Shhhh…I’m listening to reason

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So as I’m typing this I’m into day 6 of a hell of an ear infection.  Yeah, you know those things toddlers get?  Well, this bad boy crawled up and grew on my ear drum and made it go concave and made me feel like someone was jabbing an icepick into my head.  Now it’s just like I’m in an airplane and have had to pop my ear.  For six days.

Let’s just say I’m a little miserable.

So I might not be as chipper for the rest of this game, and excuse me if I’m a bit short on details as my patience is waaayyyy down.  I hope by the time you read this it will have cleared up (yes I’m on some meds and I’m going to an ENT if those don’t work), but for now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

Which is the elephant.

Pax EmancipationMap

We’ve been doing some damage here and there.  Well, we’ve been STOPPING damage here and there, which is usually not what one does in most games, which is nice.  Anyway, we ended the last post not in control of the elephant, so we have our fingers crossed that it won’t start too many fires.

And a roll of ‘2’ assures that (mostly).  It skips the modernized Brazil and lands in London where it’ll only roll 1 Hate die and while The Terror and Gabelle Tax Farmers (The what?) are still there, I can handle them and maybe start a Revolution there.  A roll of ‘2’ again, however, results in nothing happening.  Again, no pogroms or Revolutions, so we Refresh the Market and move on over.

All I did for the Missionaries is fundraise since I already have two Syndicated agents who can do some good stuff during that phase, so I got another freeman in the Kongo as well as some anarchy out of the Colonies.  Of course, that meant the Elephant sat in the Kongo and rolled the one number that would created frustrated hate, resulting in anarchy and the Kongolese Revolution starting.  Hrmph.

We also played the last Western Idea into the Market, meaning we’re about half way through the game.  Let’s check the scores!

Red Agents on the board: 4

Slavers: 6

Dang.

Freemen on the Board: 7

Needed: 15

Still doable.  Just need to keep my eye on the prize here.

CaptureThis one will be a little tough as I don’t have those symbols available in the splay so I’ll have to find a Lawsuit action to get it in there, and the cheapest one of those is cost ‘4’ right now, which is a bit too pricey at the moment.  While I won’t gain much for completing that Revolution, it will keep me from LOSING my current gains if it fails.

A few turns pass and we drop a few more Freemen, get our money back, and fill up Revolutionaries on the Colonies, eventually finishing up that card.  That gave us another sunk slaver, more freemen, and another symbol pair into the splay.  Unfortunately it’s candle/candle which doesn’t help us at the moment, but it could down the line.  Oh, I also took down the KKK because eff those guys.

Turns pass and Red is able to spend 3 to get a Lawsuit action and get a comet/feather into the Bill of Rights, getting a manifesto written and free fundraiser as a bonus.

The Revolution soon passes while Korea gets pretty uppity.

Now here’s an interesting move.  I’m trying to get the Japanese Sphere cleaned up to get a lot of Freemen down to win with the Missionaries, but I need agents to do anything.  Right now there are 4 barriers, so it’s expensive to drop a Red agent there.  But, this idea is in the Market for 2 gold:

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And comet/feather is a symbol pair in the splay, so it is Viable.  That means I can do a Legislate action with it to get the bonus on the left side of the card:  A free agent in Edo.  Bam, 2 gold savings!

I now have about 3 turns left.  Let’s see where we are:

Red Agents: 6

Slavers: 5

Freemen: 11

Needed: 15

Gotta get those Westernize actions and fast.


Capture

What the hell?  It’s a new day and I went to load my game and this is what happened and…

No.

Oh no.

*slaps forehead*

*clickclickclick*

Yup.  I frickin’ saved my Bios: Origins 2 game over this one.  Gah!

So here’s another teaching moment, when playing two games at once using Vassal: BE CAREFUL WHAT FILENAME YOU’RE USING.

At least I got through most of the game.  So what didn’t you get to see?  Endgame scoring.

So, when you are unable to fill the market because you’re out of cards from the 2 16 card decks you made at the beginning of the game, that’s when you check to see if you win.  I was pretty close to winning, and unless something went horribly wrong, I could probably have gotten those 4 Freemen down without trouble, so no problem there.  Then you calculate points.

Points are basically every token of your color on the board, plus each token in your “score pile,” which is every barrier, slaver and anarchy you’ve removed from the board.  Disease tokens are a nice 3VP (and pretty necessary to win multiplayer, IMO).

The basic solitaire/co-op win condition is to just pass your basic win conditions by the end of the game.  If you get more than 50 points, that’s a “marginal victory,” 70 is a “get up and dance” victory.  Okay, I may have taken some editorial license on that last one.

In this particular game I doubt I would have reached marginal victory.  I hadn’t done much to get barriers since they weren’t part of my main goal, so that was a lot of points I left on the table.

Other bit, if this was a competitive game, the game wouldn’t be over, oh no, it would get REAL.  The Idea decks would get reshuffled and 5 card decks would be made and you’d continue to play, however no one has to worry about their goals anymore.  Now it’s pure point scoring, because there can be only one winner.

Scoring changes a bit, too.  Sure, you get 1VP for each piece of your color on the board (except for Dissidents, White scores all VPs for Dissidents because Missionaries like martyrs) but factories score more points, equal to the number of merchant ships adjacent to their sphere squared.  I’ve never seen anyone try to get a boat sunk to lower a factory score, but I wouldn’t put it past them!

There’s also bonus points for every Sphere that ends in your own personal political ideology, and here’s where you can score some big catch-up points and where a lot of the push and pull in the co-op phase can happen.  You see, if a Sphere is in your ideology, you score a VP for every token on that Sphere, regardless of the owner.  Double VPs, baby.

So Parliament gets that bonus if the Sphere has ONLY red barriers attached to it.  Missionaries gets it if it has ONLY white barriers attached to it and Philanthropists get it if there are NO barriers attached.

This is where “Corruption” comes into play.  Corruption is a choice in a Revolution resolution as one of the many choices you can make with your agent.  You can choose to have another player (or yourself) put a barrier BACK onto the Sphere, aligning it to your politics.  It’s mean, and dangerous to do in the co-op phase, but totally worth it.  It won’t make you friends, but I did say there was only one winner, didn’t I?

Because of this “co-op until it isn’t” mentality, the game becomes much more cerebral and a hell of a lot of fun, and even if you lose, slavery was still abolished so it’s not like it was all for nothing.

Like playing for a week and then saving the wrong file….

*sigh*

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Apropos Tunes

I love the idea of thematic music with my games.  I try, most of the time, to set up a radio or ipad or whatever next to the table and have some music playing in the background.  If I’m feeling scrappy, I look up melodice.com or some other “ambiance” sites to get something that really embodies the game to get the feel of what I’m doing.

And then I forget about it because once I’m thinking about the game, I barely register that music is playing.

So I’ll be honest that I don’t know why I bother doing it.

But anyway, I happened to be listening to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” before starting this session, and as I loaded up Vassal and opened WordPress’s editing program “The Trial” began.  The strange warbling “craaazzzyyyy, can’t you seee hee”ss craaazzzyyyy” relating to the subject of slavery certainly hits the mark, as well as the chanting of “Tear down The Wall” at the end to break down the literal Barrier tokens.

It just worked.

Of course, what’s not working is my strategy so far, so let’s get back into it.

(and Prince’s “Purple Rain” album is starting now….so make of that what you will)

We’re back to the Parliament’s turn, and at least we have some cash (4 in Capital and 2 in Debt).  We’re still looking at anarchy in India, so getting a boat out there might not be a bad idea since we can afford it right now.  Of course, we also don’t have ANY agents on ideas, and getting the Revolution viable is important.  That will cost a bit of cash, too.

Pax EmancipationMap

Okay, plan thought up, and it should create some wealth for the future, as you’ll see.  1st, shipbuilding.  3 from Capital to Wealth (and one added to Debt from the pool), and a boat put in the space between India and the East Indies.  I can’t afford to put a Marine on there, but as my free Maritime action, I’ll jump my marine from the Caribbean to the new ship and rescue an anarchy.

I then drop 2 gold to place an Agent on Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood.

Idea

The reason to do that is the symbol in the lower right with all the hands in the air (like they don’t care…HAAYYY—OOOO).  Because we’re now in the Ops phase, I will activate that icon, called the Plebiscite action.  It would seem that Gabriel here has made an idea so prevalent, that it gets added to the “splay” of The Will of the People.  This means I can take any card that is under this one and take it and add it to the Will of the People Splay.

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Well, one of them is our Revolution, which we can’t use, so we’ll do Habeas Corpus.  I’ll take that and add it to Will of the People with the Candle showing next to the Lock.

Capture

This makes every idea with Lock/Candle on them Viable.  Like our Revolution!  This move also creates some bonus actions as well.  First, the Plebiscite action gives you the ability to do a bonus Fundraiser, a bonus Legislate action or a Nationalize action, which isn’t a big thing in solo or co-op games.  I’m going to do a Fundraiser because…well…money!  I’ll take my token off of Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood (I don’t think I’ll need that anymore, and add it to my two agents in Wealth, and then move those three up to Capital.  Oh hey, fundraiser let’s me do a Maritime action, too.  I’m going to grab a barrier off of India.  It has to be a purple one, but it’s one less thing to go wrong there.

ALSO, because I made a Revolution Viable, I am considered to have written a manifesto, so I can add an Agent to those Revolutions (yes, you can do multiple with one action if the Revolutions have the same icon pair) from the pool.  More money!

Which now means I can do an Op from the Revolution.  I’ll just do a Maritime action and free some anarchy off of the Colonies.

Woo!  What a turn!  But now the Elephant can respond, and I didn’t control it, so it will walk (and show up in India on a ‘6’).  So let’s see.  A ‘4’ has it showing up in Hong Kong, which gives it 3 Hate Dice.  There is no cultural diffusion since there is already a card missing from the Market.

*rollrollroll*

5,5,5.  Huh.  The only thing with a 5 on it is Hereditary Serfdom which does not have a frustration outline, so nothing happens.  *phew*  No pogroms happen, so we can jump right to the Revolution phase.

No new Revolutions happen, so we’ll resolve Brazil.  First, it modernizes:

Capture

Then the Dissidents will fill any empty black squares in the Sphere.  If those are full, they’ll go to the Sphere with the least amount of barriers and fill squares there.  That sends them to the Colonies.  Nice.  Now going from right to left on the card, we get to Write the new laws for the location.  So the “Red Player” gets an action, then White gets 2, for the agents on the Revolution card.  You can take a slaver off of the Sphere, take an anarchy, take a barrier, place an agent anywhere on the board, put the Revolution into the splay that made it Viable or be corrupt and make other players put barriers back into play (which is fun in competitive games).

Instead I’ll have Red sink the Caribbean slaver, White build its Factory (more on that later) and sink the other slaver.  With that, the Revolution card gets discarded and the face of the world is forever changed.

So with White’s turn I decided to get the Colonies going again, first Fundraising and then plopping an Agent in the Caribbean to use Literacy and create a Dissident.  I didn’t expect anarchy or anything, but at least I’d control the elephant and maybe drop my own anarchy in a turn or two while Parliament worked somewhere else.

And then I rolled ‘6’ on the hate roll, and anarchy happened anyway, so Revolution happened anyway!  The downside to this is I’m not able to get any free agents on it, so it sits there with 3 open spots that need to get filled the hard way.

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And no, Guns ‘n’ Roses “Civil War” isn’t playing right now.  I’m over GnR.

Back to the Missionaries and I still feel like I’m broke.  Of course, I should keep in mind I had ZERO gold not too long ago, so 2 in Capital and 1 in Wealth is nothing to sneeze at.

Okay, so let’s use our new-found factory.  I’m going to (for free!) place a new agent into the Kongo.  Normally I wouldn’t be able to due to the sickness marker that is there (the green-yellow disc).  But now that I have a factory, I can totally do an elephant action in that Sphere and cure the malaria there and take the disc as 3 VP at the end of the game.

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I guess I’ll use my other action to get a Revolutionary on the Civil War since that’s the cheapest slot.  And for Ops, I’ll Maritime in the East Indies to take a barrier and Westernize in Luanda to get more Freemen down.

