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Evolution: The Beginning» Forums » Variants

Subject: Suggestion for Rule Change to the Game rss

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James Hoffman
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So I was pondering the rules and how you can feed your own Herbivores from the Watering Hole before then eating your own Herbivore with your own Carnivore and still keeping the food that the Herbivore just ate. Example as in this thread.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2118141/best-effort-feeding

There are several reasons why I want to suggest a rule change to this situation.

1. The mention in the rulebook when speaking about Carnivores' eating other species with food on them specifically says "see Scavengers" - this implies to the reader that the only time this would happen would be when a Scavenger is involved, hence the confusion necessitating the existence of the forum threads as listed above to clarify what the rules mean. The rules about attacking one's own species aren't elaborated enough for it to be completely obvious what to do in the situation where you eat your own Herbivore that has already eaten.

2. I believe this makes the game *less* strategic and quite frankly could be called "gamey." Eating with your Herbivore and then eating that Herbivore with your Carnivore lets you have your cake and eat it too, when it seems more like we ought to be given choices on how to proceed. The ability to use populations to eat from the Watering Hole which are about to die anyways diminishes the value of the [already-limited] Watering Hole - it's rare enough as it is for anything to be left for the other player at turn's end: the possibility that there *could* be left-over food is part of what makes the game interesting. The strategy involved here is for a player (who is considering eating his own populations) to actually have to maneuver to collect all that food by thinking it through, rather than acquiring that food and keeping it in a manner that seems to me a very lame and unthinking way.

3. It thematically doesn't make any sense. Carnivores pick first on the animals that are weak or sick - natural consequences of having not eaten. Now for sure, we still see this in the game if there are populations on my turn that I *couldn't* feed because there wasn't enough food, *and* my opponent has no targets, *and* I still need to feed my Carnivore - that works - but we could just represent this by making attacking a population with no food on it (excepting Scavengers) a perpetual reality.

Here's how it would work. The only change to fulfill these is to create an order of operations during the "Eat" phase. It is as follows.

1. Carnivores eat first. Scavenger foods are of course delivered at the same time.
2. Long-necks get their food second.
3. Watering Hole food comes last. (they've escaped the predators and it's safe to eat now)

Technically, it *is* possible in this schematic for a Carnivore's eating another Carnivore to score food that the first Carnivore has already eaten - however, I appreciate the game's simplicity and don't want to make it *too* complicated (not that this is complicated - it isn't). Most Carnivores are Scavengers at *some* level anyways, so the theme is retained - and eating your own Carnivores hurts: it's not something I would do flippantly.

Anyways, what happens in my listed schematic is the following.


A. Your own Scavengers do *not* get to eat from the Watering Hole first just to deprive the other player of food if you otherwise couldn't have eaten the Watering Hole food from non-Scavenger populations. If the actions of your Carnivores cause your Scavengers to fill up, then they don't get to eat from the Watering Hole.

B. Because Long-Necks get their food after the Carnivore phase, you don't get to opportunistically "eat some food you'd get anyways" (with the Long-Neck) and then save your starved Carnivore afterwards. If you need to save your starving Carnivore, then you don't get bonus points.

C. At last, since the Watering Hole phase comes last, you never get those Watering Hole foods unless you have populations remaining after your own Carnivores eat off some of your own populations.



A side-consequence of this is that it would add value to the Fertile trait (which has its uses, but isn't nearly as valuable in The Beginning as it is in standard Evolution) because each player will have to strategize how to ensure every Water Hole food is being eaten on their own turn - if you don't, *then that food goes to your opponent*.

Getting at least one free food due to the free new species every round makes for a pretty lame Watering Hole, and this simple rule gets around the whole matter and adds quite a lot.

So, to recap...

To add more depth to the feeding phase of the game and to eliminate some ambiguity, we add an order to the Eat phase.

1. Carnivores First (with Scavengers)
2. Long-Necks Second
3. Watering Hole Last


Thank you!
-Gidoza
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Mark Ehlke
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I don't think there's anything stopping you from adding this, but I think you add extra rules overhead for minimum added value. IMO part of the interesting play of this game is making engines from your different species, and taking away many of the opportunities to do clever things with your engine makes the game less interesting. It's not unusual for animals to eat multiple sources of food from a thematic standpoint either. It may feel "cheap" to get extra food and then score it, but it's not like it's a rare edge case that no one can figure out, either. I think it's easily possible to discover this during a player's first game, and then everyone is on a level playing field.

I'd also question the idea that Fertile is more useful in Evolution - since V2 that trait has required food in the watering hole, which is unlikely to happen more than once in a game with some groups. I'd say on average it's more useful in The Beginning.

Again, feel free to add this, but I personally wouldn't.
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James Hoffman
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I would disagree that getting food from the Watering Hole is a clever thing to do with the engine. Making engines at all is the clever thing - and having alternative engines to do the additional work of pillaging the watering hole is a real task. Just using natural engines to get food from the watering hole (before eating with Carnivore) not only doesn't require much if any thought - you're practically forced to do it by the rules. The fact that there isn't an order to the process just means some people might not pick the idea up immediately - not being aware of processes isn't the same thing as having a multiplicity of processes and having to assess risks and drawbacks and then pick the one that seems most fitting. The current feeding situation of the game isn't one of assessment - it's just a matter of whether you notice you can do it or not. That's not strategy.
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