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Playtest report #4: games 7-10- Polar Bears cause tsunamis

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First a word about deck building...

First 6 alpha games were played with an Urban and a Grass deck, which by and large shared a lot of similar cards. I WAS going build a Freshwater vs Ocean deck but couldn't because there's a break in the Freshwater chain. There's several Rank 1 Freshwater items... all of which are warm, cool, or cold. The ONLY rank 2 Freshwater species appears to be Hot. (I say appears as none is listed but the description says "equatorial Africa" which would be HOT) Then there's lots and lots of predators... with nothing to eat. Um...

So I swapped to building a Tundra and an Ocean deck for testing. Tundra only has one Rank 1 item but has several Rank 2 species. Ocean has only 1 of each which made building things very tricky. Also, its only rank 2 species is Warm and most of it rank 3s are Cool, Cold, making for some very precise chaining.

We played these games with revised scoring system and no Habitats. Game #1 took the longest due to them being unfamiliar decks, but we banged through the last two games in under 20 minutes.

Split J (ocean)/ F (tundra)
Game # 7: 83/109 40 minutes
Game #8 91/161 30 minutes
Game #9 118/116 16 minutes
Game #10 106/109 16 minutes

Much of the speed was because the two decks really couldn't interact much. There's only three species that have Ocean and another Terrain on them... only one of which could evenly vaguely fit in the Ocean deck. (and F didn't end up even playing it because it was too hard to get into play)

I actually had an easier time getting one of them in my deck: the Polar Bear. Currently you can't actually play it in an Ocean deck because of the mismatch on Climate. You can't build from the one plants to the bear due to the climate issues.

Thus I had the Polar Bears in my Tundra deck which resulted in the title of this post:
Polar Bears cause tsunamis.

With the current wording, it can only be played next to something with an Ocean terrain. Since we had only one card that shared Terrain, J had to wait for my Polar Bear to arrive to play Tsunami because none of my cards ever ended up next to her Ocean deck. doh.

Game #2 was where that happened and I ended up having to spend most of my moves moving my Polar BEar and Red Fox away from the Tsunami while J plopped down lots of high value cards. Due to how restrictive the Ocean cards are, the lowest value card in the deck was a 7. (vs a 2 in mine)

Game 3 and 4, I held onto my Polar Bears til the last turn or two before playing them to avoid the Tsunami bear effect.

The other thing speeding the game was the very limited number of rank 1 and 2 cards for the Ocean deck. One game J spent an entire turn just drawing... eventually leaving her with a 20+ card hand. Just looking for that rank 2 species...

By and large there weren't many mechanical issues here, they were all card specific, or related to insufficient card pool size.

Other issues:
1. We fiddled with how the Oil Slick worked in each game and came up with having it work exactly like Wildlife (directly destroys the species its played on, no chance for it to move away) probably works the best. It should be expanded to include Freshwater as well. It probably should only work on Animals. (wildfire we recommended only work on Plants)
2. Two Ocean species had Mutualism with the baceteria Vibrio fischeri... but there is no card for Vibrio fischeri...
3. Carpenter Ants had no climate listed. we went with Cool and Warm. They can also eat things larger than them. Thus I kept having them eat the Musk Ox...
4. Need more Rank 1 and rank 2 species, ESPECIALLY rank 2s.
5. Ocean needs some critters that have a Terrain other than Ocean listed on them to make it actually interact well with other decks. Otherwise it tends to be more a puzzle game than interactive.

1. Card pool too small, produced some weird effects. More variety will fix issues.
2. Overall mechanics working well
3. Polar bears cause tsunamis

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butterflies cause tornadoes, so I see no disconnect in your reasoning.

Question: Was the game any less fun when the decks had so little interaction? Does it feel like two people playing a game together or just two people who happen to be playing the same game at the same time?

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You have some amount of interaction, but its primarily avoidance. Early placement of things around the Home card can make things a lot harder for opponent.

I'd say it was a bit less fun due to lower interaction, but not un-fun.

And I;ll toss in game #11 since we retried the Grass vs Urban decks with new rules to see if they came out at similar times.

Final score 81/86 and it took about 20 minutes. So new rules, once we knew them, do bring the play time quite a bit so you can fit it inside a classroom period.

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As a continuation of the points made:
- Where's Krill? Having unlimited krill would make the rest of water life much easier! Also crabs, etc.
- I think part of the problem of interaction may be a lack of Coast terrain, although even then I'm not sure how many coastal ecosystems actually interact with inland ones. It would help if I actually knew this stuff! But for those who know more about the game, is it worth considering? (For that matter, is Tundra a sufficiently diverse environment compared to the others? Could it not be considered a Cold coast?)

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We mostly seem to have a bottleneck on card production right now causing deck building issues. There's plenty of freshwater species that have freshwater and another Terrain, same just is not currently true of ocean.

As to Tundra, the Dingo apparently roams the wild tundra right now. Alpine tundra might fly... except its not native to alpine tundra either. Alpine forest, yes, tundra no.

Possible species that could hit both Ocean and another habitat:
Salt water crocodile
Seagull (also, Urban)
Various seabirds
Seals & Sea Lions
Galapagos iguana

If we look at brackish water habitats such as the Sundarbans, you can even toss Bengal tigers in as being salt water habitat as they'll swim between islands. Ditto chital, wild boar, mongoose, fishing cats, and Indian python.

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fenrislorsrai wrote:wildfire we recommended only work on Plants

But... animal can die from wildfire, too. Also, isn't it supposed to be the purpose of the MOVE mechanic? Animals run to avoid the fire. Those who can't run, die.

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