North Star Games has launched Oceans, the latest game in the Evolution series, on Kickstarter, and it funded on the first day of the campaign.  Oceans is a strategy game that recreates the building of a marine ecosystem through millions of years of evolution. Like the other games in the Evolution series, players create and evolve species in a growing ecosystem in an effort to survive and thrive. Species will be defined by one or more of the 12 traits found among sea life.  At first, the only food source is plankton and predating species will be limited to few traits, but as life (and food) become more abundant, more complex creatures can evolve. But the ocean is a complex ecosystem and the deeper one goes in the ocean the stranger the ocean world becomes.  Oceans includes this mysterious world with The Deep, where 50 unique traits create powerful and strange creatures of the deep ocean.  Oceans features the same art style by naturalist Catherine Hamilton found in the other Evolution games.

Oceans plays 2-6 players, ages 12+, between 45-100 minutes.  Contents for the standard game include 1 Rulebook, 1 Reference Guide, 2 Player aids, 1 Reef board, 3 Ocean boards (2 small, 1 large), 120 Surface cards (10 of each type), 50-80 Deep cards (1 of each type), 25 Scenario cards, 35 Species boards, 215 cardboard fish (96 Light Blue, 42 Salmon, 30 Yellow, 18 Blue, 6 Midnight, and 23 White tokens), 6 Player screens, and 6 Bonus Score tokens.  The Deluxe Edition ugrades the fish to acrylic fish tokens, custom printed bags for storing points instead of player screen, and 220 custom Ocean card sleeves for both the core trait cards and The Deep trait cards. The Kickstarter campaign runs through April 26 with an expected delivery date of September 2019.  Check out the Kickstarter campaign to learn more.

Not to miss out on the blossoming digital games market like many of it’s kin, the award-winning Evolution from North Star Games is available now on Steam, iOS, and Android. This new desktop and mobile version boasts new artwork, animated cards and environments, a campaign mode with many A.I bosses, and all the same great gameplay that put Evolution on the map. Cross-platform multiplayer means you’ll be able to play anyone, anywhere, from any preferred device. After 4 years of development, North Star Digital Studios is confident they have made the experience as streamlined as possible so that online matches are ten minutes or less.

“Within moments of playing their first game, even new players will understand why the Evolution board game became an award-winning franchise with more than 1.6 million players around the world. Anyone can jump right into the diverse ecosystem on PC, Mac, iOS or Android.”

That’s not all though, as North Star Games is celebrating that launch in the best way manageable – by giving away 10 free copies of the physical edition of Evolution every day for 100 days since it’s launch. All you have to do to enter is play an online match each day to be eligible. It’s well worth it to not only support the game and it’s fresh online community, but to also snag some free games for you or your loved ones. If you’re interested in learning more about Evolution: The Video Game, or other North Star Games Products, be sure to visit the appropriate app stores or their website for photos, gameplay videos, and future updates.

Fans of Evolution and North Star Games can now anticipate an upcoming sequel to the richly scientific franchise. Designed collaboratively by Nick Bentley, Brian O’Neill, and Dominic Crapuchettes, OCEANS is billed as their most ambitious game yet several years in the making. While it continues to use Evolution’s excellent theme and art in fun new ways, it will also inter the figurative depth and denizens of the ocean into it’s strategy to create something altogether not for the feint of heart. The game is intended to hit Kickstarter in February 2019 with an anticipated release the following September.

“OCEANS is the latest entry into the Evolution Game Series and, a grand cumulation of effort by North Star Games to design the ultimate gamer’s game. […] Whereas the previous games in the Evolution series were bound exclusively by the science (and the core of this game is as well), OCEANS expands upon it with a new set of cards called “The Deep”. This fantastical set of new cards stretch the boundaries of the game from science, to science fiction by including creatures like the Leviathan and the Hydra.”

However, before the anticipated launch of the crowdfunding campaign, North Star Games is seeking outside playtest groups to ensure the design is as polished as it can be. This additional effort to put their game through more pressure before putting it to Kickstarter further shows the love and care they have in OCEANS and I think it’s a great sign of a good game on the horizon. If you are interested in participating in playtesting, you can follow this link for information and to apply. For even further details, screenshots, and behind-the-scenes looks for OCEANS, be sure to check out their blog and website for all that and more.

