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Playtest - rules questions

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1 Playtest - rules questions on Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:17 pm

As I have seen in other posts I think it is really a good idea to figure out how to get more than 2 people involved at a time.

Before I go further let me state that I am a college Biology Professor so some of my points may be more than the game was intended for.

First off I played using 2 starting "home" cards that could be any habitat but were set on one habitat once the first card was played on it. I also used event cards that said habitat as though it affected the terrain of the organism it was played on.

First - problem that we arrived at was does a card that is a bridge between 2 different chains have to fit both or only 1?

Second - do the chains have to feed all the way back to the originating "home card"? The example we had was a photosynthesizer was played on a level 3 carnivore and the carnivore got wiped out from an event so does the photosythesizer stay or is it also wiped out?

Third - many of the carnivores in real life are able to eat things many time larger than they are - e.g. Wolves eat Moose but that is not in this game. Also there are many that cannot eat things within one scale of themselves - e.g humpback whales would die trying to eat something one scale smaller they must eat soemthing about 5 scales smaller. I changed text on some of my cards to fit this bill because I just couldn't put a Swan eating a raccoon (or something like that).

Forth - I had a hard time with the "MOVE" since it seems like everythimg is a 2 except for plants. So I don't think any of the times I played anybody used it because everything could just follow. Wolves and Caribou are going to move much farther than a mouse (I am thinking of home range).

Fifth - many of the event cards don't seem very viable and in many games they weren't used at all, which shouldn't be the case since things always happen in the environment to change things.

Sixth - many of the point values for cards didn't seem to make much sense. With one card getting 8 points and another that seemed harder to play would only get 6.

Seventh - I think there needs to be a different method than color to denote feeding type - e.g omnivore, herbivore, photosynthesizer etc. If I use this with a class it will have to be black-and-white because I can't afford to print all these out in color but then you lose that information.

Eight - the "Spread" seems like a cool idea for plants but I am not sure how it works in this game. I would think that if a pollinator were played next to it then that card could double and grow to fill in another spot giving that card holder double points (not sure how to indicate this in the game unless an upside down card is used as a marker.

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2 Re: Playtest - rules questions on Sun Jan 16, 2011 3:16 pm

Third - many of the carnivores in real life are able to eat things many time larger than they are - e.g. Wolves eat Moose but that is not in this game. Also there are many that cannot eat things within one scale of themselves - e.g humpback whales would die trying to eat something one scale smaller they must eat soemthing about 5 scales smaller. I changed text on some of my cards to fit this bill because I just couldn't put a Swan eating a raccoon (or something like that).

I think this is what the Scale and Foodchain numbers address on the top right corner of the cards. Taken from the phylomon website:

SCALE#: This number is meant to give a sense of the scale of the organism, either from a size or from a resource requirement perspective. For example, a virus may be given a scale# of 1, a single celled bacteria a “2″, a multi-celled organism (such as C. elegans) would be given the number “3″ and so on.

FOODCHAIN#: This number provides information on relative position in a food web. For instance, a photosynthetic plant would be given a number “1″, whereas animals of various diets would have higher numbers (i.e. Herbivores would be a number “2″). All organisms that subsist on basic molecular carbon sources (some bacteria for instance) would likely be a number “2″ (although may not require a neighbouring “1″ card if other carbon sources are around). Omnivores and Carnivores will tend to have higher numbers depending on where they fit on the food web. NOTE that this number is also important because it is how players earn points.


Seventh - I think there needs to be a different method than color to denote feeding type - e.g omnivore, herbivore, photosynthesizer etc. If I use this with a class it will have to be black-and-white because I can't afford to print all these out in color but then you lose that information.

This has been a problem brought up before and it's tough finding solutions to it without the cards becoming clutterd.

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3 Re: Playtest - rules questions on Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:28 pm

Thanks for the response.

