Little Hero 6

“I’ve noticed we will be hitting the Earth’s Atmosphere in 12 Minutes and you do not appear to be in any distress yet. That seems abnormal. Here, let me help you with that.”

My Medical Robot just wants to be useful, and gets VPs for doing so. In fact, I get bonus points if no one is unconscious at the end of the game. Of course, I get VPs every time I revive someone. So of COURSE it makes sense for me to knock someone out to revive someone before time runs out right? Right.

My Activation Disc moves back to Me (which is short for Medical. And Long for Me.). And I get two actions, one to move to the Airlock which has no cameras and BONK.

Fun!

And now the Cyborg…makes the Troubleshooter build another Firebomb? Oookay.

And the Stowaway finall makes her first appearance by popping into existence in….the Aft Airlock. After witnessing the Medical Robot go crazy, she realizes time is of the essence and quickly dashes into the Security Station so that she can copy data.

Hmmm, now that I’m looking at this, since Console Actions are a free action for her, she would have done this on the first turn, I think to turn off the Jammers. Drat. *sigh* Ah well, was still a dramatic reveal.

“11 Minutes Until Atmospheric Disintigration”

I’m in a bit of a pickle now. I could use my Kompromat that I have on myself to overcome my exhaustion to move to the Stowaway and bonk her on the head, but she’s not my biggest threat right now. I’m currently worried the most about the Cyborg. Currently he’s got 4 points for the fire existing on the station + 1 for it being one section. If the Troubleshooter throws this bomb, that’ll be another point.

I currently can’t get anyone to the Troubleshooter to do anything about it, and while I can Activate the Troubleshooter myself, all I could do is make her drop it and move away, which hardly seems like a good use of my turn as the Cyborg will most likely simply move her back, thereby sucking up our time while the Stowaway continues gaining on us.

So what to do?

Answer? I don’t know! I can a) Revive the Station Chief to gain myself a point and deny the Cyborg a point b)Bonk the Stowaway and deny her next steps toward points c)Delay the Cyborgs goal to fiery frenzy.

I shall go with option a. Reasons include: Why not? Also, gaining points is good for Medical because they can’t be taken away unlike the Cyborg whose fires could be put out or Officers who could be revived. Also, there’s a lot of game left to be played, and I think I need to see more of what’s developing, so let me just get some points here.

So I activate my Exhausted Medical again and do a Revive action on the Station Chief. Easy.

And so I roll 4+ again for the Cyborg, so the Troubleshooter (who is obviously a VERY disgruntled employee of this space station), throws another firebomb into the Forward Exhaust, the only other adjacent room of the Chem Lab. Of course, that means they can’t get out of the Chem Lab. Not sure the logic there, but *shrug*.

The Stowaway merely creates some Data. She now has dirt on the station. Big woop. Except that’s 4VP. And another 4VP if she escapes with that Data and no one else has data. Huh. I’ll have to do something about that.

Something like BONKING.

“10 Minutes Until I am Out of a Job”

Okay, we’re 1/3rd of the way there. I still have some work to do. I’m only at 3VPs, while the bots are seemingly getting there much faster. However, I still have some options. I also can get the Engineer in front of the Cyborg, because I get 2 points for my Grudge bonus, if you remember, and that will offset that 2VPs I score if there are no humans down at Stationfall, and I have a feeling that may be a tall order.

So what I’ll do, is bring my Inspector up to the top of the Station with me. So far he has no bot cubes on him, and he’s got the ability to Manufacture data and pick up Kompromat from adjacent sites, as well as the ability to Rob as if he had a Gun. Therefor, having him near the Stowaway is a good thing, as he could steal the Data off of the Stowaway’s phone when I bonk her.

He can only be adjacent to her, but I think it’s a good threat to have him there.

Huh, I didn’t roll a 4+, and for the first time, the Daredevil activates. She moves down to Hydroponics and picks up a Bludgeon. Because the Cyborg wants everyone to have weapons, but the bot doesn’t realize just how far she is from everyone. Then again, she’s pretty close to an airlock, so could jump out to space and back in the other side, so I guess that’s something. Huh. Wonder if that’ll come into play.

So the Stowaway at this point is trying to get off of the ship. But Abandon Ship hasn’t been announced yet, so that’s step 1. It’s taken me about 5 minutes to figure out what the bot would choose, because I’ve got to figure out how close the people she controls are to Ejecting Antimatter, then how close the Officers are to getting to the Bridge, how able they are to damaging control stations and all that. It’s a bit much. I THINK the bot will have the Station Chief hop out of the Airlock and hop back in near the front of the station so that she is one room away from the Bridge and able to call for Abandon Ship in 2 actions. Everything else seemed slightly less priority for various reasons.

So I revived the Station Chief and she jumped out the Airlock. Anything to avoid insurance bills. Typical.

Anyway, it’s a bit like figuring out what the bot would do in a COIN flowchart for those who have played those GMT Series games. For the most part, it’s pretty easy, but sometimes it can take a while. Usually I don’t find it too difficult and I go with my gut and not worry about it, but this one seemed to take a bit longer than I liked. Ah well. It did make for a good story, though. Who would want to stay in the same room with a robot that just knocked you out, anyway?

“9 Minutes Until Friction Becomes a Thing”

So I suppose knocking out the Stowaway becomes a good idea? I’ll also be in the Security Station, so I can put out the fires the Cyborg started, which will be a good thing. I think that’s for the best.

Oh no!

She’s wearing a helmet! That makes her immune to bludgeoning attacks! I can not Bonk the Stowaway!

Ok, plan B. I shall go to the Security station anyway, and put out the fire in the Bio Lab. Perhaps I can fix it later, which will make the Stowaway try to get someone to create data there, which will make her want to stay on the ship longer. Not sure I can actually pull that off, but it’s a long range goal. Not sure long range is something to think about with 9 turns left, but there you go.

So I Step into the Security Station, then change the Fire Hazard token into a Gas Hazard token.

The Cyborg Activates himself, and Self-Repairs. I don’t get credit for that one, dang. But he uses his section action to build a Fire Bomb. Because of course he does.

Again, have a bit of trouble figuring out the Stowaway bot’s move, but it looks like since the Station Chief is Activated and can’t start Abandon Ship this turn, she chooses an Unactivated person first, so it looks like she’s choosing the AstroChimp to go into the chamber with the Antimatter. Though now that I’m looking at it, AstroChimp can get there in 2 turns because they have the Tunnel Rat ability, so really it should have done that last turn, rather than the Chief going. Dang. Oh well. The Chimp is in the Antimatter Containment chamber. What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, there’s something else called Project X in this game….coincidence?

“8 Minutes until This Guy Will Stop Rambling.”

So let’s take a quick look at the big picture:

Me:

3VP from my Revive track and 2 for not having anyone down at the moment.

