Evacuation is a board game where players evacuate a planet that its ever-increasing solar energy will burn up. The Evacuation will take four years, each year being a single round in the game. This game has some unique mechanisms I haven’t seen in other games.

The rules in Evacuation are reasonably straightforward once learned. During a round of the game, players take turns spending energy to take actions. There is a sliding scale for the energy cost, so the first two actions are free, and then the price goes up a bit until it is maxed out at three energy per action. Actions are shown as icons on the bottom of the player board and are marked using cards from a deck that have no other use in the regular game. There are a variety of actions that include taking a resource and advancing a technology, cloning a new person on the new world, building a stadium, and a bunch of other things. Some action spaces have a choice between a few different actions.

Evacuation on the Table

Action spaces are marked with numbers, and after a round is completed, the numeric values of the actions are added up, and the player has that many spaces they can move markers on a progress track. The progress track has two functions, one of which is to change where players get their energy for their actions, from the only from the old world, both, or only from the new world. The other function is more of a strategic mechanism where the spaces on the progress track benefit the players on those spaces.

Player Board

I mentioned how energy consumption happens in the game by spending it to take actions. There are also food resources and steel resources. The food is needed to feed the people on the two worlds, and the steel is used for settling people on the new world. The three different resources are also used for other things, such as building stadiums, which are one of the main end-goals of the game, as well as buying infrastructure cards, buying spaceships, and a few other things. Resources are all gained by having production sites on the map on both the old and new world. One of the clever things about this game is how the resources from the different worlds can be used only on those worlds in many circumstances.

Production of resources comes from both population and factories. Population that is moved from the old world to the new world can change what they produce, but factories must produce the same thing regardless of which world they are on.

The game includes a unique technology “tree” for each player. There is a bit of randomization of the tech tree, so each game is different. Spaceships that are available during the game are also available randomly. The same goes for infrastructure cards and stadiums.

Empty Evacuation Game Board

A typical game will go something like this: Players get income based on the production of their sites on the old world. They then take actions and buy a spaceship or two, advance some technology, then after taking actions for that round, load up stuff on their spaceships and move it to the new world. The population and factories that are moving to the new world are not yet on the map, and it won’t be until the next round that players can take action to settle them. After transporting things with their ships, players advance on the progress track. The progress track has milestones that control where energy comes from for taking actions. Some spaces give specific bonuses. After progress is taken care of on the progress track, the following year begins, and players take income and repeat all of the other per-year steps of taking actions, transporting stuff, and making progress on the progress track.

The New World Being Very Populated

The game ends when a player has 8 of every New World production and three stadiums built on the New World. A few things happen after the end of the game is triggered, such as checking for year-end bonuses. Then, each player takes their lowest production of the three resources they produce and lower it a step for each penalty marker they get (for not having enough food to feed their population or for not having built the required number of stadiums for the year) and also a step for each old-world site that isn’t evacuated. A point (or two in a 3+ player game) is given to the player with the most happy faces on their stadium cards. The end-game scoring gets interesting if, after penalties, no player has the eight production and three stadium requirement for the end of the game. In this case, the player with the highest of their lower production is the winner. And if that’s still a tie, the second-lowest production breaks the tie. Amazingly, the two of us playing this first game of Evacuation had to break a tie using the second-lowest production amount. It was a tie in any realistic sense, even though I did win by a single second lowest production value.

We played a two-player game, so competition for spaces on the new world was minimal. Only on the last move of the game did this ever become important. I would have easily lost the game had my opponent taken the one remaining space I needed to settle to give me the production I needed to win.

I liked this game. It was reasonably easy to learn in a two-player setting with lots of time to spend on it. It was very challenging to make good decisions, but no decision felt catastrophic if it was bad. There was a bit of long-term strategy and many in-the-moment tactical choices. I’m better at tactics than strategy, so this worked well for me. Nothing was random in the game besides the order of cards and ships in the decks. Yeah, a stadium came up worth four happy faces, allowing me to tie for happy faces at the end of the game. But it was different from a 4X game where two bad rolls of the dice in a row could ruin the game for a player. Evacuation was a challenging game with unique mechanisms that I recommend to any serious board game player.