Perrianne (Beak Lizard)
Charlie (Two Tusker)
Larry (Dino Croc)
Mario (Dog Face)
This game was very peculiar.
TURN 1: Sex DNA epoch card. I made a major blunder by not bidding my starting 5 genes (to win on tie breaker dentition) on the Sex DNA. Charlie bid the 5 and won it. Major mistake that set him up for a crushing win in around 8 turns (of the 41 potential!).
In the following several turns we were hit by 2 catastrophies totally replenishing Charlie's DNA -- and then some!! No players suffered loss to the catastrophies.
We were attacked by an immigrant. A couple biomes displaced. And Perrianne won a new genotype card (AA DNA) which really didn't help her much.
Over the course of the turns we all eventually filled our population over the entire map where the DNA requirements were NONE. Because there was no DNA specialization until later, we were all forced to compete on our on merits. Larry's Dino Croc became the dominant carnivor always edging my competing carnivors (Dog Face) out on dentition tie breaks. Charlie became the dominant herbivore edging out every other herbivore based on his dentition tie break.
TURN 7: SS DNA came up for auction. Charlie due to his sex DNA had the most genes to bid and won it. Being the best herbivore he crushed out all other herbivors and because of his SS trait he earned roadrunner status therefore robbing all predators of their ability to predate on him.
Over the next 2 turns the Two Tusker's population exploded. Dog Faces were obliterated first, followed directly by everyone else a turn later.
By the end of the game only 2 DNA cards and one genotype card was revealed. This was certainly not enough to allow players to branch out into other biomes.
* * *
Having spent more than 4 hours to study the seemly very complete, but poorly organized rules, I felt gyped. The game had very little story arc and fell flat without climax. Granted the odd order in which the epoch cards were revealed created a strange game. It seems that beginners who prefer to use the advance rules right away should select and shuffle together a good balance of the different types of epoch cards, primarily DNA. Because we fell flat on our face with no DNA to divy up among our genotypes, we were all forced to compete in the same areas.
My biggest complaint is with the rules. Though they do seem very complete the organization style in not conducive in the least to being absorbed by human beings. No one should have to spend so long (4 hours) reading the rules only to have to spend another hour and a half teaching them and double checking the facts. Displacing certain major rules to the glossary (which at first seemed clever) was a bad choice. Furthermore, blending the advance rules and basic rules together only to be differentiated by font color was a poor choice. Don't ge me wrong. The designer gets my kudos for coming up with clever ideas for a deep, clever game. It just goes to show how much one's first impression can be impacted by poorly written rules.
I really wanted to like this game because it seems to be intricate and clever and certainly does revolve strongly around its theme, but it wasn't a great first experience. I will give it another try and hope the results are better.