Update: Cellulose: A Plant Cell Biology Game has launched on Kickstarter and the campaign will run for 23 days. You may back the standard or the Deluxe edition of the game, or go for the PnP files. Genius Games' previous game, Cytosis, is available to order as well.
Our preview post below was published on April 12.
Cellulose: A Plant Cell Biology Game is a 1-5 players worker placement game set inside a plant cell. Players compete to contribute the most to the cell's health, earning Health Points in the process. It will launch on Kickstarter on April 13.
The game features a variety of interconnected systems. First, there is the cell wall, which is built step by step by adding carbohydrates. Each carbohydrate added to the wall will yield a number of points that may vary from one step to another. At the end of each round, an additional carbohydrate is automatically added: if the wall is complete by then, the game ends and the final scoring begins.
Second, there is the Central Vacuole. Players can add water (symbolized by cubes of their color) to this central pool. At the end of each round, the players with the most water in the central vacuole move their markers one step along the track, scoring the corresponding number of points. If only one player has the majority, that player also takes an additional, neutral worker for the next round.
Third, there is a Plant Board, featuring two tracks: a Shoot track, and a Root track. This corresponds to a dual “tech-tree” of sorts: during the game, the players will be able to pay to move their two markers alongside these two tracks. This allows them to earn additional resources at the beginning of the round, and potentially additional actions to be taken during the round.
The game is played in a series of rounds, divided into three phases: Morning, Daytime, and Evening. In the Morning, players simply collect resources (Water and CO2) according to their position on the two tracks of the Plant Board, and possibly to the cards they played earlier in the game. In the Daytime, players take turns to place their Workers and take the corresponding actions. Spaces can host either only one worker overall or only one worker per player. The actions include collecting of resources (water, CO2, but also hormones and proteins), exchanging resources (water and CO2 for carbohydrates, carbohydrates for ATP), building the wall with carbohydrate bricks, spending hormones and ATP to progress further in the Plant Board dual tracks, seizing the First Player marker, or purchasing a card. This phase ends when all players have placed all their workers (usually four in a two-player game). Water cubes can be added to the Central Vacuole for the end-of-round majority scoring by taking the collecting water action.
After placing a worker and taking an action, you can also put a card into play, if you can afford its cost (in proteins, ATP, water, or carbohydrates). All cards remain in play until the end of the game. They may have varied effects, from giving you an instant amount of a given resource, additional resources every subsequent Morning phase, or Health Points, to additional scoring venues at the end of the game or retrieving a worker to perform an additional action. Enzyme cards are special in that when you put one into play, you can activate an additional bonus of all previously Enzyme cards in play for the cost of one protein each.
The round ends with the Evening phase, in which all players take back their workers, the water level is refilled, the Central Vacuole is scored, and one carbohydrate is added to the Cell Wall, with the end game being triggered if the wall is complete by then. The final score is then tallied up, and the player with the most points wins the game.
The solo mode pits you against an AI in a 2-player game. The AI follows a hierarchy to choose its actions, but in turn, these actions implement a long-term strategy that feedbacks on this hierarchy. More specifically, the AI uses a Strategy card. Each action taken moves the AI marker on this grid, until it reaches one of the four edges, which correspond to the four major strategies: using Enzyme cards to perform powerful combos, focusing on the Central Vacuole (end of the round majority scoring), moving along the “tech” tracks of the Plant Board, or exploiting the cards that enable it to retrieve a worker to perform additional action within a round. Once it has reached a strategy, it will stick to it, but can move further along the corresponding edge to eventually settle on a “hybrid” strategy, corresponding to one of the four corners of the grid.