When we first received Genotype, we didn’t really know what to expect. We knew the game is about mutating genes from plants, but that’s about all we knew. When we unpacked the game, a big gameboard came out with all kinds of different genes and it looked complicated. Surely enough the rulebook was big and there are many actions to choose from. But we don’t back down from a challenge and have certainly faced more big rulebooks before! And by we, I mean me of course.
How to Play.
For the setup begin with placing the gameboard on the table. Separate the dice colors and place them next to the punnet squares on the board. Place the coins and trait markers close by and place a coin on every coin token of the dice pool area. Place the round tracker on round one and place the price markers on the darkest spots on the upgrades board. Then place the new plot tiles, dice slots and assistant cards nearby and reveal three assistant cards face up. Also shuffle the pea plant and tool cards, place the decks nearby and reveal cards based on the player count shown in the rulebook. For two players, this is three plant cards and three tool cards. Lastly, give each player a player mat, three action markers and three research markers in their color. Place remaining action markers in the research upgrades space on the board. Each player also receives one coin, three plant cards and one tool card. Keep one plant card in your hand, place one on your player board and discard the last one. Now you are ready to mutate some genes.
Genotype is played over five rounds with three main phases each round. You will start the round with the working phase. In the working phase you can place all the action markers you have in order to perform actions. The first player can start and all players will take turns to place their action markers. If you have no markers left, you pass. On your player board you can find an action space for your marker for gardening. If you perform this action, start by taking a plant or tool card, either from the faceup cards or the top card from the deck. Then you can harvest any plant cards already in your garden that are complete. Pea plant cards are complete once all of their traits are covered with trait markers (leaves). Place them next to your player mat. Completed pea plant cards will score you the points at the end of the game shown in the top left corner of the card. Next, you can place a plant card from your hand into one of the available spots on your player board so you can place trait marks on them.
Other actions that can be found on the gameboard are gaining coins, taking new pea plant cards or taking a tool card. Tool cards provide one time benefits like drawing more plant cards or gaining a plot with a new plant for example. They may be discarded during the work phase during your turn, or whenever the condition on the card is met.
You will notice different kind of traits on your pea plant cards. If you have a lot of the same traits, you can upgrade your chances of gaining those traits in the plant breeding phase, by changing the parent genes. If you place an action marker on a punnet square, first take the coin if it’s still there, then you can change the outcome of the genes by placing parent gene tiles over the existing genes. This way, in the next phase the outcomes of the genes will change. Once you have changed the outcome, you might also want to be the first to pick a gene in the next phase. You can do this by placing an action marker on the first shift of the color of your choice. You can take the coin of that color if it’s still there. In the next phase this action will have consequences. You can also choose the second shift in the bottom of the game board. If you immediately want to gain a gene, if you have only one trait left to cover up on a plant card for example, you can do so by taking the university action on the board. This costs one or two coins. If you would like to just gain extra traits the normal way, you can also place action markers on your player board on the extra dice space.
The last action you can choose is to set a research goal for two coins. If you have a lot of plants with the same traits, you can choose a trait to research with this action. Every completed trait that matches your research, will give you points at the end of the game. You can pick a maximum of three spots for your research.
Next is the plant breeding phase. First roll all the dices for each color separately and look at the punnet square to see the outcome, then place the dice on the matching trait in the dice pool area. If you roll any mutation symbols, roll those dices once extra, then sort the result. If you still have mutation symbols, place those dices in the novo mutations area in the correct color. Now that every dice have been rolled and sorted, each player can collect dices depending on how many dice spaces they have and what traits they need. If any player choose a first shift of a color, they can pick one dice first of that color. Once all first shifts have been resolved, the second shift may choose a die from any color. Then players can pick dices normally starting with the first player and going clockwise.
The goal in the breeding phase is to gain all the traits on your planted pea plant cards in order to complete them and gain points. If you have a pea plant with a GG trait for example, you will want to claim a die that stands for GG. When you take a die, place it in one of your available dice slots and place a trait marker on the matching trait of one of your plant cards. Once all dice slots have been filled for each player, you move on to the research upgrade phase. In this phase you can buy upgrades such as new plots for plants, extra dice slots, more action markers and assistants with powerful abilities. Starting counter clockwise each player can buy one research upgrade on their turn. The cost of each resource can be found on the game board and for every upgrade that is bought, the price for that upgrade will increase by one. If you don’t want to buy another upgrade or don’t have coins anymore, you can pass.
Once all players have passed, you move on to the end of the round reset. Here you advance the round tracker, pass the first player marker clockwise and move all upgrade prices one space left to a lower price. Also discard the remaining pea plant cards, tool cards and assistant cards and reveal three new ones. Place one coin next to each punnett square and recover all the action markers from each player. Then start another round. Once five rounds have been passed, the end of the game is triggered and scored points are counted. Players can at this point still harvest complete pea plant cards. Count all the points received from each completed pea plant card, all points scored for phenotype research goals and one point for each unspent coins. You also receive one point for each trait marker on incomplete pea plants at the end of the game. The player with the most points is the winner.
Playthrough of the game.
When we were halfway through round three, I realized how few rounds were left and also how many things i still wanted to do in order to score the most points. I noticed I had a lot of FF and Ff genes completed and I wanted to do some research. Tomasz however was getting in my way since he tried to claim the one spot to gain two coins each round. This round however, I was first. So my planning was to gain the coins, pay for research and then finish with some gardening and maybe an extra tools card. At this point, I’m not sure if he could read my mind, or maybe I talked out loud. Maybe I just looked at the research spot in the wrong way. Because the moment I placed my action marker on the treasury spot to gain two coins, he triumphantly placed his action marker on a research action to pay the necessary coins and claim the spot that I needed. Since I was so focused on my own cards, I didn’t notice he also had a lot of the same FF and Ff genes. To make things worse, the next research action costs three coins while I only had two. Tomasz had already seen this of course and was very happy about his move. Sometimes you remember the hard way you have to keep track of your opponents in a board game.
So other then keeping track of your opponents, planning ahead is also a big part of the Genotype. There are many ways to win in this game if you know how to play it. Assistants can give you good benefits throughout the game, but if you choose the right research traits or focus on the best upgrades, you will also score many points if you combine everything in the right way. The theme of the game is also cleverly found in every bit of Genotype. We especially like the traits on the pea plants. If you look closely, you can see for example you have a trait that stands for round, or maybe a trait with green. We love the educational meaning behind this theme and the way it’s implemented in the game and the art. Genotype has a very elegant look because of this and we found it works out really well for the game. The components are also of good quality but what really stand out are the dices. They look and feel awesome and and help create the look for Genotype. There was one subject about this game that we didn’t think created much gameplay when you play with two player. With two players, the market is often not used enough which causes the prices to often be low all the time. With more people, we found the market provides more challenge and competition among the players.
Genotype is a dice rolling game where you try to collect the best genes. This game surprised us in a very good way since we didn’t really know what to expect at first. The rulebook is quite big, but very well written. The game has a lot of actions you can take and different ways to win, but if you know how to play after a couple of rounds, you also know how to use everything this game has to offer. The art of this game fits blends very well with the theme and the quality of the components are good to. We found that this game already plays very well with two players, however, with more players there is more competition over certain actions and we also found that the market provides more challenge. Overall we have a lot of fun when plating this game and it’s interesting to see what genes you collect and what flowers you create with that each game.