Climate Board Game Expansion Review
Review Context: I reviewed Evolution Board Game back in 2019 and really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much so that I bought the physical version.
Date of Playthrough: July 2021
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-9700F CPU @ 3.00GHz
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER
Disclosure; This review is based off of a review copy provided for free.
Climate Board Game Expansion, developed by North Star Digital Studios, is the digital adaptation of the physical board game that already exists. Evolution Board Game, the base game, was digitally released in 2019 and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that I bought the physical version for my family. The digital version was the first time I was introduced to the game and it was presented and done well with a nice campaign, various multiplayer modes, and additional features like challenges that were added later. I was really excited to play the Climate Board Game Expansion once I heard it was being released digitally because I was so impressed with the base game.
The Climate Board Game Expansion is essentially a paid feature update with custom games as your only single player option, plus all the multiplayer options. This means there is no campaign. For the purpose of this review I did the tutorial and the standard available custom AI matches, which is more than enough to get a feel of the Climate expansion and how the gameplay is affected compared to the base game. I wont describe every mechanic and how to play in Climate in this review, but will note the major differences and problems I have with this expansion. The tutorial does a relatively good job of explaining the game in a one versus one match, but strangely only recommends the game for “Good” and experienced players. I wouldn’t consider myself “Good” so maybe you can dismiss this review…I found that strange and odd for a company to put in a game, especially considering that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the storefront promotion. It also immediately cuts down on the number of people who might play it, which in my mind may be the reason no campaign is in the game. Maybe some of the issues I have with the game mentioned at the bottom are part of the reason this expansion is a rough addition. I will however contend that a campaign makes a player sharper at the game like the base game did for me.
In Climate, you can have up to four traits per creature except for one-on-one matches. Strangely, the tutorial has you play a one-on-one with four trait card slots, going against the rules of Climate rather than the tutorial putting you in a real game situation that makes sense. Maybe this is nitpicky, but I prefer tutorials to put players in real situations rather than shuffling rules just to condense a tutorial. The expansion itself adds a brand new layer of game to worry about with a weather board that can shift either in a Cold(left) or Hot(right) direction based the on majority of played Cold or Hot symbols on trait cards played during the first phase of playing food cards. Each slot except the middle slot on the weather board can either add or take away food, plus weather can take away certain numbers population based on the body size of the creatures. New trait cards are also in the game, as well as updates to traits that can add Hot or Cold protection for your creatures. The further the marker is from the middle of the weather board on either side means harsher consequences with more population loss and/or food loss from the feeding pool. Not only that, but random Event cards are also on the weather board that supersede the normal conditions on a weather slot that can be extremely damaging to your creatures if not prepared.
After playing the Climate Board Game Expansion I can say that it radically changes the game. The major issue I have with this expansion is it feels like all the focus is on changing your creatures to adapt to the weather with your opponents being secondary or just there. Since Climate is about manipulating body size and using trait cards to avoid population loss, most of the time you’ll find yourself using trait cards just to adjust to the weather and by the time you’ve done that your cards are all gone so you can’t adjust to your actual opponents. One of the things I really enjoy about the base Evolution Board Game is the flow of adapting your creatures to go up against your opponent’s creatures. That is almost gone in Climate because most of your focus is spent on manipulating the weather and getting your creatures to survive the weather rather than your opponents. If the intent of the expansion is to just mess around with the weather to kill your opponent’s creatures, which can be done of course, I find that boring compared to the base game experience.
My other major point of contention with the expansion is the order of play. This game forces so much RNG into the game in order to guess which way the weather is headed based on the Cold and Hot symbols. I may not be “good” at this game, but I can always spot and identify RNG/coin flip mechanics in a game from a mile away! The player has to play trait cards before the weather shifts instead of the player being given the opportunity to adapt to the weather conditions of that turn before suffering the consequences. To me, this sort of goes against the spirit of what evolutionary adaptation is. I hope North Star Games reconsiders the order of play to make the gameplay more reasonable and remove this aspect of forced coin flip guessing. The last part of RNG are the Event cards on the weather board. This is the one thing that is not really explained that well in how they are distributed. My main issue with the Event cards is that once they are used a new one is added back in, but in a different place that isn’t really explained, but seemingly random? The problem is that you can strategize trying to move away from Event cards, only for one to pop up nearby and destroy your creatures because you were unlucky. I feel like Event Cards should be removed from the game entirely because they are unnecessary overkill, but at the very least they shouldn’t be replenished.
This Climate Board Game Expansion is something I was really looking forward to, but unfortunately it just alters the game experiences too much that it’s too much of a departure from the base game that I actually really enjoy and recommend. The expansion is bare with no campaign, so it’s impossible for me to really praise this and recommend it unless you’re the hardest of hardcore Evolution Board Game players that wants to experience it yourself. New players should definitely play Evolution Board Game, but avoid this expansion like you’re trying to avoid Armageddon.
Similar Games Liked:
Evolution Board Game (PC)