Cyborg:

3 For a section on Fire. 1 For one section on fire.

Stowaway:

Nothing unless she transmits or escapes with data.

So far, I’m in the lead by a single point. It looks like Abandon Ship will be triggered in the next turn or two and the Stowaway will probably be able to get out, unfortunately if she’s able to do that, that will get her 8 points (!). So I either need to give someone else data and have them escape (can’t make her story an exclusive), and lower her score to 4, OR I need to boost my score past 8.

I don’t see me getting my score up to 8, so I need to get a way to mess with the Stowaway, and I already set up a good way of messing with her earlier, so I’m going down that route. So the Inspector I had emailed before all this started continues his mission, and enters the already crowded Security Station.

I use his heightened sense of authority to steal the phone off of the Stowaway, citing NDAs and other legal mumbo-jumbo. Now she doesn’t have Data to Transmit or Escape with. Mind you, she can always just create more, but now more than one character has it, so if that story gets out, that’s 4 less VP for her.

But now the Cyborg…

For Pete’s sake!

(Pete was the dude who built the station)

I rolled 4+ AGAIN, so the Cyborg simply throws his fire bomb back into the Bio Lab. Because some people just want to watch the world burn.

Strangely by the letter of the Stowaway bot’s algorithm here, even though she could just manufacture data from her spot, the line before that would have her place a cube on the Inspector and have him copy the data he has to her (since the Jammers were disabled, he can do that). So that’s what happens.

I’m guessing she was prepared for this eventuality and have a Pineapple(tm) on her person and it grabs all of his data off of his person since he’s close by. She’s a crafty sort. A near-future Shannon Morse.

“7 Minutes Do you Know Where your Children Are?

That’s a dated reference now, I know.

There’s a lot of push and pull going on now, with me doing something and the bots quickly undoing it. From what I’ve played multi-player (the whole 2 times I’ve played 2 player games), this is not usual. Of course, were I paying a bit more attention and not committing to a move and then seeing what the bots will do, rather than seeing what the bots will do before making a choice, things would be going differently.

However, I think it’s going okay, as Medical doesn’t care if it makes it off the Station, so if I delay the other two just enough to best them in points, this should work. This strategy would NOT work against many of the other characters, which is what makes this game INFINITELY replayable. There is absolutely no two games that would play the same. With minimum 12 characters on the Station, and each of them having 2 “powers” and differing goals, imagine if I were playing against, say, 4 bots? While figuring out what they were doing may be difficult, I bet it would get easier the more I played (and some are probably easier than others), but winning? That’d be a tactical nightmare. In a good way. In a good way? It’d be chaos, in a good way.

Anyway, back to the chaos.

So the Inspector has 2 Activation tokens on him, so he’ll be Exhausted and only get 1 action, so I don’t want to choose him, ’cause I want to get him to an escape pod and deny the Stowaway her scoop (though I briefly thought about Bonking and Reviving him). But I noticed the Troubleshooter wasn’t activated, and she has the Tunnel Rat ability, and look where she is…

That’s right, she can tunnel to the Central Hub and be 1 Step away from Array Control, where the Engineer is. If you recall, I have a Grudge against the Engineer (you see, he didn’t program me to be Helpful enough…I wanted to be Big Hero 6), so if he is Down at Stationfall, that’s 2 points for me.

Of course, if no one is down at Stationfall, it’s 2 points for me. So win/win for me, really.

But wait, the Engineer is an Officer, which would mean the Cyborg would get 3 points for that, too!?! Oh dear! That is not worth it at all!

So I have two options I’m looking at: Either use the Counselor that I’ve influenced really early in the game as a stand by for such an occasion to Step into the Data Center and get me a Kompromat that might be useful, or have the Troubleshooter head up the map toward the escape pods, so that she can help the Inspector out when the time comes.

I’m going to go with plan B as those 4 points will probably be the thing I most need to prevent (It’s here, folks, that we can predict the Cyborg will win).

So I Activate the Troubleshooter and do 2 Step Actions to move her to the Aft Hub.

The Cyborg rolls under 4 for the 2nd time all game. And he has the Exile walk up to the Machine Shop (which is menacingly right next to the Aft Hub) and pick up the Bludgeon there. I believe there will be some misbehaving going on.

And what does the Stowaway do? Well, the camera isn’t on her right now, it’s on a curious little monkey

Our hero. Who just ejected a big chunk of antimatter into space.

In 4 minutes, that will explode, damaging everything in Outer Space, and all sections with “Outer Space Arrows.” Essentially that’ll make all airlocks worthless, as well as ruin the Section Launch ability to get pods launched into space. What’s weird, but maybe exists for game purposes, is that it doesn’t damage any of the pods themselves. So if you do a timed launch AFTER the antimatter goes off, you’ll be fine.

“Fine.”

“6 Minutes Until Everything is Fine.”

The Blue timer shows that at the end of Blue’s turn (The Stowaway), the Antimatter will explode. Leaves a ton of time for escape, right?

So with my little time left, I’m going to Activate the Inspector again, and utilize his Rob ability one more time. This time he is going to grab the Stowaway’s helmet and then Step to the Rec Room, getting him closer to the Aft Airlocks and out of the Station.

Maybe I’ll be able to bonk her later?

The Cyborg rolls under 4, so he Activates the Troubleshooter, and has her enter the Therapy Garden with the Counselor and…*gasp*…Bonk without my permission!

That’s a downed Officer for the Cyborg, which will net him 3VP, and take away 2 of mine! Uh oh.

The Stowaway then makes her way to the Aft Hub, close to the Array Control to Transmit her Data and/or get to the Pods and escape.

“5 Minutes. Care to Boil an Egg?”

How long can you wait?

Cue Yakety Sax

Tags

“15 Minutes until Atmosphere Disintegration”

DRAMA!

Each turn in Stationfall is 1 minute of time in the game world. You can’t accomplish much in 1 minute, so you have to plan out each action you want to take very closely to try and attain your goals. As a refresher, I am playing Medical who is trying to be as Useful as possible. My opponents are the Cyborg who is going for Revenge and the Stowaway going for the Scoop of a Lifetime.

It’s blurry due to it being security cam footage, I swear.

A random roll had this as our turn order as well (Medical>Cyborg>Stowaway), so I will be starting things off.

Turn order is always the same: Reveal(Optional)>Influence(Optional)>Activate/Renegotiate>Resolve

So first thing I decide whether I want to Reveal myself.

Yes, I will chuckle a little every time I say that. I will never grow up.

When playing against automated opponents, there isn’t much of a reason to remain hidden, however, I gain points for having Influence cubes on me when I reveal, and my opponents won’t Influence me if I’m a PC (Player Character- ie. Revealed…otherwise you’re an NPC). So it behooves me to remain hidden for as long as I can. Mind you, my Reveal power (the benefit gained for Revealing) would give me a Bludgeon so I can knock people out…to Revive them (and be useful!), but I can get a Bludgeon other ways.

