Players: Mark K, Ian, Mark G, John, Garry
With five of us this week, I suggested to Mark K that I would like to try Wolfgang Kramer’s Wildlife, a game I’ve not played before for some reason. Mark had played it at Christmas and had enjoyed it so I was keen to see how it measured up. The game is set in Stone Age times and is about the competition for survival between various species of creature and man. Each player is one such species and they compete to control the various areas on the board. Players hold a hand of cards each of which shows a terrain that action can be taken in or a special action. On a player’s turn, he uses 3 of his cards, 2 for himself and 1 which is auctioned off to the other players for their immediate use, in return for food chips. The areas are coloured according to the type of terrain they represent and contain a number of spaces to show how many creatures can be placed in the area. Each creature has differing abilities in each terrain (e.g. bears can do nothing in the desert, can migrate on the savannah, expand in the mountains and attack in the forests). However, an Adaptation card allows the player to upgrade his ability on one type of terrain, allowing him more freedom of action for the rest of the game. Ability cards give the holder extra .. err .. abilities, but they are limited in number and can be stolen. Text cards give various advantages to the player playing the card (or disadvantages to other players). Once all the spaces in an area are occupied, the person completing the area receives a number of VPs (3VPs for the earlier areas completed, 5VPs towards the end of the game). Then after the 4th, 8th and (possibly) 11th areas have been completed, all areas are assessed individually and VPs awarded for those with the most of their species present. At the same time, bonus VPs are awarded to those with the largest groups of connected creatures, those whose creatures abilities have advanced the most, those with the most special ability tiles and those with the most food chips. The game ends after the 11th area has been scored or someone has placed all of their creatures onto the board. Most VPs obviously wins. This was a typical Kramer game, trying to maximise your position from a limited number of actions. There is not a lot you can do between your turns but you do tend to be involved in other people’s auctions so downtime is not too much of a problem. Early on, Ian demonstrated his wargame background by taking an Aggression card. He also kept his herd together well, which allowed him to storm ahead on the major scoring, once the fourth area was completed. He also played a Famine Text Card, which cost Mark G and me some vital VPs, as we were low on Food points. John also kept scoring well by keeping to relatively uncontested areas. Once the eighth area was ready to be completed, the aggression started in earnest, with me retaliating against Ian for an earlier incursion into my territory. I scored well at this second major scoring and took a slim lead. I also looked likely to go out on my next turn with just three creatures left to place. However, it didn’t get round to me again. Ian broke up my herd and then Mark G broke up Ian’s, while finishing the last (11th) area. This reduced Ian’s scoring at the end and allowed Mark K, who had kept up with the pace all the way through to grab the win. Missing out on one final turn was deadly for me and, although I had started at the front of the score track, that didn’t make up for the swing I could have achieved if I had managed the same number of turns as everyone else. Despite this, Mark K played really well and showed that his previous experience of the game was not wasted. We all enjoyed the game but thought it just went on a little bit too long. It took about 2.5 hours, although Mark K didn’t think it was as late as it turned out to be. Plenty to think about, as usual for a Kramer game, and I’m sure I would play differently on the game’s next outing.
Result: Mark K 79, Ian 78, Garry 68, John 65, Mark G 63
Ratings: Mark K 7, Ian 7, Garry 7, John 7, Mark G 7