How To Play: Dominant Species – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Quick Summary

In this comprehensive strategy guide, we have explored the depths of Dominant Species, a captivating board game where players take on the role of different animal species to compete for dominance in an ever-changing world. From understanding the gameplay mechanics to developing effective strategies, we have covered it all.

Through species selection, players can tailor their approach to match their preferred playstyle, taking advantage of unique abilities and traits. Territory control becomes a vital aspect of the game as players fight for dominance and resources, manipulating the board to their advantage.

Alongside adaptation management, players can stay resilient and thrive amidst environmental changes, making strategic decisions to maximize their chances of survival. Resource optimization becomes crucial as players manage their assets, balancing efficiency and foresight in gathering and utilizing resources.

Lastly, opponent analysis adds an extra layer of complexity as players must study their rivals, predict their moves, and strategically counter their actions. As each round passes, players must carefully plan and adapt to the evolving ecosystem, aiming to accumulate the highest dominance score by the end of the game.

With this quick summary, you are now equipped with the knowledge and strategies to excel in Dominant Species. Forge your path to dominance with wit, strategy, and adaptability as you strive to become the ultimate victor in this immersive and engaging board game.


Welcome to the ultimate Dominant Species strategy guide! In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of Dominant Species, providing you with a roadmap to overcome your opponents and emerge victorious in this epic board game. Whether you’re a seasoned player looking to refine your skills or a newcomer trying to master the game, this guide is your go-to resource.

Our strategy guide combines a thorough breakdown of the game rules with a collection of the best strategies that will give you a competitive edge. We will explore every aspect of Dominant Species, from species selection to adaptation management, territory control, and opponent analysis. No stone will be left unturned as we uncover the key tactics and secret tricks you need to secure your dominance.

By following our strategic recommendations and leveraging our step-by-step guidance, you will develop a deep understanding of the game’s mechanics and learn how to make informed decisions that can turn the tide of the match in your favor. Get ready to explore, strategize, and unleash your inner dominant species!

What’s in the box

  • 1 Game Board
  • 844 Wooden Cubes
  • 232 Wooden Cylinders
  • 24 Wooden Disks
  • 20 Wooden Markers
  • 12 Wooden Dominance Markers
  • 32 Wooden Bridge Markers
  • 6 Wooden Cylinder Holders
  • 2 Wooden Category Cylinders
  • 380 Resource Tokens
  • 159 Species Tiles
  • 24 Cardboard Hexagon Tiles
  • 165 Cards
  • 1 Six-Sided Die
  • 1 Cloth Bag
  • 1 Rulebook
  • Plastic Baggies

How To Play Dominant Species: Rules Summary


  1. Place the game board in the center of the play area.
  2. Give each player a species mat and 25 cubes in their species color.
  3. Randomly assign species cards to each player.
  4. Place the Neutral Species cubes on the board as indicated.
  5. Place action cubes, natural selection cards, and dominance cards in their respective areas.


  1. Players take turns in clockwise order, starting with the first player.
  2. On a turn, a player performs four actions: adapt, migrate, accumulate, and dominate.
  3. Adapt: Spend adaptation cubes to adapt a species trait by selecting a trait card.
  4. Migrate: Move your species cube to a neighboring space, following movement rules.
  5. Accumulate: Gather food, placing cubes from the food source into your species mat.
  6. Dominate: Compare dominance cards and apply actions, resolving conflicts if necessary.

End of Round

  1. When all players have taken their turn, end the round.
  2. Check for impending ice age by examining the event cards.
  3. Remove extinct species cubes and adjust dominance cards.
  4. Determine player order for the next round based on dominance card rankings.

Winning the Game

  1. The game ends after a set number of rounds.
  2. Calculate final dominance scores based on dominance cards and remaining population cubes.
  3. The player with the highest dominance score is the winner.
  4. In case of a tie, the player with the highest population on the board wins.

These are the essential rules for playing Dominant Species. Familiarize yourself with these rules, and you’ll be ready to embark on an epic journey of adaptation, domination, and survival within the ever-changing ecosystem.

Best Dominant Species Strategies

Species selection

Choosing the right species in Dominant Species is a critical decision that sets the foundation for your strategy to win. Each species offers unique abilities and advantages, so it’s essential to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses against the game’s dynamics. Here are some key strategies to consider:

1. Adaptability and Versatility

  1. Select species with adaptable traits, allowing them to thrive in a variety of environments.
  2. Choose species that possess a balance of offensive and defensive capabilities.
  3. Opt for versatile species that can adapt and survive in different gameplay situations.

