Elizabeth Hargrave recently revealed that her upcoming board game will be focused on Mother Trees and their connections with fungi in the mycorrhizal network.
Hargrave is no stranger to nature-inspired board games. She is perhaps best known for the popular bird-themed board game franchise “Wingspan”. In it, players take the roles of bird enthusiasts, with the aim to collect and place as many bird species as possible in their respective habitats.
Each successful placement extends a powerful chain of effects – the more it extends, the better. In order to place a bird in its habitat, players need to pay a food cost and lay eggs in the selected habitat. This will grant you points, which are used to determine the winner. After four rounds, the player with the most points wins the game.
She has also designed “Mariposas” – a board game centered around the migration of monarch butterflies. The gameplay is seemingly more simplistic – the player’s butterflies try to head north in spring, spread out in summer, and return south in fall. There is a scoring system after each season’s end. When fall ends, the player who has the most successful family of butterflies (i.e. with the highest score) is declared the winner.
Hargrave also works hand in hand with Jeff Frazer on his recently announced game “The Fox Experiment”. This particular game is inspired by a Soviet experiment on the domestication of wild foxes.
Become the Best Tree That You Can Be!
In her upcoming game, players will take on the roles of Mother Trees – the biggest and tallest trees in the forest, responsible for holding the entire forest around them together. These forest giants carry within them the genes of many climates and provide homes for hundreds of species.
What is most fascinating is their interdependence with the mycelium fungi network, which forms an expansive mycorrhizal network. It is this Mother Tree – mycelium codependency that inspired Hargrave to start working on this new game, after reading “Finding the Mother Tree” – a memoir by the Canadian forest ecologist Suzanne Simard.
Just like a mycorrhizal network, players will be using a “shared set of mushroom cards,” which they will use to build an ever-expanding network around them. The connections they will be building will be crucial in spreading their seedlings and establishing beneficial relationships between them and the fungi network that surrounds them. Unfortunately, no further details on gameplay mechanics have been shared.
Currently, the game does not have an official title, but Hargrave did say she has considered naming the game “Mother Tree” as a tribute to Suzanne Simard’s memoir. The new game is set to launch as a Kickstarter project sometime next year. Further details and announcements are expected in the coming months, so stay tuned for more!