Evolution: Flight Expansion
Publisher: North Star Games
Designers: Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre, Sergey Machin
Time: 60 mins
Review copy provided by North Star Games
As you read this, the second edition of Evolution should be releasing, along with its first expansion, Flight. I was recently provided with an early copy of the Flight expansion, but have so far only played it enough to give it a first look. It primarily adds a new trait to the game, Flight (duh), but also includes a few other traits and game play elements to help flesh out the new flying options.
If you are unfamiliar with the original game, Evolution, or want to learn more about the 2nd edition (revised food values on cards, and play balancing of traits) hop back to my earlier review of the rules and second edition changes.
The key mechanic to the expansion is the Flight trait. Anytime a player is starting a new species, they may discard an extra card (for a total of 2) to give that new species the flight trait. This counts against the three trait limit of for that species. Species with Flight use a special board. Flying species have a maximum body size of 3, and they must always eat their weight (body size) in food before they can start supporting their population. Thus, a rather strong trait is always there as an option, but it also has its drawbacks.
The two primary advantages of Flight lie in its defenses and alternate food source. A flying species can only be attacked by predators who also have Flight (or negate it with Intelligence.) Flying species also have the option of feeding from the Cliff, a location similar to the Watering Hole, it simply gains 1 food per round per player.
Several new Traits chain off the Flight characteristic. Brood Parasite allows a flying species to gain population and food if the owning player also controls a second flying species. Nesting gives food to a species when it gains population – two for flying and one for non-flying species. Other traits in the expansion include Good Eyesight, which allows a species to take two food from the Watering Hole at the start of a round, and Camouflage, which prevents attacks from carnivores without the Good Eyesight trait.
The expansion introduces an entirely new type of card, the Event card type. Event cards are played right after Trait cards are revealed. They provide an instant benefit, and let the player draw an additional (replacement) card. The two events in the expansion are Dive-Bomb, which lets a flying creature feed early, and Seed Dispersal, which adds food to the Watering Hole equal to the number of flying species in play.
I enjoy the original game. It fits perfectly in my collection as a fun, moderately complex, moderately fast playing game. It has enough interesting decisions to keep me interested in playing, and is easy enough to explain that I can bring it out when playing with newcomers to gaming. I’ve played it extensively through the spring and summer. It will come as no surprise that I also enjoy the expansion. Anything to bring a bit more variety to the game is great for me.
One slight drawback is the additional “overhead” added to the game by more Trait cards. When teaching the game to new players, adding just a few more Traits (especially the always-available and slightly different behaving Flight traits) can overcomplicate the game. I would not have a problem playing with the expansion when introducing the game to experienced gamers, but think the expansion is best in a second or third game when playing with newer/younger gamers. This does limit my ability to bring the expansion to the table.
I like all the new traits. Flight has some great trade-offs of limited size and greater feeding costs for more flexibility of feeding as well as great defense. I also like how most (but not all) of the new Trait cards can pair with Flight to become more powerful. This puts Flight as a comparable trait to Carnivore (which has its own trait-enhancing pairings.) Having Flight as an always-there option is also a good thing, since anything that helps prevent “useless hands” is a good thing. On that note, adding in more cards to the deck (when adding in the new cards, some are then removed from the deck) makes every type of card slightly more scarce. As one who never seems to find the particular card I need, even over several turns, making the individual cards more scarce makes me nervous.
The event cards seem almost overpowered, in that they provide a benefit without costing a card. However, they do have a “delayed cost” in that the replacement card is drawn after all Traits are played. Thus the true “cost” of an event card is the delay of the use of one card for a turn. As the Trait cards are not perfectly balanced anyway (certain cards are useful in more circumstances), I find the variety that the Event cards add to the game to be welcome. (Note that they will also speed up the game, as they “consume” cards from the draw deck at a faster rate.)
At the end of the day, there are some drawbacks to the new expansions, but they mainly arise simply from the fact that new cards were added. (Hard to have an expansion without adding cards to the deck.) I’m a fan of the base game, and Flight does nothing to change that. While I still need to take the expansion out for a few more spins, I expect that whenever the situation allows, I will prefer to play with the new expansion.
Thoughts of Opinionated Gamers:
Like It: Matt C.
Not for me: