Some Initial Press around the Beaty Phylo Deck


Here they are! Right now, they’re only available at the museum itself, but we’re working on seeing if we can come up with an online option for purchase (as well as holding off on marketing this deck until that option is available). It sounds like it might be a little complicated (because the museum hopes to use the cards for outreach fund raising), but we’ll try our best to keep you in the loop.

In any event, here is some press on the deck:

Phylogame teaches biodiversity using one card at a time (Ubyssey)

UBC’s ‘Phylo’ Card Game Inspired By ‘Pokemon’ (Huffpost British Columbia)

New Signature Phylo Card Game Celebrating Ecosystems Now at Beaty (Vancouver is Awesome).

Card Sharks (UBC Public Affairs)

New Signature Phylo Card Game Celebrating Ecosystems Now at Beaty

Reprinted from the Beaty Biodiversity Museum:


The Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC is excited to launch the first publicly available deck of signature Phylo game cards today.

What is Phylo? Phylo is a card game that celebrates ecosystems in all their awesomeness. Building off the popularity of trading card games like PokemonPhylo showcases the many weird, wonderful, and wacky species that live on Earth and deals with some serious threats to ecosystems, such as wildfires, oil spills, and climate change. Players use their cards to build food chains, create stable ecosystems, sabotage opponents’ ecosystems, and rack up points in the process. Phylo works like other trading card games, allowing players to add extension decks and trade cards with fellow players.

Phylo launched in 2010 as an open-source game where Internet communities have been able to crowdsource their way towards a biodiversity card game culture. The Beaty Biodiversity Museum deck is the first professionally printed deck widely available for purchase. It features organisms contained within the museum’s six major collections. All the organisms are found in the Pacific Northwest of North America and are connected through a web of interactions that is revealed through playing the game. The Beaty card deck will work seamlessly with existing open-source cards as well as print-at-home decks by the Natural History Museum, London and the World Science Festival 2012.

“It’s great for Phylo cards to finally be available in a high quality form, and that this is happening at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum,” says David Ng, a UBC faculty member and supervisor of the Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory at Michael Smith Laboratories and a lead on the project. “They look awesome, and will hopefully inspire some kids to learn more about biodiversity. I also love how the decks are being used as a way to support educational programming at the museum.”

To develop Phylo, Ng tapped into the expertise of numerous individuals and communities, including scientists, gamers, educators, and artists. One of the most active contributors was the Beaty Museum’s own Digital Media Specialist and illustrator, Derek Tan, who helped select organisms, designed cards, and fact-checked scientific information.

“We are excited about this project because Phylo puts players in the middle of simulated evolutionary and ecological processes and exposes them to factors that are involved in the real world,” explains Eric Taylor, Director and Curator of the Fish Collection at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. “Biologists at the museum collaborated with David, and generated a list of species with local emphasis. We hope that these become a valuable resource for parents and teachers to better understand biodiversity in a fun and interactive way with children.”

The Beaty Biodiversity Museum Phylo Starter Deck contains 48 full-colour playing cards and is available at the museum gift shop for $12.99 per deck. To celebrate the launch, all card decks purchased before September 1st, 2013, will receive a 10% discount. The museum is also exploring options for selling the game online. Sign up here to be notified when online sales begin.

Click here for more information on Phylo.


Some code for card APIs

This is post is for the 8 teams of CMPT 225 students working on a Phylogame app.  Note that there is apparently a small error in this script (we’ll get Enej to take a look when he gets back from vacation).
*  API DOCS v0.5
URL API Parameters:
api – can eather be json or xml default is json, has to be present
num – returns the number of cards maximum is 200 default is 20
page – page number to get to the page = 2 for second page
callback – only applicable to json will call the callback function with the json data passed into it.
if you don’t have a callback parameter specified phylomon_cards will be returned with with the data inside it.
diy – set this parameter to get back the diy cards instead
URL that will work.
Urls you can visit.
single card url:
Example urls: // – gets 200 cards on the second page as a json_object
same example HTML
function get_cards(data) {
alert(‘The first card is ‘+data[0].name );
console.log( data[0] );
<script src=””></script>
<!– <script src=””></script> –>

Happy Arbor Day! Here are some Phylo tree cards!

