Evo – a board game version of “Spore”

“We got a game about dinosaurs?!”, I asked in stunned confusion.

I don’t always know what games are arriving on my doorstep next.  You see, as my company took on another business partner, the division of responsibility was adjusted, and the new partner took on some of the work.  What work did she take responsibility for?  Well, she is now the head of game acquisition.  What this entails is explaining to companies why they might like to send their game to us, so that we can continue bringing you reviews on the latest and greatest.  The result was that I really had no idea that this game was going to be landing on my doorstep, and as usual, I was skeptical of the subject matter.

Dinosaurs?  Am I a seven year old boy?  I’ve played kids games before for the sake of a review, it wouldn’t really hurt me to do it again. I started looking over the box.  The play time is an hour.  The game is for two to five people.  The age group is 14+.  Wait.  What?  14+?  That’s not a children’s game.  Time to start delving in and figuring out what is going on.

When I sat down to start reading the rules, I was greeted with lively full colored instructions with lots of pictures.  I love games that give me illustrations.  Sometimes you can learn more from one picture of the set up than you can from ten paragraphs of explanation.  The instructions were pretty clear, and it only took a few minutes to read through them all.

One of five player mats included in the game.  The art work is really nice, no?

One of five player mats included in the game. The art work is really nice, no?

So what is Evo?  Well… did you ever play the video game “Spore”?  It’s kinda like that.  You are trying to get your dinosaurs to evolve so that they can survive the harsh landscape, and each other.  The more that live from round to round, the more mutation points you gain to further the species along.  The player with the most remaining mutation points at the end of the game wins.

The game is played for 9-11 rounds, which varies based upon when a giant meteorite shows up and destroys all of the dinosaurs. Each of these rounds are divided into six sections, which include phases such as mutation, moving, breeding, and survival.

The mutation phase is the heart and soul of the game.  During this phase a given number of gene tokens are randomly pulled from an opaque bag.  Once drawn the players take turns bidding on the genes, using their mutation points as currency.  The rules for bidding are different than usual, which lent more strategy to that process, which basically boiled down to:  you can’t bid on the same gene immediately after being outbid.  Once a winner has been decided on each of the genes, the players pay those points to the bank and place their new genes on their play mats.

A three player game in progress.

Moving is pretty simple, in theory.  For each pair of legs on your play mat, players have one more movement point to shuffle their dinosaurs around.  The board is bigger or smaller, depending on the number of players, with the result being that there is never ample room.  You are nearly always stepping on each others toes, which causes strife, and combat.

Combat was kept extremely simple, for better or for worse.  It all comes down to a single die roll.  You can help skew the odds in your favor by having horns (yet another gene that can be bid upon).  If you have more horns than your opponent, you have better odds.  Regardless of your dinosaurs horns there is always a one in six chance of instant failure.

Breeding is equally as simple, for every egg gene on your play mat, you get to place one new dinosaur on an unoccupied space, adjacent to a previous dinosaur.  Unless you have killer babies.

What?  Huh?  Killer Babies!?

Twelve unique genes come with the game including:  Wings, Hard Shells, Cave Dwelling, and oh yeah, killer babies.  Each one has it’s own unique ability.  I became notorious, and someone hated, for the deadly infants.  You see, killer babies allow you to birth an offspring into a territory with another dinosaur.  Then you roll a die to see if you successfully breed.  It’s a 2/3 chance you’ll survive the birth and devour their dino.  Odds that I liked, and my opponents really didn’t.  Combine that with “Hard Shell” which lets you birth a baby up to three spaces away, and you have a cocktail for annihilation.  It’s a tactic that I referred to as “Slingshotted Killer Babies!” and my opponents referred to as “annoying” and “overpowered”.

After you mutate, move around, and breed, it’s time to see if you survive the change in climate.  A round spinner determines what land is cold this turn, which land is hot, which land is deadly, and which land is ideal.  This is all decided at the start of the turn, prior to mutation, but the effects do not take place until the very end.  If your dinos don’t have fur, the cold will freeze them to death.  If your dinos don’t have thermal regulation, they will die of heat stroke.  At this point you remove all dinosaurs that don’t survive from the board, take mutation points equal to the number that are left, and go on to the next round!

