Components

  • this 20-page rulebook
  • one game board
  • six animal displays
  • 27 cards-1 "Survival" and 26 "Dominance"
  • 31 large and 12 small hexagonal tiles used to create "earth"
  • 330 wooden cubes representing the "species" belonging to the six animal classes
  • 60 wooden cylinders used for the animals' "action pawns"
  • 60 wooden cones used as "domination" markers for the animals
  • 120 round markers representing the earth's resources, called "elements"
  • 6 square markers used to show each animal's "initiative" (turn order during the Planning Phase)
  • one cloth bag

Overview

The large hexagonal tiles are used throughout the game to create an ever-expanding interpretation of earth as it might have appeared a thousand centuries ago. The smaller tun- dra tiles will be placed atop the larger tiles - converting them into tundra in the process - as the ice age encroaches.

The cylindrical action pawns (or "AP"s) drive the game. Each AP will allow a player to perform the various actions that can be taken-such as speciation, environmental change, migration or glaciation. After being placed on the action display during the Planning Phase, an AP will trig- ger that particular action for the owning player during the Execution Phase.

Generally, players will be trying to enhance their own animal's survivability while simultaneously trying to hinder that of their opponents'-hopefully collecting valuable victory points (or "VP"s) along the way. The various cards will aid in these efforts, giving players useful one-time abilities or an opportunity for recurring VP gains.

Throughout the game, species cubes will be added to, moved about in, and removed from the tiles in play (the "earth"). Element disks will be added to and removed from both animals and earth.

When the game ends, players will conduct a final scoring of each tile-after which the player controlling the animal with the highest VP total wins the game.


Setup

The Board

Place the board - face up! - in the center of the table.

The Animals

A Have each player choose the animal he would like to play. Give each player the animal display matching their choice. Alternately, you can assign one animal display to each player at random.

B In reverse Food Chain order - that is, insects first, then arachnids, then amphibians, etc. - players place their animal's square initiative marker into the boxes under- neath the "Initiative" tag. Place any unassigned animal displays - along with their initiative markers - back in the game box: they will not be used.

The Tiles

C Place one large tile belonging to each of the seven non-tundra terrain types into their assigned positions in the center of the hex grid. Place a tundra tile atop the sea tile.

D Place the eleven remaining tundra tiles in a face up stack on the "Glaciation Tiles" section of the board.

E Flip the remaining 24 large tiles face down and shuffle them up in any manner desired. Create three (face down) stacks of 8 large tiles each. Place these stacks on the three "Wanderlust Tiles" sections of the board. Turn the top-most tile of each of these stacks face up.

The Cards

F Set the Survival Card off to the side for now.

G Remove the Ice Age card from the deck of Dominance Cards. Shuffle the remaining 25 Dominance Cards together. Place the Ice Age card face down next to the board. Put the shuffled Dominance Cards face down atop this card to form a draw pile.

H Draw the top five cards of this draw pile and place them face up in the "Available Dominance Cards" section of the game board.



The Elements

I Take two of each of the six element types and place them Q on the tiles of earth as indicated on the board. Place these element disks so that they slightly overlap each of the tiles that meet at that intersection.

J Gather up the rest of the elements and form a draw pool by placing them into the cloth bag provided.

Randomly draw 4 elements from the bag-place them on the board into the four squares allotted for them (the ones with the "leaf" symbol) next to the "Adaptation" tag K. Draw 4 more elements at random to fill the leaf squares next to the "Abundance" tag, L and another 4 random elements for the leaf squares next to the "Wanderlust" tag. M

The Species

N From amongst the wooden pieces, each player chooses a color to represent his animal. From their colored pieces, each player gathers up the ten cones (to be used as dominance markers) as well as the following number of cylinders (to be used as action pawns) and cubes (to form their species gene pool):

  • 6-player game - 3 cylinders and 35 cubes
  • 5-player game - 4 cylinders and 40 cubes
  • 4-player game - 5 cylinders and 45 cubes
  • 3-player game - 6 cylinders and 50 cubes
  • 2-player game - 7 cylinders and 55 cubes

Put the rest of the cylinders and cubes back in the box.