It’s April and that means taxes are due, baseball is starting, and more importantly The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast has launched its annual Kickstarter campaign. If you are not already familiar with the fine folks at The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast, they are a member of the Dice Tower network and produce 5 full length podcasts per month covering board games, role playing games and miniatures gaming, as well as producing audio dramas, video blog, live streams and more throughout the year. This year, The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast would like to add periodic programming specials to its lineup, providing its audience a massive amount of content each year.

Like all Kickstarters, there are a mutliple pledge levels to pick up a variety of fun things ranging from pins, challenge coins, bottle openers, promo cards, the Grand Adventures Book, to membership in the Cabal.  The Grand Adventures Book, written by cabalist Jamie Keagy, is a short guide to better role playing, and is available in print or ebook.  The promo card pack includes promo cards for Empires of the Void II, Space Freaks, Terraforming Mars, Evolution, and Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar!  The promo card pack includes promos featuring The Secret Cabal in Brook City, Detective: City of Angels, and Bottom of the 9th.

The campaign runs until May 4th so head over to the Kickstarter page and check out all the content the campaign will support and learn more promos and goodies backers can pick up for supporting the podcast.

Evolution is a highly rated game that is easy to learn, fun to play, and has several expansions already that just improve and make the game even better.  So because of all this success, North Star Games have decided to bring the game to digital platforms so that you can play the game wherever you are.  Evolution the Video Game will feature the same gameplay that you have known and loved from the original game, but this time all the fiddly bits and book keeping are automated by the computer.  No need to manually increase or decrease your herd stats, count out the number of food tokens you need to put on the watering hole, or remembering the order of who eats when.  The game is also enhanced with new art, fluid animations that bring different actions to life, and a number of highly desirable features.  Some of those features being cross platform play, online multiplayer, local AI solo mode, and a campaign system to bring new variety to the game.  Overall if you want a digital implementation for the game, check out the Kickstarter page.  You will be able to pledge for tablet/phone version of the game, the steam version of the game, both, and even the physical editions of the game.

As described by Nick Bentley (one of the developers of several of the Evolution games) on his BoardGameGeek blog, NorthStar Games is beginning the development of an oceans-based game. Following on the themes in their Evolution, Evolution: Flight, Evolution: Climate, and Evolution: The Beginning games, this one will feature species and species interactions that are water-based. As are all the games (except Evolution: Flight), this game will be a standalone game and not an expansion of one of the existing games.

As a “teaser”, Nick states:

Here are three key facts of ocean life:

the base of the food chain is plankton
ocean critters can get really big
most non-tiny ocean critters are carnivores

The Evolution games are mostly card driven games where you assign traits to your species, or discard cards to add new species, increase the population or the body size of a species.  The evolution theme is very much at the forefront of the game play.  As carnivores evolve, for example, this species needs to eat other species.  So you need to defend against the threats by adding traits that help your own species survive.

It is hoped that this new game will have the same beautiful art work and production quality as the prior games.

NorthStar hopes to introduce the game for play-testing at GenCon 2017 and release it at GenCon 2018.  It will be a Kickstarter project in February 2017.  NorthStar Games is also the publisher of Wits and Wagers, Say Anything! and other games.


Evolution is the highly rated game of growing and evolving your species of animal to be the best and to thrive.  There have been a couple expansions and an easier to play spin-off that is a Target exclusive, but there isn’t much for tournament play.  So to fix that, North Star Games is releasing a tournament kit for the game that retailers can order.  In the kit will be 16 sets of the Hibernation trait card to be given to all the participants, 4 sets of Night Prowler cards for the finalists, and finally a new T-Rex first player marker for the final winner.  Retailers should be getting these packs very soon, if they haven’t already, so be on the lookout for tournament notices at your FLGS.


