Jack Defevers
United States
Fort Thomas
Kentucky
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Disclaimer: This is very long. And you probably don't want to read it. It won't hurt my feelings if you just go ahead and click the old “back” button. (A thumb on your way out for that kind of self-critical honesty would certainly be appreciated, though.)

OK, so have I mentioned that this is long? Well, it is. I won't give away the ending, but I will say I made it pretty deep into this one. Forewarned is forearmed. So, I'm not even going to make a hand-waving attempt at a rules synopsis, for those of you unfamiliar with AMF. The rules (including the solitaire variant) are available online at Sierra Madre's site. I can't seem to link to them directly, but go to this page, click on “downloads” on the left, and then look under the “Living Rules” header.

One rules issue I will mention though is that, for an extra dose of pain, I play with the “poikilothermic reptiles” variant. Reptiles, including my beloved Dino-crocs, start the game cold blooded. As such, they may not express certain DNA traits – they can't be speedy or nocturnal, have wings, or practice sexual intimidation/advertising (i.e., no S, N, wings, or sex DNA). They are limited to a migration range of one (warm bloods may migrate two spaces if Size 3 or larger). They are also excluded from all biomes adjacent to ice sheets. (In the regular game, this is annoying. In the solitaire game, it's a real killer, since there are only five slots in play. This is so brutal that I've given serious thought to disregarding this aspect of cold bloodedness while playing solitaire.) On the other hand, coldbloods are allowed double the normal population in any given biome (e.g., a biome with a biomass “2” will support two warmblood populations, but four coldbloods; a single herbivore population can support one warmblood predator or two coldbloods.) That may sound like a big deal, but in practice, it is almost exactly worthless in solitaire. To become warm blooded, reptiles must acquire two copies of the “physiology” DNA trait (i.e., two DNA:P cards). Bottom line: being cold blooded has a lot of significant disadvantages, with no meaningful advantages to offset them. So, I'm always on the lookout for those P cards.

OK, enough with the preliminaries; let's evolve!

SETUP

The solitaire rules tell you to “choose any five” starting (i.e., starburst) biomes and arrange them in a column. The use of the unmodified word “choose” there implies to me that you are free to consciously pick whatever starting biomes you want. That certainly doesn't feel right, though. What I do is (mostly) randomly pick five starting biomes, with the following restrictions:

1. You literally have to have a biome with the requirement of “None” at the start of the game, because your first population has no adaptations, and thus can't survive in any other type. So, if I don't already have at least one “None” biome in my first four random draws, I keep drawing until I get one. This isn't giving me any kind of advantage; as I said before, you simply cannot start a game without a “None” in play.

2. I find ice sheets to be absolutely brutal in the solitaire variant, especially since I like to play cold-blooded reptiles. Therefore, I just won't bother with a game if more than one ice sheet is pulled in the initial five. So, after I draw one, I simply disregard any subsequent ice draws. (Given my luck, this happens all the time. I once pulled three ice sheets in a row. That would have been a short game.) Yes, this is “stacking the deck” somewhat in my favor. What can I tell you; this is a hard game.

3. Finally, I arrange the biomes from north to south mirroring the north-south relationships they'd have if placed on the actual map. For example, ice sheets always start in Slot 1 (the farthest north position). I find this to be a lot better than random placement because it avoids bizarre circumstances such as having ice in the middle of the board, bordered to the north and south by rainforests or some such.

For this particular game, I got one of the best opening draws I can remember seeing. No ice, which is a little unusual for me, and a couple of “None” biomes to choose from:


My world, and welcome to it.


MESOZOIC ERA

Triassic Period
(Turns 1 -6)



My boys.

I'm (again) playing my beloved thecodonts, or “Dino-crocs.” In the so-called real world, they were the ancestors to all the dinosauria (and thus to modern birds as well). Let's see what they can do this time. I elect to place my starting population in the Ginkgo Woodland in Slot 2, and off we go.

The Triassic sees a flurry of activity right off the bat. The very first card brings an invasion of immigrant Heterodontosaurs (1, SW{P}) from South America who settle in my starting biome. The little pipsqueaks are unspecialized herbivores, but they outcompete me by using their wildcard DNA to pick up the biome's Niche trait, P. Plus, they do have that roadrunner S DNA. And, while we're at it, they beat me on dentition too. Basically, as unimpressive as they are – and they are unimpressive – they kick my butt every way it can be kicked, so off I skulk. Off to a brilliant start, as usual. Luckily, one of the adjacent biomes is habitable (or it would be “game over” on Turn 1!), so I migrate my Dino-crocs north to the rainforest.