Elephant turn and we roll a ‘1’.  Uh oh.  That’s the Revolution card.  It has an arrow on it so it slips into the Eastern column.  If it is pushed off the Market completely, it will count as a failed Revolution which will hurt (you have to put slavers, barriers and the like back onto the board…no one likes that).  Guess I’ll have to turn up the heat there.

Our hate roll kills that new Freeman and sends into the Dissident square.  Nuts.  Ah well.  No pogroms, no Revolutionaries, we refill the Market, are happy to see the card going next to our Revolution will NOT push it if it gets rolled and we get back to our rich Parliamentarians.

Since the Revolution doesn’t have as much of chance of falling off of the Market right now, I’ll focus on longer term play and build a boat.  I also slap a Marine on it to try and bridge the gap between number of Agents and number of Slavers for the eventual endgame scoring.  I spend my free Maritime action to grab the Continental System barrier from Europe and snag an anarchy off of India.

And I know this gives me no Ops, but the free Maritime Ops I think makes up for it, I’m going to fundraise to get three agents in Capital and be able to spend 1 gold and have to roll 1+ to sink the slaver in the Mediterranean.  I also grab the anarchy out of the East Indies.  I think that’s still a pretty effective turn.  Of course, I didn’t control the elephant.  Hmmm.  Guess that’s a calculated risk, if I’m lucky, he’ll land in the colonies or Europe.

But I guess you can wait until tomorrow for that.

Creeping upon its petty pace-

Dice, it seems, are jerks, too

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So the last turn (and our first turn, of all things), kind of blew up in our faces.  But that’s okay, we’ve got this.  Now we have our Missionaries to go, and their “power” is a good one.  They are able to post an agent at a location for free.  Usually it costs the number of barriers the Sphere has at the time, so right now it would cost 3 at the minimum.  But we don’t have to worry about that with our White pawns.  Boom.

But, of course, Agents on the board isn’t the main problem, it’s the two anarchy markers in the Colonies.  If those spread 1) That’s less and less points for me at the end of the game and if all of the anarchy discs are ever on the board 2) I lose!  So I’ll need to take those out.  Action 1 will be spending a gold to get an Agent onto Chinese Protector, which will allow me to do the Maritime Action.

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The little sextant at the top there is the Maritime action.

Tee hee.  Sextant.

And…after much thought, I’ll spend a gold to Syndicate another agent onto Bengali Renaissance.  There’s some good icons on there and it’s still cheap, even with the other agent from Parliament on there, so we’ll go with that.

That brings us to the Ops phase, and we’ll do Maritime first.  We can’t move any Marines around as there’s only one boat, so he stays there, and we can do an action there, and that will be to take an anarchy disc off of the Colonies.  This does nothing to the elephant (I just interacted with the Sphere, not a port), but at least it stops a future pogrom.  My other Agent will do a Westernize action.  This one will be in Bahia, where White starts with an Agent in play.

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So I get to add a freeman there, leading to only 1d6 rolled for our Hate roll.  Remember, Westernize is an elephant action, so the elephant will be Bahia and will not move during its phase.  Speaking of which, it’s the elephant’s phase now, so we roll for Cultural Diffusion and I get a ‘1’.  Dang.

Capture.JPG

1 is Rebel Mysticism.  But see the arrow there, next to the name Nat Turner?  That means this Idea spreads to the East, so rather than discarding, the Eastern Idea is discarded and Rebel Mysticism goes into the Eastern column.  So Bengali Renaissance is discarded, and both Agents on there are returned to the Wealth boxes of their respective player boards.  Sadly that means I have to spend yet another action to get them back onto another Idea. *grumble*

So no move from the elephant, so I have to roll 1d6 for Hate.  A ‘6’ is rolled, which is a frustrated Green and a Gold.  I lose a Gold *grumble* and an anarchy disc is put onto Brazil.  *grumble*

At least there’s no pogroms.  Anyway, we refill the market (this happens at the end of every turn, by the way) by sliding the Western Idea column down and replacing the top card with one from a stack of 16 cards we made at the beginning of the game.

So we’re back to Parliament’s turn and it doesn’t look like we’ve accomplished too much.  Stinkin’ dice.  I’ve only got two agents in Wealth for red, while 4 are sitting in Debt.  I could just do Fundraiser twice to get some money back, but due to Cultural Diffusion last turn, Red would get absolutely no Ops this turn, and I’d also have no control over the Elephant and it could wander into China and drop a lot of pain.

But I have to do it at least once….so let me at least bring up the 2 Wealth to Capital and get a free Maritime action.  I could spend 1 gold and roll a die.  If I got 4+ I’d sink the slaver in the Caribbean.  50% isn’t a great roll, though.  I think I’ll just grab the anarchy disc for now.  I’ll grab the one out of Brazil because if I don’t touch the Elephant, it could walk to Brazil and drop more.

Looking at the idea market, anything I want to do would cost me at least 2 gold.  Too damn much.  Which means I’ll just do another fundraiser and another free maritime.  It seems like I’m throwing away my turn, but this isn’t completely unusual.  Sometimes you have to wait for the market to be right before you move on it, and you need money to do any moving at all.  So I move the 2 agents in capital down to wealth, which brings two agents from debt to wealth, and then all 4 of them move up to Capital.  Ahhhh, feels good.

I skip the Ops phase and we go right to the elephant.  I roll ‘5’.  Liberalism gets discarded and the Elephant meanders over to Maratha.

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Ick.  That means I’m rolling 4d6 (the max) and a roll of 1,3 or 4 will produce anarchy.  Interesting note here, were I not playing solitaire (or if I weren’t playing cooperative and had other players), I wouldn’t have to worry about Hate.  That’s because the 3 locations with 5 Barriers are considered Tyrannies.  Because they rule their countries with an iron fist, all of this anarchy doesn’t happen. Woot!  However, as soon as they lose one Barrier, the Tyranny is shaken and anarchy can start to rumble through the Sphere.  Neat, huh?

However, that rule is waved in co-op and solitaire because games hate me.

*rollrollroll*

1,1,1,3

Have I mentioned games hate me?  4 anarchy.  2 in India, and the other 2 must spread out, so I put one in the East Indies and one in Zululand.

And since we’re now on the Pogrom phase, I get to roll for India.

Yay.

I roll a ‘6’, which spawns another anarchy, which I spread to China.

Refill the market….and cry.

Okay, do I buy another boat and try to clean up the anarchy wave coming in the East, or do I try and start a revolution in the Colonies now that it looks like I might be able to actually afford to finish one?

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Maybe I can do a bit of both?  As I’m the Missionaries right now, I could post an Agent in Korea and see if I can get things started in Japan.  Maybe build a boat there?  Between it and the East Indies, so I can clean up the anarchy there?  The roll to sink that slaver isn’t too bad.

But I only have 3 gold in Wealth right now.  I’m broke.  Boats are too expensive, and if I use an action to fundraise, I won’t be able to do what I need to do.  OKAY, plan B (or U at this point).  Let’s go back to Brazil and try to stack the Revolutionary deck in our favor.  I’m going to Syndicate on to Tacky’s War, because it’s number is the lowest in the column.  You’ll see why this is good (hopefully).  It’s also free, so bully for me.  Then I’ll spend 2 gold (my LAST 2 gold) to put someone on Habeas Corpus.  I’m doing that because it has the Lawsuit action, which is necessary for your first Revolution.  I’m really banking that a Revolution will start, so fingers crossed.

Okay, in my ops phase, I have 3 separate cards to go with.  Tacky’s war only has Manumission, which can place freemen, but it costs the number of barriers, so there’s no way in hell I’m doing that, so that means that card won’t do squat.  Instead I’m having them BOTH do literacy, which will put a Dissident in both Dissident squares in a Sphere where I have an agent.  Back to Brazil!

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Why would I do this?  Well, if anything gets killed here, rather than becoming a dissident, it’ll become anarchy.  “But anarchy is bad!”  Well, yes, BUT if there’s anarchy and a dissident on a card, a Revolution begins, AND if all dissident squares are filled with the same color, the Revolution will start with one agent on it (of that color).  That agent, too, comes from the pool, so you ultimately gain another gold to play with for the rest of the game.  Cha-ching!

Elephant roll is ‘2’. That discards the Haitian Revolt and luckily doesn’t ruin any of my plans.  Wait, yes it does.  Crap.  You’ll see why I’m mad later.  Now for the 1d6 Hate roll where I actually hope to get an anarchy!  I roll a ‘6’ and I do!  I also have to lose a gold, but everything is in Debt, so I don’t actually know what to do at this point.  Ah, rule says “Ignore if totally in debt.”  Okay.

Now to roll for the pogrom in India.  *crosses fingers*  ‘2’ which would kill a red pawn, but there aren’t any there, so nothing happens!  Yay!

And now we’re at the Revolution phase, where we see Brazil has anarchy and a dissident.  REVOLUTION!

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This shows both sides of the same card.  Revolution cards look much like Idea cards with a few differences.  There’s spots on them for your agents to go.  Once those spaces are filled, and the Revolution is “Viable” (it’s icons match an icon pair in a splay), the Revolution is successful!  Yay!

There’s also two colored boxes with numbers in them.  That’s points for the end game.  Nice and hotly fought over in the competitive game.  Fun times.  I go with the Latin American Independence side just because there are more Lock symbols in the Idea Market than Feather icons.

So anyway, the Revolution card goes in the spot where the lowest Climax numbered card is.  Well, what do you know Tacky’s War has the number ‘6’ next to its name, by far the lowest number in the Western Column.  Out it goes!  Any pawns on that Idea are put on the Revolution as Revolutionaries.  And here I am with a pawn already there.  It’s like I know what I’m doing or something.

ALSO, if all dissident squares are filled, like I said before, I create a “Hero of the People” and can put an Agent from my pool on the leftmost space of a Revolution.  Boom, both spaces already filled.  Now all I have to do is make the Revolution viable and we’ll modernize our first Sphere!

A 1 day more modern post.

Humans are jerks

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I’m an optimistic sort.  I believe people are basically good.

I’ve had that belief tested on multiple occasions.  A person on the side of the road said he needed help getting his van jumped and it was a couple blocks away.  So I let him in my car to drive to the van so I could jump it for him.  Of course, rather than doing that, he proceeded to rob me and I was lucky that when I refused to drive to an ATM, he just got out of the car and left rather than beating the crap out of me.

Also, in 2013 we bought a house and were told a loooonnnnggg line of crap from both our realtor and our lender who were looking for a quick buck.  We were young and naive and have been paying for it since that day with a ridiculously high interest rate on a home that appraises for half of what we owe on it.

But we’re all human, right?  No one actually wants to hurt anyone else, right?  Sometimes we get desperate and need to eat, so we may stoop to doing something harmful…but there’s not too many people twirling their mustaches under their tophats thinking of new ways to take money from widows and orphans.  Right?

But there’s something humans have done that really REALLY makes me question that.  And that’s the subject of the playthrough I am about to play:

box

In this game, you act as one of three groups with the goal of eliminating slavery in the world.  Because ripping away someone’s humanity and treating them like a thing is probably one of the stupidest, worst, god-awful thing that can be done to a people.

There is much to be said about this game and the philosophy behind it.  Much of it is…well…not good.  I don’t want to dwell on that because 1)I’m no historian. 2) The point of this blog is to point out how fun games are and 3) Lists are really good in threes.

However, it also got me interested in the subject, and it got me to read about Octavius Catto, one of Philadelphia’s first civil rights advocates.  There’s a great book out there called “Tasting Freedom” about him.  I recommend it.  However, get ready to get REAL mad, because holy CRAP did awful stuff happen for no other reason that people’s skin color back then.  I mean, really, really awful stuff for stupid, stupid reasons.  It made me want to invent a time machine just to go back in time and slap people in the face and be like “What the hell, dude?  Think about this for a second!”  I’ve never been more mad, more sad….ugh.  Like the subject said, humans are jerks.

So anyway, if the philosophy behind this game might be a bit skewed in a way that just ain’t right to my mind, at the very least it makes you think about an uncomfortable subject, and it might make you interested enough to read more about it.  And that’s at least a start.  If more people do that, then maybe we can come to terms with it all, and start erasing all the crap that still exists today.

Hey, who put this soapbox here?  I thought it was supposed to be a game box!  Is someone calling me a stinky gamer?

