Changelog

The nitty-gritty details of the game design process. Each and every change throughout the whole history of development.

  • Someday …
    • Develop a simple, color-coded table-size mat to guide the placement of the different cards and decks. Pokemon has one, it works well, and several playtesters have independently suggested one.
    • Write up some Advanced Rules: floods, seed bank, diversity scoring, and realistic dispersal
    • In the functional section of the plant cards, added iconography to depict plant actions (e.g. Grow, Kill, Reproduce, etc.).
    • Rename Obedient Mole as Pocket Gopher?
    • Make the headquarters cards two sided. One side will be the “Standard HQ”, giving the basic HQ income bonus. Beginning players can play with the Standard HQ side of the cards, so that they are all playing with the same rules. The other side will be the “Advanced HQ”, having some additional bonus, different for each card, adding some variety to gameplay, and encouraging players to differentiate their strategies.
    • (Maybe) Put scientific names back on the plant cards.
    • (Maybe) Add a little more variety to the invasive plants. Keep two of the current set, but drop one, and add Fennel in it’s place. The point being that the Fennel would have a different personality, so that there would then be two types of invasive plant personalities.

Changes for β012

(subject to change)

  • (To Do) Updated rule on adding to the Property Market. Rather than adding one card per turn, you replace. Each time someone buys a land, you draw the top card from the Land Deck, and put it on the Market.
  • (To Do) Added flavor text to all cards
  • (To Do) reduced frequency of “No Effect” events.
  • (To Do) Reduce recommended game length from 12 points to 10 points.

Changes for β012

  • Gameplay
    • Split Land Cards into two types: Parcels and Buildings. This is mostly a UI issue, but it also has modest gameplay implications.
      • Parcels are plots of land (e.g. Cabrillo, Boney Peak, or Cheeseboro), physical spaces which can hold either one Plant or one Building.  Buildings are, well, buildings (e.g. Fire Station). In previous versions, buildings were stand-alone Land Cards, and could be played straight on the table. In v12, buildings are played on parcels in the same way as plants. Splitting Land Cards into two classes makes existing differences more clear, and makes the gameplay more internally-consistent. Both types of Land Cards are treated the same during game setup. They are shuffled together into the same Land Deck, placed alongside each other in the same “property market,” and can be purchased in the same way during your turn.
      • The Headqarters, Fire Station, and Plant Nursery are now labeled as Buildings, while the rest of the Land Cards are labeled as Parcels.
      • Buildings and Parcels have different background textures.
      • Added four new “Empty Field” cards. Players now begin the game with a Headquarters card sitting on an Empty Field. If there are less than four players, the extra Empty Field and Headquarters cards go back into the Land Deck.
    • Increased the point value of big-sized plants.
      • Big Valley Oaks are now worth three points (was two). Big-sized natives of other species are now worth two points (was one).
      • A standard game now goes to twelve points rather than eight.
      • Repriced land cards to account for the new point values.
    • Blocks
      • Introduced a new mechanic: the block. Most resource cards now have an additional ability: the ability to counter/block other resource cards. For example, if one person plays a Prescribed Fire, one of their opponents may play a Water Resource (of any type) to block the Prescribed Fire.
      • Revised resource types so that there are now five classes: fire (e.g. Embers, Prescribed Fire), water (e.g. Rain, Fog), labor (e.g. CCC, SAMO Youth), nefarious (e.g. Evil Squirrel), and time.
      • Fire and water block each other. Labor and nefarious block each other. Time is unblockable.
      • Revised card text and iconography to reflect this new mechanic.
      • Removed the Umbrella resource and the Lucky Break Resource. Much as I love the image on the Umbrella, this new blocking mechanic makes both these cards irrelevant.
      • Nerfed the Prescribed Fire. It now affects just one land.
      • Fire resources (Ember and Prescribed fire) are more common.
      • Otherwise adjusted the frequency of cards in the resource deck to try and create a balance of types useful under the new blocking mechanic.
  • Balance
    • Added the Water Bomber resource card.
    • Small decrease in the number of copies of each type of native Plant Card. This will place additional pressure on players to think more about diversity, even when using the standard scoring. The number of copies of invasive plant cards is unchanged.
    • Symmetric Tornadoes. There are now two types of Tornado Events – clockwise, and counter-clockwise – and the event deck contains one copy of each.
    • Tweaked resource costs for Valley Oaks. Big Valley Oaks now require one water or one time to propagate (was one water and one time) ; and require one water and one time to invade (was one water and two time). Small Valley Oaks now require one water and three time to grow (was one water and two time).
    • Added the Macho Mole, a new Nefarious Resource. The Macho Mole can damage any one big-sized non-tree plant.
    • Removed all mention of the flood mechanic from all the cards. The flood was a nice idea, serving a useful purpose, and illustrating an important landscape-shaping force. However, it felt incidental, not in keeping with the other game mechanics, and in practice, it wasn’t used very much. Hopefully the Macho Mole will do a better job serving that same purpose – of weakening the turtle strategy. When I get around to writing the advanced rules, I’ll write this in, but it will now be an extra mechanic, rather than a standard one.
    • Revised the La Nina event. With the removal of the flood mechanic, this event had become purposeless. La Nina now forces all players to discard a resource card. Ouch.
    • Tweaked behavior of Fire Station. The Fire Station now respects the spatial layout of cards on the table. Whenever there is a fire that would burn a land to the left or right of the Station, the owner of the Station may choose whether to let those lands burn or not. This new special effect is simpler, and possibly more powerful. Increased the cost of the Fire Station to 3 coins.
    • (ToDo) Clarify rules about double-burning. If fire causes a plant to propagate or invade, and the child ends up in a space to the right of the parent, then the child will be burned by the same fire that caused it to be born. What then?
    • (Done) Added variety to the Land Cards. In previous versions, all starting flora were big-sized. Now, some are big-sized, and some are small-sized. Modified text and icons in “Starting Flora” section of Land Cards to clearly note size of starting flora.
    • (ToDo) Improved Fire / burn-order rules: Each player must lay out their land cards in a single row. Each time a player buys a new Land Card, they must add that card to the right-hand end of their holdings. Then, when there is a fire, the affected lands are burned from left to right.
    • Small increase in frequency of El Niño, La Niña, and Earthquakes. Corresponding decrease in the frequency of Rainbows, Solitary Rainstorms, and Parrot Sightings.
  • UI/Graphical
    • Revised text on Earthquake event to improve clarity.
    • Changed iconography related to invasion resistance. Rather than having a “protection from invasion” icon on the woody plants, there is instead a “toughness” icon on every plant. The herbaceous plants, which can be bumped off by invaders, have a leaf icon, while the woody plants, which cannot be bumped off by invaders, have a log icon.
    • Developed a plant ability player aid card, which reminds players of meaning of the five plant abilities through icons.
    • Discarded the idea of using differently-sized leaf icons to denote plant size. The icons were too quiet, and words work better. Changed plant card titles so that the big-side title starts with “Big,” and the small-side title starts with “Small.”
    • Improved readability of resource cards by lightening the background color.
    • Improved readability of plant cards by muffling the background textures.
    • Botanic Garden was missing a utility icon in the upper-right corner of the card, and a star in the functional text section. Fixed both these bugs.
    • Revised text on Botanic Garden for clarity.
    • Stars on plant cards are slightly larger, with darker shadows, to help them stand out more on the light-green background of small plant cards.
    • Added a unique cause for each Wildfire event. The ratio of human causes to natural causes is approximately the same as what is found in Southern California.
    • Added a pair of pictures to each Wildfire event: a larger picture, which fills the entirety of the card space reserved for images, and a smaller picture inset into the upper-left of each of the larger pictures. The larger picture shows a shrubland wildfire, and is the same on each of the six Wildfire event cards. The second picture is unique to each of the individual cards, and shows something representative of the cause of that particular Wildfire.
    • Revised text on game setup player aid to improve clarity. Split text across front/back of card to allow for more words. The gameplay player aid is now a separate card.
    • Renamed “Fire” events as “Wildfire” to help distinguish them from the Prescribed Fire resource cards.
  • β012a
    • Revised design of Double Rainbow event card (see here). Changed distribution of Double Rainbow to 1+, so that it is now in all games, regardless of number of players.
    • Fixed several errors in the player aid cards.
    • Fixed typo on SAMO Youth card.

