12 December 2015
Dominant Species is Darwin’s work played out on the tabletop.
GMT Games | Worker placement | 2-6 players | 190 minutes | www.gmtgames.com
When Darwin was penning Origin of the Species, it’s unlikely he thought that his work would go on to inspire a board game… then again, who knows, perhaps that’s the only reason he did it? Dominant Species is Darwin’s work played out on the tabletop. As the Ice Age approaches birds, mammals, reptiles, arachnids, amphibians and insects are all vying for supremacy. To begin with they’re all on an equal footing (claw, talon?) but through your actions you’ll eventually start to wipe out the other animals to become the dominant species. That’s right, this is a game in which you wipe out entire species!
As you might expect from a game that’s about evolution, this is pretty serious business and the potential three-hour playtime is nothing to sniff at. Then again, if you’re after an in-depth and tactical game, then you certainly won’t go wrong with this.
To help your species take over the planet you have three distinct phases of play: the planning phase, the execution phase and the clean-up phase. In the planning phase you must decide what actions you’re going to take, e.g. adapting your species to deal with a new obstacle, breeding to get more animals or changing the environment of a hex on the game board. There are 12 different potential actions, so perhaps keep a handy reference if you’re just starting out. The execution phase sees you performing all the actions and then the clean-up stage is basic maintenance.
Your actions can be defensive or offensive, depending upon how you want to place and it’s possible to win the game doing just one or a mix of both. Although there are a lot of actions, the mechanics themselves are actually pretty easy to get your head round, it’s how you execute those actions where the strategy comes into play. However, perhaps Dominant Species’ biggest success is potraying the complex process of evolution with minimal fuss. Yes, you’re just moving little wooden tokens around but you still feel like you’re a group of lizards or hordes of ants trying to dominate the globe.
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