Let’s set the damn game up before I start rambling again.  No one comes to this site to listen to my rambling.

Ahem.

Pax EmancipationMap

HOLY CRAP LOOK AT ALL THAT STUFF!

And what’s weird, is all this fits in a box that fits in the palm of your hand.  Wild, right?  So let’s break this down, first starting with the player board:

pboard1

Here we see Parliament Funkadelic’s player board with….woops, force of habit.  Just Parliament.  Anyway, the stack of agents and freemen on the left are pieces in the pool not yet played, and the black discs are anarchy that hasn’t gone into the world.  Yet.  Probably.  The right side of the board shows how much money Parliament has.  Kind of.  It’s more a representation of the flow of money, than the actual asset itself.

money

You see, each time you lower an agent from Capital to Wealth or Wealth to Debt, you generate one “Gold” which you use for a large number of things in the game.  You can’t keep it and there’s no gold chit that you’re going to collect, just when you choose something that has a cost, you’ll move your agents down to pay for it all.  And yes, you can move an agent from Capital to Debt for 2 gold.  To get money back, you do a “Fundraising” action on your turn.  In this action, you pull agents off the board (if you choose) back to Wealth, then you can move agents from Capital to Wealth.  For each that you do, you may pull an agent from Debt to Wealth (paying off your debts, obvs), and then finally moving everything that’s in Wealth back up to Capital.  So being in Wealth is easy to get back to Capital, but Debt makes it a bit more difficult, and you’ll find mastery of this money flow is essential to winning the game.  Oh, the player board is also just not a red nothingness on the left either.  It’s actually a player aid:

pboard2

I guess the person who made the Vassal mod thought it made the screen look to busy.  I can’t blame him.

Don’t worry, I’ll do my best to help with all this lingo and stuff.  We’ve only talked about money, let’s talk about the rest of the world.

I guess I’m going by order of importance.

Board

Here we see the whole of humanity, represented by 10 cards, each a “Sphere” that we’re going to try and “Modernize” away from slavery.  Each black square represents about 10,000 people in servitude of one kind or another that we’re trying to free.  The brown boats between the Spheres represent slaver ships trading in slave goods from Cotton to Tea to Harems.  They suck.  The greenish yellow tokens represent malaria as a barrier for us to be able to do anything there until we modernize enough to fight it.  Finally above/below the Spheres are the barriers to freedom, 3 to 5 square chits that represent things like the Ku Klux Klan, the Caste System and things I had to look up like the Devsirme System.  They suck, too.

What don’t suck are Ideas:

Ideas

As great investors, we can invest in these Ideas and use them to help spread abolition around the world.  The symbols on the right of the card are the actions the Idea allows us to take, the symbol on the left the bonus if the idea is Legislated into the Bill of Rights.

Bill

Yes, these exist and are probably the more complicated part of the game, so I’ll leave it for in-game stuff to get to explain it.

This is a cooperative/competitive game.  It is cooperative for about 3/4 of the game since you all have to pass a certain threshold to win the game.  However, once that is done, there is only one winner, the person who will forever be viewed as the great abolisher of slavery around the world.  The awesomeness of the game is when to start holding back from the competitive aspects of the game and start setting things up for yourself to win at the end.  It creates some great tension and makes for a hell of a game.

But you don’t have to compete, you can just play the cooperative aspect and call it game there.  I think you lose quite a bit of the fun that way, but it’s still a good game, and the crux of playing solitaire.  In fact, solitaire is just playing a 2-player cooperative game 2 handed.  So that’s what you’ll end up seeing.  The only difference between the “true” game and what you’re seeing is the lack of competitive turns at the end and the lack of “Tyranny,” which I’ll explain when it comes up.  And it will.  And it will hurt.  Tyranny is actually GOOD.  For a while, anyway.

So in this game I will be playing Parliament (you have to as their bonus power is too instrumental to the game) and Missionaries.  I’m choosing the Missionaries because I’ve pretty well handled how the Entrepreneurs play fairly well and win 99% of my games with them.  I still haven’t quite figured out how to get a good win with the Missionaries, and I commonly run out of money with them, so you’ll get to see me struggle and possibly lose!

So, with Parliament and Missionaries, my goals are clear:

goals

Parliament, with their ability to do many Maritime actions will flex their might and place agents on the board and sink slavers to make sure there are more of their own men than slavers out in the world.  Missionaries will use their ability to place agents on the board for free (no one expects the poor guy in the frock!) to free as many people as possible!

Of course, they will be lacking the power of the Entrepenurs, which is when they use agents, they can be pulled from the bottom of their money board.  Both Parliament and Missionaries, whenever they take an agent and put it on the board or on an idea card, must take that agent from their gold, from the HIGHEST spot.  Bye, bye Capital.  Yes, it’s expensive.  That’s where a lot of strategy goes.  But there are ways to make more money.  But you have to be smart and think ahead.

Me?  I smrt.

So we start.  Play order goes Red > Green > White.  Parliament begins with the Action phase, of which they get to choose 2 from the menu.  They can do the same thing twice:

actions

We can ignore the bottom two (they’re blue because you can ignore them if you’re not playing the “Advanced Game,” but why would we want to do that?.  The second column there shows the prerequisites for those actions, and as it’s the first turn, there are no Ideas that are Viable (have icons that match icons in the Bill of Rights or Will of the People), or Syndicated (have agents on them).  Nor are there any Revolutions in the market, so that makes 4 choices to make.

Fundraiser.  I’ve already discussed what that would do.  Essentially at this point it would move all my money to Capital, which actually isn’t a bad thing.  However, Parliament gets a bonus Maritime Operation each time they do a fundraiser action, and I’d hate to waste that….because it’s hard to do a Maritime Operation when you don’t have any boats.

Syndicate is what gets your agents onto the Ideas available.  The third column there shows you the cost.  It’s “Market” + “Agent^2”  Market means those in the bottom row cost 0, the row above 1, all the way up to 5 for the top row.  Agent ^2 means agent squared.  So first one’s free (zero squared), second one will cost 1 gold(1 squared), third one will cost 4(2 squared), etc.  It gets pricey.  It usually means you don’t get more than 2 agents per Idea, but you never know, the Market can be mean and give you crappy icons, and you can get desperate.

There’s a number of ideas to choose from, so that’s an option.  The next is Shipbuilding, and I’ll be honest, action 1 of EVERY game I’ve ever played has been Shipbuilding.  It’s pretty much essential to everything else Parliament does, so without boats, it’s just not worth it, so buying a boat is step 1, all the time.  You see it costs 3 gold (ick), but it puts an Agent into your debt box, so it actually increases the number of agents you have total, so ultimately it will get you more money once you work it back up into your Wealth and Capital areas.

While this may be the first action, how you pay for it and where you play said boat is often different, so let’s see where I’ll play this.Capture

I decide to place the boat in the Caribbean because it might benefit the white player, too, whom I’m also playing.  I can immediately do a Maritime action, which allows me to either move all Marines (agents sitting on boats) or place a Marine on the boat I just placed (a boat without a Marine are considered Merchants which bestow the ability to create Underground Railroads between Spheres.  Neat, huh?).  So I slap a Marine down right away because that’s a step towards Red’s goal, so it’s kind of important.

However, it’s also costly.  I had to spend 3 gold for the boat (I moved 1 from Wealth to Debt and 1 from Capital to Debt).  And then I had to place the Marine which moved an agent from Capital to the board, leaving me with only 1 in Capital, 2 in Wealth and 3 (remember I get one extra for building the boat) in Debt.

I have to think about money, as now that I’ve played this Marine I can use it to a) Remove Anarchy from any adjacent sphere (none to worry about right now) b) Remove a Purple Barrier from any adjacent sphere (neither Brazil nor America have one, those are “Embargo” barriers) or c) attempt to sink the slaver.  That’s a good thing, but it, too, costs money.  1^2 gold per die.  So 1, 4, 9, etc.  And you have to roll over the number of black squares on the adjacent  spheres (4 in this case).  Yuck.  2 dice would be a done deal, but 4 gold is a bit out of my reach at the moment.  1 is possible, but if you only roll 1 die and it shows up as any of the die symbols on the slaver ship, you experience “Corruption” and either anarchy is dropped on a sphere, or one of your barriers has to go back onto the sphere.  It stinks.

So despite the awesomeness of a free Maritime action, I’m holding on to my money for now.

Instead I’m going to use my 2nd action to Syndicate and place my Capital agent onto Bengali Renaissance.

Capture

It’s on the bottom row, so it’s “Free”.  The quotes are there because it cost me my only Capital agent.  However, it means I can take one of the three Ops available on the right side of that card during the Ops phase…which is RIGHT NOW.

Capture

Another large menu to look through, and this one is far more complicated.  Luckily there’s only 3 we have to worry about since that’s all the Idea card has: Suffrage, Literacy and Westernize.

Suffrage is great, because that’s how you grab barriers which makes doing anything else a whole lot better, however, if you look under “Cost”, you see it’s Slaver^2.  So it’ll cost 4 gold in 90% of the world right now.  So let’s just move past that.  Literacy is a good one, wherever you have an agent (I have a few), you can just make a Dissident.  Why would you want that?  Well, if you have both a dissident and anarchy, you create a Revolution!  Revolutions are how you can modernize a Sphere to permanently change them and stop them from creating trouble for you (and give you some points while at it).  Usually you need to set some things up beforehand, though, to make sure your Revolution will succeed before you start one.  Failure stinks.  We’ll move past that one.

Westernize looks pretty easy.  As long as we have a Red Agent (or no red barrier), we can just plop down a Freedman.  Freedmen are White’s goal AND they cover up the black boxes which makes sinking slavers a whole lot easier.  Win-win, so let’s do that.

I only have Agents in two locations, London and Virginia, so I make one in Virginia as that’s the only location with empty boxes.

Notice something about the Westernize icon (as well as many more icons?)

Capture

This little stealthy bugger is an Elephant.  This means that when we take this action we move the elephant marker (yes, the game comes with a small black elephant meeple) to the location where we are doing this action.

Capture

Once the elephant has been moved, it won’t be moved again for that turn, so if you do multiple “Elephant Actions/Ops”, they must all be in the same location.  BUT, that also means the elephant won’t walk during its own Elephant phase…which is NOW.

Now that Actions and Ops are done, it’s now the game’s turn to fight back, and the elephant is going to do the fighting.  First we roll 1d6.  In this case I roll a ‘5’.  Normally the elephant would “Walk” clockwise 5 Spheres, skipping modern or diseased Spheres.  If it did, it would land in Maratha, India, which would be bad.  But since I played an Elephant Op, it stays put in Virginia.  The ‘5’, though, also represents “Cultural Diffusion” and discards or moves the Idea card 5th from the bottom of the Western Idea column.  This card doesn’t have a little arrow on it, which means Principia is discarded.  No tears here, there weren’t any Op icons on it.

Anyway, now we go to the Hate Roll.  Yeah, that’s what it’s actually called.  In this you roll 1d6 for each empty space in the location where the elephant is.  You always count the “port” space (the little circle the elephant’s trunk is on), so you’ll always be rolling 1 die. In our case, we’ll have two since we have the port and one revealed black square.  What we’re hoping aren’t rolled are the die faces on the barriers in this Sphere.

Capture

Each color of the die represents who the people will kill in response to their hate.  Yeah, it ain’t pretty.  The yellow dice represent losing money in all this nonsense.  If the die is rimmed in black, there is “Frustrated Hate,” meaning if there is no one to kill, then anarchy will be produced.  Ridiculous, yes.  Realistic, yes.

So I roll 2d6 (by the way, you never roll more than 4d6, thank goodness) and roll 5,6.  Which is an AWFUL roll.  That would mean kill a white and green pawn.  Neither are there, and they’re both Frustrated hate, so two anarchy discs are placed in the Colonies.  I also have to spend one gold.  Crap.

So that’s the elephant phase.  Awesome, right?

Now we have the Pogrom phase.  Because that didn’t hurt enough.  Pogroms only happen when a sphere is showing 2 anarchy discs.

Oh, lucky me, I have a sphere with 2 anarchy discs.

