Friday, July 13, 2012

Expansion Review - Time to Fly

Generally speaking, a game expansion is supposed to make the original better. That is the goal, usually - add some play options, inject more depth, provide a little more replay value, or just let you play without your pants on (it should be noted that you don't usually need an expansion for that last one, but depending on the crowd, it might help).

Evolution, the game from Russian game company Right Games, has a recently released expansion called Time to Fly. It's pretty creative, really thinks outside the box, because instead of taking a good game and making it better, it takes a good game and makes it a lot worse.

A little background here, for those of you too lazy to go read my original review. In Evolution, you make animals, give them traits like Carnivore or Swimming or Fat Deposit or Detachable Penis, and see if you can keep them alive long enough to get you a bunch of points. A game this basic (and yet brain-taxing enough to be a lot of fun) seems like it could only benefit from adding more evolutionary mutations.

But instead of improving the original, the expansion just ruins it. Time to Fly adds several new traits, many of which are actually pretty cool, but it also adds several that you can add to a creature to make it completely incapable of being killed. Put the right combination on your critter, and instead of evolving an alligator or wildebeest, you'll turn him into a tubby Godzilla with a tapeworm. Everyone else will be trying to make their woodchuck survive to the end of the game, and one guy's monster beast will just pick them up and eat them to feed the mile-long intestinal parasite.

To make matters worse, now the game is twice as long. It's actually a really good idea to cull the deck down, because otherwise you'll wind up with a game that only one person at the table is enjoying, and everyone else is wishing to God it would end, and the game is taking twice as long as it should. There's a combination of cards that is statistically impossible to beat - and even if you do manage to pull out this miracle combo that can take down King Kong in a snail's shell, your animal is going to be so unbalanced that it can't get enough food, and it winds up killing the other beast and then starving to death on a beach somewhere off the Antarctic coastline.

The original Evolution is a fun game. It's a constant, dog-eat-everything-else competition to stay alive and eat your enemies like kielbasa. You have to plan and conserve your strength, play hard and smart, and keep your wits about you to survive.

Add in Time to Fly, however, and now you've got a situation where one player can build a hybrid of Incredible Hulk and a tyrannosaurus rex, and it's just not fun for anyone. Well, it's probably fun for the guy with the mutant world-eater, but everyone else will just be frustrated and bored.

I can still recommend Evolution. It's fun. But unless you're a rabid completist, avoid Time to Fly like it was Time to Make A Number Two. It takes a perfectly good game and makes it suck.


A few cool traits that make the game more interesting

A bunch of poorly tested traits that make the game actively horrid

That does it for the Russian games. Here's a link to their store, where you can order any of their games (just don't get Time to Fly):

No comments: