Phew. End of year work can be tough. So let us go back to a simpler time. The time when you could probably get eaten by a leopard in infancy. Those were the days.
Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
Getting back to our game where we’re at about 2000BC or so, White just finished their turns Inventing Daubed Granaries and getting a city back in Eastern Russia. *Raspberry*
But I think I can survive the game by Challenging the gods every turn, or most of every turn, so I’ll flip the comet card to end Era II and start Era III. We now end the Age of Polytheism and are entering the Age of Empires.
Okay, maybe we’re a bit past 2000BC, or are going to be going awfully fast each turn. Who knows?
Sail & Rudder and Wheeled Vehicles stay in the market because our Elders were on them, but the rest is replaced with more modern cards, so our market looks like this:
Yay! I can specialize in Manure!
So if I Invent the Sail & Rudder, I’ll be able to raise my Maritime and ultimately enslave the Neanderthal and sink their score while raising mine. But I won’t be able to bid in a challenge next turn which could hurt in the long run. But I think I’m good for now, right? Yeah, let’s go with that.
So I get Sail & Rudder and my Industrial Splay looks pretty robust:
So I have a lot of Activism Actions. First I spread back to Eastern Europe (I lost him to the chaos of the comet card). Songs doesn’t do me any good anymore. Then I use prospect Luxury to build a city on Hemp in India. I can now do 2 knowledge actions per turn! Hemp leading to more knowledge? Huh. Insert political statement here.
I then prospect metal using the Dragon Kiln to get the Iron out of Europe and get to Metallurgy 4: The Iron Age! And I have a few options with the Sail & Rudder. I could just get Maritime 3. I can’t go enslave the Neanderthals, because my Foundations without chaos + Maritime has to be greater than theirs, and right now that would be 3 to their 5. I have to get rid of some chaos, which I could do with option three: trade and get Energy 5 and lose a chaos, but Neanderthal would gain a tech on me. But I think I still win out doing one trade action, so I think I’ll do that first. I’ll have him gain Footprint 3 for his side of the trade.
I think that was a pretty good turn for me. Let’s see what he can do.
Hmmmm…he can Invent Wheeled Vehicles, which would get him Energy 5, and then he could get Footprint 4 or enslave me. That’s not so hot. So I could have him Specialize some more Inventors, which makes bidding a problem for me, but I think I may have to give up the Diversity battle and just go for a Central Planning win. So I’ll Specialize. I put one on Royal Road and one on Manure Fertilization since there wasn’t anything else on row 1 he would want and the only other option on row 2 was Iron Bloomeries which would raise his Metallurgy to where my advantage would evaporate. Mmmmmm…no thanks. And as his last Activism action, he can domesticate or cultivate, so I’ll just have him slap a city in eastern Russia. I hope to demolish it later. And that’s his last use of the Granaries, so to the Lore deck it goes.
And here I go, challenging the gods. I have nothing to bid with, so Neanderthal will win this no matter what. *sigh*
Insert political statement here. And, of course, I’m a victim of Cowpox! I lose half my cities. Dernit. I bid zero and Neanderthal bids one and wins. I’ll take his elder off of the Wheels so he can’t invent this turn, so nyeah to you. Sadly he gets Information 4 as the Eureka bonus. Shot myself in the foot there on that one.
Now I get ONE knowledge action because of the damn disease. I have to specialize, so I’ll be dropping 3 elders onto the board. I drop two onto the Bloomeries because on the Industry side, they can get me up to Energy 7(!), and that’s a lot of points right there, not to mention a whole lot of movement potential.
I want Wheeled Vehicles, but I can’t take the card as an Invention, because it has a tech requirement of War Animal city, and all my cities are metal or luxury based. I guess I’ll put my last guy on Plumbing, because that will fall when I invent the Bloomery, and I don’t want to die from Cowpox.
For my Activism, I rebuild some cities and raise my Maritime to 3 (Ships!)
And for Neanderthal’s turn, they simply place their last free Elder back on Wheels. Good on ya, Neanderthal, getting right back on that horse. Right proud of you there. I have to challenge again (or do I?). If I want the card, I would have to use ALL of my elders, since he has 3 out and so do I. I’m starting to second guess all this rushing. But if I don’t, I’ll take a chaos, and when I take the comet, that chaos will cause a chaotic revolution. The City State will go to white, and both my inventions will get discarded. Yeah, I’d rather that not happen. So challenge I do.
Funny that comes after democracy.
Insert political statement here.