O From each player's gathered cubes, take one to use as a VP marker: place these on the "0" space of the Victory Point Track.

P Each player then takes species from his gene pool and places them on certain starting tile as follows:

  • Insects - 2 on savannah, 1 on wetland and desert
  • Arachnids - 2 on jungle, 1 on forest and wetland
  • Amphibians - 2 on wetland, 1 on jungle and savannah
  • Birds - 2 on forest, 1 on mountain and jungle
  • Reptiles - 2 on desert, 1 on savannah and mountain
  • Mammals - 2 on mountain, 1 on desert and forest

Q With fewer than six players, ignore placement instructions for any animal not being played. Note that each animal begins the game Dominating its centrally-occupied tile.

Begin Play

R The game now begins with the Planning Phase of the first turn, with the player in control of the animal having its o initiative marker furthest to the left on the Initiative track conducting the first AP placement.


Game Elements

New players should read this introduction to the game elements.


Turn Overview

Dominant Species is played in a series of turns in which all players take part more or less simultaneously. Each turn is divided into three Phases:

  1. Planning Phase
  2. Execution Phase
  3. Reset Phase

During the Planning Phase, players will take turns placing their available action pawns (AP's) into the "eyeball" spaces of the action display that dominates the right half of the board. Each AP will indicate an action to be taken by that player during the following Execution Phase. Each action space can hold a maximum of one AP so it's "first come, first served".

During the Execution Phase - which begins once all avail- able AP's have been placed for the turn - AP's are removed from the action display in top-to-bottom, left-to-right order. Each time an AP is removed in this fashion, the owning player performs the action indicated in that section's title bar (such as "Glaciation" or "Migration").

During the Reset Phase, some species may go extinct and one player may be able to score VPs via the Survival Card. Then if the game hasn't ended yet the action display is reset for the following turn.

Play continues from turn to turn in this manner until the game ends and final scoring occurs.


A. Planning Phase

During each turn's Planning Phase players will, one at a time in left-to-right Initiative order, place one of their avail- able AP's into any vacant "eyeball" action space of the action display. Each eyeball space can contain at most a single AP.

AP's cannot be placed into non-eyeball spaces, such as the one with the arachnid icon in the Competition section.

After the last animal in Initiative order has placed an AP, the current "round" ends and a new round begins with the animal at the front of the Initiative track. Rounds continue in left-to-right Initiative order until all animals have run out of available AP's to place. In each round, any animal that has run out of available AP's is simply skipped when its position on the track is reached. Unplayed animals are also skipped.


B. Execution Phase

During the Execution Phase, AP's placed on the action dis- play during the immediately preceding Planning Phase are removed - one at a time in top-down and left-right order - and the appropriate action performed by the owning player. The order is thus:

  1. Initiative
  2. Adaptation
  3. Regression
  4. Abundance
  5. Wasteland
  6. Depletion
  7. Glaciation
  8. Speciation
  9. Wanderlust
  10. Migration
  11. Competition
  12. Domination

Voluntary Actions

Actions are never mandatory: when a player's AP is re- moved from the action display he may choose to voluntarily forfeit the allowed action in its entirety.

Skipping Sections

Most sections of the action display can be skipped if they contain no APs. Exceptions include:

  • Regression - this section always affects all animals with matching added elements;
  • Wasteland - this section always affects all tundra tiles with matching elements;
  • Speciation - the insects always get a chance to add a sin- gle species to the board;
  • Competition - the arachnids always get a chance to com- pete against a single opposing species.

The various actions are described on the following pages in detail, and are presented in the same order in which they are to be executed during actual play of the game.

The actions are also presented - in order of execution - in abbreviated form on each player's animal display.


1. Initiative



At the start of the Execution Phase, remove any AP that was placed here. That player performs the following activities:

  • On the Initiative track, swap his animal's initiative marker with that of the animal directly to the left of it-thus effectively moving one space forward on the Initiative track. Ignore this activity if the acting animal already occupies the front (left-most) Initiative spot.