Changes for β011

  • Gameplay
    • Fire extent is now based on land and geography. All lands are marked as either southern or central, and the die has been revised to reflect this. Each face of the new die has an outline of Caliornia, with one or more sections highlighted: southern CA, central CA, or both southern and central CA. When players draw a Fire Event, they must roll the die. All lands that are located in the highlighted section of of the California are burned.
    • Revised concept for Basic Ruleset. Removing lands from the game is too big a change. For a simplified game, it is better to instead use a fixed set of lands. It’s not much of a simplification, but it’s all that can be done without damaging the core messages of the game.
    • Introduced the Flood mechanic
      • During their turn, the active player may play three water resources to Flood any one land of their choice.
      • A Flood will kill any plants on the flooded land, except for mature Valley Oaks.
      • When an El Niño is showing, the cost to cause a Flood is reduced by one, from three water to two water.
      • When a La Niña is showing, the cost to cause a Flood is increased by one, from three water to four water.
  • Balance
    • Big Wind event causes players with more than seven resource cards to discard down to seven. This further weakens the miser strategy, preventing hoarding of cards. I think this change will improve the workings of the game, making it more fair and fun overall, though this specific event is now a downer.
    • Added a Tornado event. This is a rare event. It forces all players with more than two Resource Cards to give one of their Resource Cards to the player on their left. This will hopefully promote interaction among players, and add a bit more excitement. Perhaps it will also help combat the downer that is the new Big Wind.
    • Removed Poison Oak. It has good stories, and it’s important to know, but the in-game behavior was identical to Sagebrush. Simplification seemed necessary, one of those two had to go, and so it is Poison Oak. Goodbye, honored foe.
    • Mulefat is now damaged/killed by fire. I’d wanted to emphasize the riparian nature of Mulefat, and had thought that making it immune to fires would emphasize this fact. However, that immunity was unrealistic, and made Mulefat way overpowered. This change means that fires will tend to be more disruptive, helping to shake things up, and make the game a bit more dynamic.
    • Headquarters now produces one coin and one resource per turn (was two coins per turn).
    • The Native Plant Nursery is now the Plant Nursery. It is more flexible, but also more expensive. The owner of the Nursery may now choose any plant (rather than being limited to common natives) but must pay three coins rather than two.
    • The Earthquake event causes a reshuffling of the Land Deck. The previous effect, a shifting of player-owned lands, was just too disruptive and unfun. This new effect is unexciting, but it will meet an important mechanical need.
    • Increased cost of Botanic Garden by one, from seven coins to eight coins.
    • Embers is now a Surprising Resource, a reaction-type card. Whenever there is a fire (either a Fire Event or Prescribed Fire), Embers may be played to burn one additional land of the player’s choice.
    • Prescribed Fire is now smaller in scope.
  • UI / Graphical
    • Reorganized info on Land Cards so that location, name, and production are all printed along the top of the card. Cost is now at the bottom.
    • Added a no-plants icon to the Lands which have buildings, and which cannot support plants. Previously, those lands had text to this effect, but no visual cue. Now, they have both icons and text.
    • Added small/big icons in top-left corner of plant cards, to further distinguish the small/big side of each card.
    • Added oddball images to each of the four Headquarters cards. They’re just placeholders, but it seemed important, as this is these are the Land Cards that players will look at most often.
    • Added photo to the Parrot Sighting event.
    • Added image to the Time Resource Card.
    • Improved icon for protection from invasion.
    • Added icon for protection from flood.
    • Improved contrast on Resource Cards.
    • Improved time/clock icon.
    • Added image for small-size Wedgeleaf Ceanothus. It’s a poor photo, but better than a blank space …
  • Bug fixes
    • Botanic garden allows owner to sell any small native plant that they own.
    • Removed the Frost Event. It’s a leftover, a vestigial card, and no longer has any practical effect on gameplay.
    • Text on player aids revised to say, “collect coins and resources” rather than “collect coins and cards”
  • Small changes for β011a
    • Players may only buy one land per turn. Updated Player Aid accordingly.
    • When a Native Plant Invades, the child may be placed on an empty land, or it may bump an Invasive Plant, but it may not bump a Native Plant. Similarly, when an Invasive Plant invades, the child Plant may be placed on an empty land, or it may bump an unprotected Native, but it may not bump another Invasive Plant.
    • When a Plant either Propagates or Invades, the owner of the parent plant chooses what to do with the child. This simplifies the previous set of rules, in which different players were empowered to make this choice under different circumstances.