First card of the game. An invader steals my home.

My luck improves dramatically on the next draw, however: a DNA:P card (Placental Reproduction)! I snatch it up (leaving me with two Genes). Two turns in and my Dino-crocs are giving live birth and halfway to warm-bloodedness. I still can't compete with the Heterodontorunts back in my old homeplace, though.

The next card is a biome, Rainforest (None ), which replaces the Lycopod Swamp in Slot 5, and brings me back up to three genes. Always good to see another “None” biome on the board early in the game, but it does me no immediate good: my migration range is one and it's three slots away.

The next two cards are DNA:S then DNA:a, and I pass on both. I'm glad I did, because the Triassic's last card is, unbelievably, a second P (Sail Back)! Despite the fact that the combination of those specific adaptations is going to create an … uncomfortable … situation for the mommies, I spend my three Genes as fast as I can throw the beads back into the cup. My Dino-crocs are now Sailbacks, and with PP DNA, they are thermoregulating!


[i]I'm hot blooded. Check it and see.


As I no longer get the benefit of double population support for being cold blooded, the northern rainforest is now overpopulated. No worries; I migrate half my population tents back into my original home, the Gingko Woodland in Slot 2. I now am able to outcompete the invaders with my superior niche traits (PP to P). The Heterodontosaurs are thus extirpated. The Triassic comes to a close with me in a comparatively strong position.

Jurassic Period (Turns 7-16)

First a DNA:B card that I can't afford, then I'm hit with a wave of invaders. The game's first Genotype card shows up: Stegosaurs (1-5, Ba). I probably would have bought them, if I hadn't been broke. As it happens, however, I can do nothing, and the Stegs enter play as an immigrant. Per the rules, they come from the north (no ice in play) and stop in the Tropical Rainforest in Slot 1, competing as herbivores with my Sailbacks there. They win: Genotype immigrants are always considered to have rrrr dentition, and that beats my rm. I've gone from elated to worried on the turn of one card. I'm confined again to a single habitable biome, which means I'm very susceptible to being wiped out on a bad draw. [Note well: I had no idea at the time, but I really should have just gotten used to that fact right then.] [Also note: the appearance of the Genotype card triggered the game's first Milankovich event, which I dutifully enacted. Neither it, nor any future Milankovich event had any significant effect on the game, so I won't mention them again.]


The first Genotype of the game. I couldn't afford it.

The next card is immigrant Melanosaurs (4, BBW{I}), who come from the south and take up as herbivores in the Rainforest in Slot 5. Knock yourselves out down there, guys. Then the Genotype Deinonychosaurs (1-2, APS). I probably would have bought this – hey, who doesn't love Deinonychosaurs? – but I was still broke. So, they came in as immigrants. Checking again from north to south, they stop at my Ginkgo Woodland biome in Slot 2 (bypassing Slot 1 because there's already an immigrant herbivore there) to try to compete with my Sailbacks. Like the Heterodonts before them, however, they can't stand up to my superior niche DNA (Sailbacks again win PP to P), so they're extirpated at the end of the turn they arrived. (This scenario – an immigrant arrives and tries to fight me for the Ginkgos, only to lose to my niche DNA – will become a recurring theme for the rest of the game. Niche DNA is important.)

The next five turns see four DNA cards I can't afford (N, a, MM, and sex (ugh!)), broken up by one new biome: Grama Grass Prairie (GG[S]), which replaces the Africa Plate in Slot 4. The last card of the Jurassic is yet another immigrant, Therizinosaurs (5, BBW{P}a) who try and – despite being absolutely fascinating animals – fail to colonize my Ginkgo Woodland.


Strange beasts.

The Jurassic ends with me hanging on – I'm warm blooded, and I have a strong hold on one biome. On the other hand, I have no other adaptations and can't survive in any other biome within my migration range. Every turn is a potential game ender.

Cretaceous Period (Turns 17-29)

Things are getting serious now. Make it through the Cretaceous, and the light starts to become visible at the end of the tunnel.