A look at the climate spinner.  Each of these pie wedges is one possibility for the climate.  The colored dot on each ring dictates what colors of land are that temperature this turn.

A look at the climate spinner. Each of these pie wedges is one possibility for the climate. The colored dot on each ring dictates what colors of land are that temperature this turn.

A few notes, I really didn’t like the manner in which the climate changed.  Each round you flip a tile which tells you which direction the climate spinner moves, and how many spaces.  The vast majority of the time, the climate spinner simply moved one space, clockwise, on the track.  For this reason, it really wasn’t very random at all.  I would have loved to see a lot more variance in these tiles.

Secondly, the board is made up of beach, snowy mountains, lush grass, and barren dirt.  Each round, these have the possibility to change climate.  Suddenly the lush grass might be freezing cold, the snowy mountains might be burning up, the barren dirt becomes ideal climate, and the beeches become uninhabitable.  Does that make sense?  No.  And for this reason my players got confused on more than one occasion.  It would have made a lot more sense to just use colored spaces:  red, blue, green, and yellow.  Granted it wouldn’t have been as pretty, but it would have helped with the game play.

The bidding track for the game.  The genes are placed at the bottom of the test tubes and then players place a token of their color on the number they bid for that gene.

The bidding track for the game. The genes are placed at the bottom of the test tubes and then players place a token of their color on the number they bid for that gene.

Lastly on my list of complaints, do you remember those rules that I read through quickly, and had great pictures?  Well, they are a bit lacking on a few of the finer points, and became down right confusing on one very specific issue.  You see, you get one movement point for each “pair of legs” your dinosaur has.  Each of the dinosaur movement gene tiles picture a single leg.  So for the majority of the first game, people thought you had to acquire two of those tiles to gain one movement point.  It makes sense.  But no, the name of the movement gene tile is called “pair or legs”, even though it only features a single leg.  Either the tile should have pictured two legs or the rules should have been adjusted to say “each leg tile” rather than “each pair of legs”.  Major confusion.

So despite some complaints, the game was great.  Tristan can’t seem to get enough of it.  The game play is good.  It’s challenging, there is lots of player interaction, and it’s very engaging.  Even one of my players who doesn’t normally enjoy really meaty games liked it, and my “hard core” gamers love it.  This is definitely one I think will continue to be played, even after this review is posted.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Monday, January 9th, 2012 at 8:22 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Resource Management Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


  1. I got this web site from my friend who shared with me concerning this site and now this time I am visiting this site
    and reading very informative posts here.

  2. Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you,
    However I am going through difficulties with your RSS.
    I don’t understand the reason why I can’t join it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS problems?
    Anyone that knows the answer will you kindly respond?

  3. continuously i used to read smaller articles which also clear their motive, and
    that is also happening with this paragraph which I am reading at this time.

  4. Veta says:

    Howdy would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using?
    I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  5. Elvira says:

    Hi my friend! I wish to say that this post is awesome,
    great written and include almost all vital infos. I would like
    to look extra posts like this .

  6. Freeman says:

    Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much.
    I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

  7. Lawerence says:

    Hi mates, good article and nice arguments commented at this place, I am in fact enjoying by these.

  8. Luciana says:

    Greate pieces. Keep writing such kind of info on your page.
    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hey there, You’ve performed a fantastic job.

    I will definitely digg it and in my view suggest to my friends.
    I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this site.

  9. friv2.rocks says:

    Usually I do not read post on blogs, however I would
    like to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and
    do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me.
    Thank you, very nice post.

  10. I enjoy, lead to I found just what I was having a look for.
    You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a great day. Bye

  11. My brother recommended I might like this web site.
    He was totally right. This post actually made my day.
    You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent for
    this info! Thanks!

  12. Margarito says:

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.
    I will always bookmark your blog and may come back down the road.
    I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great writing,
    have a nice day!

  13. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day.