So I won’t Reveal (myself, heh). So now I can Influence. Influence means choosing one of the 12 folks onboard and putting cubes on them. I have 8 cubes at my disposal. After I’m done placing cubes, if I have the most cubes (or tied for the most), that person is under my sway and I am allowed to Activate them.

HOWEVER, every character has an Influence limit. Whomever you chose at the beginning of the game will limit how many cubes you’ll want to have on the table.

You can use all 8 (and the automated opponents have a limit of 8, of course), but every cube that is over your limit is -1VP at the end of the game. There are ways to get your cubes back, but it’s a bit of a dance to stretch out your resources and pull them back before Stationfall.

Obviously I want to Influence….myself, and do things with…me. Or I could wait and not bother until I Reveal. You can always Activate yourself after Revealing.

So instead I’m going to do something that will a) Use the fewest amount of cubes and b) Piss off the Cyborg.

So before the Station was going down, the Inspector had received a cryptic email that suggested he walk through the Bio Lab to see a thing or two…

So I place a single Influence Cube on the Inspector.

I now move on to the Activate/Renegotiate phase. Renegotiate is what you do (mostly) when you can’t Activate, so I’ll choose to Activate…

Boy, that sentence didn’t make much sense, but let’s just say I’ll explain Renegotiating later. Anyway, Activating is what you’ll be doing for the most part. So you can Activate anyone that you have the most cubes on. Considering I only have cubes on 1 person, it looks like I’ll be Activating the Inspector. So I put an Activation Disc on the Inspector.

If there was already an Activation Disc on the Inspector (including my own), he would be considered “Exhausted” and would get 1 Action. Since there wasn’t a Disc, he gets 2 Actions. Everyone also gets 1 free Pick Up/Drop Action every turn.

Here is our Inspector sitting in the Chem Lab. That folder with a “K” on it, is a Kompromat, which is an item that is kinda…meta. It doesn’t belong to any of the characters, but to the players themselves. If I have the Inspector pick it up, it goes into my hand and whatever character is shown on the other side, it allows me to force that character to do one action later on (unless it’s a PC, then they have the right of refusal, though it’ll make them Suspect, more on that later).

Since I want to keep ordering people around, I’ll use the Inspector’s free Pick Up Action to pick up the Kompromat:

Huh, it’s for my own character. Well, that works out, it will give me a free action later on in the game. Can’t beat that. Anyway, I’ll make the Inspector now take a Step action to move into the Bio Lab. If you look at the board, entering there means the Inspector is now Contaminated, which currently prevents the Cyborg from getting some VPs. I still have one more Action, so I’ll have the Inspector move up to the Forward Hub, so that he’s closer to Medical…so I can thwap him. And Revive him.

Useful!

And that’s it. There are no end of turn actions to happen, so it’s now the Cyborg’s turn.

The Cyborg focuses on weaponry this turn (it either focues on attacking or getting weapons), and this turn it’s weapons, so it looks like it moves himself into the newly vacated Cham Lab where it’ll be able to build a Fire Bomb next turn. Awesome.

And the Stowaway…..

Influences ME! To bring me to the Security Station. Ultimately she wants me to turn the Jammers off so she can broadcast Data throughout the station and get all the Data for herself.

Of course, if I Reveal next turn, that’ll shatter her plans.

Do I need to reuse that Skeletor picture I used in my Oath playthrough?

Probably not…we saw how that Oath playthrough went.

“14 Minutes until Atmosphere Disintegration”

Welp, I guess I should Reveal myself now.

*ahem*

I get to put my big ol’ Eye icon on the character card. I then put all the Influence cubes into the Betrayal Box and move my tracker up 2 spaces.

So I’m already at 2VPs, and we’re 2 turns in. Oh, I also get a Bludgeon. Nice.

For Influence I’ll place a cube on the Counselor. Because why not? It’s good to have multiple avenues for chaos, and he’s standing beside the Shred Room, which gives you access to Kompromat.

But, for my Activation, I’ll just Activate myself and move from the Security Station, much to the Stowaway’s chagrin, I’m sure, into Storage to get close to the Officers nearby. On my way I used my free Pick UP Action to grab the Kompromat in the Airlock. Turns out it’s for the Troubleshooter. Who has a Bludgeon herself. Could be fun. Hmmm…she’s near the Cyborg. That might come in handy later.

The Cyborg again focuses and builds a Firebomb for himself. I suspect things are going to get interesting soon.

The Stowaway is still trying to turn the Jammers off and activates the Station Chief who walks from the Therapy Garden, through Storage and is now in the Aft Exhaust Airlock there.

“13 Minutes until Atmosphere Disintegration”

I must say at this point, that I’ve been very lucky. My character + position is such that I’m perfectly positioned to prevent Stowaway Bot from doing what it’s trying to do as its step 1 – Turn the Jammers off. I’m a bit worried about helping the Cyborg along too much, but he’ll be doing so much damage, that it might be in my favor since I’ll be able to revive everyone that he manages to beat up, so I think this game will be simple.

Now I should note, I’m playing on super-simple-mega-easy-mode. It is stated in the rules that the more bots you add, the more difficult the game will be for you, and two is the absolute minimum for the solo player. So if it looks like a walk in the park, it’s only because I made it that way.

Of course, we’re only 2 turns in and nothing is on fire yet.

Speaking of fire, the Cyborg is certainly close to setting off a fire bomb, which will net him 3 VPs if something is on fire at Planetfall, and we can’t have that, can we (tsk, tsk)? So obviously we have to use that Kompromat we gathered earlier to muddy the waters for our bot enemies.

Now you’ll notice my focus keeps flipping back and forth between one half of the ship and the other. That’s mainly due to the Exhaustion mechanic. If you Activate a Character that had an Activation Disc already on them at the beginning of your turn, you can only do 1 action that turn (I briefly mentioned that before). That’s REALLY limiting, so that’s a “when you’re desperate” kinda thing, or you really, really, really need to get something done kinda thing. Or if it’s REALLY funny.

But anyway

Our Troubleshooter is up in the Print Shop, two rooms away from the Chem Lab (seemed like a good place at the time). I can Influence the Troubleshooter with 2 Cubes (she’s already under the Stowaway’s sway) and then use 2 Actions to move her to the same room as the Cyborg. I can then spend the Kompromat I have on her to make her do ANOTHER action and do an Attack with her Bludgeon and make the Cyborg go Down.

Not only that, she hasn’t done her free pickup action, so I can freely Pick Up the Cyborg’s firebomb now.

YOINK!

Trouble successfully shooted.

Not a magic bullet by any stretch, but I’m just trying to stymie some things. The main drawback is I’ve used all my influence cubes already. If I use more I’m either biting into my VPs, or I have to get them back before the end of the game.

