American Megafauna
Playback of the Board Game by Sierra Madre
Thu Feb 14 23:08:42 UTC 2008

Narrative of Three Solitaire Playings

The events described are taken directly from three solitaire American Megafauna playings.

First Playing

As the Permian era subsides and the Triassic begins, our tiny Dino Crocs maintain a peaceful existence in a mountainous Cloud Forest in the far north.

Right away we spawn off huge Horned Dinosaurs which take up residence in the Horsetail Swamp next door. Unfortunately, at the same time the weather becomes drier as a result of Milankovich Cycles and the swamps shrink, limiting the population.

Then: huge, unfriendly Bonehead Dinosaurs arrive and wipe out our Dino Crocs. We are back again to only just one type, the new one, and that in limited numbers.

Unfriendly egg-laying mammals arrive, but as they find a home among the seed ferns of the south and are separated by an impassable sea, they are no immediate threat.

Now more unfriendlies arrive: plesiosaurs. But as they cannot make use of the sea's oyster beds, they depart just as quickly. We enter the Jurassic.

This is a quiet period. The only event is the arrival of hostile Fabrosaurs, but finding no home, they disappear.

As the Cretaceous begins, we face a difficult decision. We have the opportunity to develop sonar location, but this will expend all our genetic potential for some time. In addition, the new feature will take time to develop because we need considerable time to change to the correct size to use it, during which the feature is vulnerable. Since the current population is an absolute minimum, the decision is to take the risk.

Unfortunately the attempt fails as we fall victim to genetic drift.

Crocodiles arrive and end up predating the Boneheads which are inhabiting the area to our north.

Now Dinonychosaurs arrive to predate us.

The enemy egg-laying mammals to our south now begin to experience a number of events. First, a polar forest replaces the seed ferns, but the egg-laying mammals switch to eating seeds. But this environment is quickly replaced by lycopod meadows and the egg-layers switch yet again. Then sea-birds arrive and start predating the egg-layers, who are forced to switch yet again when the meadows give way to rainforest. The egg-layers switch to eating berries and so the sea-birds remain.

But as the Earth enters the Milky Way Dust Cloud, the Mesozoic era ends and the greenhouse gas levels decline. In the north polar ice covers the Cloud Forest driving the unfriendlies there to extinction. The former sea is also gone. The Cenozoic era begins.

Ferns appear to replace the former sea and our population is able to double. Unfortunately, right after this our swamp which has been home since almost the start is now replaced with a large lake and we are now able to exist only among the new ferns.

We attempt to develop a caudal fin to exploit the lake, but this fails. Then speedy notungulate typotheres arrive from South America and drive us extinct. We came close, but in the end were out of space and with too few features. In retrospect, it was a mistake to risk the sonar location. If the potential had been saved, another, more valuable and less risky feature could have been purchased and survival might have been guaranteed.

Second Playing

This time our tiny Dino Crocs maintain a peaceful existence in a Lycopod Meadow in the far north.

Almost immediately there is competition from Flying Reptiles. We move south to a tropical rainforest in order to survive, growing in both size and population in the process.

Now egg-laying mammals appear in the rainforest so we grow in size again and return to the Meadow. Our increased size drives out the pterodactyls and the Meadow is ours once again.

Our size is coming in handy! Fabrosaurs come in from Asia, but can't compete as we maintain "kings of the hill".

Suddenly there is catastrophe! Blight and red tide afflict the world. We survive though the egg-layers do not.

We try the possibility of developing an ant eater tongue.

Rauisuchians arrive and alas, we again must leave our beloved meadow, or perish. As the Jurassic era begins, we take the plunge into an anteating existence and move back to the now-vacant rainforest.

We develop cheek teeth/scimitar incisors in the hopes that they will someday be useful.

Another catastrophe! The sun is dimming, the green gas levels declining and the world grows colder. To the south a former sea disappears. The meadows and our old enemies the Rauisuchians are overtaken by polar ice.

Crocodiles from South America have arrived and begin predating us.

More ice arrives, wiping out the rainforest. We grow in size and relocate considerably further south to live in some bogs.

We develop a horn or tusk as a precaution, though it has no immediate purpose. As the Cretaceous era begins, we have ceased to use our anteater tongue as we have become too large to subsist on insects.

Another catastrophe. Changes in the earth's albedo cause the greenhouse gas levels to go back up. The polar ice recedes.

Alas, our home has been replaced by a lake where we cannot survive and are also unable to travel anywhere else. Once again we are extinct and with so many changes to the environment and too few chances to develop new features, it is harder to see what, if anything, might have been done differently.

Third Playing

This time our tiny Dino Crocs begin at the bottom, in the bog.

We develop a muscular diaphragm which permits more efficient lungs. We can now boast the benefit of Speed.

Crocodiles from South America have arrived and begin predating us. In response, we grow in size until they are no longer able to do so and they go away.

Now Nothosaurs arrive and inhabit the lake to our north. This has been a rather uneventful Triassic, which we now leave for the Jurassic.

The lake to the north has become an oak woodland and the Nothosaurs are gone.

We spin ourselves off as Ratite birds which inhabit the new woodlands.

Catastrophe! The sun is dimming, the green gas levels declining and the world grows colder. Polar ice appears in the north.

We spin ourselves off again, this time as duckbills. These predate our original dino crocs.

From Asia, panda bears arrive and out-compete our dino crocs. We enter the Cretaceous with our duckbills on an all bear diet.

Carnosaurs arrive, trying, but fortunately failing to compete with our speedy Ratite birds.

Now Bonehead Dinosaurs enter and try to compete with the duckbills, but also fail due to their inferior size.

Plesiosaurs also fail. It seems we are able to defeat all comers.

A cactus desert develops in the extreme south, and then as if planned, placodonts show up to inhabit it.

Our Ratites learn nest building. This permits them to out-compete the Aetosaurs which arrive right after.

Our long-inhabited bog is finally replaced by a mountainous upwelling. This ends the reign of both the Pandas and the Duckbills. Only our Ratite birds remain for us now.

Chaparral replaces the cactus desert and the placodonts disappear.

Another catastrophe! Changes in the earth's albedo cause the greenhouse gas levels to go back up. The polar ice is gone. The chaparral is replaced by a new sea. We are able to expand to new herbaceous riparian lands in the north.

As the Cenozoic begins, Morganucodonts arrive, but can't make it.

Now saber tooths have their try, but are too slow for the Ratites.

Armadilloes arrive but also don't make it.

Our riparian home is replaced by a lake, halving our population, but we have at last survived in style.

American Megafauna -