Wednesday, May 25, 2011

HOT BOX - 'Dominant Species' (What's in the Box?) - Where I talk about being a bit too anal about my new games....

Well, here it is in my grubby washed and dried little hands - DOMINANT SPECIES! I've been lusting after it since before it became available. But even with all that lusting I was waiting to get it as it's a bit pricey and I hadn't had a chance to play it yet. I also felt that maybe the wooden cubes didn't do the game justice - I thought: "It's a game about animals killing each other, right? Not little cubes eating other little cubes!"

Then I got to play it recently and I couldn't resist getting my own copy! And, I found it for a 'decent' price (note: it was still a bit pricey, but I at least got it with another good game and free shipping). Now that it has arrived, I just have to get it played some more! 

Not knowing when I'd have a larger group available (because some people I know are afraid of playing it), I did some research and read that it was actually pretty decent as a 2-player. So, I tried playing it 2-player with Bob but I think it was a little too much for him all at once (and a little late at the time we started). I think he'll get it but we might need to start it earlier in our gaming session to give us enough time to spend on a solid full game. I think maybe with another player or two might be good as well, just for some balance...

Oh well, I know I loved it my first play and can't wait to get it to the table again!

And, if you have any reservations about the price in regards to getting it yourself, I will say that it's DEFINITELY worth it - it has terrific components and TONS of wood bits. Some people may be disappointed that it's just cubes and cones, but the designer admits in the rules that it's abstracted, so I'm totally fine with it. The box is beautiful as well with a shiny smooth finish and it feels very solid. OH, of course it's a good game, too!

If you like area control in the vein of El Grande and/or action selection in the vein of Age of Empires III, this game will be right up your alley. Or if you're into animals eating other animals (well, I have to admit that animal eating only happens a little bit in this game). 

Note that this game is NOT a simulation (try American Megafauna if that's what you want) and it's NOT a wargame (even though it's published by GMT) but it IS a fairly heavy and long game. The great thing is you're fully engaged pretty much the entire time and you won't notice the time going by at all. (Well, unless you're playing with cro-magnon man, aka. APe man - HA! Sorry, it's late...)

Ok, so, here's my box opening to give you a nice view inside:

The front of the box...

...and the back before removing the shrink.

Cutting in (carefully).....notice my technique of cutting at the corner then peeling back the shrink 
carefully from there.... and then ripping it off like a teen in heat!

A smooooth opening...and the resultant whiff of fresh cardboard!

The rules, crisp and clean.

I love pulling out the rules and having them look perfect and unwrinkled. I sometimes dread even reading them for fear of getting those little creases you get when holding it opened. I especially dread when I keep my rules perfect while carefully reading, then someone else comes along and grabs the rules, pulls them opened, perhaps bends them back and then flips them around and I can see all these little wrinkles forming. They drop it on the floor accidentally or set them down near their drink. GAH! (that's just in my head).

Ok, I'm exaggerating. A little. See, this is one reason I like to make my own player's aids. And laminate them. The other reason is because my son likes to put his hands down his pants and then grab game components. After grabbing his own components. Eech! He isn't going anywhere NEAR this game...

The player boards / aids

Nice! Almost all the rules are summarized on these! Now players just have their grubby hands on these rather than the full rules. (Perhaps I should laminate these, too!? Nah, that might be a little TOO anal, even for me)

Lots of nice cardboard chits and tiles ready for punching!

The board is hermetically sealed!

Now that's what I'm talking about! A sealed board! Which reminds me I need to get some plexiglass....

But alas, I broken the seal and checked out the very large game board:

The somewhat subdued but completely functional board.
The colors are definitely muted down but it's extremely functional. Once you get into the game you wouldn't want it too busy as there's already a lot happening on top of it with all the cubes, tiles and action markers. The only thing missing that I wish it had is a place to put the animals (cubes) when they 'die' and are removed from the board.

Proper prophylactics are provided for my bits and
a nice cloth bag for keeping the element chits warm and cozy...

Speaking of bits! Ooo-la-la!

Lots of cool bits to fiddle with manipulate!

And finally, the deck of cards

My storage solution for the bits. Well worth it here...

Most of the components after punching.

Everything tucked away safely, boxed, bagged and
arranged just so...

Well, that's IT! I hope you enjoyed the tour!

In the immortal words of the infamous Billy Joel: "You may be right, I may be crazy! But it just may be a(n) (anal bits crazy) lunatic you're looking for!"

On that NOTE, I'd better 'leaf' you to figure out if it's worth getting this game just for the nice bits as well as the game play.

The answer is YES. Now go buy it!


  1. Where did you get the plastic boxes? They fit the pieces for each player so well. I must have them as well!

  2. They were purchased from Michael's crafts - look in the bead storage section (at least that's where I found mine) See this post for more details:


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