Capture

Here you just roll d6 for the sphere and it has a chance to either kill someone or spawn another anarchy.  I roll a 2, which kills a red piece.  Hey, that’s me!  Worse, this Massacres the piece, so it doesn’t create a Dissident or anything.  No martyrs for me, just a dead Freeman going back to my pool.

That turn did NOT go well.

Lastly is the Revolution phase where if any Revolutions could start, they would, and if any Revolutions could stop, they would, but we’re not there.

So that’s setup and one full turn of Pax Emancipation.  I have an uphill battle now, but the Missionaries haven’t even started yet and there’s a lot of game to play.

More game

Polio was bad.

Here we are, on the penultimate turn (MAN, I love that word).  The scores are neck and neck, but Germany hasn’t fallen and the Japanese are proving to be really really difficult to beat.  So let’s start that famous Yalta conference, shall we?

Imdead

And I’m dead.  No more Roosevelt.  Looks like “Give ’em Hell” Harry is taking over for the rest of the game.  Also looks like the A-bomb is going to Stalin no matter what I do.  Ugh.  This is going to be a tough turn.

Truman

Yup, there’s a chance that he’s only worth a 4.  I really wanted to get the A-bomb Issue so I could spend money on it to guarantee it’s success, but I doubt I’ll get it even with only rolling a ‘2’ for it’s placement on the USSR track.  Luckily the Partisan Dispute roll was a ‘5’, so all my political markers are safe.

penultimatehand

I’ve had worse hands.  George Marshall is usually a good one to ditch to play my leader, but he could be worth more than the possible ‘4’ that Truman could be.  Gah.  Frank Knox’s ability to get me two Naval markers is great because I’m losing Navy to Kamikazee pilots and IJN all over the Pacific, so I’ll need him.  Maybe Henry would be my best play since I’m pretty strong in Pol-Mil, and unless the other two pull strongly for them (and I haven’t seen a lot of that), I should be okay sitting pretty there.  Yeah, I’ll do that.

Number9

Wow, did I overkill.  Which is good for one Issue, but will make winning other issues difficult as the others held onto their stronger cards.  Nuts.  Ah well.  I grab European Leadership and put it onto my ‘3’.  I’m hoping the 2 extra Offensive Markers can get me 2 steps and land me into Germany this turn so I don’t have to do ALL THE THINGS on Conference 10.

Churchill puts Pacific Leadership and Strategic Materials onto the table, which is good because all these things help the war effort.  I guess he wants a Condition 1 victory, too.  As much as a die roll can ‘want.’  Stalin, on the other hand, puts a UK Production and Global Issue onto the table.  I think he’s just mad at Churchill and wants to get his Spheres of Influence back, or at least get some funds to boost the Eastern Front (which ain’t going anywhere, in my opinion.

And because of that play, I’m going to put Russia Declares War and a USSR Directed Offensive onto the table.  It may not get the Reds to march into Manchuria, but it will at least distract them from trying to mess with the Western march into Germany, which HAS to happen this turn.

No surprise, the arguments start with Churchill himself trying to steal the Global Issue.  I hate that because it would steal the issue from me, since he already has Stalin’s issue.  The ‘bot won’t debate because the A-Bomb is more important to it, so it’s in my corner.  I hate to throw out my leader so early and possibly to not even pull the issue back to the center of the table, but a loss of 5 points would really hurt, so I’m going to have to try it.  Mr Truman, if you will?

AND I ROLL A FIVE!  The Issue only gets pulled back to Churchill’s ‘3’.  Ug, what a waste!  I might be able to snag that later, but it’s doubtful.  Stupid Truman.  And, of course, Winston doesn’t have a heart attack, so it’s all Churchill all the time.  You would think the game’s named after him or something.

So Stalin grabs the A-bomb marker and gets it onto his chair, winning it automatically.  Probably a stupid play because neither of us were going to grab for it, but sometimes you have to give the baby his bottle, right?  So I play Frank on the Production Issue to gain my 2 naval markers.  Luckily that’s far enough, too, that Stalin won’t debate, so that’s a win for me.  Churchill grabs Pacific Leadership, but Stalin grabs it to his ‘2’.  Looks like a lot of us are pretty tired from all of this arguing, besides our big Issues, we’re not going much past ‘2’ or ‘3’ on our tracks.

But hey, I try George Marshall, who gets +2 on Directed Offensives….and I roll a 5!  So that puts it onto my chair!  BAM!  Looks like we might be invading Germany after all.  Churchill then takes the Strategic Materials.  Meh.  Oh, Stalin debates it anyway.

Speaking of Stalin, I now steal the Pacific Leadership from him, moving it to my ‘3’.  He’s out of cards able to get it back, so I sit pretty with my win.  BOOM!  Churchill tries to grab the Strategic Materials back, but only gets it to his ‘1’, so Stalin is able to debate that right back to his ‘2’.  Then, just to be a jerk, I move the Global Issue off of the UK track.  It only lands into the middle of the table, but I’d rather no one win it than Churchill.  The UK debates this, of course, preventing Stalin from getting his debate bonus on it.  Smart.

Now Stalin takes USSR Declares War Against Japan off the table, but he can only get it to the ‘2’.  I’m okay with that.

Gah, Churchill snags Pacific Theater Leadership.  It’s only on his ‘2’, but now I have to decide where my final play is going to be.  Ewww, especially now that Stalin just debated it to his ‘1’.  Ah well, I have to give up on Russia declaring war and take the Leadership position.    Hrmph.

But that does leave me with 4 Issues to Stalin’s 3 and Churchill’s 1.  3 points for me!  Hope that’s not too much!

I place the Directed Offensive on the Western Front.  Stalin will have to use 2 of his production there.  Big gains for me.

For Production, Churchill only has 1 to play (He gave another to me and is forced to play the other in CBI), so he places an Offensive Support into the Western Theater.  Russia does what it’s supposed to giving the West another 2, but also puts 2 into the Eastern Front.  Always the Optimist.  And then I put a butt load into the Western Theater, as well as 2 into the Central Pacific.  Churchill then gains 1 for leading the European Theater (which he puts on the Western Front) and then I gain 2 for winning the Leadership there.  Guess where I put that?

I then gain 3 more in the Pacific for leading and winning the Leadership there.  I put 2 Offensive Markers as well as a Navy in the Central Pacific.  I then receive 2 bonus for having both Leaderships.  I put one in the Western Front and one in the Central Pacific, just because I’m not sure where to lean.

Now we roll the A-bomb die.  This is awfully important for a 50/50 die roll.

But it succeeds!  We have Trinity!  Truman is no longer ineffective, one of Japan’s surrender conditions is met and I can breathe a little easier.  Phew.

Oh, and Churchill moves the Global marker from Self Determination to Colonialism.  Jerk.

The only person who has any political maneuvers is the one Political Alignment marker Churchill has, so he places it in Greece.  Now, the war.

war9

GERMANY SURRENDERS!  V-E Day!

However, yet another 20% failure roll to enter the Marianas Islands.  *sigh*  So we have the bomb, but no one close enough to drop it, and Russia hasn’t entered Manchuria yet.  All those things must happen for a Condition 1 or 2 victory next turn.

Scores(ish) – US: 35 – UK: 42 – USSR: 32.  The UK taking that Global Issue from me was a big hit.  If I can get a double move in the Central Pacific AND get Japan to surrender, though, that’ll be a big 7 point gain for me and 5 point drop for UK and USSR.  I’ll still be within the 15 point margin, so that should get me the win.

I just need the resources to back this all up.

Turn10

Ugh.  Good thing stealing that Global Issue isn’t my main goal.  However, forcing the army in the Central Pacific is a bit of a hit.

*rollroll* <- remember playing Neanderthal and Greenland?  Good times.

Anyway, the Global Issue is on Churchill’s ‘5’ and Siam was rolled on the Gov’t in Exile.  Luckily I only had a Clandestine marker there.

lasthand

So my last hand has some pretty strong numbers, though the Attributes are for weaker Production Issues.  Henry Morganthau Jr. could possibly steal the Global Issue back, but the bot will move that onto his chair on the first turn, so I don’t see that as being worth it.  George Marshall is good since Directed Offensives against the UK is a good idea.  Make it a point not to go to the CBI Theater (since that will accomplish NOTHING good) and help Russia and myself cause Japan to surrender.  Sadly, my only 5 allows me to get 2 naval markers, which, again, is really important now that kamikaze pilots are trashing the South Pacific.  I think Frances Perkins will do her best to set the Agenda.

yahtzee

YAHTZEE!

Looks like we all wanted it, and with Churchill’s +1, he’ll be leading.  Churchill places a Pol-Mil 1/3 on the table.  I guess he’s confident on the war ending and he wants to grab up the colonies.  That’ll be a lot of points for him and less points for me if he gets it.  Great, something else for me to worry about.  Stalin puts down US Directed Offensive (grumble) and Strategic Materials.  Ugh.  This is going to be a thing, isn’t it?

I put down USSR Declares War, because, ya know, it’s NECESSARY TO WIN and the ‘bots don’t care.  I then put down UK Directed Offensive to get more money to me or Stalin rather than the silly CBI track.

Churchill then puts UK Production (ooooookay) and the US Directed Offensive.

It’s at this point I’m glad you can’t flip the table in Vassal.  I mean, c’mon!  I’m going to have to fight for all this ridiculous crap, otherwise I’m stuck with a Condition 3 ending and then we have -1d6 for the highest scorer, -1d3 for second place and +1d6 for last place?  I mean, what the hell?  Who wants that to be the ending?  Unless, of course, you’re in last place, but the scores are close enough now….though if I were Stalin, I might be thinking about it.

Stalin starts things off by moving the UK Production to his ‘4’.  I don’t mind, and Churchill remains quiet.  Okay, so far, so good.  But now what do I grab, knowing Stalin will debate it onto his own track?  Ah, UK Directed Offensive!  This way I can get the UK to bankroll the Manchurian campaign while I can focus on the Pacific.  Even though I play it to my ‘4’, Stalin has a card that pulls it all the way to his ‘3’, but that plays his strongest card, so I’ve stymied him quite a bit.  I think that’s a good play.

Churchill makes a grab for the UK Production marker, but only gets it to his ‘1’ so Stalin debates it right back to his ‘3’ (I rolled his next highest card).  Between the two of us, we’ve worn Stalin down already!

I then take a gamble on George Marshall to grabbing one of my Directed Offensives so Churchill doesn’t get it.  I only roll a 2, but with his +2 that gets it to my ‘4’.  Churchill then plays a ‘5’ to grab the UK production back onto his ‘2’!  Guy holds a grudge!  Stalin no longer has the ability to debate that back onto his track, so he pouts in the corner.  Is he holding his breath?

Stalin just takes the Pol-Mil marker to his ‘1’, probably to make Churchill angry.  I kind of dig the idea so I let him have it.  I then play Frank Knox to grab the UK Production from the ‘2’ to my ‘3’.  It also gets me my 2 Naval markers, which I put in the south in case the IJN shows up again.

At this point Churchill takes the Strategic Materials Issue.  Can’t say I blame him, we’ve been grabbing all of his Production, so this, at least, will give him something.  But Stalin has something up his sleeve…a card that gives him +3 on Strategic Material when it’s on someone else’s track!  So with the +1 for the Nyet bonus, that gets it to his ‘1’!

At this point, Churchill’s jowls are vibrating.

I then quietly grab my other Directed Offensive, hoping no one will notice.  No one does as Churchill takes the Pol-Mil token from Stalin and moves it to his ‘1’.  Stalin, of course, Nyet’s the hell out of that, using his last card to get it back to his own ‘1’.

I then play a 2 and move the Pol-Mil over my way.  Hey, it could happen.  Churchill plays a 1 and moves the only card he can….the USSR goes to war chit….FORCING me to play a card to get it back into the middle of the table, lest we not get a Condition 1 victory.  What a brilliant move!  I would never have thought of doing that in a human vs. human game, but what a game of chicken that creates!  What an ass!

Of course I use my last card to get it back, and Churchill has the final word with a ‘5’ strength card, and he has a pick of a lot of Issues, but he grabs the 1/3 Pol-Mil and ends the final meeting there.  Phew, what a ride!

last

I win the Conference (and now I worry about getting TOO MANY points again) and strap in for the rest of the game to run itself (mostly).