Changes for β010

  • Fire by Dice: This adds some complexity, but makes the game more interesting.
    • Plants that respond to fire now have one of two different fire icons: an A version and a B version. When there is a Fire Event, the player who drew the event rolls a die. The die determines which set of plants are burned by the fire: the A-type plants, the the B-type plants, or all plants. The A/B icons are distributed evenly among species, such that A fires and B fires each have the same type of effect.
    • There are now 6 fires in the Event Deck. This is up from 4 in v09a. The average fire-return interval is now 2.5 turns, rather than 3.3 turns. However, the long-term number of plants burned remains the same. This change should help address the general feeling that the Event Deck was unexciting, without increasing the difficulty of the game.
    • Changed text and image on Fire Events to reflect the new dice-based mechanic.
    • Removed two Parrot Sightings (2+, 4+) and one Solitary Rainstorm (4+) from the Event Deck.
  • Introduced the Basic Ruleset
    • Various game elements have been tweaked so that the game may be played without Land Cards. This option is less fun, and gimps some of the gameplay, but it is a potentially useful simplification for younger players, or those without previous gaming experience.
  • Misc:
    • Fixed error where large-sized Bigberry Manzanita did not have protection from invasion.
    • Drop Fire Poppies from the game. Two species of fire follower is too many. Changed Lands accordingly. TBA #4, TBA #5 now start with Whispering Bells rather than Fire Poppies. Added one more Whispering Bells to the Species Pool.
    • Remove Tree People resource. I should have checked with them before using their name, even in a draft context. Too bad.
    • Added an additional Obedient Mole to the Resource Deck. This keeps the deck size at 40 cards, and further weakens the Turtle strategy.
    • Replace Italian Thistle with Tocalote. They’re ecologically similar, but Tocolote is far more common, and so it’s a better example for this game.

Changes for β009

  • Expanded Geographic Scope:
    • Most SAMO-specific plants have been removed, and replaced with functionally similar plants that have a wider geographic distribution.
    • Most of the SAMO lands have been removed, and replaced with lands from other parts of California, or with generic cards titled “TBA”. Much research remains to be done on lands, as about 3/4 of the cards are “TBA”. These cards are fully playable, but not particularly interesting. I’ll continue to work on this.
  • Streamlined Land Mechanic:
    • Land cards are now one-sided. They do not upgrade. This reduces the amount of information on each card, making them easier to read. It also makes it easier for players to decide what lands to buy, which speeds up the game.
    • All lands are either size one, or size zero. The vast majority are size one, meaning they can support exactly one plant. A small number of special lands have size zero. The size zero lands are buildings, such as Headquarters, or Fire Station. The reduced size of lands also reduces the amount of information on each card, and speeds up player’s decision-making processes. However, more importantly, it makes it easy to see if there are open spaces where new plant cards could be played.
    • On average, land cards in v9 support fewer plants than land cards in previous versions. However, I wanted the number of plant cards in play to remain the same, and to do that, I needed more land cards. So I’ve upped the number of land cards from fifteen to fifty.
    • With so many land cards, it’s no longer possible to display all the land cards at the same time. So, I’ve introduced a new mechanic: the Land Deck. At the beginning of the game, all the land cards are shuffled together into the Land Deck. At the beginning of each turn, if there are less than five bank-owned lands face-up in the middle of the table, players draw cards from the Land Deck, and lay them face-up in the middle of the table, until there are a total of five bank-owned cards on the table. This ensures that, at all times, all players have a reasonable amount of land-buying choices available to them. It also reduces the amount of table space needed for the game.
  • Changes to Resource Cards:
    • Added three new types of resource cards: Embers, Obedient Mole, and Spring Showers.
    • Modified the text and function of Prescribed Fire. It is now more sensitive to wind events and to La Nina events.
    • Added photos to Heavy Fog, Spring Showers, and Umbrella.
    • Clarified text on Umbrella. When multiple resource cards were played at once, and the Umbrella blocked one of those resources, it was unclear what was to be done with the rest of the resources.
  • Changes to Event Cards:
    • Revised the effect of Earthquakes. The way in which players arrange their land cards is now entirely irrelevant. Instead, the Earthquake functions as an equalizer, allowing the player with the lowest score to exchange ownership of any two land cards. E.g. if Player 1 owns land A, and Player 2 owns land B, the person with the lowest score can move land A to Player 2, and land B to Player 1.
    • Simplified the nature of Fire Events. All fires now strike all lands.
    • Revised the effect of the Big Wind to make it more flexible.
  • v009a: A series of mild tweaks for balance and speed:
    • Players begin with 10 coins rather than 5.
    • Players may now trade with the Bank. During their turn, players may pay two coins to draw the top card from the Resource Deck. Alternatively, during their turn, players may discard Resource Cards from their hand, and take one coin for each discarded Resource.
    • Modified land cycling. Game begins with 8 lands for sale. At the beginning of their turn, the active player must turn over one additional land card, and add it to the set of lands for sale.
    • Updated Player Aid cards.
    • Modified text on Obedient Mole. Mole now kills any one small-sized non-tree plant.
    • Removed one Winter Rain card from the Resource Deck, and replaced it with an additional Obedient Mole.
    • From the Event Deck, removed one Recession (2+), one Parrot Sighting (2+), one Solitary Rainstorm (4+), one Rainbow (4+). Added two El Nino (2+, 4+) and two La Nina (2+, 4+)
    • TBA 10 now starts with an Italian Thistle instead of a Mulefat.
    • Added one additional Italian Thistle card to the game.
    • Boney Peak now gives a 4-card lookahead.

