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Subject: Strategy Q&A rss

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Pierre Beri
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First and foremost and obvious though it may seem, let’s remind one key thing: you will not win by scoring many points, but you will win by scoring more points than your opponents. Thus, if a move makes you lose X population/points but causes your opponents to lose even more (e.g. drying up the watering hole to starve omnivores), then it is a good move for you.

A few definitions:
• individual: one population slot. A population of 5 = 5 individuals
• omnivore: an individual from a non-carnivore species
• carnivore: an individual from a species with the Carnivore trait
• WHDI: watering hole-dependent individual (i.e. can’t feed by other means such as Long neck, Fat tissue, Scavenger, Carnivore, etc.)

*************

How much food should I put in the watering hole in phase 2?
This depends on several factors, including:
• How late are you playing in turn order?
o Late = throw in more, out of security
o Early = throw in less
• Do you have more WHDIs than others?
o No, and even much less: dry out the WH and don’t hesitate to use negative-food cards! Your opponents will starve more than you will (the cards used to grow their populations will then be lost cards)
o Yes = throw in more
• Do you have more Fertile species than others?
o Yes = leftover food in the watering hole at the end of the round is good for you, so throw in more

I don’t have the right cards.
You can do a bunch of things with seemingly useless cards:
• play the game again and again to learn how to use each trait well;
• save time by reading this;
• discard cards to increase population/body size or create new species;
• keep all your cards to use them later. Playing zero card for a round is not unacceptable. On the contrary, by doing this you don’t waste cards (a population/species that dies the round it has been created = a wasted card).

I have cards but there is too little food to make increasing my population or creating new species appealing.
Then you’d better keep these cards or use them to increase body size, provided that it’s relevant. Besides, by keeping all your cards you will have a lot more to make your opponents big surprises on the next round!

My opponents have more population than me, I can’t catch up.
If an opponent has more WHDIs than you, they’ll score more points if you both feed all your WHDIs (i.e., often, if the watering hole is flooded with food). Drying out the WH is a way to lower everyone’s population levels and homogenize these levels across players.

There is no countering foraging/cooperation/long neck.
Big plant food engines have their flaws:
• you can starve them by drying out the WH
• each food-enhancing card occupies a slot that is thereby not occupied by a defensive trait. Fast-feeding omnivores are therefore more vulnerable to predators.

There is no countering a scavenger (+cooperation) when there are several attacks per round.
Scavenger is one of those things that are useless most of the time but can be a killer in the right circumstances.
A few counters:
• attack scavengers or pressurize them to hinder their development
• if possible, turn Scavenger yourself
• make sure the number of attacks per round decreases, for instance:
o by increasing preys’ body sizes, thereby filling predators up faster
o by raising preys’ defences, which will deter predators from remaining predators
o by turning your predators back to omnivores. In that case, you should then throw back food into the watering hole
• do not play with more than 4, partly because the game is better with 2-3-4 and partly because more players = more species = more predators = more attacks = more Scavenger efficiency

Going carnivore is too hard!
Evolution is not called Carnivores!. Many ecosystems are hostile to carnivores and you can definitely win by making no carnivores whatsoever during a game. Here’s some advice to “go carnivore” successfully:
• when you are playing last (or almost) in turn order, you know your opponents’ final populations and body sizes so you can surprise them by going carnivore and they can’t even react (still, beware of what face-down traits they may have played);
• don’t go carnivore just for fun: if all other species are well-defended or big enough, your only reward will be EXTINCTION;
• however, there are ways to ensure survival for at least a round if things go sour:
o intelligence (keep cards in hand to activate it)
o having a nicely filled Fat tissue before going carnivore (fat from plant remains fat and can be used by a carnivore)
o rely on farming, i.e. have another species ready to be attacked by your carnivore if it can attack noone else

On the other hand, if your opponents are too well-defended, their defensive traits occupy slots that can’t be used for a better food engine (remember, food = victory points). Take that opportunity to create such engines and feed faster than them!

This BGG thread goes deeper into good carnivore practices.

There is no countering an intelligent predator.
There is: increase your body size.

