GGJ Archives 2009-2012


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Game Information
Short Introduction: 
A boardgame. Emerging and adapting, newly formed life evolves on a decaying creature.
non-digital (board game, card game, physical game, etc.)
Brief Play Description: 

The goal in Saprobiont is to accumulate the most Biomass for your species to avoid extinction. Players earn Biomass by controlling Zones as well as by other species-specific means. The player with the most Biomass at the end of the game wins.

The species are:

The Swarm - Places tokens twice each turn. Gets a biomass bonus when controlling four or more zones.

The Shredder - Gets a Biomass bonus for killing enemies

The Canker - Placing tokens in a zone converts enemy tokens. Gains a Biomass bonus for of their tokens at end of the game.

The Ampulex - Placing in a zone, moves enemy tokens out Zone into another creating conflict. Earns bonus biomass for tokens killed in this way.

Diversifiers and Credits
GGJ 2012 Diversifiers : 
Asymmetry: (Every player is different) The game requires more than one player, but each player has entirely different goals and rules.
Team Image: 
Lead/Game Designer: Carl de Visser. Game Designers: Matt Buist, Matthew Gatland, James Hannam. Artist/Graphic Design: Max Schulz, Kerry Simpson. Video Editing: Vivek Karmarkar
Game Files: 
Installation Notes: 

Print out the game board.

Print out the four species mats. Two are included on each page. Cut the pages in half to separate all four species mats.

This game requires four sets of tokens, for the four different species:

The Swarm: 24 tokens
The Shredder: 35 tokens
The Canker: 20 tokens
The Ampulex: 15 tokens

Your rating: None Average: 5 (9 votes)


Congratulations and a suggestion...

Hey, this game looks fantastic, and I can't wait to play it!

I had a thought about how you keep track of your score. Did you perhaps consider making a score track for this game instead of requiring pen and paper? Was the intent to "hide" your score as you play? (I don't think it says this in the rules.) With a score track, nobody has to worry about whether everyone kept score correctly, it would only require one more token per person, and additionally it'd be another opportunity for more of that fantastic artwork!

I'm tempted to make my own... In your playtesting, what was the average high-score for the game?



There is no intention to hide

There is no intention to hide the scores, so a score track would work. Especially good for making everyone feel nervous about the swarm (who tend to score early, and hopefully not later).

I have played a little after the weekend, and I am nervous that a late change we made to the Swarm negatively affected The Shredder. As they have to play to suppress the Swarm, they limit their kills, and I suspect they should get two points per kill, not one. (Needs more testing)

THe wording for the Ampulex power was also perhaps not ideal. They should be able to push other sides to uncontested locations as well, not just into combat (although that is ideal for them).

I'm glad you liked the game, we had a great deal of fun making it.


you can never have too much testing...

As far as the Ampulex power goes, I did get that from the rules.

I'll keep an eye out for the shredder, and see how they fare with the rules as written.

I was happy to see the game on BGG also! I suggested the creation of a "Global Game Jam" game "family" on there, that would make it easier to find games created during the game jam. When it goes live, I'll definitely suggest that Saprobiont gets added to it.


That is probably a much

That is probably a much better way to play the Shredder.

Glad you got such a varied victory range.

We were pretty proud of the balance, in fact we probably spent too much time on it.

When we did our first blind test we realised our balance was less important than the first play experienced, so we stopped working on balance and tried to make the clarity and presentation a lot better.


Awesome Game!

Found your game on Saturday and I have to say you guys have one of the coolest games this year. Can't wait to try it out after I recover from the jam!


A few notes on the game

We managed to playtest this game many, many times during the 48 hours. (We estimate, including partial breakthroughs early on the development, probably over 100). We kept the game short specifically for this purpose. It takes around 20 minutes for new players (not including reading the rules), and we were getting the play down to around 8 minutes at our fastest.

Different ways of playing can produce quite different results, and we often fell into ruts of playing the same way, which coloured our evaluation of the balance. Swapping which side we played regularly helped deal with that fairly well.

The Canker was the hardest to nail down for powers. Originally we had 5 sides, and the Canker and the fifth race occupied a very similar mechanical space (the fifth race gained tokens in defence after placing). In the end we dropped it, and made the Canker "more normal" (originally it started all on the board and grew.)

Once the powers seemed balanced, we had issues with the victory conditions. The map had a big effect on who won. The open map without the barrier favours the Swarm and the Ampulex, while a tighter map favours the Shredder and the Cancer. The single barrier works well, but Max, one of the artists, who drove the graphical tone was never happy with it as a pattern.

The last thing to change mechanically was the victory points for the Swarm. We had them to the point where they could get second, but not win. The current version gives them the victory when they manage to break out and cover a lot of the map.

The game seems to generate a bit of a metagame, where various powers seem overpowered in turn to the players.

The name Saprobiont comes from the name for a species that lives or feeds on dead matter.

The graphic design is based on Art Nouveau, as it was heavily influenced by discoveries in biology. It fits in with the theme of transformation and rebirth.

The flavour text is meant to be reminiscent of either biologists journals, or nature documentaries. Would would an external observer say if he was observing the species of the game.

They are also meant to be a subtle strategy guide to playing the creature, as is the additional name above the species name on the player mat.

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