USSR places the UK Directed Offense in the Far Eastern Front.  Looks like there will be a bit of strength in Manchuria.  Excellent.  The UK also gives me 1 Production for that Issue.  Poor guy only has 3 to play with, and HAS to put 2 where Stalin tells him.  Not his game, was it?

So Churchill spends his one remaining Production to activate his Pol-Mil marker, gaining a Political Alignment marker and 3(!) Clandestine Networks.  Russia stacks all of his Resources into Manchuria, giving 6 total Offensive Support, or a total strength of 14.  Even with 2 armies against them, that’s an auto move forward.  Excellent.

I then use all 7 of my Production to boost the Central Pacific Theater.  The Marianas Islands are a B29 space, which means they are close enough that I can drop a bomb from there, so it’s a condition for Japanese surrender.  I have a strength of 16 there.  Considering I’ve rolled 9-9-10 there, I hope I won’t even need to roll.  I use my bonus for Pacific Leadership in the Central Pacific, just on the off chance that I can get closer to Japan and gain more points.  Hey, why not? (Yes, getting too many points is why not, but I was still behind at the beginning of this turn…)

So now Churchill starts with his Clandestine Networks.  First he kicks mine out of the Dutch East Indies and adds his there, then knocks mine out of Vietnam.  He then puts his Political Alignment marker in Poland.  Weird.  And now….*drumroll*….the end of the war.

Hopefully.

Manchuria

With the 2 armies there, that lowers the Allies army’s strength to….10!  That means automatic advancement and if a 10 is rolled, 2 spaces are moved!  Well, a 1 is rolled, so into Manchuria Russia goes!

CBI

What the heck are these guys doing?  Well, not much, but they have a 20% chance of moving into French Indo-China, so what the heck, let’s roll.  A 7 means no.Central

Though Kamikaze destroys a Navy, I have one to spare and I have a 40% chance of capturing Kyushu.  My luck continues in the Pacific with a roll of 8.  No luck for MacArthur.

Pacific

And now the biggie.  The two armies off set two of my Offensive Support Markers.  However that still gives me a strength of 12!  I move to the Marinas and on a roll of 8 or higher, I can take Iwo Jima, too!  Ah, a 6 doesn’t quite do it, but close.

Surrender

Mommy’s all right, Daddy’s all right, it’s just that the war is oooover: Surrender, surrender, don’t…

I’m dating myself, aren’t I?

Now to figure out the score.

3VP per country or colony with your Political Alignment Marker

US: 12 (12)

UK: 15 (15)

USSR: 6 (6)

1 VP per country space without a political alignment marker where you have a clandestine marker.

US: 2 (14)

UK 1 (16)

USSR: 2 (8)

5 VP per Global Issue won

US: 0 (14)

UK: 10 (26)

USSR: 0 (8)

3 VP per Conference chit won by UK/US

US: 9 (23)

UK: 0 (26)

5 VP per Conference chit won by USSR

USSR: 10 (18)

2 VP for UK per colony space with no clandestine network or political alignment marker

UK: 2 (28)

8 VP per Axis country where they have a Front

US: 8 (31)

UK: 8 (36)

3VP for UK if Front in Northern Italy

UK: 3 (39)

2 VP for US if Front in Northern Italy

US: 2 (33)

1 VP per German Technology marker

US: 1 (34)

UK: 1 (40)

5 VP for US if Japan surrenders and is not occupied by any front

US: 5 (39)

3 VP for the USSR for each space achieved for the Manhattan spy ring

USSR: 9 (27)

3 VP for the US and UK if the US token is in the Trinity A-bomb space

US: 3 (42)

UK: 3 (43)

Scores: UK: 43 – US: 42 – USSR: 27

WOAH, that was a LOT different than I expected.  Russia didn’t gain a point, and lost the 5 points from the Rivalry effect (Southwest Pacific being 2 spaces ahead of Central Pacific), plunging them 16 points behind the UK.

SIXTEEN

Which means we are in Condition 2 by ONE POINT.

Of course, since I’m not in first place, this is a GOOD thing.  So, as a reminder, Condition 2 (in the first edition of the game, and the way I like it):

Roll a six sided die and add it to 15.  If the difference between the high score and the low score is equal to or less than this new value, the player with the high score wins.  If the new value is greater than the difference between the high and low score, then the player with the second highest score wins the game.

So in this situation, the war has ended, but Stalin is REALLY bitter about how Churchill went about it.  He didn’t win any conferences, yet he politically is running the world?  So he’s teaming up with me and we’re taking England down.  Of course, since I have the upper hand in this relationship, it pretty much means I end up winning in this new world order.  That is, of course, if d6 +15 is greater than 16.  Which means as long as I don’t roll a 1, I win.

See how some people could be upset that it comes down to a die roll?

See how it could be AWESOME to come down to a die roll?

*drumroll*

dice

Maybe I should stop and take this time to mention my ko-fi page,  if you’d like to go there and give me high five, or buy me a coffee whether I win or lose, it’d be great.  If not, that’s okay too.

See what I did there?  Those marketing classes are totally paying off.

Anyway.  let’s roll that die.

dice1

And there you have it.  A win by one point.  I hope you enjoyed that playthrough and learned a little something about this fantastic game.  I’ve played it face to face quite a few times, as well as play by email.  All have resulted in much screaming and cursing and strained friendships, but in the best way possible.  I recommend it wholeheartedly.  It’s from GMT and the second printing is…still available?  Maybe?  If not, I bet you can p500 for the third printing, as there should be one.

Thanks for reading!

I like my coffee warm and my war cold.

So who would you have picked?  Here’s what I did:

mypick

Yes, he is my highest point card, and I have no other 5s.  However, the rest of my hand is rather weak, and I think if I win the bidding, I’ll be able to get an issue already on my track, and I can stuff the table with issues that lean on my hand’s strengths, or if I’m sure I won’t win based on what the bots’ hands look like, I can throw issues I don’t care much about and let them bicker over them.  Not to mention Harry’s Attribute is kind of weird and dumb.  I don’t think I’ve ever fought over Strategic Materials that hardcore, so there ya go.  So, to the bots…

Churchill plays John Anderson (Value 4, now 5 due to UK’s ability), and Stalin plays Kirill Meretskov (Value 2).  So it looks like a tie between UK & USA, and given the bots won’t use their Leaders to break ties in the Agenda Segment and my ability is to break ties, I say I WIN!  So I get to place an issue on the USA 3 space.

I grab the Global Issue  for a few reasons: A) Churchill is not available due to his heart attack, so he won’t be jumping at it with his 7 and B) I have no cards that get bonuses to Global, so I probably wouldn’t be able to win it otherwise.  Oh yeah: C) 5 VPs.  I don’t think the bots will even try for it for the most part, so I think I’m pretty good there, but let’s see what gets picked for Issues.

Churchill: UK Production & A-Bomb Research.  Placing your own Production Issue down may seem like a dumb move, but if you have a strong card for it in your hand, it’s usually an easy Issue to win and winning issues can get you to win the conference, which can add up to a lot of points at the end of the game, so it may look like Churchill grabbed two relatively stupid Issues (A-bomb is more of a USSR/USA thing), but if I were playing a human, I would think he’s going for a conference win and trying to pit me against Stalin (or something similar).

Stalin: USSR Directed Offensive & USA Production.  Stalin could easily gain a lot of production this turn, but could lose the ability to place it where he wants with the Directed Offensive allowing one of us to choose where two of that production goes.  Again, seemingly stupid move, but maybe wiley.

All of their issue choices were very, very low impact, and in order to win the war, I need to do some things to increase production.  So I grab “Pacific Theater Leadership” because I have a card to back that up, as well as “Pol-Mil 1/3” so I can get some Clandestine Networks down to rob some points out of the UK in the colonies, and maybe get some political points down myself.

table

Now we fight.  In the interest of time, I won’t go through each card, so let me sum up:

We started with the UK mentioning the A-bomb and of course, Stalin’s rep started frothing at the mouth.  I mentioned something about where he could use some of his resources and he yelled again.  Britain then, out of the freaking blue, stole A-Bomb Research off of the Russian track!  Only to the 1, but what an unexpected play!  Looks like someone was goading Russia to spend all of his good cards in debating.  And debate he did, yelling it all the way up to the 4 space.  It was at this point I realized that I was the only one with an active leader this turn, so why not play him on an issue I wanted to win?  So Roosevelt mentioned something about Politics and everyone smiled and didn’t say anything to the poor man.

The UK then discussed the Pacific Theater, which I could have done without.  I didn’t put it on the table to lose, after all.  The USSR contingent argued about changing leadership at this point, and I had to agree…but then they suggested they should decide who leads!  Boy the Reds drew a good hand.  At one point, there were 5 of the 7 issues on their track!  However, all of our poking wore on them, and they ran out of steam, so the UK and I were able to pick and choose what we were able to win.  The final table looked like this:

turn7

That nets me another 3 points and a lot of strength in the upcoming phases.  Everyone gets to keep their own production and place it where they want to, so Churchill put three of his resources into the Western Front, and one in Italy.  Stalin uses all his money in the Eastern Front (shocking).  I activate my Pol-Mil marker, then place 2 more into the Western Front, then buy Navies for the Pacific. I already gained 2 Offensive Markers in the Central Pacific Theater by playing the Ernest J. King card in the Conference, but I place another there and 2 in the South due to my winning of the Pacific Theater Leadership (1 for being the leader and 2 for winning the Issue).

Churchill doesn’t spend any money on the A-bomb, so we have another 50/50 roll to see if that moves forward, but at least no spies got it this time!  And a roll of 5 moves the marker to Los Alamos!  One more and we have a working weapon!

And for our Global Issue, I move the marker to Self Determination so I can place Political Alignment markers on those Clandestine markers I already have in the colonies (those spaces in southeast Asia.  So now that I can play my Clandestine Networks (3!), I drop them all there (Cambodia/Laos, Siam, Malaya).  Then I place my one Political Alignment marker in Czechoslovakia.

Just because I really wanted to learn how to spell Czechoslovakia.

So the war rumbles onward.  The Allies march into the Lowlands, while the Eastern Front stalls in Belorussia.  The Allies are stuck on the Goete Line in Italy as well.  Meanwhile, in the Pacific, the CBI road has started through Burma, while the Marianas Islands are proving to be a tough nut to crack, sinking navies and being a downright nuisance.  However there was much rejoicing as MacArthur returned to the Philippines

Board

This gives us a “kinda score” of US: 16 – UK: 18 – USSR: 26.  The UK & USSR gained 5 points from “Interservice rivalry” because the Southwest Pacific Theater is 2 spaces in front of the Central Pacific Theater.  The UK also lost 3 points when I dropped Clandestine Networks all over southeast Asia.  All scores should be going up as we near Germany.  My score should go up if I can get to the freaking Marianas Islands.  Luckily we’re still within the 15 point spread, so Condition 1 is still a go!

Things to worry about for the next 3 Conferences:  If US/UK reaches Germany without the USSR getting there on the same turn, that’s a massive point gain for us, but a point drop for USSR.  Given their lead right now, it might be a good idea, but it might be too much, so I’ll have to keep an eye on that and maybe float the Russians some production.

I have to get the Russians to declare war on Japan before the Japanese will surrender, and they won’t even entertain that idea until Germany surrenders.  It’s possible to get the Stalin bot to declare war, but even then, he HAS to move into Manchuria for it to stick, so essentially it means winning an Issue AND getting money into that front, which is difficult.  Either you have to have Germany surrender quickly, or devote a whole conference to getting Russia into the Pacific front.  Speaking of Japan, I need to get a front into a “B29” space to have my people close enough to drop a bomb once it’s invented.  That’s yet another necessity for Japanese surrender.  I’ll focus on the Central Pacific to get rid of the “rivalry” points that the UK and USSR are enjoying right now, but when to invest in that will be a choice.  Again, all of this is predicated on: Do I go all in on Germany before doing anything in Japan, or do I spread things out to make sure I don’t lose any time?  And if I go all in, do I bring Russia with me, or have them lose the points?  How many points am I willing to concede to the Russians?  Should I steal those to guarantee a win, but will that push me into Condition 2?  Decisions, decisions.  Guess I should look at the next Conference card and see what I’ll be forced to do before I try to decide what I can choose to do:

Number8

Tee hee.  Naughty Document.

