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Proposed Rules for Trumps-type game

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1 Proposed Rules for Trumps-type game on Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:24 am

Here's my stab at a game that could be easily played with Phylomon creature cards, with the possibility of introducing expanded rules or house rules for event cards.

Predator-Prey or The Food Chain

A Game for Phylomon based on The Gr*at D*lm*ti or D*lb*rt Corporate Shuffle. For at least 3 players, best with 5 or more.

0.25) Each player contributes all their creature cards to form one deck in the middle. (Or: Build a deck from everyone's creature cards that follows a certain pattern based on Scale #, with an abundance of small scale creatures and fewer as the scale rises)

0.5) The oldest player is the top of the food chain and the dealer for the first round.

1) Deal out X (10?) cards to each player

1b) If this is the second round or later in this game, the person at the top of the food chain gives two cards to the person at the bottom of the food chain.

2) The person at the bottom of the food chain (to the dealer's left) starts the cycle by playing any number of creatures with the same Scale #. These are the prey.

3) The person to their left must provide at least as many (or, possibly, n-1, minimum 1, based on the fact that as size increases, population decreses) creature cards of a higher scale # than the current prey. These predators become the new prey.

3b) Advanced Game: To successfully predate, the predators must match their food preferences (herbivores, carnivores, etc) to the prey on the table. Omnivores are considered wild for these purposes. (Ex: Two plants and a rat require 2 herbivores and a carnivore, or three omnivores, or one herbivore, one carnivore, and one omnivore)

3c) Expert Game: To successfully predate, the predators must also have a Food Chain # at least 1 number higher than their prey.

3d) Perfectionist Game: To successfully predate, each predator must also match one climate and one terrain type with their prey

3X) Exceptions to rule 3:
Exception A: Decomposers: Any predator that has the "Decomposer" ability counts as a wild card for all parts of Rule 3. Decomposers with a Scale # less than 3 are removed from the prey pile after they are done predating.
Exception B: Virulent/Deadly Micro-organisms: Infectious microorganisms and parasites can be used to kill an entire type of compatible prey with one card once per round. (After that, immunities develop. Ain't life grand?) After killing their target prey, the microorganisms are also removed from the prey pile.
Exception C: Parasites: A compatible parasite may be used as a wild card predator on one creature. Infected creatures cannot be reinfected with a new parasite. (The strain will kill the host.) The infected creature stays as part of the prey pile for the next player, unless the parasite is also a decomposer (3XA) or deadly (3XB).

4) If the current player cannot make a legal play, or chooses not to do so, they must pass. Players that have passed cannot play any other cards this cycle.

5) Continue with (3) and (4) until there is only one player who has not passed. That player starts a new cycle by laying out a new set of starting prey.

6) The first player to run out of cards moves to the top of the food chain, and becomes the dealer for the next game. Each person that goes out afterward seats themselves to the right of the person they follow. To start a new round, shuffle the deck and return to (1).

Educational bits:
-Predator-prey relationships and the idea that the top of the food chain is "we haven't found a predator for you, yet".
-Learning about the feeding preferences of creatures (and why omnivorousness has its advantages)
-Appreciation of the deadly effect of viruses and parasites.
-In Advanced and Expert Games, introduction of the concept that biodiversity gets complex fast even when focusing on just one aspect.
-As the players themselves move between rounds, hopefully some awareness of how one's position on the food chain can change rapidly develops.

Suggestions? Improvements? Telling me I'm way off base?

Last edited by Silver Adept on Mon Apr 19, 2010 7:24 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : (Perfectionist Game Rule 3d added))

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2 Re: Proposed Rules for Trumps-type game on Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:08 pm

I should start out by saying that although I've done my best to understand your idea, and I'm pretty sure I get what you're saying, I'm not 100% certain. My apologies if I'm criticizing a misunderstood version of your idea.

With that said, this ruleset is interesting, and seems like it could be quite fun on a casual level, but I have doubts about how it would scale. For instance, your system uses a single deck that is shared between all the players. This would cause trouble if people have their own personal collections.

