Had most of the regulars over on Saturday for our regular FtF gaming (Patch missed out by being ill; get better Patch!), going for Dominant Species this time. We did our usual method of handing out the animals randomly, with the Birds (which for whatever reason usually gets skipped in our random draws) going to Mark, Jason getting the Insects, Dave getting Amphibians, and Mammals going to me.

I mostly tried to set up for later in the game in the first turn or two, and felt that it had gone poorly. I didn’t feel like I had gained any sort of advantage over anyone else, and had passed over gaining points, putting me well behind anyone else. Jason had gotten a decent lead, followed by Dave, both off of double-scoring. Somewhat surprisingly, there had been no glaciation action the first turn (Jason tended to a heavy Glaciation/Survival strategy early on, but has since gone on to other strategies), and Dave ended up with the Survival card for the first time in all his plays.

After the first turn.

After that, my position improved, and my scored passed Mark’s by one point on turn 3, and stayed there on turn 4. I was picking up decent number of dominances across the board, and eventually realized that it was because meat was the most common element on the board, and I had adapted to sun and grass, which were also common. The points spread had gotten really wide during the first few turns, but Dave started catching up to Jason in the middle game, and I came out of the cellar (passing Mark as mentioned), and started climbing towards them.

After turn four. My meat-sun-grass combo is paying off at the wrong time….

One thing that decidedly affected the game is that both Intelligence and Parasitism came up early, and the player most easily skipped by them got the first choice at them (i.e., the person who would miss the action pawn if anyone other than them picked the card), so everyone had five action pawns from the second turn, and six from about turn four. On the last turn things got very crowded as all the action pawns combined with the choices that no longer had meaning were abandoned. Also, all of us had a fairly easy time getting all our species  on the board. I tried a somewhat risky strategy of getting everything out during the middle game, and still had a decent population at the end.

During the last couple turns, my surge in points and obvious dominance possibilities came to an end as events conspired to make me lose adaptation elements, and a last-place position in the initiative (I had put myself in third on the first turn, but Mark had put me back in fourth with Nocturnal) locked me out of Adaptation, leaving me with four elements to work with. As my dominance (heh) of the board faded, Mark, who had started doing better over the last couple of turns started emerging with a number of dominances across the board.

As it turned out I had one final choice at the end of the game. I had the final scoring position, and as we had had an even five cards available, Ice Age had not yet been taken. I could easily score a tied-dominance title and try to gain a victory I fairly obviously wasn’t going to get this turn. But I felt that next turn would be worse, not better, for me and ended the game. Mark had gotten up to eight dominances, and the bonus points pushed him up to a 134-point win. Dave and Jason had five dominances and also tied at 125 points. I only had four (if I could have moved a bit more to keep from getting knocked off a couple tiles, it would have been more), and came in fourth at 121.

End game.

The early game featured a ~30 point gap at one point, so this relatively close set of scores was very startling. Also, this is the highest overall scoring game we’ve seen yet. This is also the second game in a row that ended about a turn or so after I really needed it to. Though this time I got a clearer idea of just how some of this happened (popular elements), and I hope to be able to manipulate the dominance situation a bit better next time.