This is another Very Wordy playthrough!
And I guarantee it won’t be right!
Not that I’ll make mistakes (though that can happen), but probably because the rules will change by the time you get your hands on the game. Also I am using older versions of cards/charts, so I may be off in a few card’s abilities.
So here we go, a Very Wordy playthrough of the up-and-coming (expected to be released in October of this year) new Bios: Megafauna!
This is a 1-4 player game, pitting 4 types of creatures (each represented on this cover) against each other. You can see the insects, lizards, mammals and plants (yes, plants!) all living together here in the crazy “harmony” that hippies talk about and biologists laugh at since it’s a constant fight for food and life itself.
Since I am playing solo, things are a bit different. Location for instance.
We’re not on Earth anymore Toto. You would be looking at the two shifting plates that make up Mars, our lovely little brother that doesn’t seem like the kind of place for animals to be fighting for dominance over. But why the heck not? It looks like there was flowing water on it at SOME point, so why not see if there was a way for plants to hold on to an atmosphere and see if Macro-life (instead of the Micro-life that you can create in Bios: Genesis) can thrive. Here you see the red-ish highlands, as well as the dark lowlands, the only two landtypes our map gives us (there are three on Earth). The white discs in the lowlands tells us that they are currently filled with water. Yay! The black discs on the eastern edge of the hexes (the actual board will just be the seven hexes, not this weird circle thing I have here) are Carbon deposits floating on water, places where plankton and other small plantlife can thrive. The two dice are merely there to show that the continents are on latitude 4, right near the equator of Mars. And finally, the 3 Green triangles are the plant Archetypes that are growing on the banks of the waters of Tharsis. I expect a lot to happen there.
Randomly I drew the Exoskeletal Arthropods as my Archetype. Or as I like to call them: Bugs. The only real difference between the Archetypes is the skeletal number (which you see is 3 in this case), which is used for tie-breaking purposes for contests. In a solo game, it’s just color more than anything else.
Here are our plants, which you see operate under slightly different rules than the Bugs do. They are Semi-automated by the game for solitaire purposes, but they can otherwise be played by a human, and it’s fun trying to make the world perfect for plantlife while stifling oxygen out of the air for the animals. MWAHAHAHA!
Here we see how the planet looks at the beginning of the game. Here discs get moved around, going up and down showing where oxygen, water vapor and CO2 go as the eons progress. Right now we see: It’s frickin’ cold. There’s barely any clouds and there’s barely any oxygen. Again, the solitaire game is different in that the Plant’s pieces are actually placed on the Oxygen track, encouraging you to have the plants spread out as far as possible. Of course, you don’t want the plants taking the resources you want, but you need them to create the O2 you need in order to evolve and thrive. In a multiplayer game there are simply green discs that fulfill that role.
And here is the opening display of Mutations available to purchase. Aren’t they pretty? A lot will be said about them later, and they’ll change frequently (often for the poorer), but it’s a part of the set up, so I thought you should see it.
Let’s just get started and I’ll walk you through it. So first we deal out 5 Event cards from the ET (extraterrestrial) Events deck to make our first Era. Then we flip the first:
Sure, there’s more on the card, but this is all we’re worried about to begin with, turn order. We ignore the rest of the event card for the first turn so we don’t have all the plants dying right away. While funny, that would suck. So Black goes first, followed by White, then Green then the unseen Orange.
To find out how many actions I have, I look at the Oxygen track you saw 3 pictures up. The first uncovered spot shows only 4% Oxygen in the air. That means I have 1 action and a Black Heart limit of 2. Not good. If I suffer a mutagen event and have more than 2 cubes, I start atrophying. Yuck. I’ll have to work on that. But with only 1 action and not being anywhere on the board, I have to spend my first action merely creating myself, using a Resurrect action to place a Black (in this case, it’s Red pieces) Archetype triangle in the center of Tharsis to feed on the plants there. Some bugs have crawled out of the oceans and are beginning to evolve!
Now it is the Plants turn, but I can’t just do what I want. First, I have to check how many actions they have, and that’s based on how much CO2 and water vapor is in the air. This time it’s 2 actions. And their green heart limit is 3. They are much better off in this particular climate than I am. Then I have to see if there are any forced actions I need to take.
First, I look to see if there are any “Horror-Plant” icons in the Metabolism Row (top row) of the Mutation Display (2 pictures up). If the plant is able to purchase it, it has to. Now those of you who have played the previous version of Megafauna might be wondering where the genes are. How do you buy stuff? It’s now much, much easier. Cards in the Display still have a Cost. The leftmost card costs zero, the next costs 2, the next 4 and so on. This is all shown on the Newborn cards shown above. But what that costs references is how many Unborn Creeples (yeah, they’re called Creeples….weird, I know) that particular creature has. So you start with 7, and I placed one last turn, meaning I have six. So my Archetype could purchase any Mutation in the first 4 columns. But wait, you ask, how can you get 8? That’s where emotions come in, and I’ll get to that later.
The Green “Player” only has 5 Creeples per shape/Species, so is very limited in what it can buy, so should be rarely forced to purchase Mutations, but looking at our Display, we see that it has to buy one.
So now our plants are vining out over the floor of Mars. Neat. It also received a Red Cube. Red, Yellow and Green cubes are used in Contests over who can eat what. Red Cubes allow a creature to beat out another whenever eating Swamp Plants (of which Green Archetypes are) or Tubers (Green Burrowers). Yellow wins against Seaweeds (Swimmers) and Cactus (Armored) while Green breaks all ties (Skeletal number breaks ties after Green, but it’s lower number, so Plant would always win in this case. It’s not that big of a deal at this point, because Swamp Plants aren’t really going to contest me for any other plant ( Green can, and is forced to, go Herbivore, but you have to be the same shape as your prey, or the prey has to be Archetype, and you can’t cannibalize your own shape, so the Archetype doesn’t really do much of anything).