Changes for β008

  • Update rules to include information about burn-order. This is a more complex issue than I had realized.
  • Many small to medium changes to the lands. The main goal was to strengthen the connection between income and risk, so that in order to collect coins or resource cards, players had to increase their land ownership, and thus their vulnerability to negative events and to other players.
  • The small Big-pod California Lilac now requires both one water and one time to grow. This is more realistic given the slower regeneration time of obligate seeders. While it’s a mild nerf on this species, I think the nerf is balanced by the positive effect of increased realism and species differentiation.
  • Tweaked formatting of plant cards so that the small/big sides are more distinct. Similarly, tweaked formatting of land cards so that basic/upgrade sides are more visually distinct.

Changes for β007

  • Small Valley Oaks are no longer vulnerable to fire. In reality, only the very youngest (<10 years) are vulnerable. This change makes the game more realistic, but is also made Valley Oak propagation and invasion relatively cheap. Corrected this by increasing the cost of both propagation and invasion by one clock.
  • Revised function and text of Big Wind events. They are now more straightforward in function, and so easier to explain.
  • Added propagate ability to Fennel. Fennel can now propagate and invade for the same cost and in the same way as native shrubs.
  • Mature Fennel is now immune to invasion by natives. Not sure how biologically accurate this is, but it seemed important from the perspective of game balance. Otherwise, it would cost 4 resource cards (4 hands) to remove a fennel with labor, but just 2 resource cards (1 water, 1 time) to remove a fennel by native invasion.
  • Mature Stick-leaf plants are now worth just one point, while Stick-leaf seeds are now worth zero points. In reality, Stick-leaf is moderately more rare than Parry’s Phacelia. However, in this game, the two plants are functionally identical, and so for the sake of game balance, it seemed best to give them both the same point value.
  • Added Dusky-footed Pack Rat. A nefarious resource that allows a player to steal one coin from any one other player.
  • Renamed Big-Pod Ceanothus as Big-pod California Lilac. This more colloquial name increases accessibility.
  • Extensive changes to the graphic design. Most importantly, reformatted cards so that they may be easily sent to a professional printer. Also added many new pictures, made modest changes to proportions and icons, and added background textures.
  • Serious reconsideration of economics. Big changes to the price of lands and upgrades. Small changes to the starting flora of some lands. Likely modest impact on gameplay. An evolutionary step in the right direction…
  • Revised the event card system. In previous versions, the first player drew one event card at the beginning of each turn. Now, every player draws an event at the beginning of each turn. To keep the number of fires per round constant, the proportion of fire events in the event deck must decrease as the number of players increases. Thus, the event deck is now composed of four sections.
  • Added several types of ‘no effect’ events to compensate for the greater number of events being drawn in each round.
  • Updated text on player aid cards.
  • In order to improve clarity, made many small changes to the text of several different cards.
  • Deleted the cost section on the upgraded side of lands.