So this should be interesting.  I’m not going to be able to play Roosevelt (though I’ve been doing pretty well without him), but Stalin might get another resource while I might have an extra army at the Western Front.  This might be the time for the Eastern Front to get even to our front….or even in front (but is that a good thing?).

However, a roll of 4 doesn’t allow the convoy through, so no extra resource for the Reds.  A roll of ‘6’ means no Partisans either, so the table remains relatively static.  I get to shuffle my Staff Deck, so we might see some familiar faces here (there’s always 7 cards that aren’t drawn before a shuffle).  Let’s see who’s going to Moscow.

Hand8

I take it back about it being all men!  Go Frances!

No back to the hard part…the Agenda phase.  Who do I play, and what Issues should I be going for?  The A-bomb seems important, but I have 2 Conferences to do that, and Stalin would likely grab it out of hand unless I can go first (unlikely).  Getting Russia in the war might be nice, though that’s a lot of resources to commit before Germany is done, so I think focusing on that should be the priority.

Both my ‘5’ cards don’t have attributes that directly help in that regard, so I suppose playing them to win the Agenda segment is worth it.  Let’s get Harry to help again.

agenda2

With Churchill’s bonus, we tie at 5.  Normally we would see if anyone wanted to play their Leader card to break ties, but the ‘bots don’t play their leaders to break ties for the Agenda phase, so it goes to America’s special ability to decide all ties….and I decide I win!

Because ‘Murca.

And because I want to help secure the defeat of Germany, I choose “European Theater Leadership” and put it on my ‘2’.  Churchill places a US Directed Offense and A-Bomb research.  Not sure how much good that’ll do as odds are he’ll place my resources exactly where I would, but now I need to worry if Stalin will win that.  But, again, is Stalin winning in Europe a bad thing at this point?

Stalin places the OTHER US Directed Offense as well as a UK Production token.  Looks like he’s hoping to race ahead of us into East Germany.  Might be worth conceding, but those points along with 5 for wining the conference may be way too much.  Something to think about.

Then for my last 2 Issues, I place Strategic Materials (again, it helps the war effort and I have many cards that receive bonuses for that) and Pol-Mil 2/2.  Okay, that has nothing to do with winning in Germany, but hey, I’m thinking about the future here!

This is going to be a high scoring round, so let’s hunker down and see how it goes.

agenda2

We start off with Churchill himself arguing for the Global Issue. Stalin won’t debate (he’s too busy looking at the A-Bomb Research Issue), and I have to decide whether to debate that or Stalin.  Ultimately it’s 3 points for Russia per A-bomb space, and 5 points for Churchill, so I play Roosevelt (even though he’s not there, you can still use his card, but only to debate) to bring the issue back to the center of the table.  On the plus side, this gains me a Political Alignment marker (though Churchill also gained one on his play).

A few die rolls later, Churchill doesn’t have a heart attack and Roosevelt doesn’t die.  Good news all around.  Stalin immediately grabs A-Bomb Research and I now realize I wouldn’t have been able to debate him anyway, so good thing I debated Churchill.  Exciting!

In order to make Stalin leak his biggest cards, I play Cordell Hull for the Pol-Mil Issue, as he’s a 6 on those.  Turns out Stalin has no cards strong enough, so I’ve effectively won that issue.  Churchill then steals the European Theater Leadership!  John Anderson gives a great argument and his card also provides 2 Offensive Support markers which are put in the Western Theater!  Huh.

Stalin argues this and I roll one of his strongest cards, which is great, though it moves European Leadership to his ‘4’, not a great place to be if I want to win it.  Instead I grab the Global Issue and get it on my ‘5’, which is far enough for UK not to debate (since Churchill has already been played).  Stalin, though, uses his one card that could move it to his ‘1’.  It’s fair game now.

Churchill grabs a US Directed Offensive and moves it to his ‘4’, Stalin doesn’t say anything, and neither do I as I’m still pretty sure he’s going to put it where I would anyway.

I do, however, grab the other US Directed Offensive and put it on my own ‘4’, where no one debates.  Can’t have everything out of my hands, now can I?  Churchill then grabs his own Production chit and puts it on his ‘3,’ where Stalin can debate and get it on his ‘1’.  The silly devil.

I then try to steal the Global issue from the Reds and bring it to my ‘3’, Churchill, however, sends Atlee to debate (I forgot about that!) and drags it to his own ‘2!’  Crap, that was dumb on my part.  Stalin then tries to grab the Strategic Materials issue which I can debate to my own 3, which I do.  Of course, Churchill’s last card gives +3 on Strategic Materials, so that is now sitting on his ‘1’.

*sigh*

Russia debates it to his ‘3’ and we end our round.

Somehow I feel like I was a card short…

Anyway.  That means Stalin has 4 Issues, while Churchill and myself have 2 each.

Dang.

Well, to the war anyway.  Churchill uses the Directed Offensive to make me use 2 of my resources in the Western Theater.  Um.  Okay.  Fine, I was going to do that anyway.  In fact I put 4 there.  And 1 in the Central Pacific.  The other I use to activate my 2/2 Pol-Mil.  Churchill is down to 3 Production (since Stalin took 1), and uses them all in the China-Burma-India Theater.  Stalin uses his massive 5 Production to shore up the Eastern Front.  This should be interesting.  Speaking of which, Churchill gets an Offensive Support for leading in Europe (which he puts into Italy, the chump), and then Stalin gets to choose who leads!  Ah, the jerk chose Churchill (it’s a die roll!), so that’s 2 more into Italy, which is pretty worthless.

A-bomb roll is being made: a 3!  No improvement, though Stalin’s marker is moved up for another 3 points!  Dang.  Churchill then moves the Global situation from Spheres of Influence to Free Europe.  I knew I liked that guy.

I then drop a Clandestine Network into Denmark, and then use my other to knock Churchill’s out of France.  I then put my Political Alignment markers into Denmark, Cambodia/Laos and the Dutch East Indies.  Cha-Ching!  Churchill puts his one Alignment marker into the Middle East.

And now, news of the war.

Europe

Germany is putting up fierce resistance in the Rhineland!

Pacific

Japanese Navy wins major battle in the Central Pacific!

Success in the Western Theater as the US/UK enters the Rhineland, but horror of horrors as Ukraine remains a wasteland of bodies and little advancement (rolled a 10, needed 8 or less).  No fronts in the Pacific advanced either, giving me the vapors!

Now Russia making it to Germany is seriously in doubt.  So heck with that.  Let’s get them to Korea.  Maybe give them the A-bomb as a compromise.  Current scores (ish):

US: 27 – UK: 27 – USSR: 29.

Yup.  2 Conferences to go.  Love it.

And here they are.

Don’t you know there’s a war on?

Now that we’ve all yelled at each other, it’s time to shoot at each other.  Like civilized people.

There’s actually a very formalized step-by-step way we go about this, so let’s run down the list of this “Decision Segment:”

  1. Directed Offensives:  We only had one, and the UK won its own Directed Offensive, so we don’t need to place that anywhere.
  2. Conditional Issues: Anything that needs to be in the center of the table to win takes effect now, and in this case, Second Front opens, allowing D-Day.  I move the chit over to Normandy to remind everyone.
  3. Production: We all take as many Production chits as we deserve.  US gets 6, UK 4 and USSR 3.  You’ll remember that the Conference card already placed one for each of us (Southwest Pacific, CBI and Far Eastern, respectively), so we gather the remainder.  The UK won a US Production Issue, so I have to give the UK one of my production, giving me only 4 to play with.  Blah.  Stalin also gets one more Production for winning Strategic Materials.
  4. Production Allocation: As Stalin won the Conference, I am now to place my production where I deem it useful.  Obviously I want to land in Normandy, so of my 4 Production, I put all 4 in the Western Front.  That gets me 4 Offensive Support there.  The UK spends one Resource to activate its Pol-Mil marker, getting it another Political Alignment marker, along with 2 Clandestine Markers.  It then uses its remaining 3 in Italy to invade Rome. *sigh*  Finally Stalin places all of his money into the Eastern theater.  Nothing fancy there.
  5. Theater Leadership: First these give production to whomever already has these, so one to Churchill in Europe (who uses it in Rome again) and one to me in the Pacific (which I use to boost my Navy against the IJN in the Central Pacific).  Then because I won the Pacific  Issue, I get a bonus 2 Production, which I’ll spend on Offensive Support in the Southwest Pacific Theater to make it easier to get MacArthur back to the Philippines.
  6. A-Bomb Research: No one spent money on this, so this means research will be successful on a roll of 4-6 on a d6.  A roll of 6 gets us a success!  But since Stalin won this one, we move the red pawn up the A-bomb track, too, showing that they are stealing plans.
  7. Global Issue: Here Stalin changes our “laws” from Neutral (No Political Alignment placement in countries connected to the Western or Eastern Front tracks.) to Spheres of Influence (Only the USSR can place or remove Political Alignment markers in the Baltic States, Poland….Only the US & UK can can place or remove Political Alignment markers in France, Belgium…All other countries are unrestricted.)    I clipped the lists of countries, but you can probably guess what they are.

So there you have it.  The stage is set for another year of war.

stage

Before we can see how the war goes, though, we get to place our Clandestine Networks and Political Alignment markers.  As Churchill is the only one able to do that, let’s wait for him to get that done with.

Ouch, so Churchill removed my Clandestine Marker from France and replaced it with his own.  Then he spent one of his Political Alignment markers to kill off mine in France, and placed another in Persia.  Spiteful, aren’t we?  Now let’s get to the actual war phase.  First we place the Axis forces.  There’s a nice little chart on the board that outlines exactly how each cube is placed in order.

Easy

This establishes where all the opposition will be.  So a few cubes drop down, and now the nail-biting of how the war will progress.  So let’s hop around and see what happens.  Let’s start with the most nerve-wracking:

DDay

In order to move our troops into Normandy, a number of things must be true.  1) We must have 5 naval chits on the board.  Oh good, we do.  2) We need Second Front to be true this turn.  Oh good, that’s also true.  3) We need to roll less than our front strength on a d10.  What’s our strength?  Well, it starts at 2, +2 for each Offensive Support token, -2 for each enemy cube we’re smashing into.  So in our case we have 2+(2×4)-2 or 8.  We have an 80% chance of this being a success.  You couldn’t have floated ONE Resource Churchill? *sigh*.  Okay, here goes nothing.

*rolls*

I roll a 7 and we’ve landed in Europe!  That should take the pressure off of the Eastern Front, because this is what they have to deal with:

East

Their strength is reduced below 0, so no advancement for Stalin.  But he’s got plenty of points elsewhere, so I don’t feel too bad.

Italy

Italy is interesting in that it has a strength of 10 with no opposition.  Here there is a chance for a Breakthrough.  If strength ends up being 10 or higher, and your modified die roll is 10 or higher (you get +1 for each point above 10), you can move forward 2 spaces!  In this case, that will only happen on a 10, but still.  A roll of 2 just sends them to Rome, and the UK does not score their bonus points for getting to Rome before Normandy.  Boo-freaking-hoo.

The same happens down in the Pacific.  The Battle of the Phillipene Sea causes me to lose one Naval marker in the Central Pacific Theater, but I bought an extra one, so I’m still good to go (you need 3 Naval markers to move to any space that has a little anchor on it).  The Japanese Army prevents me from getting onto the Marianas Islands, but I’m able to land in New Guinea.  The UK isn’t able to cross into Burma, either, though that’s an odd road to go down anyway.

And that ends the turn.  A cursory look at the score gives us: US – 3, USSR – 16, UK – 19.  It looks like I’m getting my butt kicked, but a lot of the US points are given at the end of the game based on where the Pacific fronts are and whether Japan had to be invaded or not.  Oh, the A-bomb track is important to the US as well, so many of the US points aren’t counted yet, while the UK and USSR have many points with Politics at the moment.  I think I’m doing well in that both USSR and UK have close scores, meaning a Condition 1 victory is in my sights and we’re all being friendly.  Then I make sure the last Conference has me getting 10 or so more points than anyone else, and boom…victory for the stars and stripes!

