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THE GAMES

Evolution: The Beginning 

Playtime: 30-45 minutes

Teach time: 10 minutes

Game difficulty: Light

Players: 2-4

Timespan: not stated, analogous conditions to Pleistocene

Key educational concepts: evolutionary arms race, adaptation, interspecific interactions

Favorite rules video: North Star Games - How to Play

Rulebook: link

Associated curriculum and materials: natural selection exercise, paper: ‘What really is Evolution?’

Create your own cards template: FILE

 

Overview

Evolution: The Beginning is a breezy Darwinian knife fight. Players evolve their species to outsmart other player’s species competing for the same limited food.  To get an edge, players can adapt their species to carnivores (which now eat other species), increase foraging efficiency, or boost reproductive rate. Avoid other predators by becoming nocturnal, flying, or burrowing. Points are scored for eating, and for the species you have left at the end of the game. The player with the most points wins.

 

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          Learning and teaching the game

Evolution: The Beginning is a beautifully distilled game and one of the easiest games on the market to learn (and teach).

Game contents (Image credit: Dominic Crapuchettes)

          Fun factor

Despite being quite easy to understand, Evolution: The Beginning is full of rich strategic decisions based on real evolutionary arms races. I highly recommend this to everyone.    

           Gameplay

Evolution: The Beginning is a small card game where every card has multiple uses, potentially representing a new species, a replicate of an existing species, or for use as a special trait on a species (for example: horns, flight, increased fertility, or a long neck, to name a few).  The gameplay is simple: create a new species (by placing a new card in front of you) and then draw three additional cards to use for one of the previously mentioned uses.  The goal is to survive until your next turn, while carefully crafting your species to maximize food intake (which occurs at the end of your turn). 

 

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          Education value

Evolution: The Beginning is the perfect complement to an introduction to evolutionary theory.  The small size and limited components make the game approachable to all. It is particularly well suited to reinforce curriculum on evolutionary arms races, adaptations, and inter-specific interactions.  However, for me, I think the game is perfect to demonstrate how evolution has no foresight- a concept that many students struggle with.  To do, this see the attached curriculum.

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Trait cards (Image credit: Dominic Crapuchettes)

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