Last month I started creating a Roll & Write game about planting trees. Here in Part I you can see how I moved from a simple grid with three different types of tree to matching animals to plant habitats.
One of the issues was that it didn’t look particularly attractive. So instead of little boxes for the trees and animals, I drew both flora and fauna. Lilies were fairly straightforward, as were pine trees, snakes, fish. The tufts are supposed to be heather, the fingers are willow leaves, the birds are kingfishers, and those scrunched up things are my attempt at squirrels. Theoretically, this represents four different types of countryside: red squirrels living in pine trees on the hills, snakes in the heather on the moors, kingfishers in willows on the banks, and fish swimming in the river.
As with the earlier versions, I added a selection panel. Players roll their dice and choose where to place them. As with most roll and write games, there’s a significant degree of luck from the dice roll, and the strategy comes from where the dice are placed.
I then added in several extra functions at the top. Right at the top is a table for the number of turns. I’m imagining that all this re-wilding is taking place over a decade, so it’s a turn per year. At the end of some years something happens — either the plants all grow, or the player rolls to see if there is a natural disaster. The possible natural disaster (presumably either flooding or fire) can be averted through good maintenance — one of the choices available on the selection panel.
As well as all that, I also added some re-rolls, lips, mirrors, and plus/minus ones! These are extra tools to help the players. It can be pretty frustrating realising that your dice haven’t come out as you’d like, so having a few possibilities to change is useful. However, there are only two of each — if you’ve used up all your slots then you’re stuck with what you roll!
Finally, I added in a relationship between the animals. I decided that if there were fewer squirrels than snakes, the snakes would go hungry. Similarly, if there were fewer fish than kingfishers, the kingfishers would get a hunger mark. At this point in the process I hadn’t worked out what the consequence of going hungry might be. Perhaps once all three boxes are filled in then there’s a penalty of some sort. I may also consider whether the squirrels and the fish could have a similar constraints…
Here’s what it looks like at this point. The grid for planting is set out with numbers 1-5 along each side. (6 is wild.) Each column and row has two boxes next to the number, which represent clearing the land — presumably of bricks or litter. Some columns and rows come pre-cleared (see the filled in blue squares), while others need to be cleared using the “clear” function on the selection panel.
On the selection panel, “maintain” protects against possible damage. “Plant” means that you can roll two dice and colour in one of the plants the square with that row/column combination — assuming, of course, that both the row and the column have already been cleared. “Introduce” means that you can add wildlife to the squares which you have planted. “Grow” and “Breed” are the same, but the former is for plants and the latter for wildlife: if a square has one plant/animal coloured then colour the other plant/animal, and if it has both plants/animals coloured then colour one plant/animal of a square next to it.
After each turn, the player checks whether the snakes or kingfishers are hungry, and then checks what happens at the end of that year. Some years the plants grow, other years the player rolls first to see whether and where there is a natural disaster (roll 3 and the river floods) and second how bad it is. Frankly, I haven’t quite got this bit worked out yet.
It’s looking like it’s almost there. A little more depth, many more play tests, and it may be ready for you to download.