In Vivarium it’s survival of the fittest as you play out the game with between 2-5 species (players) to see who can adapt the best and come out on top.  Vivarium is a deck building game with some of area control added in where everyone starts with the same deck of fear and instinct cards, and as you go through the game you will get better cards to up your fitness level to help you survive.  The cards can be population cards, (which relate to increasing the number of animals you have on the board) aggression cards, (which work to disrupt your opponents) ingenuity cards (which relate to destroying cards to thin out your deck) and territory cards (which deal with moving your animals).  As you acquire and use these cards to expand your influence on the board and control areas, like the all important oasis, you will be able to improve your fitness even more.  Event cards will change up the circumstances each round and battle cards help you to claim and defend your territories.  Whoever is the fittest species at the end of spring in the 4th year is the winner.

vivarium comp

By the sound of it you might think this game is trying to be like Evolution, but other than a similar theme of adapting your species, the two are very different games.  Vivarium sports some excellent art and with the board aspect in play there is more to do than just augment your species.  The combination of deck building and board worked well for Trains: Rising Sun and I think Vivarium will be able to do the same, head on over to the campaign page to check it out and pledge for your own copy.

Day 3 of GAMA trade show started with a lot of new exciting family, action, and dexterity games.

Mayday Games has a new dexterity game, Chopstick Dexterity MegaChallenge 3000 (CDMC 3K). In this 2-3 player game, players compete to grab specific wooden tokens from a bowl using only their chopsticks. CDMC 3K was funded by Kickstarter in April of last year and had some delays in shipping, but it is available now.

R&R Games will be releasing Cup-a-Cup next week. In this action/dexterity game, players race to grab the correct cup after rolling the dice.


North Star Games was showing off a couple games at GAMA. Wits & Wagers, a party trivia game where players get points for both guessing answers correctly and for betting on the right answer, has a deluxe edition coming in June. The deluxe edition has nice poker-like chips for the player chips. Evolution, a strategy card game where players adapt and evolve their species to survive, has a second edition with newer and more colorful art.

Kosmos has a new 3D stacking game called Dimension that’s available now. In this puzzle game, players try to stack balls to match all the tasks shown on the playing cards before time runs out.

Queen Games was showing off Parfum, their new game where players roll Aroma dice to create unique perfumes and sell them to their clients. Parfum was funded by Kickstarter on March 11, and is estimated to be delivered in July of this year.

Stay tuned for more news from GAMA trade show!


the escapist banner

Popular video game review site, The Escapist, is running a series of features in preparation for its annual The Escapist Awards. They have nominees in a myriad of categories ranging from games to movies to comics and more.

The most important awards are, of course, Best Board Game and Best Card Game of 2014. There are four nominees in the board game category and three for card games. Let’s dig in.

Board Games

Evolution by Dominic Crapuchettes and North Star Games

“Evolution charmed us and made us wish we could play game after game to explore all the combinations.”

five tribes board

Five Tribes by Bruno Cathala and Days of Wonder

“Days of Wonder don’t often create a game for ‘Hardcore Gamers’ in the tabletop sector, those seekers of games about points, scoring points, and nothing but the points, but when they do you should sit up and take notice.”

Shadowrun: Crossfire by Mike Elliott and Catalyst Game Labs

“Where Crossfire really excels is that it’s a consistently challenging experience in a world of milquetoast cooperative games.”

kings forge

King’s Forge by Nick Sibicky and Clever Mojo Games

“You get to roll giant double fistfuls of dice, and who doesn’t like that?”

Card Games

Warhammer 40,000: Conquest Core Set by Eric M. Lang and Fantasy Flight Games

“Conquest is a delightful game that balances quicker victory now against the possibility that you’ll deny your opponent victory in the future.”

doomtown premium

Doomtown: Reloaded Core Set by Mark Wootton and AEG

“It’s a harrowing experience that begs players to push their luck, attempt interesting plays, coming back to the game again and again.”

Magic: The Gathering Commander 2014 by Richard Garfield and Wizards of the Coast

“With five great decks, each really playable right out of the box and definitely including an obvious upgrade path for the deckbuilding-curious, this is a product you and a few friends can have a great time with even if you’re not Magic experts.”

Winners haven’t been announced yet, but given the interesting variety on these lists, we’ll be keeping an eye on The Escapist Awards throughout the end of the year. Head over to The Escapist to read more on their board game and card game nominees.

Don’t forget to check out Dice Tower’s reviews to learn more about these contenders.

Evolution, Game Boy Geek Preview
Five Tribes, Miami Dice Episode 147
Shadowrun: Crossfire Review
King’s Forge, Miami Dice Episode 145
Warhammer 40,0000 Conquest, Miami Dice Episode 146
Doomtown: Reloaded Review