The other thing to notice on this card, is the black row on the top, which shows you what is on the back of this card, if you Promote it. Both have different shapes (Armored and Swimmer) and a size limitation. Peristalsis also has a limitation where you have to discard a yellow cube when you Promote to it.
Given that I have one more action and a bunch of Swamp plants on the edge of an ocean, it would seem a good idea for me to:
Speciate into a swimmer. The red cube is moved to the Archetype card (it becomes a Basal Cube) and is copied onto the Skulling Tail card. If the Archetype already had Basal cubes, those too would be copied onto the “daughter species.” You also can see the Swimmer Creeple placed on the Newborn card. That shows that during the Mother & Newborn phase, I can place it on the board. Which is now:
So there we go, a new Seaweed floating out in the ocean. My bugs still happily munching on the vines in the middle of Tharsis. But now an event happens. Dun dun DUNNNN!
Phew. This actually isn’t that bad. Due to Mars’ slow tectonic activity, the down arrow connected to the ‘G’ and the left arrow connected to the ‘L’ aren’t used. They can possibly be used depending on the next event, but they are ignored for now. The next symbol of 2 & 5 over a green and white disc is ignored in the solitaire game because it would place green discs, and there aren’t any green discs to place, so we move on. The next symbol is Crowd Disease. Yuck. It does not affect plants in the solitaire game (because it would be impossible otherwise), so it affects me. That means I have to lose half of my Creeples, rounding down. Since half of 1 rounded down is 0, nothing happens. Boring event so far. Now we move over to the Lightning Nitrogen Fixation. There we see an event in brackets with Fire pointed to it. That means “If it’s possible for fire to exist on the planet.” Our O2 is only at 5%, so it’s not possible, so we don’t do that. Next is an event that only works if it can rain, and there’s barely any moisture in the air, so no clouds. No rain. No event. Boooooring. But boring is good. It lets me continue on. The top of the card shows Black goes first again, so let’s do this.
I simply place an Archetype on my Newborn card as a Populate action. I also pick up Lobe Fin Legs (yes, I have 2 actions now that the Swimmer plant was put down) for a Yellow Cube. I’m less interested in that, but more than I can Speciate into a swimmer and eat out there. Hooray!
Our vines begin slowly developing a harder exterior, which protects it from nibbling insects, as well as harsher climates. The Blue cube allows it to populate farther and faster. If I select a Populate action, I can now do 2 at once, and you use Dispersal points for how far you are able to put your Creeples. You get as many DP as your size + Blue cubes. But Swamp plants are still restricted to have to grow near water (a specific rule for the solitaire game). So you see that little Armored shape where it says Carapace? That can make an Armored Shape which is a Cactus, which can be two hexes away from water. Booya. But I wait on that and just use my second action to Neotany away the Red cube that was on my Archetype card. This is a way to slow play since I want my animals to catch up. If the world gets too hot and plants get a lot of actions, they can spread and actually push animals out. This “prunes” them back. Ahem.
Okay, so we’ve got some things here. First, the white disc in the clouds (the ONLY one), is moved to the atmosphere, warming it up. Then one of the seas sublimates away. I choose one on the other continent. Then the next is a mutagen event. Checking, I see both species can have 3 cubes, and none are in danger. Phew. However, I have to discard the entire Display and put out 5 new cards. Stinks. And now the Strangelove Ocean hits. Dang. Events with the multiple arrows like that are “Gun” events. That means if I want to, I can choose to do it to ALL discs. Which is a neat choice, however this one shows a Green triangle, which means it’s for the Plant. Which evokes a blanket extinction rule for the solitaire game. One of the plant shapes goes extinct. Blast.
So the seas get sulfuric, and our floating vines (which did not harden like our land-based vines) end up dying and oxidizing, which causes more CO2 to go into the air. There’s also another mutagen event. I never even knew what those 10 cards were, and I already have to change them!
The return of that swimmer means I’m back to one action, so I buy Pons & Medulla. One, so I get a red cube in case the new Cactus tries to eat the Archetype. Two, Biped Stance on the Lobe Fin Legs card, as well as both promotions on the new card give the ability to gain emotions, which give not only bonus points but a great special ability. If you get an emotion, you are then able to cut the Cost of a Mutation of that color in half! THAT’S how you can get the Cost 8 cards, you turn them into Cost 4 cards! There’s also a Purple emotion, Curiosity, that can allow you to use Tools. Also, the win condition means one of your species has to develop Language, which means three emotions of at least 2 different colors. Not easy. But I’ve got a start here.
I use the Plant’s actions to Promote Scutes and become a Cactus and place it on the board to get more oxygen in the air. Tharsis is much more full now.
You see here are more events we can ignore. More carbon goes into the air, warming the planet again. Plants are getting more actions per turn! Mutagen events change the display again, making it hard for proper plans. The Methanogen Bloom’s event only triggers if Microbes can exist, which they can only do in a low oxygen environment. Oh yes, this is one, so yet more carbon goes into the air. And finally some radiation hits the planet, meaning we have to lose a green and blue plus cube (anything not a Basal Cube). Lucky for me, no creatures have one, so I’m safe there. On Earth, it would be a green OR blue cube, but there’s no magnetosphere on Mars or Venus to protect you from the sun.
Venus? Oh, did I forget to mention? You can play on Venus, too.
I’m typed out at the moment, but I thought you would like reading this. I’ll continue at a later date.