2. Exploiting Ecological Niches

  1. Identify abundant resource territories and select species specialized in accessing and exploiting these niche ecosystems.
  2. Consider choosing species that can utilize specific habitats to gain an advantage, such as those that feed on specific food types.
  3. Look for species with abilities that allow them to dominate certain terrains or habitats.

3. Species Interactions

  1. Strategically select species that can coexist or positively interact with other players’ species to create mutually beneficial situations.
  2. Consider species that can intimidate or negatively impact opponents’ species, gaining an advantage through aggression or territorial dominance.

4. Symbiotic Relationships

  1. Explore species that can form symbiotic relationships, providing strategic advantages in terms of resource sharing or protection from extinction events.
  2. Choose species that can adapt well to ecological changes caused by climatic shifts or other environmental events.

Considering species selection in Dominant Species is vital for building a solid foundation in your pursuit of victory. By employing these strategies and evaluating the dynamics of the game, you can maximize your chances of success in this competitive and immersive ecosystem.

Territory control

To emerge victorious in Dominant Species, effective territory control is key. Domination over territories allows you to secure resources, expand your influence, and gain an upper hand over your opponents. Here are some strategies for mastering territory control:

1. Expansion and Conquest

  1. Begin the game by actively expanding your species across the board, seizing unoccupied territories.
  2. Strategically target and conquer territories with abundant resources or those essential to your species’ survival.
  3. Entrench yourself in pivotal positions, establishing dominance over critical strategic locations.

2. Defensive Positioning

  1. Secure your species’ territories by strategically placing defensive markers, impeding opponent encroachment.
  2. Fortify your valuable territories, making it difficult for opponents to challenge your control.
  3. Establish strong defensive lines that protect your core territories and limit opponent advancements.

3. Strategic Expand and Retreat

  1. Choose opportune moments to expand into new territories, capitalizing on advantageous positions and vulnerable opponent species.
  2. Retreat strategically from territories that are of lesser importance or under potential imminent threat.
  3. Employ hit-and-run tactics, taking control of vital territories temporarily or disrupting opponent plans and stability.

4. Targeted Disruption and Sabotage

  1. Identify opponent’s critical territories or valuable positions and prioritize strategy to disrupt their control.
  2. Use species abilities, environmental effects, or aggressive actions to inhibit opponent expansion and resource acquisition.

Achieving dominance through territory control is fundamental to victory in Dominant Species. By employing these strategies, adapting to evolving circumstances, and leveraging tactical opportunities, you can establish your species as uncontested rulers of the board.

Adaptation management

In Dominant Species, managing adaptation is crucial for survival and success. As the environment changes and competitors vie for dominance, effective adaptation strategies play a vital role. Here are strategies to master adaptation and maximize your chances of winning:

1. Assessing Environmental Effects

  1. Regularly analyze environmental cards and anticipate their impacts on the board.
  2. Prepare for rapid evolutions by keeping an eye on potential shifts in resources and habitats.
  3. Strategically adapt your species’ traits to ensure resilience and adaptability in response to changing conditions.

2. Prioritizing Dynamic Traits

  1. Become adept at identifying and capitalizing on traits that are beneficial in different stages of the game.
  2. Optimize adaptations to increase efficiency in acquiring resources or expanding your species’ influence.
  3. Adapt traits that enhance defensive capabilities or enable offensive strategies tailored to your species’ strengths.

3. Timing and Efficiency

  1. Master the art of timing your adaptations to gain a competitive edge.
  2. Strategically manage action cubes to efficiently use adaptation actions without compromising other important actions.
  3. Be proactive in adapting your species to anticipate changes and stay one step ahead of opponents.

4. Balancing Specialization and Generalization

  1. Decide whether to specialize your species in specific niches or remain more versatile to adapt to diverse environments.
  2. Weigh the advantages of having unique traits against the opportunities provided by more generalized adaptations.

Successful adaptation management is a critical aspect of winning in Dominant Species. By carefully evaluating environmental effects, prioritizing dynamic traits, timing adaptations effectively, and striking the right balance between specialization and generalization, you can position your species to thrive in the ever-changing ecosystem.

