‘Evo’ by Philippe Keyaerts
Games night......11th April 2002
A distinctive, muffled knock at the door heralds Spiller’s arrival. Kendall noiselessly opens up, but where is Spiller? ‘My lights won’t go out’, booms a voice and Spiller starts and stops his car, shuts his door, checks his lights again and marches in. Kendall’s kids have probably witnessed all this from their bedroom windows.
Dicken is already in situ, sporting a cold. Spiller requests a cup of tea. Kendall muses over the length of the past week. Old age is creeping up on the Ragnars. Appropriately the game for the evening is ‘Evo’ …’The last gasp of the dinosaurs’.
This is one of Phil’s games, which got played at Dave’s bash last year. Phil had tweaked it by building some more board and counters, so that seven could play as opposed to the maximum five of the design. It made for quite a good game, but with hidden ‘mutation points’ (money) Kendall was able to win handsomely, simply by spending nothing. Another look at it is somewhat overdue.
Spiller comments that ‘Evo’ has been played before on yet another occasion. Dicken queries this… Kendall is sure this is only it’s second appearance…. but, there are better things to argue about. Time to get some rules sorted out.
‘Evo’ has got lots of things you would expect to find in a dinosaur game. (Phil has designed a dinosaur game, which worked very well and had all those things you’d expect to find.) It’s got surviving and breeding, moving and fighting. It’s got climate changes and a meteor to wipe out the dinosaurs and end the game. Somewhat disappointing is that there is only really one type of dinosaur, and it doesn’t look particularly like a dinosaur. But then, the game is designed as a gamer’s game, which means equality matters. (Phil’s game was designed with junior school children in mind; different dinosaurs matter.)
Spiller has a joke. ‘There are ten types of people in the world. Those that can understand binary and those that can’t’. Not bad, but showing a worrying over-exposure to the internet. Spiller has another joke …. but it’s not one for this web-site.
With all the dinosaurs staring off the same, nothing much happens on turn 1. Each dinosaur moves 1, because it has one Leg. Each dinosaur breeds 1, because it has 1 Egg. The climate might change, but as each dinosaur has 1 Parasol and 1 Fur, there is no reason why any dinosaur should die …. yet. Count up your living dinosaurs to score ‘mutation points’. The fun starts when the first auction takes place. (How many games rely on auctions? Answers by e-mail please) - he's joking - ed.
It’s a neat auction system. Three players, so three items (extra Legs, Eggs, Fur, Horns etc.). Players bid for what they want. If they are over-bid then they can re-bid for the same item or go elsewhere. Plenty of opportunity for bluff and brinkmanship. ‘Mutation points’ are what you bid with, and it’s ‘mutation points’ that you win with.
Kendall tools up with the first ‘horn’ out of the cloth bag (How many games rely on cloth bags? Answers by carrier pigeon). Horns radically improve fighting ability. Kendall pays 3 points. Spiller opts for an Egg and Dicken gets a cheap Parasol (0 points).
Dicken queries the lack of sustenance provided by Kendall. Sandi is out shopping, so Kendall has to fetch the Doritos from the kitchen himself - such hardship for an ageing Ragnar - ed.
Turn 2, and Spiller is breeding at twice the pace. Dicken’s Parasol comes in useful (allowing another dinosaur to survive in the heat), but Kendall fights shy of .. fighting. So much for that Horn. Kendall invests in an expensive Leg. By the end of two turns Dicken is enjoying a healthy lead and Kendall is lagging.
The Leg rule had been played wrong in Phil’s seven player extravaganza. Dinosaurs were really taking off! It just allows 1 extra movement point in total (not 1 each).
Sandi arrives back with the shopping. Kendall leaps into action to help carry bags into the kitchen. Sandi protests about spoiling the game; Kendall argues that he’s losing.
Somewhere about now, Kendall goes to war. The extra horn means killing another dinosaur on a 1, 2, 3, 4 when attacking. If anyone is so foolish as to attack a +1 horn dinosaur, then they can only win on a 1 (!). Spiller argues that this is extremely unfair, but then he isn’t tooled up ….yet. It’s tempting to tinker with this system, but as it is, it ensures the Horns are very valuable and that attacking doesn’t happen as a matter of course.
Kendall loses three dinos through poor placement and Dicken capitalises by judicious playing of 'special cards' - evolution is set back a few millennia.
Dicken spends far too much time trying to persuade Spiller that Kendall is winning, when Kendall is patently losing - always a good tactic though - ed. Spiller is having trouble finding space to breed. He’s got another Egg and yet has fewest dinosaurs to show for it. Dicken has started spending some Mutation points rather than trawling the Jurassic charity shops. When will that Meteor arrive?
Kendall and Spiller start to hassle Dicken into a corner. Dicken has enough Fur and Parasols to launch simultaneous assaults on Siberia and the Sahara. Kendall gets bullish with his Horn. Spiller tries to breed Dicken to death to no avail.
It arrives. Predictably on the first die roll (1 or a 2). Game over. Dicken wins by 1 point. A bit of an anti-climax. How many games rely on a Meteor strike ending?
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