  • Place the AP that was just removed into any vacant eye- ball space.

The player effectively makes the very last AP placement of this turn, as well as moving forward in turn order for the following turn's Planning Phase.

Example: In the Planning Phase the reptile player (black) decides to improve his position a bit on the Initiative track, so he places an AP here in the first turn of a six player game. When his AP is removed, he first swaps positions with the bird player's initiative marker A. He then chooses another empty eyeball space to place the AP that was just removed: seeing an opportunity to get more sun into play, he takes the last vacant space in the Abundance section B.



2. Adaptation



After any Initiative action has been performed, AP's are re- moved from this section one at a time in left-to-right order. When an animal's AP is removed, that player selects one of the elements currently present in this section. The chosen element is removed from the action display and placed on an empty (gray) element space on that animal's display.

No animal may ever have more than six elements on its animal display (counting both the inherent elements and added elements). If the acting animal already possesses six elements, this action is forfeited.

Animals are allowed to acquire multiples of the same element type.

Example: The insect player (green) wants to diversify a bit. He gets to remove his AP first and chooses to place the available meat element on his animal display A. The white and red players are left with grub and grass to choose from. The insects could have instead chosen to specialize by taking the grass element B to add to their two default grass. Taking one of the two available grubs C is risky because, if neither of the other two players took the other grub, it would move down to the Regression Box at the end of the turn D thereby forcing the insects to spend a precious AP next turn to save it.



3. Regression



After all Adaptation actions have been performed, Regression occurs as follows: for each element type present in the Regression Box, every animal removes one element disk of the same type from its animal display.

Action Pawn Benefit: Each AP present in this section prevents one such element from being removed from that animal. Note the third space here with the reptile symbol inside: the reptiles are always considered to have one "free" AP in this section.

During the Planning Phase the reptile player can still choose to place AP's in this section as normal if he so desires.

No animal may ever have its default elements removed (those printed in the upper left corner of the animal dis- plays). Animals possessing only their default elements cannot be affected by Regression in any way.

After any and all Regression occurs, return any AP's in this section to their owners.

Example: The Regression Box holds two grub elements (though this counts as only one element type) A. The insect player placed an AP here, which saves his grub element from being removed B. The reptile player's free AP here likewise saves his grub C.

Note that the insect player's sun element is in danger of being removed next turn when the sun sitting in Adaptation is moved down into Regression at the end of the this turn D.



4. Abundance



After the Regression action has occurred, APs are removed from this section one at a time in left-to-right order. When an animal's AP is removed, that player selects one of the elements currently present in this section. The chosen ele- ment is removed from the action display and placed on a vacant corner of any tile of earth.

Elements can be placed on any vacant corner of a tile, even a corner shared by only one or zero other tiles (that is, those tile corners currently on the "edge" of earth).

Example: The amphibians get first pick A and choose to place one of the available water elements as indicated. This gives them dominance of the Savannah tile: 6 matching elements to the insect's 4 B.

The reptiles get second pick C and choose to place the available sun tile as shown. This will allow them to later expand into the mountain tile without those species going extinct.



5. Wasteland



After all Abundance actions have been performed, remove any AP that was placed here. That player removes any one element currently in the Wasteland Box, placing it back in the draw bag.

Then, regardless of whether there was an AP placed in this section or not, the Wasteland action automatically occurs: remove all elements from tundra tiles that match the element type(s) still present in the Wasteland Box. Removed elements are placed back in the draw bag.

Note that the Wasteland Box will be empty - and the action skipped - during the first turn of the game.

Example: The arachnids remove their AP, choosing to place the grub element in the Wasteland Box back in the draw bag. Thus the two grubs adjacent to tundra are saved A.

A water element remains in the Wasteland Box, so all water elements on earth that are currently adjacent to a tundra are removed and place back in the draw bag B.

The amphibians lose their dominance of the desert tile because their species there are now endangered C.



