Introducing: EVOsaurs – A Card Game of Mutation and Natural Selection!

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Dear readers!

I am very pleased to be able to announce to you YET another games project of mine, that is all about dinosaurs and evolution by means of mutation and natural selection as first proposed by Charles Darwin – hence the title of the game: EVOsaurs!

In Evosaurs, each player starts out with 3 generic “Basic Dinosaur” cards which mutate (more or less) randomly, gaining both beneficial and harmful “modifications” this way while constantly being put to the test of survival in various natural events of beneficial or harmful nature as well. The game, in its basic form, is probably more of a simulation, trying to implement the very mechanics of mutation and selection, in a vastly simplified manner as a matter of course, as drives evolution in real life nature and as seen and well-documented in natural history at large.

So during a game of EVOsaurs, your dinosaurs will be subject to beneficial or harmful mutations, whilst being constantly put to the test of survival through certain natural events. The goal of the game is to be the player with the most total population among their surviving dinosaurs (of course your species can go extinct as well) at the end of the game – that is the case when the 50 cards “Selection Deck” containing the aforementioned natural events, runs out of cards.

Let me give you a more in depth look at the inner workings of EVOsaurs. You may stop reading here if the above answered all your questions about my new creation already! 😉

So as mentioned before, each player starts with 3 identical, generic, so called “Basic Dinosaurs” with a basic Fitness (FIT) of 1. FIT is the universal value that drives the game and determines many things, such as population gain or loss during certain events that involve what could be called “Fitness-Checks”. More on that later. Here is an image of what your Basic Dinosaur would look like:

Basic Dinosaur copy

There is not much to it actually, just the card name on top, the card image in the center and the Fitness Icon in the bottom right corner. The red area is where you will be putting small, six-sided dice to keep track of the species’ current population count.

Besides the Basic Dinosaurs, of which 3 are dealt to each player at the beginning of the game, Evosaurs consists of two main decks. One is called the Mutation Deck and contains Major Mutations as well as Minor Mutations:

Major and Minor Mutation

Major Mutations (see the sample to the left) are put right onto your Basic or lower evolutionary stage Dinosaur and certain Mutations only work when attached to a Dinosaur of the right kind, the right Major Mutation. There are Small/Medium/Large Herbivores and Small/Medium/Large Carnivores. To the right you see a Minor Mutation card. It is attached in an overlapping manner to your Dinosaur card and has a Fitness Modifier that will either add to the total Fitness of the Species it is attached to or lower it, if the number is a negative one. Besides the general Fitness modifier, most Minor Mutations have additional effects and that further modify FIT for instance, as seen in written form on the card.

The second deck I mentioned is the so called Selections Deck. It contains natural events that either put your Species to the test of survival, like Ice Ages, Epidemics or even a Meteor Impact, or have some beneficial effects on all species or on those who have enough Fitness. Here some samples:

selections

The game system itself is pretty simple and also, as I have to admit, quite random, as you are not “playing god” and attaching the Mutations you draw from the Mutations Deck as you wish, but rather as they are revealed. The Major Mutations are an exception. When you draw one you may choose if you want to evolve one of your Species with it and if so, which.

There are basically 3 Phases in the game. First off is Population Phase. Each player adds 1 Population to all of their dinos. As I said above, population is kept track of by means of 6-sided dice. Second comes Mutation Phase. For each dino, each player draws one card from the Mutation Deck and adds that to that species if it is a Minor Mutation. If a Major Mutation is drawn, the player can decide which of their dinosaur to attach it to – or to not attach it at all and discard it instead. Third and last comes Selection Phase. One card is drawn from the Selection Deck and applied to all dinosaurs still alive (on the field) immediately. That may cause the loss or gain of population or even the adding of some Mutations etc to one, some or all live species on the field. When the 50 card Selection Deck runs out, when the last card was drawn and has resolved that is, the game ends and all players count the total population of their remaining dinosaurs. The player with the highest population count at the end is the winner! And that is EVOsaurs for you in short!!

Admittedly, this is not really a “gamer’s game” and in fact more of an attempt of simulating certain natural mechanics in the form of an easy to teach and easy to play card game. And that was my intention from the start – I wanted to create a teaching tool conveying otherwise complicated scientific concepts like natural evolution by means of mutation and selection in the appealing, fun form of a simple card game!

And the terrific news is that I have already established ties to none other than the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and since their mission is to spread scientific knowledge and promote science and scientific thinking everywhere, maybe I will be lucky and they will take interest in my humble creation! Well, it has to be seen!

If you have come that far, I thank you very much for your kind interest. I hope you had a good read and I wish you, as always,

HAPPY PAINTING…errrrr..GAMING!!

Sincerely yours,

Andi

 

 

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