The Evolution app recently launched the Climate expansion, which adds a significant changes to the Evolution landscape. If you haven’t already, you can check out my thoughts on the base game of Evolution here!

What’s Different?

Evolution: Climate adds a weather mechanic that really comes into play during the food phase. All the cards that were discarded to seed the feeding pool now may influence the climate as well, shifting the ecosystem into either a new ice age, or a deadly heatwave. In colder climates, less vegetation is available and small animals perish easily. On the hot end of the spectrum, vegetation is plentiful but the largest animals can’t handle the heat. On both sides of the climate board lay events that may get triggered and will all the animals, or the ecosystem dramatically.

Of course, with this new mechanic comes many more traits that allow you to mitigate the effects of the weather, at the expense of taking up one of your precious trait slots. Do you want to evolve Cooling Frills to survive in heat? Is it worth replacing your Hard Shell, potentially leaving you open to carnivores? You’ll need to adapt to survive!

The smaller, but just as important changes are that players all now draw one more card by default, and each species can hold 4 traits instead of just 3. This gives you space to add a climate trait, but the situation may demand you evolve along a different path. Also, if you’ve spent some time with just the base game, a few of the previous traits have been modified to negate some of the climate effects as well (such as Burrowing preventing some population lost due to heat and cold effects).

How is it?

The base game of Evolution had players struggle against the threat of hungry carnivores, and against the dwindling food supply. Evolution: Climate adds yet another threat to manage. As before, you can push your luck and play traits that primarily assist you in getting food, but eschewing your defense or neglecting to acclimatize to the shifting weather patters will lead to your extinction.

The climate marker only moves one space up or down each round, and with most games lasting between 6 and 8 rounds, the odds of hitting the ends of the track seems fairly limited (but not impossible). As expected, hitting the very ends of the climate track and trigging extreme temperatures can spell disaster for everyone involved. The available food plummets, all creatures suffer massive population loss, and the odds of trigging one of the cataclysmic events rises.

Wildfires, Volcanic Eruptions, and even Meteorites are all options if you let the ecosystem get hot enough

The Climate expansion does add a lot more variability to an already very variable game. Personally, I feel like it adds just a bit too much randomness as your ability to control the weather is fairly low. Because the weather modification is tied to the same card that you use to seed the pond, it’s not uncommon for you to be in a bit of a pickle; you need to add food to the board, but the only card that adds food also makes it colder. Generally you’ll find yourself picking the lesser of two evils and then trying to adapt to survive.

That said, I do enjoy another threat being added that can punish an overly aggressive player. If the heat rises, larger animals begin to die. Carnivores depend on their large body size to eat their prey which can give a player who has mustered an army of small rats a bit of a fighting chance.

Evolution: Climate is a great addition to an already great game. The new mechanic offers considerable depth with very little rules overhead. Evolution‘s mechanics already produce an emergent narrative, and Climate only adds to that story. I can’t help but think about the tale where my populous, but small animals narrowly avoided being chomped on by an overzealous carnivore, only to be saved by a sudden heat wave driving the carnivore into extinction.

As I said before, the Evolution app is simply excellent, and the Climate expansion adds even more content to play with. I really enjoyed my time with the app, especially because I have absolutely no qualms about becoming a carnivore and tearing into AI flesh. If you’re a fan of Evolution, adding Climate is a no-brainer!