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Proposal: Mutations/Evolution?

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1 Proposal: Mutations/Evolution? on Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:28 pm

Just a thought on what might help the game be more interesting and/or engaging (not that I don't already like it).

It might be fun to make cards based on evolution. A mutation or evolution card would be like an added bonus to a species. You would play it 'onto' a species card, but probably place it underneath the card with the top of the mutation card sticking out from underneath it to remind you it is there.

Examples could be increasing movement range, adding more compatible temperatures, altering their size, or altering their diet.


Sample Card Ideas:

Thick Fur: This species can now survive in a climate one level cooler.

Food Storage: You have an additional turn to react if this species becomes incompatible.

Heat dissipation: This species can now survive in a climate one level hotter (ex. Fennec ears).

Hibernation: If this species becomes incompatible and the reaction does not save it the species remains in play, but cannot move, and is considered to have a 0 point value as long as it remains incompatible.

Migration: This species can move an additional space.

Pack Hunter: This mutation can only be used on a carnivorous species. This species can now hunt animals of one size greater than its own.

Patagium: This species now has FLIGHT 1.

Syndactyly: This species is now compatible with freshwater and ocean environments.

Trapping Predator: This mutation can only be used on a carnivorous species. Any species this carnivore depends on for food cannot move.


Ideas based on evolution for event cards:

Predation Defense: (Horns, Armor, Poison, Camouflage, etc.) Any predator depending on this species as food is no longer compatible with this species.

Territorial: Target species in competition with your own species (ie. two herbivores dependant on the same plant) must move.

Social: Target species can move to a space adjacent to a card of the same species.


Keywords or modifier ideas I happen to have ideas for too:

Metamorphosis: This species changes to a higher point value species after X turns. (Replace X with appropriate number. This could be a caterpillar which changes to a butterfly for example).



Last edited by ivan.h on Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:18 am; edited 1 time in total

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2 Re: Proposal: Mutations/Evolution? on Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:04 am

I personally love these ideas. They take the game in a slightly different direction, but it's still quite educational, and it makes the game even more dynamic. It could be fiddled with to make it really work, but I think it's quite cool.
And if something isn't compatible (such as a very, very territory specific species starting to migrate) then the species card could state that the certain "Change" card wouldn't work for them. It could add clutter, certainly, but it may be able to be worked around.

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3 Re: Proposal: Mutations/Evolution? on Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:53 am

ivan.h wrote:Just a thought on what might help the game be more interesting and/or engaging (not that I don't already like it).

It might be fun to make cards based on evolution. A mutation or evolution card would be like an added bonus to a species. You would play it 'onto' a species card, but probably place it underneath the card with the top of the mutation card sticking out from underneath it to remind you it is there.

Examples could be increasing movement range, adding more compatible temperatures, altering their size, or altering their diet.
Interesting idea, but implementing it as a Phylomon variant will be a royal pain. IMAO, it would be best to handle evolutionary stuff as a game unto itself, separate and distinct from Phylomon.

Hmmm… idea: The 'evolution game' is based on the premise of a stable environment with a bunch of 'minimal replicator' critters living in it. When you set up a game, you define the characteristics of this environment; how hot/cold it is, how wet/dry it is, etc. The 'minimal replicator' critters start out with nothing but the ability to live and replicate; gameplay revolves around adding traits to a replicator, and seeing how the replicator is affected by those traits.
As per ivan.h's idea, these traits are represented by cards. During set-up, each player is dealt a hand of [number] cards. Each of the cards in this game's deck represents a trait which can be applied to a critter; these traits can affect the critter, and sometimes even the environment. It's tempting to think in terms of 'beneficial' and 'detrimental' traits, but no trait is absolutely beneficial or detrimental; all trait-effects should be conditional. "When thus-and-so is true, such-and-such effect happens." Traits can have more than one effect (see also: the gene for sickle-cell anemia, which grants resistance to malaria when you only inherit one copy of the gene from one of your parents). In most cases, the effects a trait has will include "X amount of increase/decrease to reproductive capacity".
Many (all?) traits should have prerequisites, i.e. "can only be played on a critter which already has Trait X", or "cannot be played on Aquatic critters", or whatever. These pre-requisites should be based on the scientific community's best guesses about what characteristics have shown up under which conditions in the RealWorld's biosphere.
Each player starts with however-many 'minimal replicator' critters. Gameplay consists of playing card (traits) onto critters, and seeing what difference the 'new' traits make. During a player's turn, they can play a card (trait) from their hand onto any replicator on the board; of course, they'll probably choose to play 'good' traits onto their own critters, and 'bad' traits onto other players' critters.
This is all I've got for now. Will return to it later, and will be interested to see if anybody else has any thoughts on it.