The period starts with another immigrant, Lagosuchids (1-2, SW{P}) – bunny crocs! – who again try to wrest control of the Ginkgoes. Despite their warped cuteness, I crush them with my dazzling physiology. Keep your weaksauce SW{P} DNA out of my Ginkgoes, bunny crocs! Do you hear me? Keep it out!


Bunny crocs!

Ahem.

The second card of the period is the game's first Catastrophe. Based on my prior runs through the game, Turn 18 is relatively late for the first one to show up. This is either going to be very good for me or very bad – no middle ground here. I read the card: massive vulcanism in Siberia pumps megatons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The world warms and sea levels rise, flooding the Rainforest in Slot 5 (it's replaced by a marine biome, Primitive Ray Fins (M[M])). The Melanosaurs who had lived there since the early Jurassic are extirpated. Up north, however, my beloved Ginkgoes are untouched. I am enriched by surviving the trauma: five shiny new Genes. I now have six total (I got one when the Prairie was drawn five turns ago), so I can afford two purchases. This is a Big Deal, as I've been sitting below three genes (i.e., unable to buy a DNA or Genotype card) – basically watching the game play itself – ever since I bought the second DNA:P card all the way back on turn 6.

Another immigrant, Enantiornithes (1, ISSW{P} wings) tries to take me on in Slot 2 and loses. Then a biome card: the waters recede to the south and the Ray Fin biome is replaced by something called “Cycadeoid” (B[S]) – a kind of seed-bearing plant, apparently. I go to seven Genes.

The next card is DNA:aa (Spines or Malodorous Spray). I mull this over for a bit, and buy it. Doing so was easily my biggest mistake of the game. I knew that I couldn't express it immediately, because (1) it had a size limit of 1, but (2) I couldn't drop below Size 3 without recessing my sail and going back to cold bloodedness, which I definitely did not want to do. So, I should have looked at this card and said “It would be nice to get aa DNA, but I'll never be able to express this particular card, so: pass.” As best I can remember, what I actually was thinking was something like: “If I get a new Genotype, and it has its own P heritage DNA, I can shrink it to 1 and have it express this card and give it two roadrunners! Yeah!” Dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. The odds against that happening before Genetic Drift ate the card have to be pretty high, which I realized a couple of turns later but should have seen right off. In my defense, all those shiny new Gene tokens were burning a metaphorical hole in my metaphorical evolutionary pocket.... So, I made a mistake. Brush it off and play on, right? Well, right, sort of. In a game like this where, to be honest, the player doesn't get to make all that many decisions, one (very) bad one can easily determine the outcome.


Dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

The next turn sees a new marine biome, Belemnites (M[N]), succeed the rainforest that had been in Slot 1 since the start of the game. Ugh – always a little scary to see a “None” biome bite the dust when you're playing an undifferentiated herbivore. But on the bright side, the Stegasaurs got drownded! I will tell you the truth: I never liked those guys. As you may recall, they kicked me out of that rainforest back in the early Jurassic. I can just hear you now: isn't ~80 million years kind of a long time to hold a grudge, bygones/bygones, why can't we all just get along, blah, blah, blah. Well, let me tell you something, buddy: that's exactly what I'd expect a mammal to say. Oh yeah, I went there. What are you going to do about it – lactate?

The next card is Catastrophe number 2 (uh oh), just five cards after the first. This time, the solar system passes through a cosmic dust cloud. This causes more rain on our planet, which scrubs carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, lowering the greenhouse level, which cools the planet and lowers sea levels. An ice sheet covers the brand new sea in Slot 1 (if the Stegs hadn't drowned last turn, they would have frozen this – Ha! Ha! Ha!). The marine biome in Slot 3 (Euro-Boreal Ammonites) dries up, leaving an ugly blank slot right in the middle of my world. Again, I am not touched by the disaster (at least directly) and I profit from the misery of others, to the tune of five more Genes, bringing my balance up to 10! I am rich!! Rich, I say! I am considering having some of my Ginkgoes gilded (tastefully!) when it occurs to me that another “greenhouse down” event will now freeze my ass. All the sail backs and and all the placentas in the world aren't going to do me much good while being squished under a mile-thick glacier. So let's try to have that not happen.

