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Subject: trait / draw limit rss

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Veljko Dobrijevic
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The base game allows a maximum of 3 traits per species (2 in 1VS1) and you draw 3 cards + 1 per species at the beginning of the round.
With the Climate expansion that's changed to 4 traits and 4+N cards, while in Flight it's also 3 traits and 3+N cards like in the base game.

1. Why is this so ? I suppose part of the reason is because in Climate you need at least 1 trait to adapt to extremely cold/warm weather (Heavy Fur / Cooling Frills), at least if the climate does turn extreme. If it stays in the middle, then you have 4 traits instead of 3 available to create your ideal herbivore/carnivore, which creates FAR MORE possible possible trait combinations, thereby making it more suited for the hardcore gamer as opposed to the casual gamer.

2. What do you think would happen if you allowed 4 traits and 4+N cards in the base game, or in Flight ? Would there be any debalancing / detrimental effect, or simply the increased complexity mentioned above (and of course a shorter game since you go through cards more quickly) ?
This seems especially desirable if you're adding promo cards (and carnivores), which would otherwise increase the duration of the game.

3. Does anyone have any suggestion on how to make the process of removing N cards from the deck for a smaller number of players faster ?
For example yesterday I played Climate with two other people, and instead of counting out 60 cards (which would have taken a while) to remove from the deck as per the rules, I simply removed an estimated chunk of the deck, but I might have overestimated or underestimated the size of the chunk...
Boardgaming sometimes makes me wish I had a robot / slave to perform such boring drudgery...
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James R. Gracen
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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
The base game allows a maximum of 3 traits per species (2 in 1VS1) and you draw 3 cards + 1 per species at the beginning of the round...With the Climate expansion that's changed to 4 traits and 4+N cards, while in Flight it's also 3 traits and 3+N cards like in the base game.

1. Why is this so ? I suppose part of the reason is because in Climate you need at least 1 trait to adapt to extremely cold/warm weather (Heavy Fur / Cooling Frills)...

That would be my guess as well.

Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
2. What do you think would happen if you allowed 4 traits and 4+N cards in the base game, or in Flight ?

Having too many trait slots available would make it tough on Carnivores since the omnivores have a better chance of protecting themselves. I would stick to a three trait limit.

Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
3. Does anyone have any suggestion on how to make the process of removing N cards from the deck for a smaller number of players faster ?

I would think that eyeballing it instead of an exact count would be acceptable...as long as you are *fairly* accurate at it (I, personally, would still count them out). It is pretty easy to remove half the deck. Just make two equal size stacks and discard one. For the other counts (30 or 60 cards), eyeballing it is quite a bit harder.
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Pierre Beri
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CavemanLogic wrote:
Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
2. What do you think would happen if you allowed 4 traits and 4+N cards in the base game, or in Flight ?

Having too many trait slots available would make it tough on Carnivores since the omnivores have a better chance of protecting themselves. I would stick to a three trait limit.
Or you would get apex predators and it would be too tough for preys. It might imbalamce things and you would have fewer heartbreaking choices to make.
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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CavemanLogic wrote:
Having too many trait slots available would make it tough on Carnivores since the omnivores have a better chance of protecting themselves. I would stick to a three trait limit.

That may be true, but that's no different from what happens in Climate when the climate doesn't go extreme (which I would guess is most of the time, since it's not in the interest of the majority for the climate to go extreme)...
And I do like the increased amount of possible combinations and the added complexity...

Anyway, I was just wondering if someone had tried the 4trait/4draw limit in Flight or base Evolution...


CavemanLogic wrote:
I would think that eyeballing it instead of an exact count would be acceptable...as long as you are *fairly* accurate at it (I, personally, would still count them out). It is pretty easy to remove half the deck. Just make two equal size stacks and discard one. For the other counts (30 or 60 cards), eyeballing it is quite a bit harder.

Yeah, because human eyeballs aren't very good at exact measurement...
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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
CavemanLogic wrote:
Having too many trait slots available would make it tough on Carnivores since the omnivores have a better chance of protecting themselves. I would stick to a three trait limit.

That may be true, but that's no different from what happens in Climate when the climate doesn't go extreme (which I would guess is most of the time, since it's not in the interest of the majority for the climate to go extreme)...
And I do like the increased amount of possible combinations and the added complexity...

Anyway, I was just wondering if someone had tried the 4trait/4draw limit in Flight or base Evolution...


CavemanLogic wrote:
I would think that eyeballing it instead of an exact count would be acceptable...as long as you are *fairly* accurate at it (I, personally, would still count them out). It is pretty easy to remove half the deck. Just make two equal size stacks and discard one. For the other counts (30 or 60 cards), eyeballing it is quite a bit harder.