6. Depletion



After any Wasteland action has been performed, remove any AP that was placed here. That player selects one el- ement on earth that matches an element type in the Depletion Box. The chosen element disk is removed from earth and placed back in the draw bag.

If none of the elements in the Depletion Box match elements on earth, this action can have no effect.

Note that the Depletion Box will be empty - and thus the action useless - during the first and second game turns.

Example: The mammal player removes his AP from this section. There is a lone seed element in the Depletion Box so he may remove any one seed element from earth. He chooses the one straddling the desert and savannah A.

On each tile the birds go from matching 4 elements to matching 2. They lose dominance of the desert as they are now tied with the reptiles B. The mammals will gain dominance of the savannah where before it was a tie C.



7. Glaciation



After any Depletion action has been performed, remove the left-most AP (only) from this section. That player con- ducts a Glaciation action by performing the following steps:

  1. Select a non-tundra tile that is adjacent to at least one other tundra tile.

  2. Remove and temporarily set aside all species from the chosen tile.

  3. Place a new tundra tile (from the face up stack) on top of the chosen tile. The tile is no longer considered to be its former terrain type and is instead treated as a "tundra tile" for the rest of the game.

  4. Remove all elements from earth that are surrounded by exactly three tundra tiles. This means that an element occupying a corner of only one or two tundra tiles on the "edge" of earth are unaffected.

  5. Gain bonus VP's (see page 3) based on the number of existing tundra tiles that are adjacent to the newly- placed tile.

  6. From the pile of set-aside species, place 1 belonging to each animal back onto the tile.

  7. The remainder of the removed species, if any, are displaced back to their owners' gene pools (instead of being eliminated and put back in the box).

If there are no tundra tiles remaining in the stack (all 12 are already out on earth) this action is forfeit.

Note that if there are any AP's in the second, third or fourth eyeball spaces these are not removed at this time. Instead, these will shift forward during the upcoming Reset Phase. Players will find that Glaciation is subtly powerful enough to sometimes warrant investing in a future action, even if it means being without the use of an AP for a turn or two.

Example: The reptile player gets the Glaciation action this turn. He would like to glaciate the Savannah because, not only would it would give him 3 bonus VPs for placement next to two existing tundra tiles, but would also give him control of the Survival Card (3 total reptiles in tundra compared to 2 arachnids and 1 insect). However, he doesn't want the lone sun element to become surrounded by three tundra and thus be removed during step 4...

So he instead chooses the desert tile for Glaciation (step 1). He removes all the species there (step 2) then places a new tundra tile atop it (step 3). Step 4 has no effect. In step 5 he scores 1 bonus VP (for there being one existing tundra adjacent to the new tile). Then, of the species removed in step 2 - 1 insect, 2 birds and 4 amphibians - one of each is put back on the new tundra (step 6), with the remaining 1 bird and 3 amphibians being put back into their respective gene pools (step 7).



8. Speciation



After any Glaciation action has been performed, AP's are removed from this section one at a time in left-to-right order. When an animal's AP is removed, that player chooses any one element on earth that matches the element type accompanying the space from which the AP was taken. He then places new species from his gene pool onto the adjacent tiles as follows:

  • Up to 4 species if the tile is sea or wetland.
  • Up to 3 species if the tile is savannah, jungle or forest.
  • Up to 2 species if the tile is desert or mountain.
  • Up to 1 species if the tile is tundra.

Note that only one, two or three tiles can be populated at a time: those with a corner occupied by the chosen element.

After all Speciation actions have been performed, the insect player may place a single species from his gene pool onto any one tile of earth.


During the Planning Phase the insect player can still choose to place APs in other spaces within this section if he so desires.

Example: The arachnids remove an AP from the "grass" eyeball space. They choose the grass element shown below A. This allows them to place 3 more species in the savannah B, 2 in the desert C, and 1 more into the tundra D.

The amphibians lose dominance of the desert since they are tied with the arachnids at 3 matching elements each E. The insects then place their free species in the savannah in order to maintain the quantitative advantage there F.