The next card, though, is good news: the Crocodile Genotype (1-4, AAM). I'm all over it. Of course, given the way I reacted to that Malodorous Spray card, I probably would have bought a sack of magic beans at this point, but whatever. I express the card immediately, and Sailcroc is born (Size 4, AAMPP). Sailcroc is a bad, bad man. If you are armored, Sailcroc does not care. If you are double armored, and you try to swim away, Sailcroc still does not care. He will eat you anyway. That's how bad Sailcroc is. He will eat you anyway. So, somewhat in awe of Sailcroc's palpable badness, I immediately convert him to carnivory, and set up a nice little predator (Sailcroc) (bad) / prey (Sailback) (not quite so bad) situation in Ginkgoland. If only I could get out of this one biome, I'd really be in business.


Sailcroc!

Next out are three DNA cards: P, Aa, and I. I pass on the P (probably a mistake, as I'll discuss later) and I, but pick up the Aa and give it to my Sailbacks – they now have a tail club! (Sailcroc is unmoved, however, and continues to eat them. Tail club = good roughage.)

Then a Genotype, Prosauropods (1-4, BB). I give this some serious consideration, but decide to pass. The BB DNA would allow this Genotype to colonize the Cycadeoid biome in Slot 5, but there's one little problem: I can't get to Slot 5 from Slot 2 (migration range is just two). It's still a tough call, though, because I hate being limited to “None” biomes this far into the game. But, after a lot of thought, I go with my gut feeling and pass. So, the Prosauropods come in as immigrants instead. With an ice sheet in play, they come in from the south, and take up in the aforementioned Slot 5.

The next card, the last of the Mesozoic, is another immigrant, Locust Swarm (1, GGSW{S}). This, of course, Genetic Drifts the stupid DNA:aa card out of my hand, but that was inevitable. They come up from the south and settle in the prairie in Slot 4. With two copies of the biome's Niche DNA, I'm not going to be dislodging them for a while (“a while,” as in “ever”). And, at Size 1, I'm not going to be predating upon them either. Slot 4 is off the table, I guess.

But, hey, I did manage to survive the Mesozoic! Here's the game situation at the end of the era:


The dawn of the Cenozoic.

CENOZOIC ERA

Tertiary Period
(Turns 30-40)


Unbelievably, I've made it to the Cenozoic (only the second time that's happened). Only 12 more cards to survive. That “light at the end of the tunnel” I mentioned before? Maybe I can see it, but it's still surprisingly dim. I'm still confined to a single biome, and these Ginkgoes can't possibly end up surviving the entire game (can they?). My archetype still can't survive in any biome with requirements other than “None.” And Sailcroc has nothing to eat except for Sailback. (The Prosauropods, yummy though they may be, are too far away. And Sailcroc does not eat locusts.) All in all, a tenuous, tenuous position.

The first card out in the Tertiary is another DNA:P. Bunches of those have come out this game, it seems. Even though I passed one up just five turns ago, I decide to buy this one (leaving me with one Gene). I've more or less resigned myself at this point to the fact that my only real shot of winning is to hold on to these Gingkoes 'til the bitter end. And, while I already had two copies of the Niche DNA, we're in the Cenozoic now. The immigrants are going to be a little peppier from here on. All that it would take to dislodge me is an immigrant with one inherent P. It could use its wildcard to get a second P, which would tie me on Niche – and then it would beat me on dentition for sure. (Literally “for sure.” Every possible immigrant herbivore has better dentition than me.) Not a good scene. Hence, my decision to buy the third P. Now it will take two inherent P's (plus a wildcard) to beat me. On the downside, I once again find myself too poor to buy cards – so in return for a tighter hold on my current biome, I've lessened my chance of becoming able to adapt to new ones.


My third P. I'm finding my way around those Gingkoes real well now.

Next turn, a Genotype – let's see how I hold up to these new mammalian immigrants. Bats this time (1, NPSS wings). Criminals may be a cowardly and superstitious lot, but Sailbacks do not fear bats. They try to take me on, but their one P doesn't come close – fancy wings or no fancy wings – so they're immediately extirpated.

Next out is DNA:sex. No comment. Well, no, wait – one comment: Why is sex only available when I can't afford it?


No sex for me.

