original German edition
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The wheel of history has been turned back approximately 2.5 Million years. The first humans fight mammoths, bears, crocodiles, eagles, and snakes for survival and supremacy. Which organism will capture and hold the most territory, breed the largest herd, develop the most successful survival strategy? Which organism will carve out of the wilderness the best conditions for their future? The more successful organisms will earn success points. The organism with the most success points at the end of the game will win.
Jethro Tull's rockin' animal kingdom tune is perfect for Wildlife! This game well deserves Games magazine top honors for Advanced Strategy game. It really challenges the player with lots of manageable options and ways to score. And with Uberplay getting ready to print it in English, look for a lot of game play.
Basically, up to six species ( mammoths, snakes, eagles, bears, crocs, man ) fight over twelve areas of land using action cards. Each species has its strengths and weakness in each area. Players migrate, expand, and attack to dominate areas & create the largest herds. Action cards also enable each species to obtain added abilities and even evolve, allowing it to dominate in more areas. You may play up to 2 actions cards per turn, but you must also auction off one action card per turn, which an opponent uses immediately. Scoring is broken down into eleven possible 'small' scoring events (one player receiving VP's) and three 'big' scoring events (all players eligible for VP's). Game ends after the eleventh small / third big scoring takes place, OR a player has all species tiles on the board. Highest score wins.
This game has lots of great bits that all fit around the theme. The core of the game, card play (instead of Kramer's action point systems) works out very well. It hard to really have a totally bad hand as you are dealt 10 cards. You are also faced with the constant struggle of evolving / obtaining ability cards / covering terrain. Grab the food ability cards early and take what you can. Kramer put in a nice check & balance with the ability cards to keep someone from running away too far with them. In fact, BGoR thought one player was going to run away with a game just by using the food cards, but as he relied on them too heavily, he failed to evolve in the later game and lost. Also, forming large orthogonal herds score big points, so look to keep them in check. The auction phase is a nice touch as well since it keeps all players involved during others' turns. Unless you completely screw-up, all players run fairly close, and its easy to gang up and take out the leading species if he getting too far ahead. I suppose there could be a 'kingmaker' aspect towards the end, but BGoR haven't had that happen yet.
Get this game. It really becomes nasty as the island fills up, and keep an eye on how many tiles a player has left. He could end the game early by getting all his tiles on the board forcing the game end and final scoring. Great colors, tiles and cards. In fact it is amazing that Clementoni has such a great color scheme with Wildlife and so thoroughly screwed-up Magna Grecia, but I digress. BGoR likes Wildlife as one of it hard-core main games for an evening.