Changes for β006

  • Changed the way in which some natives function in order to make different classes of species more distinct.
  • Introduced a new action: Invasion. This is different from Propagate. Invasion displaces a native plant, and replaces it with an invasive. Propagate creates a new plant, but that plant may only be played in an empty space. So invasion is a more powerful action than Propagate. Invasives are good at invasion, and can invade at low cost. Natives propagate at low cost, and may invade at a higher cost.
  • Modified plant cards so that big trees, small trees, big shrubs, and Dudleya, are all immune to invasion.
  • Invasive annuals no longer become small after Propagation. This change simplifies their behavior and makes them more dangerous, but the danger is likely balanced by the protection from invasion now held by many native plants.
  • Slight increase in fire danger. Was a 36% chance of fire each round (11 of 30 cards, 1 card per round). There is now a 39% chance of fire each round (13 of 33 cards, 1 card per round). However, the Firestorm event has been dropped.
  • Dropped the two-hand resource cards. They’re too disruptive and lumpy.
  • Similarly, dropped the two-water resource card: Torrential Rains.
  • Slight change to cost of lands: Cost of land/upgrade = {size of land} + {# diversity points} – 3×{# invasive annual plants} – 4×{# stubborn invasive plants} + 2×{#resources per turn}+3×{#coins per turn}.
  • Dropped Big-Flowered Phacelia, and replaced it with Parry’s Phacelia. They’re ecologically similar. However, we have seed photos for the latter, but not the former.
  • Changed text and symbology on land cards to improve clarity. “Income” is now “Produces”. The effects of upgrades are now organized and symbolized differently.
  • Add seed photos
  • Clarify text on Boney Mountain.
  • Correct Paramount (upgrade). It was supposed to be a size-5 land, but only had four leaf symbols.
  • Replaced financial resource cards with coin tokens/counters. Changed symbology on cards to match.
  • Modest change to effect of Native Plant Nursery. New effect: “Each turn, owner may draw one common native plant from the Species Pool, and play it on any land with open space. Plants must be played by the end of the turn.”
  • Added Big Wind event.