Then a new biome, Polar Forest (B[N]). It comes into the empty space in Slot 3, and does me no good whatsoever. At least it has a low climax... which gets burned on the very next draw: Termite Mounds (II[A]), which replace the short-lived forest. Hmm. My Ginkgoes are starting to look a little precarious; only one biome left in play with a lower climax. And … now it's gone too, on the very next card: Dry Season Rain Forest (None ), which comes in and replaces the Cycadeoids at Slot 5. On the bright side, it's another “None” biome! On the down side, I Can't Get There From Here. On the really, really down side: I've just drawn three (worthless to me) Biomes in a row, moving my Gingkoes from “more or less secure” to officially the lowest climax biome left on the board. The very next biome card (provided its climax is higher than 30) will splat them, and me along with them. At least all these new biomes have brought me back up to four Genes. So, while I'm much more likely to die, at least I won't die broke.

But, you know, I'm over half way through the Tertiary now. Only six cards left in the game, and I've never gotten this far before. Maybe, maybe...

Let's count the last six cards down, shall we?

6: (Come on, no biome...) DNA:Aa. Pass. Won't do anything for me.

5: (No biome!): DNA:G. Hmmm. There aren't any G biomes on the board, but you never know. I reason that there are enough cards left this could conceivably help me, but few enough that I don't really need to hoard my Genes at this point. I decide to buy and hold it, and I go ahead and drop my size down to 3, just in case. Maybe a mistake, we'll see. Down to one Gene.


[i]Will I need this?


4: (Please, no biome!!): Genotype, Mesonychids (1-3 AA). Can't afford it, but they can't possibly hurt me. (Nice armor-piercing fangs, or tusks, or whatever those are, though, fellas! Seriously, they don't look ridiculous on you at all!)


Oh … kay … (Public domain image from Wikipedia)

They go down, like so many before them, trying to steal my Ginkgoes. (Aside: if I had bought this, it would have expressed as Carnosaurs (including, e.g., Tyrannosaurs). My lifetime goal for AMF: Spacefaring tyrannosaurs. (Laser-beam eyes: optional.) Possible? Probably not. But if it does happen, I promise you this: that session report will be even longer than this one.)

3: (Can there really only be three cards left? NO BIOME!): Catastrophe, gah! Crap, crap, crap. Well, no, not crap, but rather Flatulence Methane from some ruminant population somewhere else in the world. Oh man, if this wipes me out, what an undignified way to go (nothing like those prima donna Stegasaurs, who got drowned then frozen. Or was it frozen then drowned? I can't remember, it was about 100 million years ago. Bastards.) So what does this do? Greenhouse levels go up, so Slot 5 gets flooded (it's now Lampshell Beds, (MAA[P]). Bye bye, Prosauropods, you guys had a nice run. Also, the ice withdraws from Slot 1, reactivating the Belemnites biome. Upon a little bit of reflection, this is a spectacular card for me at this stage in the game. Losing that ice sheet is indescribably great news. Now a “Greenhouse down” event won't freeze me. Maybe even more important, I have a new habitable biome right next door to the Ginkgoes – if I change Sailcroc's trophic level, he can migrate to the now unfrozen Belemnites (Sailcroc is not above a calamari diet, if survival itself is at stake). On top of all that, I also get five more Genes, bringing me up to six, with only two cards to go! That means I could buy them both, if need be, and as we all know, that which you can buy off cannot hurt you.


I wasn't making this up.

2: (Only two cards left …): A Genome, Ankylosaurs (aaG). That would have been pretty freaking awesome a whole bunch of turns ago, but now: mostly irrelevant. I buy it after approximately zero point zero seconds of analysis; there's literally no conceivable reason not to, and there's actually an outside shot it could help me, pending the results of the last draw. (Wait, did I say “the last draw”?) Anyway, I decide to express it, out of spite as much as anything else. My Sailbacks become Ankylosails. They inherit AaPPP from their parents, and with their own heritage, they come in with the rather daunting DNA line of AaaaGPPP. Bit of a problem – aaa is actually too much armor for Dinocroc to deal with (gasp!). So, rather than migrate Dinocroc to the sea to the north, I decide to recess the Tail Club card (DNA:Aa), dropping Ankylosail to aaGPPP – still yummy, still with a stranglehold on the Ginkgoes, but now with a little bit of a chance to adapt to a new biome, if one comes out on the last turn. (The last turn!!)


Ankylosail!

Quaternary Period (Turn 41; Present Day. The End Game, my friends.)

