Map-Building Game?

Game designed by Fenrislorsrai (with help, particularly with food chain mechanics by Naturalismus).
Initial notes in the Phylomon Forum (link) | Food chain ideas can also be viewed here.

– Work out a good number of cards in starting deck (per player)
– Suggest an initial set of cards (including number of species, number of habitats, number of environmental challenges, appropriate terrain/climate stats). This one is especially important, because here we can canvas the web for appropriate images.
– Suggest “special attributes” and their play mechanisms for Species cards. This is what ultimately will appear in the middle text box of the cards.
– Suggest play effects of Environmental Challenge cards.
– Define movement more clearly (i.e. what’s the point? To block opponent moves? To create better linkage? Pollinator for plants?)
– Beta test these general rules and leave feedback.
– In case, there is a move to print cards professionally (so that they do become collectable), is there a way to develop an analogous game where card sets are kept separate?

– – –
You are part of a team of biologists. Each biologist chooses a habitat he/she thinks will lead to the most complete scientific survey. Here, you will identify species in the habitat, as well as adjacent habitats to convince the other scientists the next project should be in your area. Will you gather enough data to convince them your area is the most important and interesting area to study, or will one of the other scientists convince you his area is even more interesting?

Set Up

NOTE the following keywords: Habitat, Species, Climate, Terrain, Food Chain Rank, Diet, Scale.

Pick who will go first. Select any two cards from your deck. One must be a Habitat card, the other can either be another Habitat card or a Species card that can be placed alongside. Moving clockwise around the table, each player places both their cards in a zigzag pattern (see diagram).
Note that during the initial setup you do not follow normal placement rules below.
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Phylo: not just a pastry

I’ve been noticing that when you google for “phylo” you basically get references to that delightful Greek pastry.

Which is great, but it is a little problematic for our PHYLO project (even though most people still use phylomon as their keyword). Consequently, here is just a casual request to do a little google bombing on our behalf. How? Well, by linking to this website by hyperlinking the word “phylo.” Like this:

<a href=””>phylo</a>

Presumably, if enough people do this over time, we can start to see this website creep up in the google rankings?

Design us a card backing!

This is a general call for the design of something that can go on the “backs” of our cards. Essentially, we hope to offer a pdf file that can be downloaded for people to print (after turning around the paper that has the card fronts). There are a few stipulations.

1. Best if the image is busy enough so that we do not have to print align card “backs” with card “fronts.” In other words, we hope to have a design complex enough that can be cut in any way so that players cannot distinguish what they have in their hands.

2. Best if the image looks good in grayscale as well. For the option of printing in black and white.

3. Best if the image has some sort of biodiversity connection (this is the bit where you can have fun with this).

Anyway, do go to this forum thread if you have ideas, suggestions, or submissions.

Name Change – Phylo!

Things are humming along! We have over 100 images submitted, 30 or so queued up for card production, and over 40 folks signed up on the forum (in fact, one set of rules is arguably close to beta testing). The response has been simply wonderful, and these numbers don’t even the include the numerous comments and chats culled from coffee meetings to blog posts to tweets. To us, this outpouring is something else, especially in light of the fact that we’ve technically only seeded an “idea” out there!

The website, itself, is being prodded, poked and tweaked as we speak, and should be ready for a beta launch in about a week or two. At this point in time, the main emphasis on the website is that it allows set-up, production and printing of cards in a low maintenance and open access manner. The cards will initially have only a few major attributes on them, but will also allow for commentary so that we can continue to polish the way cards will look over time. Hopefully, you’ll find it a treat when it’s public, but if not, then do go with the crowd sourcing mentality of this project, and let us know what you think.

Probably the main news to report is that we’ve decided to change the name of the project to “PHYLO” (note that the logo above is only a “tester”). This was primarily due to conversations with various folks (notably Cory) who felt that having a name with “mon” at the end could set ourselves up for trademark issues since there is inferred linkage to the term “Pokemon”. In any event, the “official” URL will now be (although note that the will still work).

Finally, with info on hand from the forum, we’ve quickly made some card mock-ups (see above) so that you can get the general sense and feel of the cards. We’ve done this because a number of media outlets have inquired about the project, and many of these requested visuals. Anyway, for now, note that the cards have a few attributes already. These include: (at the top), name, latin name, a number depicting scale, another number depicting food chain rank embedded in a coloured circle (indicative of diet); (in the middle) some basic classification data; and (at the bottom) simple habitat information, name and URL of artist, and some info regarding preferred climate. More detail about this can be found at the forum, but better yet, sign up and weigh in on the various discussions.

Dave Ng

Game Design Ideas?


Please do check out the images that have been submitted so far – they are, in a word, awesome! Also, at this point in time, we have gathered a collection of individuals from the scientific community to participate in the project. They will be asked to focus on coming up with 12 potential attributes suitable for presentation on these cards (although use of all 12 may be subjected to space constraints). Note that their choice of 12 will be strongly influenced by the feedback culled from a variety of different communities, particularily those who are passionate about game design.

To facilitate this, we have started a forum at Anyone can view the forum’s content, but registration is required for participation. You can self register at this forum (by posting a new topic or leaving a comment). Hopefully it will soon be an independent place for dialogue and discussion on the project. We also have a FriendFeed site at This site can provide a place to upload content (word docs, images, pdfs), should you not have a website/blog to present files. Reading the FriendFeed is open to anyone, but participation/uploading privileges will require a quick registration process.

For gamers, we are interested in all of your ideas, including specific calls for organism images, or other specialized cards. In particular, it would be wonderful if there are folks out there who feel the urge to fully design gameplay rules. We hope that a number of these rules can facilitate initial beta testing of preliminary card sets and card games. Rules of this nature will eventually inhabit a “game” section of the finished official phylomon website.

Again, please visit and register for the Phylomon forum by starting or contributing to a discussion (registration is initially prompted when you want to start a topic or comment in the thread)..

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me or send a tweet. The official website is on track for a March 2010 release. This website will be fully capable of generating imaged blank cards. We are hoping that the first of the working card sets with edited content and some game play rules to be available by April/May.

Dave Ng