So I just got my Permaculture Playing cards a few weeks ago and I absolutely love them by the way. I mean they are obviously so good for educating newbies to permaculture but I was wondering if anyone had any different, creative card game ideas to play with them, that would make them interactive and educational!
I know tons of teachers have bought them for teaching permaculture but HOW exactly have you been using them?
Well, since the cards have words on them, maybe something that gets people to read the cards instead of just looking at them. In theatre, we have improv games; maybe these could be combined in some way with regular card games.
For example, I think the secret word game could be combined with war for an interesting effect.
The way I think this combination would work is that both players would have their decks visible to everyone else except for themselves. Before each person can play a card, they have to read lines off of the opposite player's card. The player holding the card gets three chances to guess what the concept on their card is. If successful, that player gets to play that card and the one behind it against the opposing players' card(s). To illustrate:
-me vs my alternate personality:
-we see what the other will play but our own cards
-round one: my alternate personality will play a honey bee (six)
-I read the line "polyculture provides the best forage nectar" and I place my deck down and buzz around a little
-my alternate personality guesses honey bee which is correct
-my alternate personality sees the card I will play, Bugs, Weeds, Funguses, & Microorganisms (5)
-my alternate personality reads the line "viruses cannot get past the defenses of healthy plants and animals" and he does the worm -I, for some reason, cannot figure it out and am confused after three failed guesses
-so I play 5 against my alternate personality's 6 and queen
-he wins that round and takes all three cards
-the game then proceeds in this fashion until one player has all the cards
The first game we played with the decks when we got them was to hand out all the cards and play PEACE! It's like war, except instead of the highest ranked card or suit winning, it was the coolest one as decided by the collective. Made for a fun game, especially as people lobbied for why hugelkultur beats Holzer, or why comfrey should be Penny Livingston...
In honor of Pie Day, I have decided to release this post that I've been working on. I was going to make a couple more example rounds before releasing this, but it's Pie Day, and Pie Day only comes once a year, (as far as I know,) so here it is. If it's still not clear, ask and I can try to clarify, but the best way to learn is to just play it. And if you forget the rules, just make up new ones.
Since getting the permaculture playing cards, there's a game I've played a few times with different people. It's a bit complicated, takes at least an hour or so, and we didn't always finish, but the game mechanics are designed to get people to talk about permaculture, and this often led to interesting discussions which sidetracked the game. The map is not the territory, and natural systems are obviously far too complex to be modeled effectively in a board/card game. For example, a balanced ecosystem in terms of this game means at least one plant and one animal on a given square of land, now obviously that's far from a polyculture, but it's just a game and certain simplifications were made for the sake of playability. Y'all have heard of drinking games, well this is an eating game.
Name: The Permaculture Pie Party Game
full deck of permaculture playing cards, including jokers, minus the 2-sided info card
- divide deck into 4 piles:
1: people (keep these separate for now, but eventually these all go into the animal pile)
3: plants (include jokers, fungi, and bugs,weeds,funguses,microorganisms in this pile too)
4: skills (everything left over goes in this pile)
a marker and some ~checker-sized pieces of cardboard (one corresponding to each person, animal, and plant card,) also add something to each piece (a symbol or color) to differentiate between the two groups (plants and animals) (for example to make the piece for Sepp Holzer you'd just draw a K and a spade symbol on a little square of cardboard, since Sepp is the king of spades, and use a different color or draw tiny little A's or something in the corners to distinguish him as an animal, as opposed to a plant))
standard 8x8 chess or checkerboard (variations for different boards are possible, including scrabble, hex grid, risk, make your own whatever, but a checkerboard is easy and ubiquitous)
a couple dozen small food items (nuts work great for this, (the original version was played with wildcrafted pecans,) should be something that fits on a checker square and doesn't move too much, be creative) if you're germphobic, don't like the idea of eating off a checkerboard, or your small food items would just get really gross sitting out like that, you can use pieces to represent food stored off the board
one large food item (the last piece of pie, for example,) use a unique piece to represent the pie
a couple hundred little bits (could be little shells, little bits of cardboard, little plastic pieces from other games, poker chips, pennies, monopoly money, whatever) representing stored units of spare energy (the in-game currency)
a few dozen land-ownership flags for each player (the original version required players to actually go outside and wildcraft little bits of nature to then use as game pieces, someone would be bits of twigs, another pebbles, little sprigs of rosemary, blades of grass, bits of leaf, whatever, each player just needs a different flag and they need to be quite small to fit on a checker square in addition to other pieces that might be on the square, be creative, or just find some pieces from some other game)
3 to 4 players (4 players is best for a checkerboard, but variations with more players are possible on larger boards, be creative,)
Setup, Rules, and Prices:
A pie piece is added in the very middle, and nuts are distributed symmetrically across the board, starting with one nut in each corner and spreading out in a kind of radiant pattern. Four desert squares are symmetrically spaced in relatively out-of-the-way places. See example picture below.
