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The large and small hexagonal tiles will, when added to the game board's hexagonal play area, make up the "earth"- the playing surface that much of the game will be focused on.

The species belonging to each animal will be placed on earth tiles from their respective gene pools. Species re- moved from earth for any reason other than Glaciation are placed back in the box, out of play-NOT back into the gene pools.

Elements will occupy the corners of the earth tiles when not on an animal display, on the action display, or awaiting deployment from the element draw bag.

The cone-shaped dominance markers will be placed on tiles of earth when the corresponding animal can claim domi-ance there.

New (large) sea, wetland, savannah, jungle, forest, desert and mountain tiles will be added to the edges of earth when players perform the Wanderlust action. These are taken from the top of the three tile draw stacks.

New (small) tundra tiles are taken from the tundra draw stack and placed onto existing (large) tiles when players perform the Glaciation action. This converts that large tile into a tundra tile for the remainder of the game.

Tiles that touch along a common edge are said to be "adjacent" to one another

Even though a tundra tile is slightly smaller than the tile it sits upon - and therefore will not physically touch the six tiles that could conceivably surround it - it is still considered adjacent to those tiles as it converts the tile underneath it into tundra: which does physically touch the tiles next to it.


These are the round markers that make up the six elements used in Dominant Species: grass, grub, meat, seed, sun and water. When placed on a tile of earth, an element represents "supply"; when on an animal display, an element represents "need". Taken together, these provide for an animal's "matching" elements on each tile of earth.

Draw Bag

When not on an animal display, on the action display, or on a tile of earth, elements are kept in the draw bag. Whenever a new element is called for, it is always taken from this draw bag. Conversely, whenever an element is removed from an animal display or the game board it is always placed back in this draw bag for later use.

Matching Elements

Some effects call for a player to determine his animal's "matching" elements on a tile. To determine an animal's matching elements on a particular tile, do the following:

  • count the number of times the animal's left-most element type appears on the tile;
  • to this count add the number of times the animal's sec- ond element appears on the tile;
  • repeat for each of that animal's third, fourth, fifth and sixth element, if present, to arrive at a sum total.

EXAMPLE: In the graphic above , the insects dominate the desert tile even though they have fewer units there than the amphibians; dominance being based on quality, not quantity. The insects match a total of 3 elements (1 grass + 1 grass + 1 grub + 0 water) to the amphibians' 2 elements (1 grub + 1 grub + 0 meat + 0 water three times over).

Even having just its two default sun elements, if one of the reptile species in the savannah migrated into the desert the reptiles could immediately claim dominance from the insects with a total of 6 matching elements (2 sun x 3 matches each).

Note that with three water the amphibians would dominate the savannah (3 to 2) if they were to move there. Note also that if the sun element sitting on both these tiles were to be removed the reptiles would be endangered in the savannah, as they would no longer match any elements there.

Endangered Species

Any species occupying a tile where its animal matches ex- actly zero elements is said to be "endangered".

Endangered species are vulnerable to elimination during the Extinction action and cannot claim dominance of a tile.


When an animal has at least one of its species present on a tile and that animal matches more elements there than any other single animal with a species present, it is said to have "dominance" on that tile. A tie for greatest matching elements means no animal is dominant there.

Endangered species can never claim dominance, even if their animal has the only species present on the tile.

Dominance of a tile is signified by the placement of a wood- en cone of that player's chosen color. Dominance can be gained or lost at any time and is effective immediately. Further, it is the responsibility of the players - not the rules in and of themselves - to call for a change of dominance.

In other words, dominance (or the loss of it) must be verbally and physically claimed and is not automatic. Thus once dominance of a tile is legally established, that dominance will remain in effect unless and until another player: (a) claims dominance there for his own animal, or (b) shows there to be a tie for greatest number of matching elements, thus removing the previous animal's dominance marker.

Players will usually want to check to see if any animals have gained or lost dominance at the conclusion of those actions affecting placement or removal of elements-the Adaptation or Depletion actions, for example.

Each animal has 10 dominance cones. This is not a hard limit: in the unlikely event that a single animal dominates 11 or more tiles, use any method desired to mark the excess.


The wooden cubes represent the "species" that each animal will use to represent itself on earth. Most species will begin the game in their owner's gene pool. Most or all of them will eventually occupy (be placed on) the tiles of earth. Species removed from earth for any reason other than Glaciation are permanently removed from the game.

A player is never "out of the game", even if he somehow both runs out of species in his gene pool and loses his last remaining species on earth. An animal caught in such a dilemma won't be able to speciate or migrate, for example, but still has other action options (and still maintains a VP total).

Gene Pool

Prior to being placed on a tile of earth, species belonging to an animal are kept in a pile in front of their owning player- each such pile is called a "gene pool". Whenever a species is added to earth, it is always taken from that player's gene pool. However, whenever a species is removed from earth for any reason other than Glaciation it is always placed back into the box, out of play (not back into the player's gene pool).

Victory Point Track

The "Victory Point Track" runs around the outside of the board. This is where, using one of its allotted cubes, each animal will keep track of its current VP score throughout the game.

Whenever an animal gains or loses VPs, move its cube for- ward or backward on the track accordingly. Place a spare like-colored cube in the "+100" space if an animal ever goes above 100 VPs. VPs may never drop below zero.

The spare cube may come from those previously removed from the game.

Action Display

This is the large pink-gray boxed area on the right side of the game board. The action display is the game's "engine", so to speak, and will facilitate each player's wants and de- sires as far as furthering their animal's destiny on earth.

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