9. Wanderlust

After all Speciation actions have been performed, AP's are removed from this section one at a time in left-to-right order. When an animal's AP is removed, that player selects one of the available face up large tiles (those atop the Wanderlust Tiles stacks). He then performs the following activities in the order shown:

  1. Select a vacant (white) hex on the game board and place the new tile there. The hex selected must be adjacent to at least one existing tile of earth.

  2. May select one of the available element disks in the Wanderlust section of the action display and place it onto any vacant corner of the newly-placed tile.

  3. Gain bonus VP's based on the number of existing tiles adjacent to the newly-placed tile.

Finally, in food chain order, every player may move all, some or none of his species that are currently adjacent to the newly-placed tile onto that tile.

If any of the three tile stacks becomes depleted, the number of possible Wanderlust actions will be reduced accordingly.

Example: The birds are first. They choose a face up wetland tile to place A along with an available seed element B. There exist 2 tiles adjacent to the new wetland tile C: referencing the Bonus Points Table, this nets the birds 3 VPs.

The birds then decide to move 1 of their adjacent species onto the new wetland tile, immediately claiming dominance D. The arachnids decline (they would be endangered there). Finally, the insects move in 2 of their species E.



10. Migration



After all Wanderlust actions have been performed, AP's are removed from this section one at a time in left-to-right order. When an animal's AP is removed, that player selects up to X of his animal's species anywhere on earth, where X is the number in the space from which the AP was taken. Each chosen species is then moved onto an adjacent tile.

Each bird species may Migrate to a tile up to two tiles away: that is, birds may be moved through an adjacent tile and onto a second tile.

Birds cannot migrate over blank hexes (those not yet containing a terrain tile).

Migrating species beginning a Migration action on the same tile may move together onto the same tile or be split up onto separate tiles, at the owning player's discretion.

Example: The insects remove an AP from the "7" eyeball space. They move 1 insect from the desert to the adjacent savannah, claiming dominance A. Being endangered on the tundra, they use their last 6 migrates to move their species out of there: 4 to the desert B and 2 to the mountain C.

The birds also have a Migration AP this turn. Seeing what the insects did, they plan to use their special ability to move one of their species from the sea to the now vacant tundra D.



11. Competition



After all Migration actions have been performed, AP's are removed from this section one at a time in left-to-right order. When an animal's AP is removed, that player notes the three terrain types associated with the space from which the AP was taken. He then chooses up to 1 tile of each of those terrain types currently on earth. To choose a tile, it must contain:

  • at least one of that animal's species; and
  • at least one opposing species.

That player then eliminates any 1 opposing species on each of the chosen tiles. Place eliminated species back in the box, out of play (not back in their owners' gene pools).

The arachnids are always considered to have one "free" AP in this section. They compete first, in any terrain type, but only on a single tile.

In the Planning Phase the arachnid player can still choose to place APs in other spaces within this section if he so desires.

Example: The reptiles have an AP in the "tundra-desert-forest" eyeball space A. They choose to eliminate 1 mammal in the left-most forest B and 1 insect in the tundra C. They have no presence in the desert so forfeit their third competition D. Even with presence, they cannot compete in the second forest nor in the sea this turn E.



12. Domination



After all Competition actions have been performed, AP's are removed from this section one at a time in left-to-right or- der. When an animal's AP is removed, that player selects one tile on earth that has not yet been chosen for Domination this turn. That tile is then scored by performing the following steps:

  1. The animal having the most species present on the tile gains X VP's, where X equals the first number listed for that terrain type on the Tile Scoring table on the game board.

  2. If the tile being scored is any terrain other than tundra, the animal with the second highest number of species present gains a number of VP's equal to the second number listed for that terrain on the Tile Scoring table.

    There must be another animal present, an animal alone on a tile cannot claim both first and second place.

  3. If the tile being scored is sea, wetland, savannah, jungle or forest, the animal with the third highest number of species present gains a number of VP's equal to the third number listed for that terrain on the Tile Scoring table.

    There must be a third animal present-an animal claiming first or second place on a tile cannot also claim third place.