Players gather flag materials and pick from the people cards who they want to be their player character. Playing with special abilities is optional and may or may not be balanced. Nevertheless, special abilities have been assigned to the K, Q, and J people:
Holzer: animals cost 1 less energy
Fukuoka: plants cost 2 less energy
Stout: start with two additional random plant cards
Smits: start with the fungi card
Mollison: start with one additional random skill card
Oehler: start with the wofati skill card
Ludwig: whenever the greywater skill card is spent for energy by any other player, you also receive its energy value in spare energy units
Savory: whenever the paddock shift skill card is spent for energy by any other player, you also receive its energy value in spare energy units
Once all players have selected their player character and taken the corresponding card and piece, all remaining cards in the people stack are shuffled into the animal stack. Aside from players' individual cards which they should keep immediately in front of them, there should now be three stacks in a place accessible to all players: an animal stack, a plant stack, and a skills stack. There should also be a place to discard spent skill cards, a pile of spare energy units, a pile of animal pieces next to the animal stack, and a pile of plant pieces next to the plant stack.
After applying any special ability starting bonuses, reveal the top two cards of the animal stack and the top two cards of the plant stack. These revealed cards may be purchased during your turn for the amount of energy units indicated by the card's number or symbol. 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and 10 cost their face value, while A,K,Q,J, and Jokers cost 11. This same energy value system is used for the skill cards, meaning that when you spend them they are worth the amount of energy units indicated.
Each player starts off in a corner square of the gameboard with their flag, their person piece (1 animal) and one nut (1 plant), meaning everyone starts off with one contiguous balanced ecosystem. A space with at least one plant and at least one animal counts as a balanced ecosystem.
This is important: the number of contiguous balanced ecosystems you have is directly proportional to the number of adjacent squares away from your land you may purchase new land. Also important, you can count other players' balanced ecosystems if they are contiguous with yours. For example, if you have 4 contiguous squares with at least one plant and one animal on them (balanced ecosystems), and another player has 4 contiguous balanced ecosystems, and your ecosystems are contiguous with each other, then both of you get to count your contiguous balanced ecosystems as 8, meaning you can buy land 8 squares away on the board.
Unpurchased land is available for purchase, (if you have the required adjacent contiguous balanced ecosystems,) at the following prices:
land with a nut on it - 5 energy units
empty land - 2 energy units
desert land - free
A nut on a square of land counts as a plant when determining ecosystem balance. At any time on your turn you may consume a nut on land that you own in exchange for 5 energy units. Note that if you consume the nut for energy it will no longer count as a plant when determining ecosystem balance.
If you have a balanced ecosystem on any of the four central squares, the pie piece in the center of the board is available for purchase for 20 energy units. When you fully consume the pie, you get those 20 energy units back. There are no negative consequences for eating the pie, at least as far as the gameplay mechanics goes. You get to have your pie and eat it too. If you eat the pie, take the Pie victory.
Trading, negotiating, and coordinating between players is allowed and encouraged. Plants that have been placed on the board may not be moved, traded separate from the land, or consumed for energy, and adjacent ecosystem continuity rules apply when it comes to land trades. Plants and animals not yet placed on the board may be traded freely. Animals may be traded, but they can be moved only during the animal moving phase of your turn.
Fungi is a wild card, and can count as either a plant or animal, but not both. Bugs, Weeds, Funguses, and Microorganisms is also wild. Jokers are also wild, and may be considered your favorite plant or animal.
- At the beginning of your turn, you may say one "permaculture fact" about your farm or anything on it. If you do, receive 1 energy unit.
- Draw a card from the skills stack.
- Place plants and animals on your farm if you have any you want to place.
- Spend skills and energy on land, plants, animals, or in trades with other players. When you spend a skill card, you may say two "permaculture facts" about the skill, if you do, receive 2 energy units. Make change with the spare energy units, and discard spent skill cards in the discard area. You may spend as much energy as you have available on your turn. When you buy an animal or plant card, replace it by revealing the top card from the stack. Don't forget to take the corresponding animal or plant piece. When you buy land, don't forget to put your flag on it.
- Place plants and animals on your farm if you have any you want to place.
- Move any one animal from any land you own to any other contiguous owned land on the board. If you move an animal onto another player's land, give them the corresponding card. Moving an animal ends your turn.
Play proceeds clockwise. When the skill stack is depleted, shuffle the discards back in. When all plants and animals have been purchased, there's one more round giving everybody one last turn to straighten up their farm and place any plants or animals they still have, and then the game is over. Calculate and distribute victories. Commence gloating at your own risk.