Yeah, because human eyeballs aren't very good at exact measurement...


Umm, they're not...
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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DanielFirestorm wrote:
Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
Yeah, because human eyeballs aren't very good at exact measurement...


Umm, they're not...

That's what I said ? I wasn't being ironic if that's what you mean ?
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
2. What do you think would happen if you allowed 4 traits and 4+N cards in the base game, or in Flight ? Would there be any debalancing / detrimental effect, or simply the increased complexity mentioned above (and of course a shorter game since you go through cards more quickly) ?

We tested unlimited traits, 4 traits, 3 traits, and 2 traits at least 20 times each and chose 3 because we thought it led to the best game play experience. The more traits you allow per species the more stable the environment becomes and the more all species converge on the same species. In other words, less variety of species exist with unlimited traits. And whoever is winning after round 2 will often be the winner of the game after 6 rounds. Neither is fun.

2 traits is a very unstable environment. We chose that as the rule for the 2-player game because it’s not fun to be losing to someone for 45 minutes without being able to do anything. With more players there is an ability to target the leader which helps mitigate the increased stability of a 2-player game.

For multi-player games, some people preferred 4 traits per species, but most people thought 3 traits was better. It was the right balance between a stable invironment and a chaotic environment. One where you had control over your destiny, but where there was still excitement and tension about what would happen each round.

The goal was to create a game where you had to adapt to a changing environment in order to win. Allowing for unlimited traits led to a static environment with not enough change.

We chose the card draw limit because having too many cards leads to analysis paralysis. And having too few cards does not allow for enough control over your destiny. Again, some people preferred 4 cards +1 per species but most people preferred 3 cards +1 per species.

As you surmised, CLIMATE works better with an extra trait and an extra card to allow players to deal with the extra threat. It leads to a bit more AP, but that doesn’t bother heavier gamers as much as it bothers others, and CLIMATE was created for heavier gamers.


Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
Boardgaming sometimes makes me wish I had a robot / slave to perform such boring drudgery...

You and I both! That’s why you don’t remove cards when playing the base game. Haha.
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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domcrap wrote:
We tested unlimited traits, 4 traits, 3 traits, and 2 traits at least 20 times each...

Thanks for the detailed explanation of the design process Dominic ! This really helped me understand the reason behind the limits, as well as convince me they are optimal.
I wasn't even doubting the limits for Climate and the base game, I was just wondering if maybe Flight needed extended limits like Climate, because the avian trait (which is mandatory for avians) takes up a slot. But then again, it is a very useful trait by itself, it doesn't just help you fly but also functions as a defensive trait, a feeding trait and a carnivore-enhancing trait...

So I believe I will stick with your defined limits for traits and card draw (for base Evolution, Climate and Flight), BUT I think I will use the card removal rules from Climate (30/60/88 if I'm not mistaken) in Flight as well for the sake of simplicity (if my calculation is correct they have the same total number of cards when you add the new traits to the base deck), and maybe for the base game as well (if I'm only using the base game to teach the game to firsttimers, I don't want it to drag on too long).


domcrap wrote:
With more players there is an ability to target the leader

How is this supposed to work exactly ? I mean, everyone keeps saying that in Evolution you should gang up on the leader to prevent him from running away in points, but in my limited experience so far it has proven that often you have no choice but to target the WEAKEST player, and not the leading player.
Because the leading player (the one with the most points) usually has at least several species, who are well equipped with defensive traits, traits for getting plant food quickly from alternate sources, or are dangerous carnivores. Plus he has lots of cards in his hand to react to any attacks.
The last player on the other hand usually has only one or two species with few traits (having fallen behind either because he drew a really horrible hand in the beginning, or he got munched on by predators early on, or his species went extinct due to starvation or extreme climatic conditions from which he didn't manage to protect them) and therefor is easy prey (literally) and doesn't have enough cards to properly protect / defend himself (due to the card drawing rule, because he has the least species).
So when the other players want to attack with their carnivores they have to attack the last player instead of the leading player because they are forced to. And if they try to hurt the leading player with extremete climates or by starving him out, he's far better able to adapt than the last player, because he's drawing a lot more cards.

