Saturday, May 07, 2011

Dominant Species

Friday night saw my third playing of Dominant Species. We played a five-player game with Matt Longieliere (mammals), Nathan Winchester (amphibians), Robert Bolan (birds), and Morgan Burt (insects) - I was Arachnids. Five players was an interesting change of pace from 4-players. With only 4 actions each, some of the choices each turn felt a bit "required". In fact, the first three turns only saw a handful of Domination(scoring) events. However, once everyone had some space carved out on the board, things got interesting fast. Matt was everywhere on the board using his mammal powers to live everywhere. Morgan and I were carving out different sides of the boards with Nathan and Robert in between. At the end of the game, you could see how close the scores were going to be. Matt had a crazy amount of action on the tundras, but wasn't going to score much in domination nor land. Morgan I were the opposite. I wasn't sure I had enough steam at the end, and even with two scorings in the domination phase and two wanderlust actions, I fell two points short of Morgan and Matt. Matt "walked" away with a mammal victory. A couple observations about why I love this game:
  • Matt didn't adapt to anything for the first 4-5 rounds. In fact, you wouldn't have thought he was trying. Then he surged and flooded the tundra and held it at the end of the game. This was bolstered by the fact that not many competition actions were happening.
  • Cards make a lot of difference in the flow of the game. It was a while before we gained an extra action which made the first 4 rounds or so quite different. The other two cards that give you more actions? Last round.
  • We had blight and catastrophe and the other nasty cards in the first two rounds.
  • Water was not en vouge - nobody was adapting to it and so it kept hitting regression - a vicious cycle. With the Tundra and other cards, the end board was mostly covered with seeds. This really hurt Nathan (Amphibians).  There is such a neat balance between fighting other players off, and carving out the world so you can thrive.
  • I definitely thing I want to play this by removing 5 cards from the deck. It just makes the game more manageable time-wise and I can't see how it would make the game worse.

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