Genotype: A Mendelian Genetics Game

RRP: £54.99
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RRP £54.99
Expected Restock Date 30/04/2024
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Gregor Mendel is the 19th Century Augustinian Friar credited with the discovery of modern genetics. In Genotype, you play as his assistants, competing to collect experimental data on pea plants by trying to control how the plants inherit key Traits from their parents: seed shape, flower color, stem color, and plant height. The observable Traits of a Pea Plant (its Phenotype) are det…
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The Theme
  • The Tightness
  • Game length

Might Not Like

  • Lack of money can be prohibitive
  • Some assistants feel very powerful
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Description

Gregor Mendel is the 19th Century Augustinian Friar credited with the discovery of modern genetics. In Genotype, you play as his assistants, competing to collect experimental data on pea plants by trying to control how the plants inherit key Traits from their parents: seed shape, flower color, stem color, and plant height. The observable Traits of a Pea Plant (its Phenotype) are determined by its genetic makeup (its Genotype). The relationship between Genotype and Phenotype and the nature of genetic inheritance are at the heart of Genotype: A Mendelian Genetics Game.

During the game, players get Pea Plant Cards which show a set of Phenotype Traits they hope to produce and collect (such as pink flowers and tall height) in order to score points. Each round, Dice are rolled to represent Plant breeding, which may result in the Traits players are looking for. After the Dice Roll, players take turns drafting Dice towards completing their Pea Plant Cards or advancing their Research. The Traits produced during the Dice Roll come through the science of Punnett Squares, which show how the parent genes combine, one from each parent plant. By changing the genes of these parent plants, players can influence the likelihood of rolling the Traits they need. The completion of Pea Plant Cards via the Dice Draft is the main way players score points.

Each round consists of 3 phases: Worker Placement, Dice Drafting, and Upgrades.
1) During Worker Placement, players take actions to get more Plant Cards, change the genes of a parent plant, Garden, Research, stake Phenotype claims, gather new Tools, or even position themselves ahead of other players for the Dice Drafting Phase in a couple of ways.
2) Dice Drafting features a couple of interest steps, including the possibility to get first pick of dice, but only for one type of Trait (like plant height), or the possibility to get a pick of any dice, but only after those first picks have happened. De Novo Mutation Dice allow players to change the Trait of other Dice or gain additional Research.
3) The Upgrades phase lets players spend their Research to gain upgrades that let them work on more Plant Cards, draft more Dice each round, or gain additional Workers to be used during the Worker Placement Phase of each round.

Players work to match their Pea Plant Cards to the outcome of the Dice Draft and complete the cards for points. If they've placed a Phenotype marker, they will earn bonus points for every completed card that matches their claim. At the end of 5 rounds, the player with the most points wins.

Genotype: A Mendelian Genetics Game is a one to five player set collection, worker placement game from designers John Coveyou, Paul Salomon and Ian Zong and published by Genius Games.

Gregor Mendel was a 19th century Augustinian Friar who is mostly known for discovering what we know of modern day genetics. He conducted many experiments on garden pea plants and discovered the principles of inheritance and genetic traits.

In Genotype, you play as one of Gregor Mendel’s assistant, competing to collect experimental data on pea plants and trying to control how peas inherit key characteristics traits from their parents.

Genotype is played over a number of rounds with each round having three phases. During the first phase players will be placing workers to take pea plant cards, change the seeds of parent plants, sow new pea plants cards, harvest plant cards, perform research, claim phenotype awards and gather new tools. During the dice drafting phase players will draft dice to validate traits on your pea plants. In the third and final phase, players will perform upgrades that allow them to gain new plots, more dice slots, gain additional action markers and hire assistants.

There is an end of round reset and then the round beings again. After five round the game ends and players will gain points for completed pea cards, phenotype research goals, trait markers on incomplete pea plant cards and any unspent coins. The player with the most points is the winner.

There is more to the rules than the above, but hopefully this gives you enough of an idea as to how the game plays.

Final Thoughts

Genius Games has made a name for itself by producing top quality education games tackling various topics in the world of science. Genotype is no exception. Tackling the complex world of phenotypes, homozygous dominant, heterozygous dominant and homozygous recessive genes and bringing it to your table top.

Genotype is not only a scientifically grounded game but it also has some very good, solid mechanisms. The worker placement aspect of the game is very tight. There are always too many things that you want to do and not enough time/workers available to do it. The meat of the game is featured here. You can draw new pea plant cards, harvest completed cards or sow new ones from your hand. You can get temporary dice slots, which is important for the second part of the round, or manipulate the parent genes to be in your favour, you can claim phenotype research goals and gain tools which provide one time benefits. There is a lot to do with a very small number of workers. I love the tightness of this phase and puzzling out what I need to do each round. I know that I am not going to be able to do everything, so I need to prioritise and plan successfully.

The second part of the round is the dice phase, where players will draft dice of various colours and genes (i.e. RR, Rr or rr). These are used to “validate” the respective trait on a single card (i.e. if a RR die is selected then a marker is placed on a RR trait on a pea plant card). However, your slots for dice are very limited so efficiency is, once again, key to this. There can also be some competition for these dice which adds an element of interaction into the game.

The final phase is the upgrade phase. Players can spend coins to gain permanent upgrades such as a new plot tile to store more pea plant cards, a new dice slot, a new action marker and assistant that offer ongoing bonuses. The cost of these increases each time someone purchases one. The choice of the upgrades is limited but everyone one of them is a good choice that will help propel your game and future rounds forward. As they are all powerful options the choice is not an easy one.

Overall, Genotype has some very good gameplay elements. It is not an overly complicated game but the choices and the efficiency puzzle is deep and very interesting. It is a very tight game where money and actions are never enough and every decision is a hard one. Yet, it plays smoothly and is a fabulous game that plays in and around 60 minutes. I am really enjoying Genotype at the moment, the solo mode is also a very interesting and fun way to play.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The Theme
  • The Tightness
  • Game length

Might not like

  • Lack of money can be prohibitive
  • Some assistants feel very powerful