Objectives and Goals:
This game has many victories, (goals,) you can strive for, some of which are mutually exclusive, some of which can be shared, and all of which are optional. The game doesn't have just one single objective, except perhaps to get players to talk about permaculture. Of course, there is also the pie in the middle of the board, and it sure does look tasty. For highly competitive folks, I suppose having the most victories could be a kind of meta-victory. You can make up as many additional victories as you want, but here are a few that have become kind of standard-ish:
Pie (eat the pie)
Earth (be part of the largest contiguous balanced ecosystem network)
Harmony/Balance/Zen/Peace (all spaces on your farm are balanced ecosystems)
Empire (have the largest farm in terms of land area)
Tiny House (have the smallest farm in terms of land area)
Botanical Gardens (have the most plants)
Zoo/Wildlife Refuge (have the most animals)
Vegan (end the game with no animals on your farm, player-character doesn't count)
Island/Hermit (your farm doesn't share a contiguous balanced ecosystem with any other players)
Nuts/Logger (eat the most small food items / cut down the most pre-existing plants for energy)
Treehugger (don't eat any small food items / don't cut down any pre-existing plants for energy)
Polyculture (have the most plants on a single square)
Oasis (have the highest total energy value of plants on desert zones)
Wealth/Surplus (have the highest total energy value of all combined components on your farm, (count up and add together the energy values of all plants, animals, land, unspent skills, and spare energy units))
Poverty/Thrift (have the lowest total energy value of all combined components on your farm)
Manifest Destiny (your farm has a balanced ecosystem on at least one land square on each of the four edges of the gameboard, (corners count for both edges))
First Example Round: Game Begins (picture below)
It's Sepp Holzer's turn. He says, "if you don't have pigs in your system, you have to do the pigs' work." This is a "permaculture fact" so Sepp receives 1 energy unit. He draws a skill card, (Ace of Clubs, Hugelkultur, worth 11 energy,) and spends it on an animal (Seven of Hearts, Pigs, normally costing 7 energy, but he's Sepp Holzer so he only pays 6) and gets 5 spare energy units in change. The animal card on the top of the stack, (Chickens,) is revealed and is now available for sale. He says two "permaculture facts" about hugelkultur and receives 2 additional energy units. He then spends 5 energy units on the adjacent land with a nut on it, and places his flag, (a stone,) on his new land, along with his new Pigs piece. He now has two contiguous balanced ecosystems, (Sepp + a nut, and Pigs + a nut) meaning on his next turn he will be able to purchase land from as far away as two adjacent spaces. He decides not to move any animals and ends his turn with 2 spare energy units left over.
It's Mike Oehler's turn. He says a "fact" about his farm and receives 1 energy unit. He draws a skill card, (Eight of Spades, Natural Swimming Pool, worth 8 energy,) and just for being Mike Oehler he started out with an ace-in-the-hole, (Ace of Spades, Wofati, worth 11 energy.) He buys a plant (Queen of Hearts, Comfrey, costing 11 energy,) with his Wofati, mentions a couple "facts" about the benefits of earth-integrated construction, and receives 2 energy units. He reveals the top plant card, (Fungi,) making it available for sale. He gets 8 energy from spending his natural swimming pool, plus 2 more energy units when he remembers to say two "facts" about it, and spends 5 energy on the adjacent square with a nut on it. He places his flag, (a twig,) on his new land but decides not to place his Comfrey on the board yet. He moves his animal, (Jack of Spades, Mike Oehler,) to the land he just purchased, leaving him with one balanced ecosystem, (Mike + a nut,) one unbalanced ecosystem (a lone nut,) and with 8 spare energy units left over.
It's Masanobu Fukuoka's turn. He draws a skill card, (Three of Spades, Food Forest, worth 3 energy,) then does nothing and ends his turn with one balanced ecosystem (Masanobu + a nut.)
It's Ruth Stout's turn. She talks about how she likes to take off her clothes and tuck vegetable scraps under her mulch, gaining her 1 energy unit. She draws a skill card, (Four of Clubs, Food as Medicine, worth 4 energy) and spends it on an animal card, (Four of Hearts, Livestock Guardian Dogs, costing 4 energy.) She mentions that bear garlic is good for memory, but forgets to mention a second fact about Food as Medicine and so doesn't receive 2 energy units. The top animal card, (Ben Law,) is revealed, making him available for sale. She decides not to place her Dogs, her Apple Tree, or her Black Locust yet, doesn't move any animals, and ends her turn with 1 spare energy unit, and one balanced ecosystem, (Ruth + a nut.)
Slightly tangent to the previous post, but a little less complicated:
A role-playing story-telling game could also be made to play with the permaculture decks of cards.
There would be two categories of players: One story-master and everyone else being adventurers.
The deck of cards would be sorted out into the following sections:
Before the game begins, the story-master must be elected by a majority vote, and all the adventurers must choose one character to play as, one relevant skill/method for their character, and one plant or animal to function as a companion.
The Story-Master has no character and does not use any cards and is not a character. The Story-Master only helps develop the plot.
-all sections of the deck are shuffled separately
-the Story-Master pulls out one Setting card and creates a situation for the Adventurers to solve
-The Adventurers use their characters, skills, and companions to solve the situations that the Story-Master presents
-The Story-Master guides plot development by pausing and playing the story whenever
-When a calamity befalls the Adventurers, a companion, skill, or character may be lost, and the first card from the top of each section must be drawn to replace what was lost
-As the story progresses, the setting may be changed by the Story-Master by turning over the next card from the Settings pile
Game-play continues until all players are either tired or the story is resolved.
Ways to alter the game:
-roll die for character stats like health, intelligence, wisdom, age, etc
-create new rules as the story develops