Gameday First Play – Dominant Species

Posted on by Jesta

The female of the species is more deadlier than the male…

But neither can survive an ice cold tundra!

90,000 B.C. — A great ice age is fast approaching. Another titanic struggle for global supremacy has unwittingly commenced between the varying animal species. Dominant Species is a game that abstractly recreates a tiny portion of ancient history: the ponderous encroachment of an ice age and what that entails for the living creatures trying to adapt to the slowly-changing earth. Each player will assume the role of one of six major animal classes — mammal, reptile, bird, amphibian, arachnid or insect. Each begins the game more or less in a state of natural balance in relation to one another. But that won’t last: It is indeed “survival of the fittest.”

This is an area control war game with a cool theme.

It’s also a Worker Placement/Acton selection game where everyone takes turns placing action disks until all are placed and then they are removed in order one at a time with that action being resolved.


Dominant Species Action Board


So this is the board, those eyeball things are where you place one the 12 actions. You start with 5 action disks each.

After a very good rules explanation I of course forgot what each of these did so I’m always glad to have an awesome player board with each action on it. For this game, it’s very detailed and also has a picture of your chosen Animal, I had Mammals.

Dominant Species Player Board


The basis of the game is this…

You’re trying to make your animal adapt to various elements. Using the adoption action lets you add a new element to your board.

Being adapted helps you gain dominance in areas of the board. Each area is surrounded by elements and if you have the most, and a species in that area, you gain dominance over it. This is usual for drawing very powerful cards and for end game scoring.

You can add elements to areas to help you become more dominant. Also, if you have species in areas that do not have elements for your species they become extinct at the end of the turn.

Adding Species to areas help you when finding out who is dominant for scoring, if you have more than other players, the more points you will get.

It also helps you out when there is competition in an area (when one species kills another) by not being wiped out.

But having too many species in an area hurts if the ice age spreads to that area as you only get to keep one species.

You can spread into new areas using the Wanderlust action.

Dominant Species Board

The game does look very abstract and in a way it is but each Animal has it’s own ability that felt thematic. I was the Mammals so I was top of the food chain (I break ties for scoring) and I could survive better.

Birds can migrate (move) further… makes sense.

Reptiles adapt better.

Amphibians starts off the game more adapted than everyone else.

All in all this was a fun game. I kept trying to imagine it as a war game by changing the names of this in my head but it just didn’t work. Armies adapting to different terrains is no where near as god as species adapting to elements.

I downloaded this on this iOS while playing and it plays quite well.

While it’s complex and though t provoking it’s a lot of fun and one I will play again.

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