Anyway, on to the Cyborg’s turn.

He’s considering Focusing on bombs again. Has done so all 3 turns so far. Fun! Hmmm, so I didn’t really think about this, but the Cyborg has influence cubes, and all he would have to do is place 2 cubes on the Troubleshooter herself and one action to throw the thing and that’s all he really cares about.

Um.

Ooops. So I really didn’t accomplish much by knocking out the Cyborg besides delay some things….but I did knock someone out, so that’s something, right?

And it was such a dumb move, that Tabletop Simulator crashed and then took Chrome with it. Huh. I had to retype some of this. Awesome.

ANYWAY, the Troubleshooter was told by the Cyborg to throw the Firebomb into the Biolab. Which actually makes a lot of sense because that prevents others from getting infected in there. Clever, clever, clever. The Troubleshooter was exhausted so only got 1 Action, so that was it (not that setting a section on Fire and Damaging it was nothing), so it’s back to the Stowaway.

I had focused on the Security Station for the Stowaway, because the board there looks like this:

It had all the things she wanted, a way to turn off Jammers AND a way to make data. But I didn’t look down at the Mainframe:

Which can also turn off the Jammers and has the Stranger right next to it, whom is already under the sway of our Stowaway. Clearly I need to pay a bit more attention. So the blue Attention Disc moves to the Stranger and a free Pickup Action takes that Kompromat, they move to the Mainframe and then use the Room Action to turn the Jammers off.

And here I was patting myself on the back, yet the bots are accomplishing their goals. But there’s still plenty of time to bonk some folks on the head and heal them, so there’s still plenty of healing to be done. And as you see in that picture, I can always put out the fire, denying the Cyborg 3VPs. It’s just finding the time to do that and we know that…

“12 Minutes Until Atmosphere Degeneration”

You got your Station in my atomosphere!

You got your Atmosphere in my Station!

Two great tastes that burn together!

Chimps, telepathic mice, super spies, unstable isotopes and lawyer robots.

Would you believe it’s also a super thinky euro game?

It kinda is.

It’s also a chaotic heist movie maker in a space station that is rapidly plummeting to Earth while everything is going wrong, and no matter how good your plans are, they will be ruined by the other players.

I’ve heard it described as the “Beer & Pretzels game for the Complex crowd,” and I think that’s a fair assessment. You’ve got to think ahead a LOT, you’d got to plan and do a bit of deception and deal with the vast complexities the plethora of different player powers on the table do when they interact. BUT you also have to realize that all of that planning can get shot in the arse when the gravity gets shut off and your hidden character gets mind controlled and walks into a carnivorous plant. Or missiles get launched into the section of the ship you’re currently floating in. Or antimatter is released. Or a rampaging monster just happens to wake up next to you. Or that person you were bribing to help you just happens to be the other player who doesn’t want to play along. Or…

You get the idea.

It’s weird.

But it’s also weirdly fun and creates some weirdly fun stories.

(It’s also not out yet. As of this writing, it’s being pumped out by factories and will be getting on a boat in a few weeks. I’m all cutting edge and stuff)

It’s also incredibly difficult to describe, so the best way is to be Very Wordy about it ™, so I guess I should just start rambling, shall I?

Here is home. It’s big. There’s 41 rooms all floating in space. For now. If the rooms are pink, there’s no gravity there (because it’s not spinning enough), if they’re blue, there is gravity. That only matters for throwing things, but it’s important, because hucking things around can be a big freaking deal. There are also escape pods at the top of the board….but saying top is weird because there’s no “up” in space, but I’ll say top for now. Let’s let SOMETHING make sense, dangit.

You’ll also see some rooms are already “dark,” which just means there aren’t security cameras in there (no one wants to see you nekkid, even in the future) as well as a few lines that show vents…which is perfect for xenomorphs to crawl through. That movie made air vents to be MANDATORY xenomorph crawling size.

And these are the people on the station at the moment the alarm goes off stating “15 minutes to Stationfall.” That’s a lot of people. Every game will be played with AT LEAST 12 people. Each person has their own special abilities (the one or two colored blocks of text in the middle of the card) as well as victory conditions if that character is “you.” Of course, you don’t have to ever reveal to the rest of the table that you are, say, the Station Chief. You can control ANYBODY at ANY TIME. The currency of the game is Influence Cubes that you place on the character cards that lets you activate the characters and has them do whatever you want. But, if you reveal yourself (heh), you get an extra special ability (the ability under the eyeball in the lower right of the card). Of course, now the rest of the table knows EXACTLY what you need to do to score VPs, so they know how to stop you, but maybe it’s too late….

Thought experiment time: This game can play with 9 players. With 9 players, there are 20 characters in the space station. That’s 20 characters that can be activated, and 9 will be every turn (mostly). 20 special abilities to keep track of, 20 victory point pathways you want to be aware of and try to stop while trying to get your own without making it OBVIOUS so other players don’t immediately stomp on you.

Chaos, absolute chaos.

But maybe fun?

I’ve only played with 2 players. Today (and over the next month or so, probably), I’ll be playing with 3. Myself and 2 “bots.” The game comes with “Station Automation,” a way to play with any of the characters as automated opponents as a means to increase player count so games don’t get stale by playing against the same people. From what I’ve seen in the Ion Games Discord server, it’s been play tested quite a bit, but I can’t imagine all possible combinations have had extensive testing, so I imagine a lot of wacky things occurring, and I’m all for it.

Then again, playing against a human opponent, I had my Botinist eat half the station using his giant plant, and then had a game where my Cyborg failed miserably as the Telepathic Rat took him over and made him open Project X which killed him instantly. I did get to shoot the Billionaire in the head, which by happenstance was the other player, so we both had a crappy score, but still. Comedy.

ANYWAY

So what’s the point? What are all these people doing on the station, and what do I, as the player, hope to accomplish? Well, let’s look at the two identity cards I was dealt and discuss that shall I?

I have a choice between a Medical Bot and Engineer…um…man. Firstly this “bot” is different than the “bot” as of an Automated Opponent. That’s going to make this kind of confusing, I think. This character in the game has a gear shaped piece (look in the upper left of the Medical card), so this Character is considered a Bot for all game purposes. The two characters that are going to be dealt out as my opponents are going to be Automated Opponents…which in my head are going to be Bots, even though their characters probably won’t be. I told you it was a thinky game, this is one of the things we’ll have to keep straight in our mind.

So, ignoring the small italicized text under their names (which just gives some setup information), the cards tell us the goals of these two characters: “Be Really Useful” and “Preserve Ecosphere”. Without anything else, we could make our choice based just on this. Do we want to be a Medical robot and try to be really useful, or an Engineer and try to preserve the ecosphere? If we want more information, we can see all the ways that Victory Points are earned underneath those headings.

