Top 10 Board Games (#6)

6. Dominant Species

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Now this is probably a game that many people may not have heard about. It certainly does bare the GMT games logo, so it must be a wargame. Yes and no. This is a game of conquest and a little bit of combat, but it is far more unique that GMT’s other war games. Within this game, you take the role of some animal species (whether it be amphibians, mammals, insects, etc.) and attempt to adapt to the environment as the world around you is reaching the ice age, struggling to survive and maintain dominance.

With worker placement mechanics matched with area control mechanics, this game is wonderfully designed. You take turns first placing action pawns on certain action spaces, thus committing to those actions, and then complete those actions on the rest of the board. Then, if you took the appropriate action, you score points depending on who has the most individuals, second most, and so on for a particular tile. But what, that’s not all for the turn! Then, you see who is best adapted to the environment on that tile and give that person the opportunity to play a dominance card, which can significantly alter the game by allowing someone to change adaptations, force all species on a particular tile to move, or even create a catastrophe which wipes out numerous creatures on the map.

One thing to note, however, is that this game can last 3.5 to 4 hours. While that may seem like quite a long time for a board game, this game certainly does not fail to lose your attention. With a constantly changing environment on the board and really powerful cards being played from turn to turn, you are kept on your toes, and there is a great depth to the choices and strategies that you make. Also, with the different special abilities for each species and different starting adaptations, each player’s experience is noticeably unique.

Honestly, I do not get to play this game too often, due to not having too many players and not often having so much time to leave open toward playing a board game, but I highly enjoy the few times I get to bring out this game, especially when I play it within a tournament at the WBC board gaming convention.

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