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Decomposers / scavengers

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1 Decomposers / scavengers on Mon Nov 28, 2011 2:55 pm

I have looked through and can't see a discussion about decomposers / scavengers, yet they are an essential part of the food chain as well. Apologies if I've missed the discussion. An easy way to incorporate them would be a further circle at the top like this:

for something that eats dead plants (e.g. worms, fungi, bacteria)

for something that eats dead animals (e.g. flies, maggots, foxes, vultures)

This could be used in the game to mean that plants could only be placed either on the home card or next to a plant decomposer. Not so sure about the animal decomposers - any ideas?

Makes the food chain into a food loop.


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2 Re: Decomposers / scavengers on Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:17 am

This is a cool thread to start. The main issue is that adding additional graphics, circles, symbols is tricky. The card is already relatively busy, and ideally, we can keep things as they are. In some ways, we can work with the decomposer idea with the FOODCHAIN 1 in the BLACK circle. This might fit how a decomposer could inhabit the table top.

A scavenger might be one of those things that is easiest done by introducing a new KEYWORD (like invasive or parasite), where we can include additional instructions on how the card can be played. As well, with event cards, you have the opportunity to introduce any new and novel mechanism in the game. Maybe there can be a special game designed just to cover scavenging?!

Anyway, any other thoughts?

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3 Re: Decomposers / scavengers on Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:32 am

The Foodchain dot can, as matters stand, be one of five different colors. Why not add a sixth for scavengers/decomposers? I recommend the color grey for this purpose.

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4 Re: Decomposers / scavengers on Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:12 pm

I hadn't thought of the decomposers/scavengers being black - it is called 'molecular' but I'm not really sure what this means. In this category, you have viruses, fungi and now potentially worms. I'm not a biologist - could you define what the black category means?

I don't think it would work for the foodchain dot to be another colour - or not for scavengers, anyway, as many animals are both scavengers and carnivores. This might be the answer, though, for decomposers, if the black category is too wide?

The KEYWORD scavenger could work by meaning that this animal could eat any other, regardless of foodchain number or size?

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5 Re: Decomposers / scavengers on Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:38 pm

Yeah, maybe the black #1 needs to be relabeled. It's labeled molecular because that gave it room to be the type of autotroph or heterotroph that subsisted on smaller compounds for energy. Due to this flexibility, things like decomposers sorted of fitted in.

It does get tricky though - there's so many classes of different types of trophic strategies, many of which are pretty cool.

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6 Re: Decomposers / scavengers on Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:47 am

I suspect that the vast majority of "trophic strategies" are found only in monocellular beasties. If you're talking about metazoans, i.e. one of the critters your average man in the street is likely to think of when you say "animal", there's eating other animals (i.e., carnivore); eating plants (i.e., herbivore); eating both plants and animals (i.e., omnivore); and... well, that's it. There are critters who hunt their own food (i.e., predators), and there's critters who nosh on the leftovers of carcasses that were killed by other critters (i.e., scavengers), and... again, that's pretty much it. Perhaps replace the "molecular" trophic label with "miscellaneous", and add some special-case rules to handle the various specific sub-categories under "miscellaneous"?

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7 Re: Decomposers / scavengers on Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:06 am

Hmmm... that looks like it could work. Let's see if others can weigh in. I'll also make sure I bring it up next time we get some testers at my lab. Thanks for the idea!

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8 Re: Decomposers / scavengers on Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:32 am

I had to look up what trophic was, but found lots of diagrams quite like this one:

It seems that decomposers are generally looked at separately to producers (plants/algae) as they don't take nutrients from the soil/water, but return them to it for the producers to reuse. This makes them, in a way, the opposite to producers. So should they be given the same food chain number as producers - 1? From the diagram, you can see they act at all levels of the food chain, and so I think deserve a place outside of the numbers - a different symbol.

I also don't think fungi, worms or woodlice are outside the everyday experience of most people like the 'molecular' species are. I think it would be a shame not to acknowledge their importance and put them in miscellaneous.

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9 Re: Decomposers / scavengers on Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:15 pm

Since decomposers are, as noted, basically outside the normal food chain, how about giving them a non-numeric symbol? I like 'µ' (mu) for this purpose, but 'i' for 'imaginary' also works, says I.

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10 my two cents on Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:38 pm

Keeping the cards as is, and just using keywords, it could be like this:
The keyword DECOMPOSE entitles the player to play the card whenever a species is discarded (or only a species you control?). Perhaps this should be the only way to play the card?

The keword SCAVENGER enables the species to feed on any compatible species of higher foodrank.

Cubist wrote:Since decomposers are, as noted, basically outside the normal food chain, how about giving them a non-numeric symbol? I like 'µ' (mu) for this purpose, but 'i' for 'imaginary' also works, says I.

So we would distinguish between decomposers in the food chain, and outside of the food chain? I guess we do already - decomposers like worms, unicellular (protists) and fruit-bearing fungi, that are eaten by animals, are already implemented in a herbivore, omnivore or molecular foodrank. I think the decomposers we are talking about here are mold, mikro-fungi, viruses and bacteria - that stuff that spoils our food, no?

What eats bacteria? Nothing - but you could use them the way fenrislorlai suggests in the play report from Anthrocon: Higher ranked creatures can be played out of rank order if the species touching ranks TOTAL the necessary amount., making a 1 and 2 foodrank be eaten by a 3.

I think the way to use bacteria and mold is to make them give them functions like pest control(prevent certain species, prevent disease), make them status cards, or simply don't use them that much, as they are not that well known and easy to implement in the game.

You could use them as "stoppers":
davehwng wrote:In some ways, we can work with the decomposer idea with the FOODCHAIN 1 in the BLACK circle. This might fit how a decomposer could inhabit the table top.

As a requirement for playing plants:
a plant can only be put if it touches a fungi, decomposer or a home card
That makes it harder to play the now safe-to-play plants, and gives a greater initiative to play animals (why don't we play plants only). If we did this, we should have a new symbol, too.

As forced impact
If you play a fly agaric, all animals next to it will eat it, be crazy and turn upside down. When another card is played next to it, you can replace it.

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11 Re: Decomposers / scavengers on Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:52 pm

Using keywords would be preferred. We do have a more flexible colour option for trophic strategy, where "black" is denoted as "special - read card text"

For instance, in the coral reef deck, keywords like Suspension Feeder, etc are incorporated and it works well when playing.

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