I have one last card to weather. It certainly can wipe me out, but I have to admit: I'm liking my chances. There are a bunch of biome cards left that would splat my Ginkgoes – but that is no longer the outright disaster it would have been just two turns ago. Consider: that lovely sea is right there, one slot north, and my Sailcrocs can dive right into it if necessary. Plus, Ankylosail has one G and I have another G in my hand, so if the Ginkgoes get replaced by a G or GG biome, they'd still be OK. Is it possible for both the biomes in Slots 1 and 2 to get replaced in one turn? I don't know for sure, but I can't think of a way for it to happen. Really, my one big worry is some kind of funky Catastrophe.

[I need to take a quick walk around the room before I draw this card.]

OK, it's ….

An Immigrant! I don't think there's any way this thing can hurt me – it looks all fishy anyway! Yep, it's Eel-whales! And I've never even heard of Eel-whales! Anyway, they have AAMMW DNA, which is pretty impressive, I guess, but they have two M's, which means they are strictly marine, so they can't even attempt to take my Ginkgoes! (Which, by the way: my Ginkgoes survived!? All 41 turns? That didn't just happen, did it?) Not that it matters in the slightest, but these so-called Eel-whales take up in the Lampshell Beds in Slot 5, where they have zero impact on me. So...

The Ankylosails win the pennant! The Ankylosails win the pennant! The Ankylosails win the pennant! The Ankylosails win the pennant! The Ankylosails win the pennant!

[Deep breath.]

The Ankylosails win the pennant! The Ankylosails win the pennant! The Ankylosails win the pennant! The Ankylosails win the pennant! The Ankylosails win the pennant!

The Ankylosails and Sailcrocs are mobbing the field! They're throwing Ginkgo fronds (leaves? Whatever.) into the air like confetti! Wait, the Sailcrocs are eating the Ankylosails – but it's OK! Predation doesn't harm the prey population! Yeah, kinda sucks for the individual, but still! There's no “I” in “TEAM”! And that's one happy team of warmblooded reptiles! Anyway, here's the final board:


We are the champions, my friend.

CONCLUSION (Finally...)

Whew, that was a weird, game. After getting those two P's so early, I felt like I could never get anything else going. Even warm bloodedness really didn't do that much for me: I never came close to expressing any of the restricted DNA traits, and not once was I able to use the migration range of two. It did come into play, however, because I had to spend several turns in a biome adjacent to an ice sheet, and coldbloods can't do that (that's wiped me out in other games). Getting the predator Genotype into play didn't actually do that much for me either; it never predated anything but my own herbivores anyway. Its main value, really, was as a late-game insurance policy (with that one M).

The truth of the matter is that I won because I latched onto one biome (with two, then three copies of its Niche DNA) and, through pure luck, that biome survived the entire game. I can't stress that enough: that biome made it through the game solely based upon the luck of the draw (specifically, the order and nature of the other biome cards and catastrophes that came out). The truth, further, is that every decision I made in the game, after I bought the second P (on Turn 6!), was ultimately irrelevant to the final outcome. (That stupid aa card that got Genetic Drifted? Didn't matter. That third P that I picked up? Never needed it.) To be clear, all of the subsequent decisions could have mattered, given certain contingencies, but none of those contingencies actually materialized. How about that. And yet, it would be a bald-faced lie if I said that I didn't enjoy the experience – I did. Immensely. (One does not write a biblical-length session report for a session one did not enjoy.)

What does all of that say about me as a gamer, and AMF as a game?

There's one inescapable conclusion I've reached after several runs through the solitaire game. When played solo, American Megafauna is really better described as a toy than an actual game. You set up the system and start it moving. Occasionally, you make meaningful decisions that may alter the ultimate outcome. But mostly, you watch, as the gears turn and the dials spin and the system unfolds in front of you. You pull for your little cardboard avatars as they live and die and evolve, but most of the time, there's not much more you can do for them. And when the stars align, and the system comes to rest in its “You won!” state, you feel … well, what, exactly? A kind of happiness, to be sure. But not a sense of accomplishment, like you'd have if you'd just skillfully beaten a more conventional solitaire game (to say nothing of a live opponent). Rather, it's more a sense of – peaceful satisfaction? Is that right? It's not unlike that which we feel when nature surprises us with displays of order and symmetry amidst chaos. It's not unlike that which we feel when confronted by that condition we call “serendipity.” Not everyone's cup of tea, certainly. But, I find it extremely pleasing, on an intellectual level – and (I admit) an emotional level too. Again: what does that say about me as a gamer?

