Vladimir Suchy's Evacuation was one of the hot games at Spiel Essen 2023. It's a 1-4 player game played over a maximum (and usual) four rounds where players are moving their population and industry from a dying planet to a new one. With two or more players it's a 'race' but you're mostly focused on doing your own thing: someone may take a card, ship or new planet hex you were hoping to claim, and they might fill and so block a valuable space on the progress track between the two planets, but in the main Evacuation is multiplayer solitaire. That's not a criticism tho': this is a game with a lot going on and plenty to keep you keenly focused throughout.
Players all start off with their population and factories on their old planet. These give you resources on the planet (food, steel and energy). You need food to feed your population - with food initially only required on the old world but that requirement decreasing each round as it increases in the new world. Steel is needed on the new planet to build homes for settlers. Energy is required to power the ships you'll have to buy to transfer population, factories and resources to the new world. Energy is also needed to pay for actions. The clever central mechanism of the game tho' is the balancing act of managing your round-by-round decrease in resources on the old planet as you steadily ramp up production in the new planet. Max the production of all three resources to end the game, but you won't necessarily achieve the win because players are all penalised for any population or factories they have left on the old planet.
Turns involve selecting actions. The first two are free, the third costs an energy and each subsequent action in a round costs three energy. Each pair of alternative actions is linked to a number (1-4) and these numbers will represent how far you move your markers on the progress track between the two planets. There are valuable bonuses to be had if you precisely match your progress to those on the bonus tiles; so an incentive to perhaps limit or stretch your action choices. In the 'basic' game, all the actions are shown on your player board and you mark those you've taken by placing out face-down cards. Once you've mastered the basic game you can further step up the complexity by using the cards face up, where they offer additional combinations of actions and progress numbers.
Among the actions available to you, you can build and place out factories in the new world and create clones to populate it. These will all add to your resource generation on the new planet. You'll need tho' to move factories and population from the old world, and to do that you'll have to buy ships. These vary in their capacity and cost in different combinations of resources (from your old planet).
Players all have their own unique tech trees where you can unlock some powerful special abilities. In our plays at Board's Eye View we all gazed with envy at each other's special abilities as they were gradually unlocked. It's always a good sign that the designers have got it right when all the players are envious of each other's unique abilities!
Evacuation is a heavyweight euro game that poses optimisation puzzles that give players a lot to think about. Despite that, it's not a game that engenders Analysis Paralysis (AP) so turns are quick. Sometimes the hot games at Spiel prove to be overhyped, and subsequent reaction leaves players feeling lukewarm. That's not the case with Evacuation. In our view, it's the best game yet from Delicious Games.