Changes for β005

  • Updated player-aid card to reflect changes in gameplay.
  • Separated financial resources from other resources. Financial resource cards are now a separate deck. Lands now have two types of resource icon in the income section, one for financial resources, and one for non-financial resources. All players begin the game with a Headquarters land card, which produces one coin per turn.
  • Modified some of the Event cards to reflect this change. The Green Legislature and NPS Centennial events now both provide bonus financial resources rather than bonus generalized resources.
  • Lands can now be upgraded with coins.
  • Removed Foxtail and replaced it with Wild Oats. The latter is more more common, and more likely to form large monocultures.
  • Added Plant Sale event. When this event is drawn, all players have the opportunity to sell one plant to the public.
  • Added Economic Boom event. Felt that Event cards were overall too negative.
  • Removed Recession event. Seems like a good idea, but not sure of what would be a good in-game effect.
  • Decreased the number of fires in the Event Deck. Dropped one Odd Fire event and one Even Fire event so that there are now 11 (rather than 13) fires out of 30 events.
  • Made it easier to propagate trees, but harder to make them grow large. Propagation is now one water or one time. Growth for Western Sycamores is one water and one time, while growth for Valley Oaks is one water and two time.
  • In previous versions, one could pay 2-3 water to protect a land from being burned by a fire. This was far too cheap. Changed text of Left Fire, Right Fire, Odd Fire, and Even Fire so that one can protect individual plants from being burned by paying two water per plant.
  • Changed text on Mast Year event. Previously, this event lowered the cost of propagation for oak trees for the remainder of the round. This was a non-instant event. We have changed the text so that the effect is now instant. The new text reads: ” All players with mature Valley Oaks may draw one small Valley Oak from the Species Pool and play it on any land with open space. “
  • Small trees can be killed by fire.
  • Added a few more pictures
  • Added a common fire follower: Large-flowered Phacelia. This plant is part of the starting flora for Cheeseboro Canyon and Palo Comado Canyon. In balance, removed Purple Sage.
  • The Lucky Break resource was too powerful, allowing a player to protect an entire and from fire. This card now has a smaller effect. When played, this card protects any two plants from fire.
  • Fire follower seeds can be killed with two time.
  • Change text on Botanic Garden to make it more specific: you may only sell plants which are growing on the Botanic Garden itself.
  • Changed the mix of resource cards in the resource deck. In the previous version, we had cut the costs for growth and propagation of plants. This made it much easier to cause invasives to grow and propagate, and some games became filled with invasives to the point where nobody could win. This also made games very frustrating. To fix this, we increase the number of Labor Resources in the Resource Deck, and decrease the number of time and water resources. We also added the Umbrela.
  • Added a new resource: the Umbrella.
  • Mature invasive plants no longer propagate automatically. They now only propagate in response to events (fire) and resources (water or time).
  • Financial resources can now be used to buy additional resource cards. Players may now spend two coins to draw one card from the top of the Resource Deck. This ability is now explained in the text of these cards.
  • Added ‘Water resource’ label to the Fog Water cards.
  • Torrential Rains is now worth two water drops rather than three.
  • The small Stick-Leaf is now worth just one diversity point (was two). The large Stick-Leaf is still worth two diversity points.
  • Adjusted behavior of Native Plant Nursery. Special effect is now: “Once per turn, owner may propagate one common native plant for free.”
  • Rename Sandstone Peak as Boney Mountain. The latter is more metaphorically appropriate.
  • Removed ‘The Big One’ Event. It was a cute idea, but way too disruptive to the game.
  • Revised effect of El Nino events. Previous effect was “Costs for Growth and Propagation of all plants (both natives and invasives) are reduced by one water for the rest of the round”. This made sense in V003, when Growth and Propagation cost a minimum of one water AND one clock, but is ridiculous since we halved those costs in V004. New effect: “All players may take one non-financial resource card.”
  • Revised effect of La Nina events. Previous effect “Costs for Growth and Propagation of all plants (both natives and invasives) are increased by one water for the rest of the round”. This is a biologically reasonable effect, but I’m feeling that events ought to have immediate effect, rather than modifying the rules for the round. Immediate effects make the game faster to play. New effect: “Each player must either discard one water resource card from their hand, or return one of their common native plants to the Species Pool.
  • Stick-leaf now propagates with water or time, rather than both water and time.
  • Fire follower seeds can now be killed with three time.
  • Dropped the habitat aspect of the game. This was frustrating to players, slowing gameplay, and taking away from both the fun and the more important themes.Habitat types are still listed on plant cards, but this is simply for informational value. Habitat information has been removed from land cards, and any plant can now be played on any land with open space.