You'd either have to all play from one person's deck (and giving one player control of a resource that everyone will use is almost sure to give them a competitive edge, however slight) or consolidate decks, in which case the question must be raised of how, exactly, to split them back apart after the game.

However, that is not a very significant issue. It could even be argued that exploiting the statistical anomalies that could be introduced by the player who creates the deck requires enough effort to merit a small reward.

The main issue that I see, at this phase in the ruleset's development, is that there's only minimal strategy involved. That could use a bit of fleshing out. And perhaps actually taking a look at how the different mechanics you've created interact to create a space for strategic decision would be a good idea -- I can see that there are some things that could be considered strategy, but the depth and extent of it seems kind of ambiguous. I would do this myself, but it seems like it's the sort of thing that would be best done by the ruleset's creator -- nobody knows the system better than you at this point in time.

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3 Re: Proposed Rules for Trumps-type game on Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:32 am

Thank you for your response. I'll try to elucidate more.

In the game that I've taken the source from, the deck contains significantly more of the lower ranking cards, tapering off as the ranks rise until there is only one of the highest-ranked cards. If we wanted to go this route, we could construct a deck of certain specifics from all the players cards, and thus prevent control from consolidating into one player.

The number of cards of various ranks plays an important part in strategy in those games, because their rules require there to be at least as many of the higher-ranking cards as the lower-ranking ones to successfully play them as part of the cycle. So while once can easily ditch, say, four of the lower ranks early on in the game, in the later parts of the game, it becomes much more difficult to beat that idea, and so it may be a strategic decision to hold on to some quantity of mid-rank cards to play in the late game so as to go out first (or faster).

The primary straetgy of this type of game is to be the person going first in the cycle, because by going first, one is able to dictate the plays that the others must follow. If no-one can match one's play, one goes again, having discarded a significant number of cards from the hand.

A secondary strategy involves making sure that one gets rid of the low-occurrence high cards at their proper times so as not to be stuck holding a singlet of something while everyone else is playing pairs.

Then adding on that this is a game of predators and prey and there should be some nominal amount of education snuck in, I created the various additional bits in Rule 3 so as to make it a harder game to make a match. In these scenarios, if we just had a giant pool of possible creatures to draw from, it might make some games easier and some harder and it would be different every time.

As for the exceptions, I thought about how nature works, and really, the decomposers, the viruses, and the parasites are all usually pretty tiny, but they can easily kill big things, so they ruin the chain - I thought they might be best used strategically so as to reduce the number of cards the next player has to play on. Perhaps the rules could be modified so those creatures can be played at any time, so that someone can reduce the creature pile before it gets to them so they can play on it when they wouldn't have normally had a chance? That would help defeat the "lockout" mechanism that works in the original type of game, where someone plays lots of low-level stuff to prevent the singlets from working. Of course, it might also let someone in front of them play and go out faster or ruin their strategy.

As for scaling issues, perhaps we up the number of cards drawn at the start based on how many cards are available? Or, instead of requiring a "pass" and sitting out, the player has to draw from the deck if there are cards available to draw?

Let me know what you think.

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4 Re: Proposed Rules for Trumps-type game on Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:11 am

That actually sounds pretty good. I'm still somewhat skeptical of how much strategy actually is in the game, though. I can see how one would exploit the cards everyone has for personal gain, but it seems mostly to be a game of luck with basic tactical rules superimposed. There are tricks to increase your odds, but no actual major strategies that I can see, aside from what is introduced in the exceptions to rule 3.

That is not to say I don't like the game. You've created an interesting ruleset, and in its current form I'm sure it would be fine for younger audiences that maybe don't want as in-depth of a game. But I, personally, think that it would benefit from extending the tactical dimension. Perhaps "environmental challenges" or whatever people are calling them could be worked in somehow as a way to make things more interesting.

