Introduction to Evolution

This is a great introduction to the theory of evolution. It provides a hands-on demonstration of evolutionary arms races, adaptations, and interspecific interactions. This exercise also demonstrates the concept that evolution has no foresight.

Activity time: 1 hr
Game: Evolution: The Beginning
Associated materials: paper- ‘What really is Evolution?’, homework


  1. Introduce evolution in class or by assigning primary literature (e.g. ‘What really is Evolution?’)
  2. Play Evolution: The Beginning by the publisher’s rules.
  3. After finishing, ask the students:

Ask what biological concepts the game emulated well, as what they thought was poorly emulated? Ask how they felt it emulated evolution via natural selection?  If not raised, ask if the way species are adapted shares more affinities with natural selection or intelligent design.  Ask how this could be improved?

  1. Play the game again with the following rule changes (the Natural Selection Rules):
  2. Players do not look at the card faces— they draw cards as normal, but keep them face down.
  3. Then players decided one of the four ‘Adapt Options’ without looking at cards: A. create new species, B. add population, C. add traits, or D. remove traits. Repeat this step as many times as cards are available in the player’s hand. Remember cards can also be saved for the next turn.

If ‘adding traits’, after the decision to ‘add traits’ is declared, the player specifies which species the trait will be applied to and then flips the card to show the card face (the trait). If the flipped card already exists as a trait on that species, select a new card from the top of the draw deck until a novel trait is uncovered.  Place any redundant trait cards at the bottom of the draw deck.

Important: place traits on a species one at a time.  This helps players make decisions in the context of the newly displayed trait (e.g. a newly created carnivore)

All other rules remain the same as provided by the publisher.

(Image credit: Dominic Crapuchettes, North Star Games)