7/26/22 Tree of Life Mama’s Board Game of the Week: Genotype

I saw this game advertised online when it was in Kickstarter mode last year. I was so excited for it be released! I studied genetics in high school and college, and always loved doing Punnett squares. This game allowed me to revisit those Punnett squares of my youth and I enjoyed them just as much as back then.

I played it with my 16 year old daughter and 12 year old son this week for Family Home Evening. The age recommendation is 14+ up. That probably explains why my 12 year old son acted bored the whole time.

If you like worker placement games, you will love this game. Basically, you are pretending to be the real person of history, Gregor Mendel, breeding pea plants in order to observe genetic expression. As you do so you are working on expressing four traits of the plant that have two alleles for each trait: plant height, pod color, whether the seed is round or wrinkled, or if the pod is green or yellow. You win by getting the most points, and you win points by harvesting plants that you plant in your garden plots, after the genotypes are “validated.” You validate the genotypes during the “plant breeding phase” with dice rolling and dice drafting. It seems super overwhelming and complicated when you first unbox it and see all the many parts, but I promise, it gets easy to understand as you play it. The video below by Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower gives a succinct explanation of the game.

I give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. I agree with Tom in the video above, in that the last player gets a slight unfair advantage with being able to be the first person to buy an assistant at the cheapest price. The assistants give you special powers to manipulate things. I also wish there were more ways to make money in the game. As Tom says, the economy of the coins is really tight. I love the components, the art work, and the strategy involved. I love that you can learn science as you play too. The game includes a separate booklet from the rule booklet that explains the history of Mendel and his genetic discoveries. A bonus is the lovely illustration of the abbey where he worked, on the underside of the game board. I highly recommend this game, for playing with 14-year-olds and up. It is a lot of fun if you are into science and worker placement. It’s for 1 to 5 players, so yes, it has a solo mode. Fun, fun, fun! Who would have thought you could find a board game based on genetics?! It’s so cool!

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