From Wikipedia:

“Arbor Day (from the Latin arbor, meaning tree) is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. It originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, United States by J. Sterling Morton. The first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872 and an estimated one million trees were planted that day. Many countries now observe a similar holiday. Though usually observed in the spring, the date varies, depending on climate and suitable planting season.”

Download the cards here. Download card back here.

Making your own DIY cards. First, you need an account, but then you just follow the instructions.

O.K. so, we’ve had a lot of requests over the last year or so, for folks to be able to make their own cards – specifically in a manner that lets them create the cards on the site. Consequently, this post is a tutorial on how one might be able to do exactly that.

In essence, what you’ll first need is an account to get into the backend of Phylo’s WordPress theme. This, you can do by contacting me (Dave Ng – db at mail dot ubc dot ca) – I might need some validation of your identity (i.e if you’re a teacher who wants to use it in a classroom, then maybe some way of verifying your teacher status would be great). Basically, because of the way the website is currently set up, we are taking a small security risk when we provide access (if you happen to be a programmer type who knows an easy way to fix this, then do contact me as well!).

Once inside the administrative back-end of the wordpress template, then making a new card is pretty simple. It’s actually akin to making a “new post.” What’s key, however, is that you populate your DIY cards ONLY in the DIY sections of the website, and not the main areas, which are still presented after being vetted by various editorial processes (i.e. for art, for science, etc). If this one stipulation is something that is repeatedly disregarded, then we would have to revoke access (at least until we can figure out a way where we can cleanly separate the production lines for “Cards” versus “DIY cards.”

Anyway, for this tutorial, let’s start with a sample card – like this Polar Bear one!

Below are some labeled screen captures, which essentially provide step by step instructions on what to do if you want to make your own DIY card, and/or a DIY deck (this would simply be a collection of DIY cards under a common “post tag.”)

(Note that you can click on these screen capture images to make them bigger).

As you can see, it’s actually fairly straightforward. If you already have your habitat and diet info on hand, it should take less than 5 minutes to piece together the data required for a card.


– – –

As far as where you keep your images, it’s actually up to you. This site tends to aggregate its official imagery and art at Flickr, which has worked really well, but in principle, as long as you have an image URL, anything should work. The main caveat is that the website is designed to pick up images with a certain ratio of width to height – specifically about 2.4 to 1.5, or 360 pixels by 225 pixels (all our phylo images have actually been reformatted to these pixel dimensions, large enough for high res printing, but small enough to be pretty much useless for anything but card imagery – i.e. it protects against digital art theft). This isn’t to say that an image MUST have these ratios – it’s just that if it doesn’t, the image may crop itself, and/or perhaps present itself on the card with a blank spaces at the bottom.

Since, finding the graphic URL in Flickr is not always that intuitive, below are a few screen captures that show you how (although we’ve heard it’s different depending on which browser you use, so do leave a comment, if you have to do it differently). As before, these screen capture images can be clicked on to see a larger version.

Click on the uploaded image, and click the “actions” button. This should present a menu like the one below:

Then click on the “view all sizes” and you’ll get taken to a webpage that lets you look at the image in different sizes:

Now right click on the link that is provided to the right of the “download” label. Here, you’ll get another menu popping up, and you’ll want to click on “copy link address”. With that done, you can go to your DIY card new post and “paste” the URL into the Graphic URL box!

Game rules: Change in creative common’s license.

Just a note to say that we’ve adjusted the creative commons’ license for the current Phylo rules (see bottom of this page). In essence, it has been adjusted it so that the non-commercial clause can be removed, IF AND ONLY IF, permission is granted by the Phylo project itself (which at this point in time, is managed by David Ng at the Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia – i.e you need to write for permissions, and this in turn will be recorded on the website).

This change has been done, so that educational institutes or environmental advocacy groups (say a Natural History Museum) who wish to produce their own deck can also entertain the possibility of selling the deck for fund raising purposes. With this in place, it is hoped that any confusion over what constitutes as non-commercial can be placated with a simple request for permissions to allow specific decks to be purchased.

As a side note, we also made sure to run this idea by Honorah O’Neill, who was the person who did most of the heavy lifting in developing the core rules. She was happy with this modification and so it is!

dave ng (db at mail dot ubc dot ca)