At this point you’ll see there’s a TON of icons used in this game. That’s because there are SO MANY interactions in play in this game, there is no way they could define everything on little cards. So to help, they used icons, then defined icons on a side page, and then defined everything FURTHER in a character dossier that comes with the game. Rule Pundits rejoice! Playtesters had a grand time arguing “what if” statements and straining the system to its extremes, and they tried to define everything to its ridiculous level in the Dossiers. Which means those of us who are not rules people have to deal with this:

Which actually doesn’t seem so bad, now that I look through it. Anyway, back to our Characters: Our Medical bot scores 2 Victory Points if no down Humans at Stationfall (meaning the end of the game). Then Medical moves a tracker cube up one for every Human it revives and for every Influence Cube on the card when Medical is Revealed. More on that later. The tracker cube will be placed on the Character Card on the table which shows that it could gain from 0 to 7 VPs this way.

The Engineer scores 3 points if it blows up the Antimatter on board the station before Planetfall. 3 points if no Contaminated Characters Escape. 2 points if The Artifact doesn’t Escape (meaning it’s not in an Escaping Character’s possession). Finally 1 VP if Innocent….but doesn’t really care if Guilty. More on that later.

Finally on both cards you see the Reveal power, which is under the little Eye icon. Like I said earlier, it’s smart for other players not to know who you actually are, so you get a bonus if you Reveal who you are. The Medical Bot gains a Bludgeon….which if you think about it, means it can knock down Humans….so it can then Revive them. It’s now more Useful! Go Medical Bot! And the Engineer says “There’s a bomb on the station that will go off in 1 minute.” And it’s ANYWHERE ON THE STATION. When it goes off, that room on the station can’t be used anymore. Including escape pods. Or Antimatter containment. Or the bridge. Or….you get the idea.

Finally there’s a nice little Tip for new players (like me). Then you see the character name upside down with a few Stars next to them. That’s if you DON’T select that character as “you.” The other character either becomes your “Friend” or your “Grudge.” If there’s a Escape icon on the star, they’re your Friend. If there’s a Down icon on the star, they’re your Grudge. You gain those VPs if that other character Escapes or is Down at Planetfall respectively. A further wrinkle in the game.

They both look like a heap of fun to play, but I’m going to go with the Medical bot, because the idea of playing a robot hell bent on being “Useful,” so much so that it’ll injure someone just so they can “fix” them is kinda awesome. So I keep Medical right side up, and then turn the Engineer upside-down to show that I have a Grudge against him. I will score 2VPs if he is Down at Stationfall. That’s what he gets for programming me to wait for an injury to fix people. I can fix them BEFORE they get injured, dangit. How about some proactive medicine, huh?

I then shuffle up the remaining Identities and deal out one to each of the Automated Opponents (you notice I didn’t say bots yet? I’m goooooood.) and we have:

Oh no! The Cyborg is a Bot! *ahem*

So the Cyborg is going to do their best to murder everyone who is an Officer (The Station Chief, Counselor and Engineer at our table), keep infected people from Escaping and setting a whole lotta fires. Lucky for me killing the Engineer actually coincides with my Grudge, but everything else is directly opposite of my goals.

The Stowaway is a weird one. First, it starts off board so we don’t even know where she begins, and her goals involve stealing data off the station and broadcasting it to the News back on Earth. She wants Evidence and information on Project X. She also has a weird ability called Secret Stash meaning whomever gets that data immediately gains a helmet (think armor) and influence, meaning they’re in on the Stowaway’s conspiracy. She’s a sneaky one. She also has a crazy ability to score 16 points if she meets all of her goals, which is kinda ridiculous. I may need to knock her out…and Revive her, but totally knock her out and anyone who is working with her.

But who else is on our cast?

Why, we have a monkey able to travel through Vents, but who is difficult to get on your side. A Counselor who is able to get through locked doors on the station and remove Influence on others.

A Daredevil who can not be robbed and who will go anywhere on the ship, but we see by those two cubes already on her card, is already under the sway of the Cyborg, and is in on his Conspiracy.

An Exile able to stop others from knocking him out, and able to get data easily (also under the sway of the Cyborg). Also have an Inspector who came in his own shuttle and can easily get Data from the ship AND from others.

Our Station Chief who doesn’t have any abilities that we haven’t seen before, but we see she is under the sway of the Stowaway, probably trying to get Evidence that THIS ISN’T HER FAULT to the people.

And finally a Troubleshooter able to Repair sections and Robots and….whatever the hell that is. They’re both working for the Stowaway, or at least influenced by her.

Hmmm…you may be asking yourself. The Stowaway has 3 Characters with Influence on them, but I only saw 2 for the Cyborg, why is that?

See? I’m useful! It would seem the Cyborg has already gotten into my programming. But you see, were this a game with humans, no one would know that I was playing Medical, so they of course would put cubes on me (and no one would start the game with cubes on them). So there’s already a bit of a monkey wrench thrown into my plans as the Cyborg is going to try and control me some turns, but I could always Reveal and send his cubes to Betrayal. BUT if I wait and try to become useful for the Stowaway, I could gain extra VP. Already I have a choice to make.

The stage is set, the station has 15 minutes before it begins to break up in atmosphere. We have our goals. What will happen?

Hell if I know.

But you should know as soon as you tune into the next installment of this Very Wordy playthrough!

Which is right here!

Like sands through the hourglass

Now that I updated the font to make the blog look less….

Icky…

I noticed my header was looking HUGE.

I also notice that a lot of the games in the header are painfully out of date. A lot of the playthroughs up there are of games that were in playtesting and have now been released, or are of old versions that have been updated to newer editions, or are just plain WRONG given the current ruleset. That being the case, I want to move all those links to one place, so they don’t clog up the top of my page and leave them more for historical purposes rather than actual learning purposes.

Because reading the Bios: Megafauna playthrough actually hurts a little bit. It’s really, really, wrong.

But anyway, here are all the out of date or old version playthroughs you can find on my blog, including the grand-daddy of them all: High Frontier, which is 3rd edition, now out of date.

5150 Playthrough (Two Hour Wargames gets updated almost every other year, now updated with 5150: New Beginnings released in 2021)

5150: Star Navy Playthrough (Replaced with 5150: Star Navy Total War in 2021)

Bios: Megafauna 2 Playthrough (This was in a playtest faze and I made many errors as the rules were being updated weekly at the time.)

Bios: Origins Playthrough (Also during a playtest faze. I did a bit better on this one, but I’m sure I still made errors)

High Frontier Playthrough (3rd edition, replaced with High Frontier 4 All which changes some rules and map locations)

High Frontier: Interstellar (Was included in High Frontier 3rd edition, not translated into HF:4 All. Will be released as a stand alone game at the end of 2022, though will be drastically different than the game shown here)

From the ashes

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(I’m not proud of this one)

So Tybalt lead his people out of the lands of the Clockwork Prince and…

well, finished our game of Oath: Chronicles of Empires and Exile. So what happens now? What in our game changes, how does the story change and what will next game be like?

