Sunday, April 3, 2011

no plan ever survives contact intact...

it's a mantra pretty much anyone that has ever served in any armed force knows, and it's particularly relevant here.

today's game was scheduled to be rio grande games' race for the galaxy.  unfortunately, we had five players and race only plays four.  so we decided to try out gmt games' dominant species.

if only we knew what we were in for at this point...
set 92,000 years ago, you control one of six different species evolving and trying to survive the rapidly approaching ice age.

boardgamegeek and the game itself claim that this one will take 180 minutes to play.  this is best case scenario where everyone knows the rules and how the many actions you can take interact.  when there are new learners (like me and pat j.), this game takes about five to six hours to play.

the initial set up is pretty straightforward as you can see in this pic:

but when you add the following actions:

and the fact that each player has four action points to spend among them, the board quickly gets to looking like this:

inevitably the object of the game is to collect the most victory points by becoming the dominant species in as many terrain types (sea, wetland, savannah, forest, jungle, desert, mountain, and due to the coming ice age: tundra) as possible all while fending off other species.  

because of the dynamic action selection each turn, and the fact that every action has serious repercussions and impacts on the board layout, long-term planning is nearly impossible.  hence the reference to "no plan ever survives contact intact".  

this game rewards the player who can quickly change their mindset and adapt to a constantly evolving environment and circumstances.  in other words, don't play this game if you suffer from "analysis paralysis" because someone will cut you.

here we are again, early in the game.  notice the happy smiles and the light streaming through the windows...

yet another early game pic.  see those pegs on the action panel?  that's why both travis and pat look so serious...
and finally:

notice the dark windows and the super serious expressions?  this $#!t is getting real!  of course this is about 4 1/2 hours in and after travis dropped a cataclysmic catastrophe on the board and pretty much wiped out most of my species. 

needless-to-say, i was not amused, but in all fairness, the name of the game is "dominant species" not "let's get together and sing kumbaya species".  

all things considered, it's a fun game, that needs just a slight tweak or two to the play and the game-end criteria to help it to play faster, yet retain the need for flexible planning.  

in the end it was travis who won the game, but at a much smaller margin than expected.  

thanks to alan, dave, pat, and travis (who wanted me to call him "bubba" in this post) for helping out with "30 games in 30 days"!  

tomorrow's game is scheduled to be rio grande games' factory manager, but due to the complexity and time requirement, there may be a substitution...  

stay tuned.

all images property of little mens. 


  1. Sounds like a beefier version of Evo. I'll have to give that one a look.