This exact scenario happened to me in my last game. I fell behind in the beginning because I drew a really crappy starting hand and also because the other 2 players had Cooling Frills and I didn't have any (simply hadn't drawn any) when the hot climate hit us hard. And one of the other 2 players was focused solely on carnivores, and he wanted to hurt only the leading player, but much of the time he was FORCED to attack me even though he didn't want to (because I was the only one vulnerable to his attacks), so I got munched on all the time. And I couldn't protect myself from him or from the climate due to drawing few cards (and not the ones I needed). So I kept lagging far behind through the whole game, and ended it that way. So that particular game was very interesting and tense for the 2 of them, and very boring and frustrating for me.
So it seems to me that Evolution's mechanics kind of prevent (or at least make it very difficult) people from hurting the leader, and make them pick on the weakest player. Which makes it really hard to catch up to the pack if you fall behind...
What do you guys think about this problem and does it happen to you ?


Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
3. Does anyone have any suggestion on how to make the process of removing N cards from the deck for a smaller number of players faster ?

I thought of a BRILLIANT idea on how to PRECISELY and QUICKLY remove N cards from a deck of cards, without counting them out.
Simply take a plastic ruler or similarly shaped piece of cardboard, count out 30/60/90 cards (only once !), and mark the height of those stacks of cards on the ruler / cardboard. If you're using sleeved cards the heights will be bigger but it will stay the same when you play the game.
So before the game you mix all the cards, put the stack next to the ruler, and simply take out a chunk of the right height (30, 60 or 90). You may not have the exact number of cards down to a single card, but you will certainly be within 5 cards. And since the only purpose of this is game length is doesn't matter if you are off by 1 or 2 cards...
Keep the ruler or piece of cardboard in the Evolution box, and voila - you have a quick and easy way to remove N cards...
You could even mark the player numbers on the ruler to avoid checking the manual...
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Pierre Beri
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You mention a limited experience. How many times have you played the game? Have you always played with Climate? Maybe a bunch of plays with the base game would help you and your group get a grasp of the game mechanics and possibilities.

Evolution is a technical game and you don’t easily see how to get round things at first.

I have played a number of games on the Steam app where I was not first and managed to smash the leader down and end up winning.

When I make carnivores, it’s usually to serve that purpose, so if I can’t attack the leader I’ll mostly refrain from it. Attacking those behind is both unefficient and counterproductive, because you prevent them from being strong enough to attack the leader as well.

The species of a player who has many are usually less individually developed than those of a player who has fewer, because they get few cards per species, so they can’t make them all very strong.

In the situation where you were the easy target, maybe your non-leading opponents should have turned back to omnivore to let you develop and come back later stronger to punch the leader.

You can also starve the leader.
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
How is this supposed to work exactly ? I mean, everyone keeps saying that in Evolution you should gang up on the leader to prevent him from running away in points, but in my limited experience so far it has proven that often you have no choice but to target the WEAKEST player, and not the leading player... ... ... So it seems to me that Evolution's mechanics kind of prevent (or at least make it very difficult) people from hurting the leader, and make them pick on the weakest player. Which makes it really hard to catch up to the pack if you fall behind...
What do you guys think about this problem and does it happen to you?


My goal was to make a game where the better player would usually win. This means I had to make it difficult to target the leader. But there are times when a player can choose more than 1 target and that's when the mitigation usually comes into play. It is also difficult for a leader to protect their species from 2 players who are each want to target him whenever possible. So ganging up on the leader does happen a little even though I did not want it to be very prevalent and I think that's a good thing. Close games are always more fun than blowouts.

Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
The last player on the other hand usually has only one or two species with few traits (having fallen behind either because he drew a really horrible hand in the beginning, or he got munched on by predators early on, or his species went extinct due to starvation or extreme climatic conditions from which he didn't manage to protect them) and therefor is easy prey (literally) and doesn't have enough cards to properly protect / defend himself (due to the card drawing rule, because he has the least species).


This usually happens when one or more of the players is not as good as the rest of the table. You can mitigate most things with good play. For instance, a good player knows they are taking a risk every time they play a card for Population (for a new species or an old species) or Body Size. If the risk is unwarranted, you can always take risk free moves or hold your cards. You can even kill your own species to cycle through cards (for instance, you can play a Carnivore and 2 other traits on a species without increasing its Body Size). Going behind by 2 - 5 points on the first couple of rounds rarely decides the winner of the game. But getting into a cycle where you are losing cards to feed your opponents is always a losing proposition.
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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domcrap wrote:
So ganging up on the leader does happen a little even though I did not want it to be very prevalent and I think that's a good thing. Close games are always more fun than blowouts.

I agree that blowouts aren't fun, but doesn't "ganging up on the leader" help against the "runaway leader" problem in many games and therefor against blowouts ?
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Robert Ahearne
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Responding to earlier in the thread -- if players who lose species are falling hopelessly behind, I just want to check: when one of the players loses a species in your games, he is drawing a new card for each trait card on the species he lost, right? Because that's intended to help mitigate the loss.
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domcrap wrote:
My goal was to make a game where the better player would usually win.