Well, first, Tybalt gets to choose what the Oath for next game will be. If he had won using a Vision, it would have to be the Oath connected to that Vision (ie. if I had won with the Vision I had, I would have had to be the Oathkeeper to the People)

But since Tybalt won as the Usurper, he can choose whatever Oath he wants (though it has to be different than the current Oath, just to keep things fresh), and decides to choose

Mainly for story purposes. Tybalt has it in his head that as the leader in a new land, he will need to put all the bandits in the land under his control, so he must show the people that he can tame the lands under his leadership. This, however, will be hard, as he is going to start with nothing, as we shall soon see.

The next step is the offering of Citizenship. The new ruler may add anyone to their court as they wish. Again, this is pretty much for story purposes, or for players who know they will be at next game who want to be Citizens. Tybalt is pretty salty about me trying to punch him in the face, so I was cast out along with the Prince, so no Citizenship was offered. All boards will remain Exile side up.

Then we have some building. If the winner was a Chancellor (Prince) or Citizen, they can build a Edifice, which is a special Site card. There is one of each suit, and the player picks one of the suits they have as an advisor, and builds the Edifice in a site they own if there’s space available (if there’s no space at all, they’re allowed to discard a card there because these cards are too cool not to build).

Of course, neither a Citizen or Chancellor won this game. That being the case, one Ediface would fall into Ruin and those cards would get flipped over:

I mean, c’mon. How awesome is that?

But sadly, an Exile won this first game, so neither of those things can happen.

Then we start clearing the map of anything the winner of the game doesn’t control. You see, the kingdom is only what the winner controls. The rest is rebel territory, and that’s not the story that we’ll be following in history books, and the game we’re playing is the history book (it IS a Chronicle after all), so all of that will be wiped away. We discard all Relics, Denizens and Sites that the winner doesn’t control.

Which, in this case, is EVERYTHING except the Advisors and Relics Tybalt had.

Then the map gets “redrawn,” with all locations getting pushed towards the Cradle, though those with Ruins (flipped over Edifices) getting pushed towards the end of the Hinterlands. You see, with the focus of the game on the new Capital, the old Capital is now on the edge of the kingdom. The roads there are no longer being kept up, trade is dwindling, no one cares about that anymore. We care about this NEW Cradle of civilization.

So normally your map will stay a little consistent, but the focus may change, as places in your Hinterland will become the Cradle, and Provinces will move in an out of focus, depending on their importance to your story. Some lands will fall away altogether, only to be replaced generations later. Great towers will be erected, only to crumble and fall to ruin, perhaps to be rebuilt by a later ruler.

Or, like this game, the lands will be abandoned, and all will be forgotten, and a new clean map will be built.

Where Tybalt finds himself looking down on his lands from a Mountaintop. Is that Hidden Place in the Hinterland the same Hidden Place that was in the Cradle from the Old Kingdom? Sure, I’d like to think so.

And notice that Tybalt now finds himself wearing the robes of the Chancellor?

Another change is to the people themselves. Six cards will be added to the Denizen deck. 3 from the Suit that was most common to the winner’s advisors (winner’s choice if tied). Tybalt was tied between Beast and Nomad, but chooses Nomad due to the Lost Tongue card being what cinched the win for him. Then 2 from the next “In line” so Discord and then 1 from Arcane.

These replace 6 random cards from the Discard pile. So the cards in Tybalt’s hand are safe, but everything else is possible to leave, and we don’t get to see what actually goes. So the deck will be subtly different next game, with a few more Nomad cards and a few less…..somethings. This game is now 100% different than any other game in existence (most likely).

Then all of the loser’s Relics get shuffled together and the map gets refilled if any Relics need to be put there (you see them in the picture above). Then the 4 Relics the Chancellor starts with gets shuffled with the Relics the winner got and they get put on the top of the deck meaning 1) It’s likely the Relics the Chancellor can offer players for Citizenship will be the same Tybalt had in the game or 2) You’ll be able to find Sticky Fire in the new lands as forgotten Relics of the last war.

The instructions finally have you rebuild the Denizen deck to set up for next game and place everything back in the box so that setup for next game is a breeze and BAM, we have the opening sentences for the next chapter in our story.

So there you have it.

Let’s be honest here, I was very distracted during that playthrough. I may have gotten rules wrong, or forgot a strategy mid way and it may have seemed disjointed as weeks passed in between postings (or even in the middle of a post). And for that, I apologize.

I hope it was at least worth reading through and you got the idea of what a game of Oath is like. Not like there aren’t a million other reviews and playthroughs out there on the ‘net about this game, but you come here for blathering, not for in depth analysis or thoughtful reviews. Just some light reading and a chuckle as yet another white guy plays games.

But I am certainly happy to finish another post and get it published and out there to the world.

Was it my best? No.

But perfect is the enemy of done.

Sadly it’s hard to compete with my original very wordy playthrough of High Frontier 3rd edition that got this all started. Shame that game is now out of date. Not that I couldn’t play a 4th edition game, though….

Anyway, if you enjoyed this game, you could always head on over to my ko-fi page and send me a cuppa. I do have kind of a pie in the sky idea for a huge bit of entertainment that would involve big, heavy boardgames like High Frontier, Stellar Horizon, Magic Realm, Churchill and all that kind of stuff and also involve other people and…..booze and comedy. But it involves a lot of work, time and energy and I just don’t know if it’s worth it. A few bills in the coffee can might push me over the edge, but now I sound like I’m begging, so I’ll shut up. Don’t worry about it. That’s a long way away.

Thanks for reading this far. Take some time to look around today and be amazed that the seemingly random bits of matter that happens to be occupying your space is “you.”

Winning them over with a smile

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The grand melodrama of Verona continues.

Scene 1 shows our Clockwork Prince, seething on their throne, their forces spread over the map, but failing to win over the people.

Scene 2 shows a handsome, charming and dare I say handsome again (yes, I dare), Exile rowsing the people from their lethargy, stoking the fires of rebellion and they like me, they really like me!

Scene 3 shows a noble leader, protecting his people from the likes of the Prince, doing what the Prince has always been saying that they would do, but doing it better.

The people are torn, who shall lead this kingdom? The Prince who has been leading them for all antiquity? The person who has won over their hearts? Or he who is currently protecting their lands properly with great leadership?

We’ll find out, right after this:

Tybalt starts in the Salt Flats, so he gets a Favor or Secret just for being there. He gains the last remaining Favor. He is pretty confident as he has Lost Tongue as an advisor. Just to remind you:

No one can actually take his Relics or banners unless they have a Nomad card. And honestly, I’m kind of okay with Tybalt taking over. If only because he is not in a very strong position militarily at the moment, so if he wins, he’ll be very weak next game and I’ll be able to walk all over him (of course, so will any other players, but that will be a problem for future Exile-me).