Oooo, civil war. I know for a fact that is being handled a bit differently now, but in the rules as I have them, civil war means if you have Chaos + Urbanization (# of cities) > Diversity, then you take 2 chaos. Which, of course, is 6 to my 3 Foundations. So I take 2 chaos. And the 2nd guy has no where to go so….CHAOTIC REVOLUTION!
Guess I didn’t need to worry all that much, huh?
So I have to put down the war by quelling all my chaos. I have to either get rid of an elder or a city for each chaos I have (3). The only way to retain 2 Knowledge actions is to only burn Elders, so all 3 of them come back to Free Will. Guess I won’t be winning this bid either. *shakes fist at ceiling* Putsch sends City State over to Culture, flipping it over. No inventions have a white side, so both get discarded as Obsolete Ideas. And Culture is now my Ruling Class.
I’m nothing if not balanced at this point. The second event triggers, which is some kind of Volcano eruption. I have to find the damn thing on the board now.
Jeez, right in the upper left of the board. Well, that blows up, but no one is there, so who cares? White bids 1 and gets the card. I remove the Elder I removed last turn, because it forces Neanderthal to stagnate more, if you call gaining 1 Diversity point a turn stagnation.
And now I have 2 Knowledge actions! Action 1 will be to Specialize 3 Elders as I did last turn, but now I’ll be able to Invent the…..
The Red sides of those cards are worthless to me now.
OF COURSE there’s no white on this card!
Okay, now I have to rethink EVERYTHING.
After further review, I can get Parchment Scrolls to get my Information up to 4. And I can get an Elder on Manure Fertilization so when Neanderthal takes it, I can get my Footprint up to 4, too. And I guess I’ll throw one on Horse Collar just to make it harder for Neanderthal to get Energy 5.
So 3 Elders down, and then I invent Parchment Scrolls. And for Activism…hey! I can domesticate a War Animal! Look, a Black Rhino city! I can recreate scenes from Black Panther now! My Species card allows me to Spread into Russia so if I should happen to be able to wage war, a land war in Asia is PERFECT. Right?
Finally I get my Information 4, making my next turns much more awesome.
For the Neanderthal turn, I shall have him Invent Manure Fertilization so I (and he) can get Footprint 4. It also makes my Horse Collar viable next turn. With that he builds a Crab city in the Philippines.
Back to me and my challenge of the gods.
Insert political statement here. I’m just playing a game, man.
Anyway, the genocide action is if your chaos > Mysticism, you take 2 chaos. I’m chaos-less at the moment, so I’m good there. Dictator has gone through quite a few incarnations. I’m not sure how this would work in the solo rules. Let’s see what the current versions says (if anything):
Oh, huh. Now it’s no longer bidded on, but the cards are either “Rightest dictator” or “Leftest Dictator” and they are rewarded to whomever has the most Mysticism or Chaos, respectively. Looking at the newest edition of this card, it is a Rightest dictator, so it would go to whomever has the most Chaos. In case of ties, it goes to the left of the challenger and first person to be that tied person gets it. As we both have none, Neanderthal would get the card.
So there ya go. It also has the “Purge” ability under Eureka, which means it gets rid of all the Foundation cards below it. Can be devastating.
Anyway, that’s another point I don’t have, but I didn’t lose anything either, so let’s continue. I can put 4 Inventors down now that my Information is up, so I’ll put one down on Wheeled Vehicles (hey, if he won’t take it, why shouldn’t I?) and I’ll put 3 on a newly revealed Surgery, which can ultimately get my Immunology up to level 6!
And then I’ll invent those Wheeled Vehicles, because I can now. The Requirement is a War Animal city, and I’ve got those Rhinos. Awwww, yeah. Rhino pulled chariots!
I demand fantasy art!
And for Activism, I’ll cultivate Wheat in western Russia, and then Spread among eastern Russia. Why? So I can use my wheeled vehicles to Siege the Elasmiotherm city and take it over for myself! Giggidy.
And in retaliation, he places two Elders in the market…..mmmmmkay. And he can prospect or cultivate. So I have him create a city nearby (making Opium of all things), so I can blow it up later.
I just realized as I’m starting a new turn there was 3 cards in Era III’s challenge deck. There was supposed to be only 2. I don’t know why that happened. Crap. That’s obnoxious.
Guess we’ll just have to lay that there and move on. I’ll blame that if I lose, though. So I challenge the comet card, take my chaos and set the market for Era IV.
I have now spread enough I get 3 Knowledge actions. So I’ll Invent Surgery. Then I’ll put down 4 more elders (3 on Calculating Engine and one on Natural Rights), and for my last action I’ll actually pull my elder off of Horse Collar and bring it back to Free Will. I don’t need that card anymore, and while I can keep that elder out for bidding purposes, I still have enough out there to win, and I can put it in better spots next turn.