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4 Re: Proposal: Mutations/Evolution? on Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:59 am

Cubist wrote:
Interesting idea, but implementing it as a Phylomon variant will be a royal pain. IMAO, it would be best to handle evolutionary stuff as a game unto itself, separate and distinct from Phylomon.
I respect that you have an idea for a different game, and I am interested to see what comes of it, but could you please explain how simply adding a new type of card would be a pain?

The way I described it requires no changes to the cards already created...

I hate to invoke Magic: The Gathering, but think like an Enchantment - Aura card...

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5 Re: Proposal: Mutations/Evolution? on Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:50 pm

ivan.h, it seems to me that your proposal can be summed up as "add power-ups new traits to existing species". This is fine as far as it goes, but there's a heck of a lot more to evolution than just adding new traits to existing species! Keep in mind that Phylomon is supposed to be educational as well as playable; implementing the concepts of evolution in the form of game-mechanics will naturally involve a certain amount of simplification, but if you simplify the concepts too much, you're eroding the educational value.

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6 Re: Proposal: Mutations/Evolution? on Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:51 am

Part 2 of an indefinite number of installments on the topic of a Phylomon-related game…

What aspects of evolution should be incorporated in such a game?

Evolution is about breeding populations, not individuals. So it would be nice to implement some sort of population dynamics, to at least a minor degree. Maybe use something like the Population cards from NUCLEAR WAR to represent how many individuals a given 'species' has, and on every turn, each 'species' accumulates however-many new Population cards/tokens/whatevers to represent its newborn members? The baseline, minimal-replicator 'species' will add a minimal, baseline number of Population tokens every turn, and Enhanced Reproduction would be a useful mutation/trait to play on any 'species'. A 'species' needn't be predatory—I'm thinking that Predation might be one of those mutations/traits which can be applied to a 'species'—but once there are Predation-enabled 'species' in play, any player who's got a predatory 'species' can take however-many Population tokens off the board on their turn. Because that's what predators do, right?

Speciation isn't absolutely synonymous with evolution, but it's surely a big part of what evolution is, methinks. I want players to be able to have 2+ 'species' under their control, and during the game I want players to be able to increase the number of 'species' they' control.

Mutations: In real biology, mutations can have highly significant effects, or unnoticeably trivial effects, on the critters which carry them. Also, mutations can build on past mutations, so there's a kind of cumulative effect. Give each mutation/trait card a list of "prerequisites", and let the actual magnitude of effect for that mutation/trait be dependent on how many of the pre-requisite traits the species possesses?

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7 Re: Proposal: Mutations/Evolution? on Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:05 am

Just want to chime in here. One of the things that this project is interested in doing, is just trying things out. Since there is the possibility of making a beta deck relatively easily (now that we have the DIY section), we can explore these variants and see how they go. Ideally, they mix nicely with the existing game, but there could also be a different game mechanic developed (i.e. kind of like a deck of 52 playing cards can actually be used in many different ways).

As well, when we've chatted with teachers, it's useful for them to have opportunities where the learning objectives are simplified as well as nuanced. It sort of depends on who's using it. For instance, we've heard of some teachers using the cards as a straight up exercise in categorization. i.e. with young kids just to get into the concepts of grouping like organisms, which inadvertently gets into notions of cladistics. The irony here is that a teacher will seldom bring up this technical word, but the act of sorting cards actually gets the kids to think about how something like an evolutionary tree might work.

Anyway, keep on the discussion. If at any point, you feel like making some pretend cards to try some stuff out, just let Dave Ng know, and he can grant you access in the site (see http://phylogame.org/2013/03/27/making-your-own-diy-cards-first-you-need-an-account-but-then-you-just-follow-the-instructions/)

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8 Re: Proposal: Mutations/Evolution? on Sun Sep 29, 2013 9:04 am

More pondering…

It occurred to me that Horizontal Gene Transfer could be implemented in this game by allowing players to outright steal traits from other players' critters. But HGT is largely restricted to viruses and unicellular beasties; I mean, you don't see a hell of a lot of HGT in metazoans, you know?

So it makes a difference what sort of critter we anoint as the 'minimal replicator' for the Evolution game. In fact, we might want to allow for different 'minRep' critters, each with their own distinct set of playable mutations/traits. If we do this, it'd probable be better to refer to them as 'baseline replicator' or some such.

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