There is no countering an intelligent, pack-hunting, high-BS and high-pop carnivore.
First, Intelligence costs cards to be used. Then, a 6/6 intelligent, social predator normally ever happens towards the end of the game (so you shouldn’t suffer too long). Finally, if that happens it will be either because its owner has spent heaps of cards to get there, or because other players let it thrive and binge too easily along the game.
Also, if you increase your body size, the predator will get filled up faster and attack you fewer times and you’ll lose less population.

Miscellaneous tricks:
Replace Carnivore with another Carnivore card. Your opponents might think they can breathe and remove their defensive traits.
Same trick with Fat tissue: you cash the food that is on the old Fat tissue and will be able to fill the new one (provided that there’s enough food/preys).
If you don’t like your hand, you can create a species and give it any traits if you know it will go extinct during the round. Thereby, you will draw as many cards as there were on the species. A good way to renew your hand and/or speed up the game by exhausting the deck.

A few combos:
Carnivore 6/6 + Fat tissue
Body size 1 + Horns
Long neck + population 1-2 + Burrowing

And finally the magical equation:
Defense beats Carnivore beats Food Engine beats Defense
Rock-paper-scissors!

In a word: adapt!
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beri2 wrote:

If you don’t like your hand, you can create a species and give it any traits if you know it will go extinct during the round. Thereby, you will draw as many cards as there were on the species. A good way to renew your hand and/or speed up the game by exhausting the deck.


In Evolution Climate you can also replace your cards at the end of Phase3/Play Cards...

Evolution: Climate wrote:
After a player has finished playing cards for the round, they may return any number of cards from their hand to
the bottom of the face-down Draw Deck (to be dealt at a later time) and draw the same number of cards from the
top of the Draw Deck. A player may not return more cards than are available in the Draw Deck. The newly drawn
cards cannot be played as traits until Phase 3 (Play Cards) of the next round.
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For countering scavengers you missed one of my favourite options:

If you control the only carnivore that is supplying the scavengers, get it a fat tissue and fill it up (also filling up the scavengers). In the next round, try to reduce the watering hole food as much as possible and just choose not to eat on your carnivore that's already full because of fat tissue.

Related to this. When you have a fat tissue carnivore with a full population (but not full FT), and there are scavengers that will definitely fill up when you attack, and there is still food in the watering hole, just don't eat with the carnivore until the scavengers are full or the watering hole is empty - just by waiting you can force the scavengers to clean up the watering hole which helps stop fertile and also with what I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
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Robert Ahearne
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Ayer
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I concur with most of the OP -- which is really good stuff -- but I have a couple quibbles:

First, my experience is it is very rarely a good thing to hold on to cards from round to round. Most often you can find a way to make those cards benefit you somehow. Holding on to cards is a way to fall behind the players who are making use of theirs.

Secondly, defending against an Intelligent Pack Hunting Carnivore: spam body size 1 species with at least one solid defense (Warning Call, Climbing, etc). I actually learned this from the AI of the Evolution digital game (which is out on Steam and is coming to iOS/Android). This is the AI's standard defense in this situation. It's a royal pain to deal with as an Intelligent Carnivore.
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I don't think there are many games where I don't save cards at some point. After noticing how well I do after often spending no cards for the first turn or two, several people I play with have started also doing little with their opening hands sometimes. At this point, I think we would consider it very strange if there wasn't at least one player who finished their first turn with a single 1/1 traitless species. Granted, this is with climate, where there are even more unknowns in the future that you may want to adapt to.

The adaptability that a larger, varied hand gives you is very powerful. You just have to use it against what your opponents have already played.

You probably don't want to have cards in hand after every turn, but effective use of play-nothing (and the less extreme variation keep-something) is definitely a beneficial addition to your arsenal.
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Robert Ahearne
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Hmmm. I was thinking of Evolution(w/ or w/o Flight), which is my primary experience. I've only played Climate twice. Not certain how much the game differences impact the keep-or-don't-keep decision.

I'll look at it in my future plays, but at this point I'm unconvinced. About the only times I hold cards are (a) I have Intelligence, and thought I'd need the card(s) to fuel it, but didn't, or (b) the held card(s) are Carnivore trait(s) I want to use, but I don't have Carnivore yet.
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