Resource optimization

In Dominant Species, efficient resource management plays a pivotal role in securing victory. Maximizing the utilization of resources is essential for achieving dominance and outsmarting opponents. Here are some strategies for optimizing your resources and gaining a competitive edge:

1. Gathering and Acquiring

  1. Secure food resources early to ensure the survival of your species and enable future expansion.
  2. Prioritize the acquisition of resources that align with your species’ specializations and advantages.
  3. Optimize gathering efficiency by strategically positioning your species to access resource-rich territories.

2. Action Cube Management

  1. Efficiently allocate action cubes to balance resource gathering, expansion, and strategic action options.
  2. Anticipate opponent actions and distribute action cubes accordingly to strategically disrupt their resource flow.
  3. Minimize wasted cubes by planning actions that synergize, reducing resource costs and maximizing productivity.

3. Trade and Negotiation

  1. Exploit opportunities for trade and negotiation to acquire resources that are scarce or advantageous for your species.
  2. Establish beneficial deals with opponents, leveraging surplus resources and minimizing potential losses.
  3. Utilize negotiation skills to persuade opponents for short-term resource gain or strategic advantage.

4. Conservation and Long-term Planning

  1. Prioritize the conservation of resources, preserving a stable supply in the face of dwindling reserves or unpredictable events.
  2. Engage in long-term planning, recognizing the potential future value of resources and making sacrificing decisions if necessary.

Resource optimization is crucial for achieving dominance in Dominant Species. By efficiently gathering and acquiring resources, effectively managing action cubes, utilizing trade and negotiation, and conserving resources for long-term planning, you can strengthen your species and gain a competitive advantage in the race for survival.

Opponent analysis

To excel in Dominant Species, analyzing and understanding your opponents’ strategies is vital. By gathering information and adopting the right approach, you can turn the tide of the game in your favor. Here are some crucial strategies to effectively analyze your opponents:

1. Observation and Prediction

  1. Observe opponents’ actions and assess their decision-making patterns.
  2. Predict their resource management and expansion strategies based on their species’ strengths and gameplay tendencies.
  3. Analyze opponents’ adaptations to anticipate their future moves and adapt your species accordingly to counter their actions.

2. Identifying Weaknesses

  1. Identify vulnerabilities in opponents’ territories or resource management that can be exploited.
  2. Target weak points, disrupting their stability and hindering their progress.
  3. Examine opponents’ defensive measures and find ways to penetrate or neutralize their defenses.

3. Timing Strategic Interference

  1. Strategically interfere with opponents’ plans to throw them off balance.
  2. Use environmental effects, actions, or alliances to disrupt their resource gathering, adaptation plans, or expansion efforts.
  3. Exploit opportunities that arise from conflicts between opponents, strategically backing certain players or redirecting conflicts to your advantage.

4. Adaptive Negotiation

  1. Negotiate strategically, extracting valuable information from opponents without giving away your own strategies.
  2. Recognize alliances and decipher opponents’ motivations behind negotiation offers.
  3. Forge or break alliances based on your analysis of opponents’ game positions and potential threats.

Opponent analysis provides a competitive edge in Dominant Species. By effectively observing, predicting, identifying weaknesses, timing strategic interference, and engaging in adaptive negotiation, you can stay one step ahead of your opponents and manipulate the game landscape to tilt it in your favor.

Conclusion: Forge Your Dominant Path!

Congratulations! You have reached the end of our comprehensive Dominant Species strategy guide. Armed with an arsenal of knowledge and tactics, you are now poised to dominate the board and claim victory. Remember, success in Dominant Species is not only about adapting, securing territories, optimizing resources, and analyzing your opponents. It’s also about making bold and strategic decisions that shape the course of the game.

As you dive into the immersive world of Dominant Species, be prepared to face challenges, take risks, and adapt your strategies in a dynamic and ever-changing ecosystem. Study the evolving landscape, anticipate your opponents’ moves, and exploit each opportunity to establish your dominance.

May your species rise above the rest, thrive in their chosen niches, and leave a lasting impression on the ecosystem. Whether you aim for economic domination, territorial control, or strategic influence, may your journey be filled with excitement and triumph.

Now, go forth and forge your path to victory. May the dominance of your species be unmatched as you conquer Dominant Species!

Want to know what we think of Dominant Species? Read our detailed review of Dominant Species here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.