  4. If the tile being scored is sea or wetland, the animal with the fourth highest number of species present gains 2 or 1 VP's, respectively.

    There must be a fourth animal present-an animal claiming first, second or third place on a tile cannot also claim fourth place.

    important: In all cases above, ties for number of species on the tile being scored are broken in descending food chain order (that is, mammals first, then reptiles, etc)..

  5. Finally, if there is a dominant animal on the tile being scored that player must select and execute one face up Dominance Card (if one is available). Any choices to be made in the execution of a Dominance Card are made by the player who chose it. After execution place the card back in the box, permanently out of play.

    Note that when the Ice Age card is selected, the game will end at the conclusion of the current turn.

    Note also that the dominant animal might not be the same as the animal that chose to score that particular tile, and might not be the animal that scored the most points.

    Finally, be aware that the first player each turn to have a chance to select a Dominance Card will have five effects to choose from-after which the choices will become progressively fewer as face up Dominance Cards are selected and their effects resolved.

After all Domination actions have been performed, the Ex- ecution Phase is over and play proceeds to the Reset Phase.

Example: The reptile player has chosen to score the lone wetland tile in play. First place (8 VPs) goes to the amphibians with 4 species present. Reptiles and birds have 2 species each: the reptiles are higher on the food chain and so score 4 VPs for second place. The birds settle for third place (2 VPs) while no animal gets the last 1 VP for fourth place.

Then, being dominant on the tile, the reptiles must choose and execute one face up Dominance Card.




C. Reset Phase

During the Reset Phase, animals may lose species to extinction and one animal may be able to gain VP's via the Survival Card. Then the action display is reset in preparation for the next turn's Planning Phase.


Extinction

First, Extinction occurs as follows: Eliminate all endangered species. Eliminated species are removed from earth and placed back into the box, out of play.


Exception: Each turn the mammal player may automatically save one of his endangered species from Extinction (his choice of which if he has more than one that is endangered).


Survival

Next, make sure the player having the most species on tundra tiles is in possession of the Survival Card. If there is a tie for most species, no player receives the card. The owning player, if any, then scores bonus VPs based on the total number of tundra tiles occupied by his species (the quantity of species on each tile is irrelevant).


Reseed

Note: You do not need to perform this step if this is the last turn of the game (via play of the Ice Age card).

Finally, in preparation for the next turn perform the fol- lowing activities:

  • Draw enough new Domination Cards off the top of the draw pile to fill - face up - each empty space of the Available Dominance Cards section of the game board. Any cards already occupying this section remain where they are. If there are not enough cards remaining in the draw pile to fill up every card slot, fill up as many as you can; the rest will remain vacant.

    Once the draw pile is depleted, no new cards will be placed for the remainder of the game.

  • Slide any AP's in the second, then third, then fourth spaces of the Glaciation section one space to the left into empty eyeball spaces.

  • Remove all elements from the Regression, Depletion and Wanderlust sections of the action display. Place them back into the draw bag.

  • Slide all elements in the Wasteland Box down into the Depletion Box.

  • Slide all elements in the Abundance section down into the Wasteland Box.

  • Slide all elements in the Adaptation section down into the Regression Box.

  • Draw 4 elements at random from the bag and place them into the four "leaf" squares of the Adaptation section.

  • Draw another 4 elements at random and place them into the four "leaf" squares of the Abundance section.

  • Draw another 4 elements at random and place them into the four "leaf" squares of the Wanderlust section.

  • If face down, flip face up the top tile of each of the three large tile stacks. Any empty stack remains empty.

Play then proceeds to the next turn's Planning Phase.


End of the Game

When the game ends via the Ice Age card, finish the remainder of the Domination actions, if any, then perform Extinction and score the Survival Card as normal.

Then remove all Domination markers from earth and score each and every tile of earth one last time: Domination is ignored during final scoring-that is, animals gain VP's only, not any Dominance Cards that may be remaining.

Once final scoring is complete, the player in control of the animal with the highest VP total wins the game.

In case of a tie for highest, the tied animal closest to the top of the food chain wins the game for its controller.




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