193 – Evolution: Education Edition with Scott – The Family Gamers Podcast

Welcome to another episode! Our fact this week comes from Dwayna. 193 is the current number of member nations in the UN.

Episode 193

Evolution: Education Edition

Thanks to our sponsor, First Move Financial.

We’re going to talk about Evolution: Education Edition with Scott Rencher, but first – let’s talk about what we’ve been playing!

What We’ve Been Playing

Claire is prototyping a 18-card cake-building game. We’ve had fun with it so far – and the 18-card constraint is a handy way to put boundaries on the design (and make it quick & easy to change).

Speaking of 18-card games… we pre-ordered Desert Pack from Button Shy. This deduction game was designed by Gwen Ruelle and Sam Bryant (AKA Runaway Parade, makers of Fire Tower)!

Rock Paper Switch from Mindware. (Andrew saw this game at Toy Fair this past winter.) Think of chess crossed with rock-paper-scissors, and it is playable at 2, 3, or 4 players.

Kingdomino proves to be nice practice for spatial relations, multiplication, and mental math.

Animal Kingdoms (review coming soon).

Tussie Mussie – Anitra will never say “no” to this one. Nice that it’s competitive in terms of “make mine the best” rather than dragging down other players.

Best Treehouse Ever: Forest of Fun hadn’t been played recently.

Women in Science – one of first reviews we ever did! Light and easy to play, but piqued our boys’ interest in learning about the various scientists.

Tajuto from Super Meeple is an interesting Renier Knizia game about building pagodas. It starts so slowly. We wonder if that’s because we only had two players or if there’s something else about it.


You still have a week to enter our Monza giveaway. It’s become one of our favorite HABA games, and as far as we’re concerned, it’s the Candy Land killer. Enter right now!

Beet card and 2 Artichokes

SNAP Review: Abandon All Artichokes

Claire and Anitra tell about this fast-moving deck-building (or “deck-wrecking”) game. Read the summary and see pictures on the SNAP review page.

Interview: Scott Rencher from North Star Digital

Scott is involved with the creation of the digital version of the Evolution boardgame. They’ve just released a specifically education-targeted version of the game, and we’ll talk about that.

Game Scott has been playing

Quacks of Quedlinburg (not to be a company man, but…) Scott likes it for family play, because there’s enough randomness that adults don’t need to throw the game. Apparently when he plays with his adult family, they all cheat!

About Scott

Scott has been with North Star for five years. He used to play games a lot with Dominic Crapuchettes, who eventually offered him a job creating digital versions of their games.

About Evolution

Even the regular version of Evolution is pretty educational. It’s really a simulation of natural ecosystems.

North Star released the video game version about a year ago, but educators were requesting changes so that they could use it in a classroom setting.

What has changed in Evolution: Education Edition?

Almost all the changes are in the scaffolding. The original game is free-to-try, then pay to expand (“freemium”). You can get a pretty decent experience without paying, but if you want a harder AI and the rest of the campaign, you need to pay. For schools, that pay model doesn’t work – and it doesn’t work under Apple’s “family sharing” model across devices.

The new version lets multiple people use the same app with different accounts, saving each person’s stats and campaign. (Yay, sharing!) The campaign really entices players (especially kids) to keep playing and trying to get better.

North Star Digital added a lot more “trait tips” into the educational version – real-life examples of traits that appear on the loading screen.

For teachers and homeschoolers (accidental or otherwise), there are lesson plans! Put together with help from various teachers, including Dustin Staats (from Boardgaming with Education – we interviewed him a few weeks ago). Find them at evolutionvideogame.com/education/

Right now there’s a promotion! Get the game for just $5 – it’s well worth it. (Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows) Be aware: if you have a mixed-platform household, you’ll only be able to play on one type of device.

What are the next steps for North Star Digital?

Once they can release the Nintendo Switch version of Evolution, the next step is Climate.

There’s a rumor that there’s a skunkworks team working on Oceans as well.

Find Scott and North Star Digital, Online:

website – evolutionvideogame.com/education/

Buy Evolution, in either edition, here: evolutionvideogame.com/store/

Email him at scott@northstargames.com

Facebook: @northstargames
Twitter: @NSG_Digital

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