Changes for β004

  • Small invasive grasses and herbs now grow when burned by a fire. We had always intended for this to happen, we just accidentally left it out of the previous version. Note that Fennel is an invasive shrub, and so is unaffected by fire.
  • Short-pod mustard is no longer damaged by frost.
  • Resource costs for growth and propagation of most plants are cut in half. Coins turned out to be far more valuable than other resources. Lands were priced such that each diversity point in the starting flora added one coin to the cost of the land. Thus, diversity points could be ‘bought’ with coins for a cost of approximately one coin per diversity point. On the other hand, to Propagate and then Grow a native plant (e.g. to add a new, mature Sagebrush) was two clocks and two waters. Thus, diversity points could be ‘bought’ with clocks or water at a cost of four time/water resources per diversity point. In the end, this meant that coins were approximately four times more valuable than either clocks or water. The winner of a game tended to be the person who happened to draw the most financial resources. In order to rebalance this, we have made three changes. First, those resource cards worth either two or three coins were revalued as just one coin, and additional copies of one-coin cards were added. This causes coins to be more evenly distributed throughout the game, and reduces the chances that players will have either a glut or a shortage of coins. Second, most Growth and Propagation costs have been cut in half. From the perspective of ‘buying’ diversity points, coins are now just twice as valuable as clocks or water. Third, coins may no longer be used to buy resource cards. Now, they may only be used to buy land. Further rebalancing of these resources may be needed in the future. However, as clocks and water have value beyond the straight ‘buying’ of diversity points (clocks and water can be used to help plants recover after fire, or to cause opponent’s invasives to grow), this may be ok.
  • On the small side of invasive plant cards, the red border has been replaced by an orange border.
  • The background on the large side of native plant cards is now a darker green, to help make the large side more visually distinct from the small side.
  • Changed text on resource cards so that when a resource card contains more than one resource, those resources may now be used in different places.
  • Dropped the rare species portion of the game. Originally, we had hoped to make the point that some species are rare because their habitat is rare. All rare species were to require the ‘Rocks’ habitat type, which was to be a rare habitat. However, this would have required a modest set of cards exclusively designed to manage the rare plant aspect of the game. As the game already has a lot of cards, and the learning curve is already a modest barrier to entry, we drop the rare plant aspect of the game. Verity’s Dudleya is now the only rare species in the game. There is only one copy of this card, it cannot be displaced by invasives, and it cannot be propagated. Removed Balanced Rock, Blochmann’s Dudleya, and Botanist. Also removed the ‘Rocks’ habitat type from all the land cards.
  • Removed the Sunshine and Cumulonimbus events. Our original thinking was that these cards would be a welcome relief from fires, earthquakes, and other dangerous events. In practice, they were boring. We added one more Odd Fire and one more Even Fire to compensate.
  • Corrected aspect ratio of photos.
  • Corrected text on fire cards.
  • Added a cartoony representation of fire effects to fire cards.

Changes for β003

  • New method for keeping track of plant size. In previous versions, players kept track of plant size using the orientation of the plant cards. This meant plants could have four different sizes (12 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 3 o’clock). The smallest/youngest plants were turned to a 3’o clock orientation (top of card pointing left), while the largest plants were turned to the 12 o’clock orientation (right-side up). When a plant was injured, the card was turned one step clockwise; and when a plant grew larger, the card was turned one step counter-clockwise. Having four different sizes turned out to be unnecessarily complex. Even worse, the use of orientation was hard to learn, and hard to interpret. We drop the orientation mechanic, and replace it with two-sided plant cards. In this version of the game, one side of each plant card represents the small/young version of the plant, while the other side represents the large/mature version of the plant. When a plant changes size, players simply flip over the card. This is better for several reasons. First, this new method simplifies the game, as each plant now has just two sizes. Second, this mechanic makes it far easier to see what is going on in the game. The ‘small’ side of each card has a small-sized picture, while the ‘large’ side of each card has a large-sized picture. This clear visual difference makes it easy for players to quickly see and understand the state of all plant cards in the game. Lastly, as we can print different instructions on each side of the card, we can simplify the instructions. The instructions on the ‘small’ side only need to explain the behavior of the ‘small’ side of the card, while the instructions on the ‘large’ side only need to explain the behavior of the ‘large’ side.
  • The game is now more player-driven. In previous versions, plants automatically grew one stage at the beginning of each turn. This caused two problems. First, players often forgot to update the state of their cards at the beginning of their turn. Second, a more subtle but serious problem was that the automatic growth of plants distanced players from the game. When things changed without player involvement, players felt less invested in their lands and plants, and less interested in the game. With one exception, plants now change only when specific events or specific player actions cause them to change. The one exception is that mature invasive plants still propagate at the beginning of their owner’s turn.
  • We replace Action Cards, and money counters with Resource Cards. In previous versions, lands produced coins for their owners, and those coins could be spent in order to play Action Cards. In this version, lands produce resources, allowing players to draw from the Resource Deck. Players now use resource cards to cause changes to lands and plants. Players may use time and water resources to make plants grow and propagate, financial resources to buy lands or additional resource cards, labor resources to fight invasive plants, and nefarious resources to cause trouble for their opponents.
  • We reduced the size of all lands by 1-3 plants. This greatly simplifies gameplay, and also means the game now requires less table space.

Changes for β002

  • Invasion cards removed in favor of more Evil Squirrels.
  • Increased price of Paramount Ranch. The relatively large amount of income produced by this land was more valuable than we thought.

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