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Evolution (EVL) WBC 2016 Report
Updated Oct. 25, 2016 Icon Key
67 Players Lex Jackson, PA 2016 Status 2017 Status Event History
2016 Champion

Battling Starvation

In its first year as a Century event, the Evolution tournament once again exceeded expectations. No longer the shiny new kid on the block, player participation remained over four heats and two elimination rounds. Many played in all four heats.

Despite playing in a cramped room, everyone was in good spirits and I do not remember there being one instance of animosity during play; a tribute to the competitive, yet sportsmanlike character of WBC attendees. The focus on very friendly but high level play is what makes the WBC the best convention out there and my experience with the Evolution tournament was testimony to that.

The level of play was higher this year as would be expected following last year’s inaugural tournament, leading to tighter games. Evolution was pretty new last year and as people play the game more they get better, which was on display this year.

I wanted to mix things up a bit and include more players in the semifinals since the level of play was so high, so I had four 5-player tables in the semis, rather than the traditional 4-player game. The 5-player game is a bit more chaotic but the players took it in stride and created fun, energetic games.

Some standouts were Table 4 where Nick Klercker, William Bleier, Todd Bookman, Sam Wolff, and Chris Erickson played a brutal low food game from the get go, leading to starvation and very few species. Strangely, there was only one Carnivore for most of the game, but the second one appeared on the last turn and they both targeted William who was in the lead. The funny thing about low food strategies though – they can come back to bite you. Nick was poised to take the lead with his successful Carnivore on the last play, but since he played a low food card that turn, his second plant eating species had nothing to eat and went extinct, depriving him of points for his traits and population. William held on for the victory, only four points ahead of third place!

Table 2 proved again that slow and steady wins the race. Robert Drozd jumped to an early lead with four species and an early Carnivore. Everyone responded in kind, turtling up and Robert was forced to attack his own species for a few turns! He adjusted and went after Tom Robinson’s Cooperation chain, as you do since they can be really powerful. The problem was that no one noticed Lawrence Solomon quietly sitting in the corner, his Burrowers nibbling away at carrots and never once losing any population to either starvation or Carnivores. He scored a solid victory, advancing into the Final after missing Round 3 last year by a mere four points in a nail biting third place finish. Lexi Shea and Cynthia Lee also kept their heads down, with Lexi tying Robert for second place.

The Final

Last year during the semis; all of the top seeds lost, while all the second seeds advanced! This year was even crazier! Once again the top four seeds lost, and the fifth and sixth seeds advanced. But this year the 16th and 17th seeds also won, including the defending champion Pete Noteman who was the only repeating laurelist of the original six.

As is often the case with veteran players, low food was the order of the day. Only 50 food was played into the Watering Hole over six turns. That is about eight food a turn which is not going to go very far.

Reading the tea leaves early, Lex Jackson played a Carnivore on Turn 2 as the first player, an extremely bold move! The play seemed premature as there was 19 food that turn (40% of the overall food total in the game), but after that the players reverted back to the low food norm, and Lex’s bold move ended being prescient. Starvation started on Turn 3, and Fat Tissues were depleted of any stored food.

Turn 4 saw Lawrence with not one, but two Long Neck Foragers, hoovering up six food right away. William over projected, losing six Population due to starvation. Pete was able to keep three species alive, more than anyone else, so it looked like he might be able to challenge Lex. But Lex’s Carny was getting bigger and badder every turn.

One food on Turn 5 and Pete, the start player, grabbed it, allowing him to keep two of his species alive. Lawrence’s Long Neck Foragers kept starvation to a minimum, but William rebounded with a Scavenging Cooperation chain, avoiding any starvation to his high population. Lex’s Fat Tissued Carnivore still was the dominant species though, and it looked like everything was coming down to the last turn.

Only six food was available and thus the chances of William’s Scavenging Cooperators looked solid. The problem was that they had to scavenge one of their own, as William let Lex get bigger than one of his Hard Shell turtles and it got chomped a few times. Lawrence, as per his style, played his slow and steady game, hoovering up some Long Neck food and staying safe from Carnivores. Pete even got into the action with an Intelligent Carny and was able to drive one of Lex’s critters into extinction while evading its Horns. But it was too little too late, and Lex carried the day.

The early Carnivore made the difference, which is pretty rare, as Carnivores usually require too many resources (i.e., cards) to be effective early. That is the thing I love most about Evolution. Just when you think there are set rules to good play, someone breaks the paradigm and wins by adapting appropriately to the situation before anyone else realizes what is happening.

I was pleased with the tournament, but am definitely going to make some changes next year like requiring players to play in at least two heats. The scoring mechanism to determine the finalists may change as well. I am still looking for the best model to predict performance in the Final but also reward players who play in several heats.  And I might include the upcoming Climate expansion for the Final.

As always, we welcome new players to Evolution. The strategy is always evolving so jump into the mix.

2016 Laurelists Repeating Laurelists: 1
Lawrence Solomon, VA Wiliam Bleier, PA Pete Noteman, PA Jack Wolff, PA Anthony Lainesse, qc
2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
Lots of evolving going on in Heat 1. Sam Wolff coninues to evolve in adult events.
Grizzled, older brother Jack Wolff grabs some adult laurels. GM Luke Warren oversees his four finalists.
GM  Luke Warren [2nd Year]  NA
 luke@northstargames.com  NA