|The box art tells the story of the game: life is a war of all against all|
Every player in the game leads a species of dinosaurs on its way to the ultimate crash down of the comet that will only leave one species standing. If you have gained the most evolution points by then, you survive (=win).
As in all evolution games (eg Ursuppe/Primordial Soup, Evolution, Dominant Species), you acquire new traits over the course of the game that will help your species to prosper, either by adapting to your natural environment, increased speed, higher birth rate or superior combat skills than your competitors, either offensive or defensive.
In Evo, there's a couple of main traits and a load of special ones. The most important are extra legs (you start with two) for movement, heat or cold resistance and horns for combat. And there's a trait that will keep the costs of other traits down (a genetical talent for adaptation). These will turn up randomly at the start of the turn, so you can't count on them being available all the time.
|My player board after the first round, in which I acquired an extra (3rd) leg|
But the action really takes off with the bidding contest for the new traits that become available. This also helps to establish the turn order. The starting player puts his pawn on the evolution board, normally picking the trait of his preference, with the lowest bid of 0. Bidding is done with evolution points (=victory points), so you must try to keep your bid as low as possible.
|The bidding board on the left and the survival roundel on the right|
You can imagine that this triggers a round of replacements as players move to their second best option, freeing up other pawns. You can also imagine that some players will place their pawn strategically to force other players to bid higher and to move to another place (and point in the player order) they actually prefer.
The action then moves to the map board, where you can move around (based on the number of legs (=movement points) you have and attack others. The special combat dice determines the outcome. Your chances of destroying your opponent are improved by having more (or bigger) horns.
|The map, late in the game when players had scattered.|
My pinko'saurs waiting to make their move
At this point you score new evolution points based on your population.
Rob won the game by increasing his population quickly and adapting to cold and heat. He also got the trait allowing him to flee his enemies, so we could not go after him to cull his numbers. He ended up with 36 point IIRC. Jeroen was close behind by skillful bidding (I think 31 points).
|My board at the end of the game: 4 legs, 3 horns and some cold resistance at last|
My strategy of mobility and aggression did work to some extent, because I kept most others at a safe distance, but it invited some retaliation as well. As I rarely managed to keep more than four of my dinos alive, you can imagine that betting power at the start of the game was limited, especially by the end of the game when new traits were less worthwhile than early on. I sucked at bidding however, and got my traits only late in the game, settling for event cards which in the end proved of little value. Still 25 points or so.
Everybody was so scared of Gerard's killer babies that he received some preemptive attacks. And because he didn't have horns, he lost most of them. Andries got himself stuck in a corner despite having useful traits, especially the adaptation bonus (ie discount on new traits).
But this is a good, fun game. Lots of meaningful and bloody interaction, tough choices and mechanics that work within the theme. Go fetch!