So fast forward a few months to September of 1944, where the Big Three will be meeting in Quebec.

seven

Huh, no Stalin?  AND Churchill is out with his heart attack?  Looks like I’ll be sitting with my feet up this round.  Shame my polio means that’s not really possible.

hand

Good thing, too, as this is a pretty weak hand.  That’s a lot of 1’s.  Who should I lead with for the Agenda?  Homework!

Want a “no homework” pass?  Head over to my ko-fi page and give a word of thanks or buy me a cup of coffee (you know teachers love coffee mugs…especially with apples on them).  Or not, that’s okay too.  Now let’s go see what damage I can do with this “weak” hand….

Here.

We all have an Agenda

So here we are, halfway through the war.  It is June 1944.  I, as Roosevelt, am in charge of the Pacific theater with many clandestine networks in the colonies there.  I also have a firm hold in France and am prepared to land on her beaches.  I’ve also gotten some good news about the Manhattan Project, but there’s still a ways to go there.

However, Churchill is still strongly in support of an Italy first scenario, and Russia is fighting its way towards Berlin, and with luck they could get there first.  I’ve got a good strong economy behind me, but I can’t spend all my money in Europe and let the Pacific decline, nor can I flood all my money to the Pacific and let D-Day flounder.  So we’ve called a meeting in London to discuss what is best for all of us.

card1

First we flip over the Conference card and see what events and whatnot we’ll have to deal with this turn.  There are three possible cards for each Conference: A,B, and C.  Interestingly, the A card always contains historically accurate events, so if you want to play a historical game, you can play with all the ‘A’ cards.  But what’s the fun in that?  So let’s see what we have here.

“Stillwell Ledo Road Offensive.”  Let’s see what that means.

The Ledo Road (from Ledo, Assam, India to Kunming, Yunnan, China) was an overland connection between India and China, built during World War II to enable the Western Allies to deliver supplies to China, to aid the war effort against Japan — as an alternative to the Burma Road became required, once that had been cut-off by the Japanese in 1942. – Wikipedia “Ledo Road.”

This event forces the UK player to place one of its Production counters (his money) in the China/Burma/India Front in the Pacific.  And hey, you’ve learned actual history from my blog!  Go education!

This card also forces the USSR player to use some of his money in the Far Eastern Theater, so everyone will be sparring with the Japanese this turn.  Interesting.  I’ll have to use one in the SW Pacific Theater due to a hurricane.  A Japanese Navy cube is placed in the Central Pacific Theater to fight the Battle of the Philippine Sea.  And then we roll on a table to see if the locals get sick of our networks of spies operating in their countries.

*roll*

*roll,roll*

Why yes, the networks I had in Siam and Cambodia/Laos are removed.  Foreshadowing, perhaps?

So one production from each of us has been forced assigned for us in less-than-optimal positions (especially since D-Day is so important for me this turn).  So let’s see what my cards show and work with those.

hand

Yuck, awful photo.  I guess I’ll type this out.  Oh, and for the sake of history, yes, everyone here is a man.  White man, to be precise.  It stinks, but it’s historically accurate.  War probably would have ended sooner had there been women in the room….

ANYWAY.

So I have Frank Knox, the Secretary of the Navy.  If I use him to argue a Production Issue, I get to add 2 naval markers whereever I want.  Production Issues might be important this turn to make the UK put Production (again, money) into D-Day rather than marching into Rome.

Then there’s Jesse H. Jones, the Secretary of Commerce.  If we’re arguing Strategic Materials (it’s money, but handled slightly differently), he count’s as +1 strength.  And since his card is a base 4, making him a 5 is nice.

Then Frank C. Walker, the Postmaster General.  If he’s working beside Roosevelt (Roosevelt is active, and at the conference), he counts as +2.

Leo T Crowly (and now I have Black Sabbath in my head) who is the Head of the Foreign Economic Administration, he ALSO gets a +1 for arguing Strategic Materials.

Henry Stinston is the Secretary of War, and so has a base strength of 5.  Boo-ya.  He also gets +1 strength arguing Pol-Mil issues (those are the ones that make Clandestine Networks and Political Alignment markers).

The Secretary of Treasury, Henry Morganthau Jr., is a base 4, but +1 on the Global Issues, which are the BIG issues that give BIG points and provide the rules for how Political Alignment markers can be played, which can sway a lot of points in a lot of different ways.  Good man to have in your pocket.

Finally there’s George C. Marshall.  Heard of ’em?  Well, he’s the Army Chief of Staff.  He gets +2 if he’s fighting to get a Directed Offensive Issue (that’s when you forcably tell another player “You must spend 2 Production on THIS front!”).  His base strength, however, is all based on the roll of a die, 1-6.  He’s a busy man, and sometimes can’t focus on what’s going on around the table.  Sometimes he’s good, sometimes not so much.

So that’s who I have this turn.  Looks like I have bonuses for Strategic Materials and a big play for Pol-Mil with Henry Stinston, however, we still haven’t even set the Agenda for the Conference yet, and this is often the most freakin’ important part of the turn, and the one that causes me the most strife often.

In order to set the Agenda, I have to choose one of these cards as my “Bid” to lead the turn.  The card effects are ignored, and it is played solely on the number on the upper left.  Highest number leads the round and gets to: First lay down any Issue he would like to add to the table, and then play last in the round for everything.  It’s an awesome thing to have.  Of course, to have it often, you have to give up some of your best cards.  AND then we have Churchill’s magic power: he gets +1 to every Agenda card played.  Many believe that this one little ability makes the game win slightly in Churchill’s favor (and stats may be pointing in this direction, but they still look like they’re in the margin of error to me).  My little magic power is the ability to break ties however I like.  It makes me nice and friendly.  Stalin gets +1 anytime he argues.  Not, so friendly.

Anyway, I decide to play Jesse Jones.  He’s a 4, which is one of my higher cards, but his ability (+1 on Strategic Materials) is identical to another of my cards, and not really worth it at this point….I don’t think.  So I play that face down to the table.

We draw Churchill’s hand and roll a die to see which card he plays.  A roll of ‘3’ says “Second Highest Choice.”  His numbers are 5,4,4,3,2,1,*, so it’s one of the 4’s.  And another random roll puts it face down on the table.  The same is then done for Stalin.  Finally the cards are revealed:

 

Agenda

And with his +1, Churchill wins with a 5.  I played a 4, while Stalin held back with a 2.  Darn.  Ah well, I still think I have a pretty strong hand to get D-Day started, or at least get what I need going in the Pacific.  Let’s see what he does to set the Agenda.

Here’s another interesting rule: That issue that Churchill gets to play?  He actually gets to play it on his own track at the value equal to the difference between his card and the lowest card played.  So whatever he chooses, it’ll be played on the UK’s ‘3’.  This prevents you from always throwing away your lowest card if you don’t have a strong idea of what you want on the table.

Churchill’s choice will be based on his highest attributed card…his highest card is a 5, but it’s not attributed to any issue, which means it’ll be completely random what he’ll choose.  Already mucking up the works!  I’ll have to keep on my toes…who knows what mess can get started here.

Rolling some dice, we find Strategic Materials landing on UK’s 3 spot.  That will earn them one more dollar (so to speak) to spend during the war phase (if they win the issue).  However, if the issue ends in the middle of the table, we ALL win 1 more dollar, so it’s an odd choice that you probably wouldn’t find in a multi-player game, but that’s half the fun of this.  So let’s hop over to Stalin.

Stalin puts down the Global Issue, which makes a lot of sense.  Without setting these rules, we can’t really do any diplomacy.  They are also a whopping 5 points each at the end of the game, so it’s important to see who will end up with what.  He also puts down a Production marker with my flag on it, meaning it’s possible someone else will be spending my money.  Not great, but not terrible, either.

Now it’s my turn to lay some Issues down.  There are many I would like to talk about now:  The A-bomb is important because without it, the Americans would have to Invade Japan, and that’s going to cost a lot of lives (and VPs).  However, getting a Directed Offensive could force the UK to send its efforts to D-Day to establish our beachhead instead of wasting our time in Italy.  I also have some cards that help with politics, and that’s a good way to secure end game bonuses.

I’m going to play it safe and do Directed Offensive and A-Bomb: both to secure war advances.  I don’t want the end of the game to come down to a die roll, and I think that will help the most.

Finally Churchill  places Pol-Mil (Political/Military) 1/2 onto the table.  This will give one Political Alignment marker and 2 Clandestine Network markers during the political part of the game.  Nice.  And then he wants to argue who is going to lead the Pacific Theater.  I’d hate for him to take that from me, but at least the winner will get some extra cash to throw against the Japanese.

So there we have it, the agenda is set.

Agenda

Now begins our actual tete-a-tete.  Starting with Stalin, a card will be played from his hand to move an issue a number of spaces towards his chair.  Following his play, myself and Churchill will in turn get a chance to “Debate” the card play by interrupting with our own play and pulling the issue back.  An issue can only be debated once.  Once the move is done, if the issue is on a player’s “Chair” (the 7 spot), the issue is won and the player keeps it, otherwise play continues until everyone is out of cards.  You are allowed to pass if you debated on a previous turn….and that’s about it.  Once everyone is out of cards, if an issue is on your own track, you win it.  Whomever wins the most issues wins the conference and gets a few VPs, too.

Let’s watch:

Stalin-‘bot is predictable when A-Bomb Research is on the table, because it always plays the Stalin card, saying it is Mr. Stalin himself that discusses this new super weapon.  He has to discard a card out of his hand to compensate for his bombastic attitude (and because your leader card doesn’t count as a “hand card,” so any time you play it, you have to discard one to compensate) and A-Bomb Research is moved to the 7 spot.

Stalin

You see in his Attribute, that if he is used on A-Bomb Research, he can not be debated by another leader.  And leaders can not be debated by peons, so that effectively ends Stalin’s turn.  Finally we roll to see if Stalin’s tired scared the rest of his staff to make them -1 for the rest of the turn.  I roll a 5 and they manage to weather out this particular storm.  Darn.

Okay, so it’s my turn, and since the big guns are shouting, I think I’m going to draw Mr. Churchill out.  I know (from having played the ‘bots before), that Churchill is only used on Global issues or shutting down other leaders.  Since the Global issue is there, let’s get it out of the way right off the bat.  So I play Henry Morganthau Jr., who is 4, +1 on Global Issues.  That gets the Global Issue 2 spots from my chair.  And what do you know, Churchill debates….and uses his own card!

Churchill

That only pulls the card back to the UK’s ‘2’ spot, so I can get it back…maybe.  Playing Churchill on a  Global Issue gains them a Political alignment marker for playing later, and then I have to roll and see if he has a heart attack.  I roll a 4!  I guess I got him really riled on that one!  He’s out for the next conference!  Wild!

The UK passes their turn to recover from the vicious debate and handle Winston’s failing health, so we’re back in Stalin’s corner, who is probably grumbling because they are much better at arguing than bringing up their own issues.

Woah!  Stalin plays Vyacheslav Molotov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  This guy is a 5, with +1 for…wait for it….Global Issues.  He grabs it off of the UK’s 2 spot, and swings it over to the USSR 4!  I kind of want to debate him, but that’s a big card to throw at him for that, and Global might be easier to fight for later, so I’ll let him have it.

Also, this way, any Pol/Mil that the UK wins this Conference might be worthless if Stalin prevents any non-communists from playing Political Alignments anywhere.  So I pass.  The UK-bot passes as well, as it is written.  Looks like Stalin is doing some good playing this Conference!

I’ve got this wild card in my hand and it’s bothering me, so I’ll play George C. Marshall and see what he’s like.  His value is 1-6…whatever a die roll is.

I roll a 4, which is pretty good, so I’ll use it to grab the Pacific Theater leadership.  The UK passes, and even the Reds remain silent.  I can breathe a little.

Churchill is still recovering out of the room, but a man from the Secret Intelligence Services takes the Pol-Mil Issue on the table and moves it to the 4 spot, almost like it deserves to be there.

The Russians smile and say nothing, knowing that whatever rule they enforce will probably prevent the English from using those new counters for anything worthwhile.  I remain silent because I’m still trying to figure out how to get something else out of this Conference.