And Activism has me spread twice into Southeast Asia and Australia. I wage war in Australia to get War Kangaroos! And Surgery gets my Immunology up to 4 (Food Storage). Ewwww, how were we surviving before?
Neanderthal Invents the Royal Road. And I’ll let him use that card to trade with me. He gets his Metallurgy up to 3 (still below mine), but I get rid of a chaos.
Challenge the gods again: The Supreme Court! And global warming floods Hawaii! And I suffer 1 chaos and lose 1 elder due to Pollution (U > Energy). Glad I traded away that chaos!
I’m going to bid 2 and win this one. Why? BECAUSE IT’S ONE LESS POINT FOR THE DAMN BOT. And I want to win another card, dernit. The powers I get are Constitution (I can reorient any of my Foundation cards to their other sides…it would only get Songs to my side and allow me to Encephalize. No help at all) or Artisan, which lets me put out one Inventor outside of the Knowledge action. Not a huge effect, but good enough to deny a point to the bot. And it’s another chaos soaker.
Knowledge action 1 is putting 4 Elders down on Specialize. Then I’ll Invent the Calculating Engine. Then I’ll put down 4 more elders (I have 6 down now, good for bidding next turn!)
Activism gets me my 10th city by taking over another of Neanderthal’s. Immunology up to 6 (Drugs & Anesthesia) and Energy to 6 (Coal & Steam). When you get Energy to 6, you can a free raise in any of the other tech tracks. I’ll choose Metallurgy. I’m in the gunpowder age now. Time flies in these last turns. Then again, when the turns are several hundred years, that’ll happen.
For White’s turn, I could either have him Specialize with his one Elder, which normally would be great, but the only places that are legal, are the places I’m planning on inventing, which would boost his scores, so let’s just let him Invent his Iron Bloomeries.
He goes into the Iron Age, and then he uses the other half of the Royal Road to enslave one of my meeples! The cad! Revenge shall be sweet.
And now let me challenge the gods for the penultimate turn. Labor Unions. And another genocide event. Phew, just one chaos, and I kept my one Mystic. Almost brought him back at one point, too. Good thing I didn’t. It’s a Leftest Dictator, so goes to the leader with the most chaos. As I’m the only one with chaos, I guess it goes to me.
So I get the thing, but it Purges all the other Foundations in that column, so Supreme Court and City-State go to the Discard Pile. I do get a bump to my maritime, though. Planes!
3 Knowledge actions again, so I shall Invent Bio-engineered Crops. That boosts my Footprint, but I have to cull an Invention, so Parchment goes to the Lore pile. And there are no cards that can help me, score wise, so I’ll just skip everything else.
For Activism, I’m able to hit one more city of the Neanderthals, but I’m also able to get Energy 7 from the Calculating Engine, which gives me a free advancement, which gives me Martime 8…..SPACE! And the Bio-Engineered crops gives me Footprint 6, the Green Revolution. Bam! Good turn!
For White’s last turn, I have him Specialize since it won’t do him any good. Then I give him Energy 5…because him not even using Windmills while I’m driving around in cars is just sad. And then I challenge the last card and GAME OVER.
Here’s our scores:
Hmmmm, the screen isn’t wide enough to show that well. So let’s map it out, left to right. First is the Spiritual score: Environment + Mysticism.
Environment (Footprint + Energy) (6+7) 13
Total Spiritual Score 14
Total Spiritual Score 13
Central Planning: Welfare + Urbanization
Welfare: (Metallurgy + Immunology) (6 + 6) 12
Total Central Planning Score 22
Total Central Planning Score 12
Laissez-Faire: Economy + Diversity
Economy: (Maritime + Information) (5+4) 9
Total Laissez-Faire Score: 12
Total Laissez-Faire Score: 12
Final Score is highest of the three:
And there you have it, a pretty good thrashing of the Neanderthal bot. Of course, the bot has been strengthened since these rules. Jose has been playing it and getting his butt whipped, so the fine tuning between unstoppable and unplayable are currently underway.
I think there’s a lot of potential here. The bot is easy to handle, and you still have a lot of hard decisions to make. If Neanderthal just did a little bit more and wasn’t as easy to stall out by the player (though I loved that being part of the strategy), then a great variant will be in that box that many of you have kickstarted. If not, I believe you can pre-order it over at The Sierra Madre website.
Welp, that was a lot of typing and I hope it was at least entertaining. If you found it worthwhile, find me at my ko-fi page and return the favor by buying me a cup of coffee. Or if you didn’t, that’s okay, too. Thanks for reading!