I’ll see where I’m standing next turn on whether I attack Tybalt or not. Honestly, Clockwork Prince isn’t smart enough to know that they can’t take any of those Relics, so they’re probably going to spend all their actions just beating Tybalt up and I’ll end up winning with my Vision so, not a problem anyway.

But what will Tybalt do?

He comes to me in the River and uses his Secret on the Rain Boots there to get 2 Favor. Sure. Makes sense. He then does a Recover action and….

Takes my Banner.

You see, a Recover action doesn’t take much. I have 2 Favor on the Banner, so all he has to do is place 3 in order to take it. I won’t be able to take it back until my turn, which means I can’t win based on my Vision.

Simple.

Jerk.

He only places 3 Favor on the Banner, using his last Favor to Muster on the Rangers to get 2 more Warbands.

He has 2 Supply left and has a choice to make. He has 7 Warbands under his control. If he successfully attacks the Clockwork Prince, he can use the Sticky Fire and wipe out the Prince, essentially sealing the win in his favor. However, the Prince also has 5 Warbands on their board, plus the 1 on the Site Tybalt would be attacking. The Prince also has +-2 on their Tactics rating, meaning Tybalt is only rolling 5 dice. So 5 dice versus 6 plus the roll of 1 die. Not great odds. But not terrible odds either. If Tybalt controlled a card like the Zealots, he’d be all over that.

Normally a good strategy here would be to go hide somewhere in the Hinterlands, as that would cost the Prince a lot of Supply just to hunt Tybalt down, but as the Clockwork Prince doesn’t use Supply, that doesn’t matter. It’s not a bad defense against me to just make me spend 2 Supply to chase after him, however.

That’s ultimately what he does, going to the unexplored location in the Hinterland. That way there’s potential for cardplay for some more Favor, and it just opens up some options. Though we all know he’s just hiding from me.

Huh, he found the Buried Giant. For one secret (that you just flip over until the end of your turn), you can leave that space and travel anywhere without spending supply. That’s pretty awesome. It also gives him access to yet another Relic. Methinks Tybalt has this game in the bag. But that ends another round and the Prince must make a move. Let’s see what that Clockwork Mind does.

! is right. Exile Oathkeeper is a fancy name for Tybalt. So the Clockwork Mind immediately jumps to the corner of the card that corresponds to the Oath they should be focusing on: Relics and Banners. They ask themselves over and over: Do I have the most? No? WHY NOT!?!?!?!? And then they go about trying to get them.

They draw their three cards, looking for fellow Conspirators and draw….

Um. Okay. Arcane is on their Conspirator side, so that bumps up to the second row. It is unable to played in their Site, so instead they get one Warband, one Favor and raise on on the Tactics chart. Maxed out on Tactics, now adding or subtracting 3 dice. Awesome. Now to do 3 actions.

So now we have a decision to make. The first action the Prince should make is to attack the person with the most Relics. Of course, they can’t TAKE any of those relics. So should that come into consideration?

No, it shouldn’t. 1) There are some built in advantages to the Prince’s abilities (like Tactics) to level out the fact that it’s stupid. and 2) A live player would do something like this to weaken Tybalt so that I, a player who CAN steal Relics, could go in and more easily steal stuff.

So yes, the Prince wages war! The Prince is rolling 9 dice (6 Warbands plus 3 Tactics), while Tybalt has 7 so far in defense, which means the Prince will only go after a Relic that can defend with 2 dice. The Sticky Fire and Banner of the Darkest Secret both have 2, so they would target the Sticky Fire as that is the first one Tybalt had gotten. Yes, they are targeting that even though they can’t take it. *shrug*

So 9 dice versus 7 + 2 dice. If Tybalt wins he can use that Sticky Fire to wipe out the Prince. If the Prince wins, they can use the Military Parade to gain some Favor. So let’s roll those bones.

Quite the roll for defense. So 10 is the number to beat. 7.5 is what is rolled. One Warband is immediately killed. The .5 is removed, so 4 Warbands must die for the Prince to win. They are able to do that and still have 1 left over, so after much blood flow, the war is over.

Tybalt loses 3 Warbands, while the prince lost 5. Tybalt still holds on to his Sticky Fire. I would call that a pretty good win for Tybalt there. The Prince, however, holds a parade in their honor and gains a Favor from the Discord and Nomad bank. A little pompous, aren’t we?

The Mind would have them go to the location with a Relic for them to take, but they are at the only location with a free Relic. But they have no Secrets to spend, so they can not buy it, so they use Action 2 to go to the location that would net them the most Favor, which is back home to the Hidden Place. And Action 3 nets 4 Favor from the Order bank. It was an actual trade for Favor and Secrets, but no Arcane or Beasts showed up to the Parade. Pity. And that’s all the Prince is able to do.

Now it is up to little ol’ me to stop Tybalt’s rise to power.

And I just realized how unlikely that will be. Mainly because of something I forgot in the previous battle. Tybalt should have been rolling 2 more dice. Because he’s +2 to everything for being the Usurper. My little 3 Warbands aren’t going to do crap, and I don’t have any advisors that help with war.

So, interesting thing about this game, if you find yourself in this situation, you can easily say: “Well, I have a very small chance of winning this game, so I’ll change the condition of the start of the next game.” And then you can spend your last turn destroying objects that may help the future Prince, or playing objects that may help future Exiles, or even kissing the Usurpers butt to make you a Citizen at game’s end.

But

we have a strange board here:

(Picture taken during my turn)

You see, Tybalt doesn’t actually hold any land. The world itself will actually be wiped clean, and the new Prince will be holding onto a mere one land in the Cradle and EVERYTHING else will be discarded. Effectively the story of the game is that Tybalt introduced a new language to undermine the King, and then led his people out of the lands and forgot these people forever, starting anew somewhere else, and we will follow THOSE stories from now on.

Wacky, isn’t it?

So truthfully, I only have once chance to make my mark, and that it punching Tybalt in the face and hope to steal 2 Relics in a desperate attempt to prolong the game a little longer.

So I Muster 2 more Warbands, move on over to the Sleeping Giant and roll 5 dice to beat 4 plus 4 dice. No wait, I almost forgot again, SIX dice. +2 for Usurper, remember?

*counts on fingers*

Not lookin’ good, boss. That’s 3 and I need 14 (that’s 5×2=10+4). For funsies Tybalt uses Sticky Fire to burn his enemies in his wake as he leaves the lands of the Clockwork Prince forever.

I finish my turn and at the beginning of Tybalt’s turn is the Wake Phase, and the Usurper’s Wake power activates, causing Tybalt to win on turn 5 of the game! That is unusual, but what a game!

But what does that mean for our kingdom?

We’ll let you know, right after this…

THIS

It’s just one little deal with the devil!

