(From the Phylomon Forum)

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Sorry, no pictures, but it’s not really relevant for this report anyway since we discovered the current draw rules (V1.2) DO NOT WORK.

You run out of cards on turn 2. BOO.

Game 1:
We drew our first hand and immediately encountered problem #1. First play must be a habitat. J drew no habitat cards. Consult rules… doesn’t tell us what to do.

We briefly debate Magic vs Babylon 5 mechanics and opt for B5. She randomly discards a starting card and instead searches deck to add one habitat to her hand. (more later)

Go over the available actions and quickly determine one of them just isn’t going to work. Discard 1 card to draw 1 isn’t going to work so well in a game where you only draw 1 card per turn, but can play 3. We agree to go with discard 1, draw 2.

We get to about turn 4 and we both have empty hands and are now drawing one card, discarding for 2 as an action, and then playing those 2. Urgh.

By mutual agreement we up the draw to draw 2 per turn and you can discard 1 to draw 3. This does sometimes still result in you only having 1 card in hand at the end of turn, but is WAY less frustrating. There’s now so actual chance of planning for the next turn.

A trend quickly emerges with the Invasive species. I had an Grassland/Forest deck and J. had an Urban deck. This meant we both had a lot of Invasive bird species that could invade each other… or themselves. Ditto plants.
Thus at one point we ended up with a stack of Invasive birds 7 deep… 4 of which were Pigeons. My pigeon! No, mine! No, mine!

Since it was first playthrough I’d only included one Event card, Habitat Loss, which made a HUGE scoring difference for J. Wiping that out my grassland and turning it to Urban she could use resulted in a final score of 25 to 50. She got twice as many points as I did. (about samed game #2) If I had same thing in deck, it probably would have been more even.

Game #2: now for the messing with each other!

By mutual agreement we swipe a page from Babylon 5 and will be preselecting 3 cards for an opening hand. We agreed value should not exceed 9, including Habitat value. (which varied from 3-4 on the ones we had)

We also agree to play entire game as draw 2 at start of game, and it will be discard 1 to draw 3. This worked well for the entire game.

Draw 2 at start of turn gives us the same initial 5 card “opening hand” but there’s less muttering at the cards this way. Overall the 2/3 allows for options of building a larger hand for more strategy or if you do nothing but play, you have to discard 1 for the extra draw every 3 hands or so.

This time around I opt to build less packed chains and leave gaps in my layout. Last game I’d often gotten hit with the Habitat Loss and couldn’t move species away from it (despite them having move) because the grid was too packed. There was nowhere for them to GO.

This time I left space, intending to use it for species to move into.

This ALSO did not work. The move value are generally just too small to actually allow you to DO anything with it. In 2 games of around 15 turns each NEITHER PLAYER MOVED A SINGLE CARD.

However, leaving space for movement did let me save some species that would have been wiped by Habitat Loss by backfilling a new species into the hole that could use the new Urban habitat. So it allowed me to make a new chain to save them from the giant cascade.

Again we ended up with the giant pile of invasive birds and plants. There was a stack of multiple Policeman’s Helmets at one point as we traded control back and forth.

Again, at end of game, score was near identical. Me 27, J. 50 That Event made a HUGE difference.

Draw mechanics as written (draw 1, discard 1 for 1) currently do NOT work and you end up choking and dying after a few turns. This is incredibly frustrating. Draw 2 and discard 1 for 3 seemed to work about perfectly so it neither choked nor flooded your hand.

Invasive species probably shouldn’t be able to displace THEMSELVES. That or our Pigeons are mutating awfully fast and becoming Giant Mutant Death Pigeons.
J. favored not letting Invasives displace other Invasives. I have personally seen kudzu choke to death Japanese Knotweed (which is actually fairly tasty, I’ve eaten it), so you can have invasives displace invasives in the real world, but for simplicity’s sake, it may be easier to say they can’t displace other Invasives.

Move was really useless. The current movement rules don’t give you enough movement to actually make it worthwhile. Move values should probably be doubled on everything to make it A) possible and B) useful. I did have some creatures with move 2 and unless their habitat got destroyed on turn 1 or 2, they were soon blocked in and couldn’t move anywhere useful. That in two games neither of us moved anything despite playing things that COULD move, sort of speaks to this being underpowered.

Spread was also a little confusing since it reuired a polinator to do… but because of the placement rules, the polinator often ended up blocking in the plant so spread was useless. J. though allowing a polinator and plant to be moved as a block might work.

Each game took us around half hour, but game will probably run faster in it’s finished version. Decks were only 36 cards vs the suggested 40 because they printed out easier that way.

Unless there’s a lot of discarding going on this game ends up taking up a LOT of table space.

Since this is intended partially for use by school kids, I’d suggest trimming the deck size to 30. This will speed play time (so they might play 2 games in a class period) AND will make it fit on a standard school desk.

The Phylo project has a set of rules and close to 100 cards ready for beta testing.

Happy Biodiversity Day!

Well, it’s been about 5 weeks, and the Phylo project is close to 100 cards, all ready for free printing. As well, a set of rules is now available that is polished enough to go through some beta testing.


Today, we even have an “Oil Spill” card, and I’d like to invite people to leave comments on what text should go on this particular card. Is it too lenient right now, or too harsh? We’re really hoping that as the project progresses, the comments on the site will ultimately guide what needs to go on (or off) the cards.

In fact, while I’m making requests, I’d like to suggest the possibility of looking into funding a mobile app that could work with the project. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Also, it would be great to get more artists involved. If you are one, see if you can send an image or two our way. If you know one, see if you can lure them in! Here’s a sample of the ones recently uploaded on the Flickr submissions pool.


In any event, if you’re new to the project, do take a gander – the art, the photos, and the permalinks (where we try our best to find video footage of the card) are all time well spent. Better yet, do tell others about it – always lovely to get more artists, gamers, science-y folks involved.