I do understand how the food scale number works it is just that in the real world that number can be meaningless in terms of what the actual organism eats. In the card game there aren't anything (at least that I have seen) that can eat a scale 8 or 9 organism. Of course this doesn't happen very often in a natural ecosystem because they would become overpopulated so there are usually pack-animals of smaller scale that feed on them (at least the old or young)

In terms of the feeding strategy - perhaps a different symbol around the scale number could be used to denote how it feeds rather than color, which would maintain the level of clutter to present levels.

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4 Re: Playtest - rules questions on Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:57 pm

The scale number in principle is still meant to give a general sense of when size (so to speaks) matter. In that case, if the trophic strategy of an organism allows it to eat big things, or more specifically, things of a certain size, we technically have the ability to write such details on the card.

Whether this is done or not depends on the person curating the particular card (I have a number of science undergrads doing this right now). It's not a perfect system, but the hope is that as more people become engaged in the game, the more people who can provide additional copy editing for such things, and also let the website know by leaving a comment.

i.e. comments like, "Hey there, this piranha card doesn't really take into account that they can eat things as big as X. You should put something on the card to reflect that. By my calculations, you can set a scale value of Y to describe this, etc"

For the colour stuff, we've had a variety of discussions on this before (as well as testing a few shapes before the site was even launched). Because space is limited, and we have to make things work on the browser as well as the dynamic pdf generation, it just got too tricky with the shape angle. Not sure how to overcome that feature at this point.

cheers
dave

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5 playing questions continued on Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:16 pm

Where would I make the card suggestions for things like wolves?

I am still curious about the game play and whether once a producer is placed do they remain unless taken out by an event card even if their link to the "home card" is severed?

Also I am still wondering about bridging cards - do they have to match all cards that they touch or only 1?

Do "home cards become the habitat of the first card played on them or are they still "wild" on each side?

Thanks for any help

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6 Re: Playtest - rules questions on Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:57 pm

>Where would I make the card suggestions for things like wolves?

If it's modifying an existing card, easiest is to leave a comment for the card's permalink. If you'd like to see a new card, then that sounds like a good thread to start!

>I am still curious about the game play and whether once a producer is placed do they remain unless taken out by an event card even if their link to the "home card" is severed?

Home cards can't ever be taken out (same with habitat cards if you're playing them). But essentially, if there is any card placed in such a way so that there is no compatible link (i.e. it's totally isolated), then it needs to be removed. Excepts to this would be those with a food chain rank of 1.

>Also I am still wondering about bridging cards - do they have to match all cards that they touch or only 1?

Only 1 is fine. But there's a strategic advantage to having multiple matches, since it tends to make the card better equipped to deal with changes.

>Do "home cards become the habitat of the first card played on them or are they still "wild" on each side?

Nope: they are technically wild, so in theory you have a few different chains you can build from. FYI, we're working on changing the home card idea. We're in the process of modifying the website so that a person can make their own cards (i.e. no moderation required). One idea from this is to create something like an "avatar" card, and that this would be the starter. The bonus here is that "you" get to be on the table (literally), and it opens up the possibility of having modifiers to the player (i.e you're an expert in wolves, so you get this bonus,etc). These modifiers could be a new category of cards themselves or just something you can work into the text for your avatar. Anyway, I think it's an interesting idea and worth "having a go" which is the really lovely thing about crowdsourced web projects (you can just try stuff).

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7 Re: Playtest - rules questions on Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:46 pm

What if you used symbols to represent feeding type with the number next to it. A beaker for chemical, a drumstick for carnivore, an apple or pear for herbivore, and a sun for photosynthesizers? So a tiger shark would be 3(drumstick) whereas a sunflower might be 1(sun). It shouldn't be too hard at that scale. As for creatures not eating things of various sizes I propoze 2 new properties: Filter Feader(this creature can only eat creatures of scale 1) and Pack Hunter(this creature can eat creatures of up to 2 scales larger than itself). Just a suggestion.

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8 Re: Playtest - rules questions on Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:49 pm

btw, I forgot to mention that omnivores would simply have both the drumstick and pear/apple symbols.

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9 Re: Playtest - rules questions on Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:46 pm

Numbers were used primarily because of website programming ease - might be cool to revisit overall nomenclature design, but it would also mean revisiting edits of the 400+ cards already available.

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