I think it worked. I play frequently with a group where those of us who are more experienced (and possibly just more focused and competitive) than the others usually do better, and I know I win significantly more often than random chance.

domcrap wrote:
This means I had to make it difficult to target the leader. But there are times when a player can choose more than 1 target and that's when the mitigation usually comes into play. It is also difficult for a leader to protect their species from 2 players who are each want to target him whenever possible. So ganging up on the leader does happen a little even though I did not want it to be very prevalent and I think that's a good thing. Close games are always more fun than blowouts.


In my experience, targeting the leader usually involves freezing or starving them more than it involves directly carnivoring them - even then, that can be difficult to make work. Although I've considered it, I don't think I've ever seen anyone effectively utilize high food cards + population explosion against a full-or-almost-full-from-long-neck player. In theory it should sometimes be an effective catch-up avenue.

domcrap wrote:
This usually happens when one or more of the players is not as good as the rest of the table. You can mitigate most things with good play. For instance, a good player knows they are taking a risk every time they play a card for Population (for a new species or an old species) or Body Size. If the risk is unwarranted, you can always take risk free moves or hold your cards. You can even kill your own species to cycle through cards (for instance, you can play a Carnivore and 2 other traits on a species without increasing its Body Size). Going behind by 2 - 5 points on the first couple of rounds rarely decides the winner of the game. But getting into a cycle where you are losing cards to feed your opponents is always a losing proposition.


Again, designer testing is recreated in other play experience. I find that the more skilled players are willing to recognize threats and just wait rather than play into them if they have no available counterplay. Often a winning player plays cautiously most of the game, and once or twice throws down a reasonably calculated risky play that succeeds with a large payoff. Those plays (and their success or failure) tend to decide the game rather than a couple of points and cards from the very early game.
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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elcoderdude wrote:
Responding to earlier in the thread -- if players who lose species are falling hopelessly behind, I just want to check: when one of the players loses a species in your games, he is drawing a new card for each trait card on the species he lost, right? Because that's intended to help mitigate the loss.

STARES DUMBFOUNDED INTO THE SCREEN

I completely forgot that one... I suppose it's written in the manual, in the section about species going extinct ? I remeber it said the player gets the food that was on the species, but I really don't remember the part about the card draws. I guess you need to read a manual several times to remember everything...
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Enkidu_of_Abydos wrote:
elcoderdude wrote:
Responding to earlier in the thread -- if players who lose species are falling hopelessly behind, I just want to check: when one of the players loses a species in your games, he is drawing a new card for each trait card on the species he lost, right? Because that's intended to help mitigate the loss.

STARES DUMBFOUNDED INTO THE SCREEN

I completely forgot that one... I suppose it's written in the manual, in the section about species going extinct ? I remeber it said the player gets the food that was on the species, but I really don't remember the part about the card draws. I guess you need to read a manual several times to remember everything...


It's been noted more than once on the Evolution forums here that people who think it's impossible to get ahead once you've been munched on a time or two just may have forgotten / not sufficiently grokked that rule in particular...

No offense intended.

-M_R
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Robert Ahearne
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Explains a lot of your frustration, really.

Evolution rulebook p.8 wrote:
Extinction
If the Population of any species is reduced to 0, it goes extinct and the owner does the following:
-- Discards the Trait Card(s) on that species and draws 1 card from the Draw Deck for each discarded card
...


Download Evolution rules here
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Veljko Dobrijevic
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midnight_reaper wrote:
It's been noted more than once on the Evolution forums here that people who think it's impossible to get ahead once you've been munched on a time or two just may have forgotten / not sufficiently grokked that rule in particular...

No offense intended.

-M_R

No offense taken.
Though the situation I mentioned above happened only once (haven't had many games yet), and it wasn't a case of just being munched on - it was a combination of being munched on, being the only one to be hurt by the climate (due to being the only one not to have drawn Cooling Frills), and drawing all the wrong cards in the early game due to a badly shuffled deck...


elcoderdude wrote:
Explains a lot of your frustration, really.

Evolution rulebook p.8 wrote:
Extinction
If the Population of any species is reduced to 0, it goes extinct and the owner does the following:
-- Discards the Trait Card(s) on that species and draws 1 card from the Draw Deck for each discarded card
...


Download Evolution rules here

Still, if you lose a species you lose the 1 card invested to create it, plus the cards you payed to increase it's body size / population, so you could theoretically lose a lot of invested cards... Though of course species with a high body size and population and defensive traits aren't likely to be exterminated...

This also means one more thing - the motivation to exterminate opponents' low BS/POP species is a lot smaller than the way I was playing it...
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