    It will always be useful to read content from other authors and use a little something from other websites.

  14. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I
    get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I’ll be
    subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access
    consistently fast.

  15. Joni says:

    Hi, all is going sound here and ofcourse every one is sharing data,
    that’s genuinely excellent, keep up writing.

  16. Alecia says:

    Asking questions are truly pleasant thing if you are not understanding something fully, however this paragraph presents
    pleasant understanding yet.

  17. Franziska says:

    This is a topic that’s close to my heart… Take care! Where are your contact details though?

  18. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say
    that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you
    write again very soon!

  19. tku.16mb.com says:

    It’s actually a cool and useful piece of information. I’m happy that you simply shared
    this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this.

    Thank you for sharing.

  20. Useful info. Fortunate me I found your website by
    chance, and I am surprised why this coincidence did not took place earlier!
    I bookmarked it.

  21. After I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked
    on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now
    each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment.
    There has to be a means you are able to remove me from that service?
    Appreciate it!

  22. travel close says:

    Hello there, I discovered your site by the use of Google while looking for
    a similar matter, your web site got here up, it appears great.
    I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

    Hi there, simply turned into alert to your blog thru Google,
    and located that it is truly informative. I am going to watch
    out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future.

    A lot of other people shall be benefited out of your
    writing. Cheers!

  23. Corina says:

    Howdy! I know this is kinda off topic however
    I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a blog post
    or vice-versa? My blog discusses a lot of the same subjects as
    yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you’re interested feel free to send me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Great blog by the way!

  24. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting
    my own blog and was wondering what all is needed to
    get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% certain. Any recommendations
    or advice would be greatly appreciated. Cheers

  25. Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a wonderful

  26. I will immediately grab your rss as I can not in finding your email subscription link or newsletter service.
    Do you have any? Please permit me know in order that I may
    subscribe. Thanks.

  27. route travel says:

    I’m extremely pleased to discover this web site.

    I wanted to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!!
    I definitely liked every bit of it and I have you saved to fav to see new stuff on your blog.

  28. I’d like to find out more? I’d like to find out
    some additional information.

  29. best dating says:

    You can definitely see your expertise within the article you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to
    mention how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  30. kgloves.com says:

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after checking through
    some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  31. Right now it sounds like Movable Type is the preferred blogging platform available right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

  32. Amparo says:

    It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
    I’ve learn this put up and if I could I wish to recommend you some interesting things or suggestions.
    Perhaps you can write next articles regarding this
    article. I desire to learn more things about it!

  33. If some one wishes to be updated with most up-to-date technologies then he must be pay a visit this website and be up to date all the

  34. Peggy says:

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article. Thanks for
    supplying this info.

  35. Hi! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest
    authoring a blog article or vice-versa? My site covers a
    lot of the same topics as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you are interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!

  36. Hi there, after reading this amazing article i am also happy to
    share my knowledge here with colleagues.

  37. Fantastic web site. Lots of helpful info here. I am sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thank you for your sweat!

  38. Keep on writing, great job!

  39. Highly energetic blog, I enjoyed that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

  40. I do agree with all of the concepts you have presented to your post.
    They are very convincing and can definitely work.
    Nonetheless, the posts are too short for novices.
    May just you please prolong them a little from next time?
    Thank you for the post.

  41. Mickey says:

    I am actually thankful to the holder of this website who has shared this fantastic article at here.

  42. Hi, I do believe this is a great website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m going to return yet again since i have bookmarked it.

    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to
    guide other people.

  43. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your blog.
    You have some really good posts and I feel I would be a good
    asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off,
    I’d really like to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Thank you!

  44. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about keeps olympic.

  45. Touche. Great arguments. Keep up the good effort.

  46. smart key says:

    Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert
    that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Any way I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  47. Great article. I am dealing with a few of these issues
    as well..

  48. Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit once again since I book-marked it.
    Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

  49. Hey! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with SEO?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing
    very good results. If you know of any please share. Thanks!

  50. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this
    post was great. I don’t know who you are but definitely
    you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

Leave a Reply