The Commander-and-Chief of the Soviet Air Forces takes this time to argue for the Directed Offensive on the table, sliding it to the ‘3’ spot on the table.  It also earns an Offensive Support marker on the Eastern Front.  I don’t bother to debate as my normal turn will be debate enough, and the UK is silent again.

Frank C. Walker, our postmaster General is able to poke a hole in the Soviet air chief’s plan, moving the Issue from their 3 to my 1.  “NYET!” comes a shout from across the room!  Apparently the Deputy Supreme Commander in Chief of the Red Army took offense to a lowly Postmaster General questioning his battle wisdom.  His wisdom wasn’t showing much as his roll was only a 1, leading the issue back to the USSR ‘1’.

In much the normal polite British style, the UK’s own Chief of Air Staff Representative spoke on their own Air Regiment and politely suggested the UK should allocate its money where it deems best.  Now to the UK’s 4. “NNNNyyyeeetttttt!!!!” says the Cavalry Inspector of the Red Army, pulling the issue back to USSR’s 1.

What do they have in their coffee?

In order to calm things down a bit, I humbly suggest, though my Head of Foreign Economic Administration, that maybe these Strategic Materials are spread among the three of us, so that it will do the most good.  This brings it to the center of the table, doing the most good.  The UK doesn’t seem to mind.

“Nyet!”

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.

But no, with their last card, the Stalin’ bot grabs the Strategic Materials and pulls it up 6 spaces.  At least they have to shut up now.

UK not brings in Atlee who argues against the Normandy invasion, moving it to the UK’s 3.  Everyone looks in the Russian corner, but they were blissfully sleeping, all the screaming taking it all out of them.  Poor little guys.

I use this moment to play Henry Stimson and pull the UK Directed Offensive over to my ‘3’.  The UK then plays a 2 to move my US Production up out of the center of the table.  And I play Frank Knox to move Second Front back to the center of the table.  And for his last play of the conference, Churchill plays Sir John Dill and steals the UK Directed Offensive.

So the Conference finishes.After

Churchill ends the Conference winning Pol-Mil 1/2, US Production and UK Directed Offensive.  USSR wins A-Bomb Research, Strategic Materials and Global and I only got Pacific Theater Leadership….though I can call holding onto the Second Front Issue a win as well.  So I get to break the tie among the UK and USSR as to who won the tie, and I’m going to give it to Stalin since his stubbornness was fun to watch.

So let’s get ready for tomorrow where we pull off the Decision Segment, where all this stuff will come into play, and watch the War Phase play out!

Again, here’s my standard: Hey, if you liked this post and would like to show some appreciation, you can head over to my ko-fi page and say thanks and/or buy me a cup of coffee so I don’t fall asleep on the way home from work and die in a fiery car crash.  Or not, and that’s okay too.

 

And here’s the next post!

 

 

 

I came here for an argument!

Oh!  This is abuse!

Today I’d like to start a new playthrough about diplomacy.  Not Diplomacy, but diplomacy.  If you follow.  There have been many diplomatic games in the past, famously Diplomacy, as mentioned before, and if you are unaware of that game, search for “Losing friendships due to a boardgame” and read what comes up.

There’s also (off the top of my head) games like Article 27, Democracy: Majority Rules, Die Macher, and to a ridiculous extent: Junta.  You’re making friends one turn, and making enemies the next.  You can also use these negotiating principles in non-political games like John Company and make partnerships for businesses in much the same way.  You can also have “Political Phases” in wargames to simulate the back and forth of treaties and whatnot before you start pushing around your tanks.

And then there’s this guy:719-1

Diplomacy without the Negotiating.  Negotiating with cards.  History with A-historical realism.  Backstabbing without losing friends (mostly).  Working together towards a common good, but only one winner allowed.  It’s a whole different take on the Diplomacy genre.

And it’s freaking good.

This bad boy puts you in the seat of one of the Big Three: Churchill, Stalin or Roosevelt/Truman (Roosevelt’s health is a concern throughout the game, and Truman may have to pony up).  You have to work together with your allies to stop the second world war, yet set up the post war world to your own liking.

board

Most of the game takes place on the left side of this pretty, pretty board, where the three players (yes, it’s a three-player game.  How odd.) debate the issues of the day, ranging from where money will be spent, what global rules will be in place post-war, who is going to lead which theater and whether to use a nuclear weapon.  You know, no big whoop.

The right side of the board shows you the state of the war, how far along each of the fronts are, as well as which governments the various countries and colonies are rooting for (or becoming puppets for, depending on your viewpoint).

All points for the game are able to be seen on the board (which is why the rules state not to calculate your final scores until the game is over), so you always know where the game stands, which makes for the most interesting element of the game:

Sometimes, you don’t want to win.

Ish.

There are three possible endings of the game:*

3.  The Axis doesn’t surrender.  The worst of all possible endings, but it’s possible that by Conference(turn) 10, no one has made Germany and Japan surrender.  In that case, the scores are wildly modified:  Each player rolls a d6: The player with the highest score subtracts that value from their score, the 2nd place player subtracts half their die roll from their score, and the person in last place adds the die roll to their score.  This represents the peace created after the war and who managed to make the best deal with Germany/Japan.

2.  One player has a score that is 15 points higher than the lowest player’s score.  If this is the case, then one country has bullied the other two countries so much, that they have decided to ally themselves into a post-war alliance to take that country down!  You roll 1d6 and add it to 15.  If the spread is STILL in existence (ie. the 1st player is 16-21 points more than the last player), the player with the most points still wins because they are strong enough to withstand the new-found alliance, otherwise the SECOND PLACE player wins.

1. The Axis have surrendered and the point spread is 15 or less?  Then the player with the most points wins.  Simple.

*- These are the victory conditions for the 1st edition of the game, which I have.  The 2nd edition has done away with die rolls and has made everything static numbers because a lot of people felt the end of the game was decided by a die roll.  I, however, LOVE this concept because going for Condition 1 victory is the smart way to go so you DON’T let a die roll decided the end of the game!  If you see a 2 or 3 ending coming, you alter your play to not let that happen, or you play so that no matter what the dice come up, you land in the place needed to win.  It forces the players to work together and not always go for the most Victory Points on every move, but sometimes go to score Victory points for the other players.  I personally love it.  So that’s me.  And you’ll just have to deal with it.  Nyeah.

So what did I mean about Diplomacy without Negotiating?  I meant that though you can table talk all you want about what you think the players should and should not do, what ACTUALLY moves the Issues up and down the table to see who has final say over what should be done is handled by a hand of cards:

cards

Each card represents an actual person that worked for a statesman or two and helped one of the Three during the conferences.  The number in the upper left shows how many spaces on the table they are able to move issues towards their leader.  Of course, they each have specific abilities that make them more powerful on specific issues, or provide help on different fronts or all kinds of other vaguely historically accurate things.

Your hand will tell you what you’re going to focus on in a turn, what’s important to you (which is usually what you think you can win based on what’s in your hand) and will steer all conversation you may have.  So yes, there is Negotiation, but it’s more like talking aloud what you’re trying to do with your eyes in poker.  Convey information that makes your opponent do what you want them to do while not letting them know what cards you have.

Easy.

For this playthrough, I will be playing the “Tournament” Scenario.  This cuts the game in half, only playing 5 of the 10 Conferences.  Playing all 10 is fun, it’s neat seeing the board develop over all those turns, but I have noticed that often after 5 turns, the board looks remarkably close to what it looks like in the Tournament setup anyway, so I’ll save myself a few posts by just jumping to Tournament.  There’s also a “Training” scenario that is only the last 3 Conferences that help you learn the game OR provide a tense, under-the-gun kind of game for 3 expert players.  All three are fun.  But Tournament is what we have, and our board starts like this:

board

The left side of the board merely has the chits for all the players set up, and the only thing of note is the “Second Front” marker starts in the middle of the table.  This is the “Normandy Landing” Issue, where Roosevelt finally convinces Churchill that attacking Germany through Italy isn’t going anywhere.  Churchill, however, scores VP for the Italian front to get to Rome before boots hit the French coast, so it’s a point of contentions for the Allies.  Always fun to see how that turns out.

On the right side of the board, we see all of the war.

command

This circle, one for Europe and one for the Pacific, shows who is in charge of which theater.  This shows the UK is in charge of Europe and we can see on the board that the US is in charge of the Pacific.  This gives those players some money to put to the fronts of their choosing every turn.  For instance, the UK will probably put more money to get troops into Rome than into France if he wants more VP.  Theater command, like anything else, can be put onto the table and changed.

theater

And here we see how the various fronts actually look.  We have the Western Front and the Mediterranean front.  The blocks with the tanks on them show how far along they are, and where they are planning on going next.  There’s chits covering a lot of information there, but you see five Naval markers on the Western Front.  Usually you need 3 Naval markers to move a Front to any space with an anchor symbol on it, however Normandy is a special space that needs 5.  Looks like everything is prepared for it, the Second Front Issue needs to just be agreed to.

There’s also the “Spheres of Influence” that have little discs and cylinders on them.  The discs represent Clandestine Networks.  This is getting your foot in the door to make a way in to say “Remember how I saved you from the bad guys in the war?  How about we run your trade routes now?”  The Cylinders are the actual Political Alignment markers that straight up say “We’re like this now (holds up crossed fingers).”

The UK gets mad points for getting political and crossing fingers with a lot of colonies.  The US gets mad points for building the A-bomb and not having to invade Japan.  The USSR gets mad points for stealing A-bomb tech and taking out Germany before the other Allies do.

And during all this, everyone else just gets mad.

Now that we’re set, I’m going to play Roosevelt and the other two are going to be played by the Churchill ‘bot and Stalin ‘bot that come with the game.  They are a very, very simple set of conditions that say what cards will be played before others, often leading to a die roll amongst many choices.  This leads to many decisions that don’t make sense, but this leads to the difficulty of a solo game: to win WWII when dealing with allies who bicker over meaningless stuff.  It’s a lot like a reality show.

Let’s get it on.

Tomorrow.

Ah, if you’re looking forward to all this and you like what I’m doing here, you can head over to my ko-fi page and say thank you, or buy me a cup of coffee as a thank you.  Or not, and that’s okay too.  See you tomorrow!

You say you want a (r)evolution

Just a followup to my previous playtest of Bios: Origins 2.  Don’t use it to learn the game.

Ok, buh bye.

 

 

Still here?  Okay, fine.  An explanation.  The rules have changed since that playthrough.  Quite a bit, actually.  Not just the solitaire rules, but the fundamental rules themselves.  Maybe not huge ridiculous changes, but enough subtle changes that you’re going to get awfully confused trying to learn from my playthrough.  Take a for instance:  The board now looks like this:

Originsmap

Now there’s tracks for Mystics as well as Diversity.

Other things:  The number of knowledge actions is no longer based on how many cities you build.  You will always have 1 knowledge action, and Specialize is now linked to Information or Urbanization, you can place a number of elders to whichever is higher.

Diversity is handled WAY differently.  You now no longer have 3 different cards for your three Ruling Classes (and thus have Diversity 3 to start with), but one player board with 3 columns:

Playerboard

It has one spot to hold a Dissident, which dissidents and chaos are ALSO treated differently, which, in my opinion, is a HUGE part of the game.  When you gain a foundation, it will allow you to take a migrant from anywhere and either place it in your Diversity pool or on the card as a Dissident (depending on the icon).  You can only lose the Dissident by quelling it during Revolution, so you’ll be forced into Revolutions far more often, though I’m finding in the 3 player game I’m in right now, Revolutions aren’t painful and are sometimes necessary (and fun to inflict on others when they’re not ready for them)!

What all this does, though, is make it MUCH easier to tell who is winning in which sphere by a simple glance at the board.  You have a spot for mystics, white VP discs right over the two Environment techs, making it easy to add them up and get a total.  Then you’ll know where you want to move the Philosophy track to shut someone down, or where to move up your own track if you’re slacking.  A lot less counting on the board.

Are the rules final yet?  I have no idea.  Probably not.  And knowing Eklund games, they never will be.  But I have no idea if they’re ready for print yet, so I keep flitting back to check on them every now and again and see how they’re doing and check on those solitaire variants.

If I get time I’ll keep playtesting those, since I have the most interest in them, but for now I will simply wish you all the happiest of New Year.  May we continue to evolve.