You know what? I don't know. But I do know this: I can't wait to get started on my next game. I've got some spacefaring tyrannosaurs to evolve.





[Edit: Sailcroc hates typos! RAWR!]


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Sean
United States
Mechanicsburg
Pennsylvania
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I don't want happiness by halves, nor is half of sorrow what I want. Yet there's a pillow I would share, where gently pressed against a cheek like a helpless star, a falling star, a ring glimmers on the finger of a hand.
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Greywing, one of the very best SR's I've read on this site. Well done to you sir.
It's been too long since I dusted off Megafauna, maybe this weekend I'll dig it out again.
 
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Jose Augusto Moreira
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Sao Paulo
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excelent report....can i has the solitaire rules you use?
 
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Jack Defevers
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Fort Thomas
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Thank you both for the kind words.

Jose, I'm just using the game's standard solitaire rules, available on Sierra Madre's website. The only alteration/addition I make is in the way I choose and arrange the starting biomes, as I describe in the report above (in the SETUP section).
 
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Phil Eklund
Germany
Karlsruhe
Baden Würtenberg
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I was on the edge of my seat reading your report about your tenacious sailcrocs, Jack. I thought you were a goner for sure when the flatuence greenhouse hit! (I can't think of any other game where flatuence is dangerous, but perhaps there is an "exploding barn" rule out there somewhere). I am posting a link to this at my website www.sierramadregames.com.

Your description of Gingkoes as living fossils, hanging on by a rootlet, is pretty accurate. Gingkoes are in no particular danger of extinction today, they are common shade trees in almost every metropolis in the world. But my understanding is that at one point the entire species was found in a few groves in central China! Gingkoes would today be extinct, had they not been rescued by humans. (Other species which seemed to have been rescued from certain extinction by humans include cheetahs, Indian elephants, guinea pigs, cattle, sheep.)
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Absolutely awesome. This is why I love this game.
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Wulf Corbett
Scotland
Shotts
Lanarkshire
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If there's one thing I enjoy more than a well-written erudite session report, it's a well-written erudite session report I understand every word of!

Well done sir - I have to get back to AMF soon... My last (2-player) game ended 6 cards from the end with a Catastrophy that eradicated all but one Genotype on the map - the one that had been about to be driven out by all the others!
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Jevon Heath
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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Credit to David J. Kelly
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This session report is what induced me to acquire American Megafauna. I've returned to say: Thank you for your persuasiveness! This is such a great toy!

So far I've started a three-player game that everyone enjoyed, and I've played two solo, using the same rules modifications you described. In the first, my cynodonts hopped and navigated their way to the present, predating upon their pangolin descendants; my poor husking rodents died in the aftermath of an asteroid crash.

Thinking I must have made some rules mistakes in order to cruise so clearly to victory, I perused the rulebook fully and then tried another game, this time as the thecodonts. I won this game as well... and my Carnosaur descendants were *this close* to spacefaring. They developed forebrains, thumb spikes, and tools all before the Cenozoic. But the technology gene never appeared. My favorite part of the mental image, though, was the fact that the almighty Tyrannosaurs were being preyed on by doves.
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Alexander Jacobson
United States
Connecticut
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That was easily the best session report I have ever read in my life!
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Ricky Gray
United States
Powder Springs
Georgia
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Quote:
This session report is what induced me to acquire American Megafauna.


Ditto.
Quote:
That was easily the best session report I have ever read in my life!


Also ditto.

Thanks for a great article!
Ricky
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Johan Pettersson
Sweden
Höllviken
Skåne
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One of the best session-reports I have read. Thanks a lot.
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Dan Stone
United States
Erlanger
Kentucky
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Just figured out what my next game purchase is going to be.

I'm hoping for miniature space hamsters...is that possible?

DS
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
United States
Corvallis
Oregon
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Gene Ammons - Boss Tenor
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The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil - George Saunders
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phileklund wrote:
I can't think of any other game where flatuence is dangerous...

There's a game for virtually everything, even flatulence: Gassy Gus.

Space Hamsters are a tough one, though. Here's the best I could come up with: The Hamster That Ate the World.

Hard to think of other games after reading a great review like this one, though. I really want to play American Megafauna.
 
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