Also, by the way, do you think environments could be worked in somehow? Because it would be kind of absurd if they weren't, but I can't think of a good, non-painfully-obvious-and-trivial way to include them. The most obvious way would simply be to set an environment and say you can only play cards that fit that environment, but that wouldn't really add anything meaningful to the game. So maybe some way of changing the environment? Possibly that could be linked to the environmental challenges? For instance, grassland + drought = desert. Just throwing some thoughts out there.

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5 Re: Proposed Rules for Trumps-type game on Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:11 am

I think it would be possible to involve environments in the game - as cards that could be played to restrict what can be played or to kill off various creatures.

For example, a card called "Flood" would kill all creatures of a certain size rating or lower, or any creature that doesn't exist in an ocean/water environment. It might also change the environment to "Ocean" by being played.

It would need to be balanced in some way, though, or there will be more emphasis on changing environments (color changes in a Crazy Eights-type game) than on being able to actually play any cards.

What might be a better use of environments is to craft multiple evironment event cards with different attributes. Some might say say "Creatures that share an attribute with the current environment are +X to Scale based on how many items they share." (Up to +4 so far, I think) That allows little ones to become more powerful and useful in the mid-game, or to provide extras to help discard the singlets with. Others might say "Only predators that share an attribute of this environment may be played." Others might be extinction events - once played, the prey are simply wiped out and the player that played the card gets to start a new cycle. That way, all we have to say is "follow the instructions on the card". Sound more strategic?

I like the idea of being able to cycle environments with the use of event cards. It would allow players to start constructing their own decks if they wanted to, so that each player would bring their own Predator-Prey deck and pit it against others. Kind of like how Land is an integral part of winning games of M*g*c.

Some possible environment changers would be "drought", "flood", "deforestation", "Humans/Development", "cold snap", "climate change", "erosion", and others that would change the environment variables.

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6 Re: Proposed Rules for Trumps-type game on Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:02 pm

This sounds cool. I like that it's based on an existing game format that works well already. Once, we have enough cards, it would be relatively simple to offer a "card set" (i.e. premade pdfs for the all the cards needed in this deck) to play this game.

Can you actually list the cards needed in such a deck (some of these special ones - kind of like the wild card in the Dalmuti example - can also be included).

Also, even though it doesn't include Environmental cards, etc, I think it's still o.k. as a starting point (or as SilverAdept) has considered - they may be variants of this game that are a little more coplex, as you include extra things (again, easily done by producing extended sets, etc).

Keep at this - I think it's close to putting up on the website as something to keep working on.

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7 Re: Proposed Rules for Trumps-type game on Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:46 am

At it's core, a complete Predator-Prey deck for a Dalmuti-style game consists of:

9 cards of Scale #1
8 cards of Scale #2
7 cards of Scale #3
6 cards of Scale #4
5 cards of Scale #5
4 cards of Scale #6
3 cards of Scale #7
2 cards of Scale #8
1 card of Scale #9 (or 1 Homo Sapiens, since we like to think we're the top of the chain)

Which is 45 cards. For the advanced games, the cards would want to be about one third producers/herbivores, one third carnivores, and one third onmivores (or so I'm guessing), with the producers/herbivores generally in the lower scale numbers and the carnivore/omnivores in the higher.

I'm guessing the higher Scale cards will also naturally walk up the food chain numbers. I might change that rule to say "2 or more if the prey food chain # is 1, the same number or one more, if the prey Food chain # is 2 or higher"

However, I'm thinking 60 cards sounds like a good deck size, so that gives us 15 more cards to play with. For the rules without environments, that means we can add on

5 decomposers
5 pathogens
5 parasites

to make a nice set of sixty cards to start with.

If we want to produce a starter set with environment cards and effects, I would reduce the number of decomposers/pathogens/parasites to 2 each, and then use the remaining nine cards for 7 environment change cards (one for each environment), one "Extinction Event" card and one "block that environment card" card, that I'm calling "Scientific Prediction" for now.

45 creatures


either: 15 decomposers/viruses/parasites


6 decomposers/viruses/parasites
7 environment change cards
1 Extinction Event
1 Scientific Prediction

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