Challenge: Make a game about growing things.
I finally got a working rule set for this week's game. I also made the first prototype and play-tested it a bunch. Here are the rules as they stand today.
1) There are four decks of square cards: soil, which contains root cards; water, which contains branch cards; air, which contains leaf cards; and sun, which contains flower cards. Separate the cards into their respective decks, shuffle each deck, and set them somewhere convenient.
2) Place the seed card in your play space. You will need a large, flat surface to construct your tree on.
3) Each player gets tokens (enough to be effectively unlimited) of their own color. Each player should also have at least 3 dice or another way to keep track of 3 different numbers.
4) Every player draws 1 card from the soil deck at the beginning of the game. Look at the root cards that you have just drawn. Notice the arrows along the roots? All of the cards besides the seed card have one "in" side that the arrows point away from. Root and branch cards also have 1-3 "out" sides that the arrows point toward. The seed card has 2 outs on opposite sides, a root side and a branch side.
5) When you play a card, place it adjacent to a card that is already on the board. Its in must align with the out of 1 and only 1 of the cards that it is adjacent to. The first root must be placed on the root side of the seed, and the first branch must be placed on the branch side. There is an imaginary line that is perpendicular to the path on the seedcard. No cards may be placed on that line.
6) Determine who goes first. That player places their root card on the root side of the tree. They then put 1 of their tokens on 1 of the paths leading to a single out. Players take turns placing their root cards and tokens until everyone has placed 1. This is end of round 1.
7) At the start of round 2, count up how many unconnected outs there are in the roots. Now everyone counts the number of outs that their tokens are connected to that are uninterrupted by other tokens. I know this is hard to visualize without a picture. There will be visuals in the final rules. Just follow the root from your token out to 1 of the unconnected outs. If there isn't another player's token along that root, that token is "connected" to that out and you get 1 water point (WP). Count up your total WP and keep track of them with a die or counter.
8) Each player draws cards equal to the total number of of unconnected outs in the roots. You can draw any number of those from the soil deck for free, but you can also use your WP to purchase a card draw from the water deck. Each draw costs 1 WP. These draws count against the total cards that you draw for the round. Unspent WP is not carried over to the next round.
9) Play continues in the order you established in round 1. Each player selects 1 of the cards that they drew, places it on the table, and places a token on it. Branch cards behave exactly like root cards, except they start from the branch side of the seed. The round continues until all players are out of cards.
10) Round 3 starts like round 2. Count up the unconnected root outs. Count up your connected tokens. Keep track of your root outs (WP) and branch outs (air points, AP) separately. AP works just like WP except that they purchase draws from the air deck instead of the water deck. Play cards the same way that you played them before. When everyone is out of cards again, start a new round and count up your points.
11) The air deck contains leaves, which behave differently than branches and roots. They have 1 in and no outs. Place them as you would any other card, but only on the branch side. You do not place tokens on leaf cards. You get sun points (SP) when one of your tokens connects to a leaf. A single leaf gets you 1 SP, a double leaf gets you 2SP, and a triple leaf gets you 3 SP. SP is used to buy cards from the sun deck in subsequent rounds. At the end of the game, leaves connected to your tokens are worth 1, 2, and 3 victory points respectively.
12) The sun deck contains flowers. They behave in the same way that leaves do, except they give you no resources. At the end of the game, flowers connected to your tokens are worth 1VP (for a single), 3VP (double), and 5VP (triple).
13) The game ends when either of the following conditions are met: You run out of flower, leaf, or branch cards; or a player can no longer place flowers, leaves, or branches. Add up your VP from flowers and leaves. Whoever has the most wins.
That is all that I have for today. Tomorrow I will be play-testing more. When it is ready, I will post a pdf with cards and final rules. I will probably talk about the game a bit more. Now I'm going to go play some Planechase.