the heavens. But I would do so without downgrading the two-player experience.

Personally, I think Climate is an extraordinary game for two players. It’s an equally lush immersion of an experience, the mechanics hum along seamlessly, the combinatorial possibilities multiply gloriously toward infinity, and the three-trait limit squeezes players just enough so that although there’s a bajillion ways in which your species can mutate, meaning you’ve got loads of fun flexibility, you’re nonetheless simultaneously & constantly aware of the squeeze that the limitation of having only three instead of four traits places on your decision-making process. (“If only I had ONE MORE TRAIT SLOT!” has been a common wail of a refrain when my friend Aaron and I have squared off.)

And yeah, it’s super duper tactical because you’re constantly making highly specific incremental adjustments. One watches one’s opponent like a hawk, scrutinizing the disposal of each single card into the discard pile for clues as to what said opponent might possibly be up to. There is no piece of information to be gleaned from such close observation that might not be relevant to one’s survival. This isn’t specific to the two-player, of course; but I think having even one single additional species tableaux to analyze means my head explodes in terms of trying to keep tabs on everything happening around the table! With only one opponent, I can really laser in to their adjustments without the risk of mental overload (and subsequent AP).

I think the climate track is probably at its best with more than two, but again, this doesn’t mean the climate track challenge with only two is dull. Not at all. There are still those white-knuckle moments when you desperately need to eke the climate marker one space to the right or left and you’re praying that the two suns or snowflakes you placed face-down (all you had, let's say) will be enough to shield you from gravely unfavorable conditions. It makes sense that the climate track would become even more dramatic and strategically knotted with three-plus players. But again (again), this doesn’t mean the two-player game is deficient. It means that two-player Climate is pretty incredible and that three-plus is incredible and then some. At least for me.

Playing Climate two-player, I’ve never for even a single second ever found myself bored or wishing I was playing at a higher player count. Playing it with two maybe gets me excited to sling it out with more. But I’m immersed and riveted at every moment, which is the most I can ask for from a tabletop game.

Re: The Beginning, which I just ordered last night, I’ll carry over something I wrote on a distant guild, in terms of what I’m hoping for from it as a two-player (r)encounter:

“What I’m wondering is if Beginning is to Evolution what Agricola: All Creatures is to Agricola: a fast-playing reimplementation that somehow manages to squeeze a surprising dosage of ‘if only I had one more stone!’ anguish into a rapid but satisfyingly substantive twenty-eight minutes.”

My wife and I can’t wait for it to arrive, especially considering that, as parents of a young elf, it’s not always so easy to get an epoch-spanning epic like Climate to the table round about midnight!
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p.s.
Shorter version of a long post:

When playing two-player Climate, I never think to myself, “Gee, this is okay but I’d really rather be playing it with at least three.” Instead, I maybe think, “Wow, this is amazing, and hmm, it’ll definitely also be cool to give it a go with three or four next week if we get a chance.”

Big difference for me. Asia and I have been playing a bunch of Kanagawa recently, for example, and that’s a game in which, while I savor its subtleties even just with two, I’m on some level aware of the fact that I’m missing having at least one more pupil in the mix during the school phase.

But with Climate, I never feel like some major element of the game is being hindered or prevented from developing fully without a third player at the table. For us, Climate achieves full bloom no matter the player count.
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