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So when we last left Verona, our Prince was busy “Protecting” us all by amassing an army, while lil’ ol me was…well…amassing an army, while some other guy named Tybalt was amassing an army. Safety abounds!

Such was our tale of Empire and Exile beginning.

It seems that everyone is going for the Victory condition that the game starts with, the Oath of Protection (Control the most Relics and Banners), and going for it through violence. That is not the only way to win (if you’re a Citizen, you can win by having the People’s Favor after the Prince would fulfill their Oath, or the multiple Vision cards that are spaced throughout the deck), so things are a bit one sided so far, but I was able to make a small deal with Fire Talkers for a Cursed Cauldron which will allow me to raise the dead. Who doesn’t want a necromancer for their leader?

No one, that’s who.

Tybalt, our Yellow player, simply Mustered some forces and took over the River. Heh, Mustered some forces. Like what I do to soft pretzels.

Things will be changing, though. Both the Prince and I have been leaning on the Arcane faction a bit, and they’re getting low on Favors to give. Tybalt himself has no favors to give, so who knows what’s going to happen there. And what will the Prince do now that one of their Sites has fallen?

Only one way to find out.

The Prince starts their turn by seeing if there’s a new Threat. Nope. Still views us both as young upstarts. That’s kind of insulting, but whatever. Then they draw 3 cards. Right now they’re playing for a Friend or Unaligned in this case.

Another Vision gets discarded to the Provinces, as well as a Roving Monster….but an Order card gets played to the Hidden Place.

Oooo, that’s going to get interesting. The Prince gains a Tactics point for having drawn a Battle Plan, and now they’ll gain Favor for beating us up. Awesome. And yes, they immediately Muster and then go attack Tybalt’s forces at the River.

Prince has 8 dice versus 1, and the good news is Tybalt isn’t showing any advisers, so now extra Favor for winning this battle. 1 Shield is rolled, so 2 for our defender and 4 for the attacker and no skulls. Flawless victory. The Warband goes back to Tybalt’s player board, one of the Prince’s Warbands goes back to the River and that’s all that happens there. We wonder if Tybalt’s face down Battle Plan will ever be shown, but I guess now isn’t the time.

That was the Prince’s turn.

So now it’s Skeletor’s turn!

I mean my turn. What’s my name again?

It’s hard for me to use my cauldron to great effect. The Prince has 7 Warbands on their board, which is exactly how many I have. The only way I could gain advantage is if I hold the Darkest Secret an I could use my Fire Talkers, which would give me three extra dice. Of course, gaining more Secrets is difficult as I only have 1 Favor, and Secrets are traded for Favors on a 2 for 1 basis. Expensive.

BUT, there are two Warbands sitting in the heart of the Cradle. Sitting in the Narrow Pass. If I travel there and attack (and win), one of those Warbands will be killed, increasing my own army while decreasing the stable of the Prince’s. Of course, rolling a bunch of skulls could be….difficult. I could Muster some more, especially if I can add more Favor to the Arcane bank, since I can pull from there pretty quickly, but…

Hmmmm.

So my plan: Attack the Cradle! Use the Inquisitors there to get some Favor and eventually use that Favor to mine for Secrets and ultimately get the Darkest Secret. Hope to not get slapped around by the Prince in the interim.

Two Supply gets me to the Narrow Pass, 1 Supply gets me a Muster on the Inquisitor and I score 2 more Warbands, and then my final 2 Supply let’s me Campaign in my space.

Right now I’m at 9 dice from my Warbands, but minus 2 for the Prince’s tactics against the 1 die from my Site + the 2 Warbands here. I’m almost thinking of attacking the Prince’s other two Sites that he’s not sitting on. That would make it 8 dice (I would lose 1 for attacking a mountain site) versus 3 dice + 4. Now those dice could add 0, 1, 2 or the dreaded x2 to defense. The benefit to attacking all of those is that’s an extra Warband that could die and be resurrected. Not to mention another Site to control. Though that is not a way to win, that is not a way to win YET.

Oh what the heck, let’s lean into the evil villain bit. Let’s go for it all. Roll them bones!

Oof, now THAT could have gone better. So immediately one of my Warbands dies. And then I see their defense is 3 shields, x2 (6), plus 4 for the Warbands on the site, so I need 11 Swords. I have 7.5, or 7. So I need to kill 4 more in order to win. Yikes. So I do. Well, I guess throwing minions at a wall fits my evil theme, so there I go.

Ironically, it’s the 4 I sold my soul to the devil for. That makes it okay? This is why no one likes moral philosophers.

I then get to kill 2 of the Prince’s Warbands, then send 2 of them to their player board. Since I killed 2 Warbands, 2 Warbands are raised into my Infernal Army. Mwahahahaha! I can now place these Warbands on my newly conquered Sites. I was not the owner during the “Use Battle Plans” part of the campaign phase, so even though I Rule the Military Parades card now, I don’t get to use the power and strut my stuff like an insecure child. Nuts. I could totally use that money.

So now the Prince finds themselves with little land. But Tybalt can still shake things up. What will he do?

Poor Tybalt is discussing with the Tribunal in the outer Provinces, probably discussing the Civil War raging in the country, trying to bind everyone together. He starts by digging though the Discard Pile out there. The Vision was passed up again, and the Province Discard pile is empty. But as any Political Organization, Tybalt got access to something often stronger than armies:

By playing it to the table, Tybalt scores a Favor from Discord. He then reveals one of his Advisors before trading with Slander.

Ah, a deadly card, but in Tybalt’s first attack he lost too many Warbands to make it worth while. But now with one Trade action, he can clean out the other 2 Favors from the Discord Bank. Besides, it’s some of the best artwork in the game! Then the Tribunal tells him of a secret Artifact that they will give him, if he promises to Restore Order to the kingdom.

Suuuuuuurrrreeee, he says.

Hoooooooly crap. If you’re really following, you can see how combining that with the Cauldron is effing fantastic. But all the Favors are in the Order bank now, and my Warbands are spread throughout the land.

For his last trick, Tybalt heads out to the Hinterlands, to see what he can do out there. He finds himself in the Salt Flats. The good news is as long as he’s there, at the beginning of each turn, he’ll get to grab a Secret or a Favor (as long as one is there for the taking). But good for me, he’s out of the way. But do I want him in the way so I can take his Fire?

More to ponder, but for now his turn is over, and so is Round 2.

The Prince still doesn’t see us as a Threat….for some reason. They still are fulfilling their Oath as we all are only holding one Relic. I guess the mass slaughter doesn’t mean as much to the People? The letter of the law as opposed the meaning? Eh, either way, they start with card play.

Tactics goes up again, and their Mind says to play another Friend, which seems they play another Order card. My new Site is getting more interesting:

Boy or boy I need to get the Darkest Secret, don’t I? So what does the Prince do? They immediately go to the Hidden Place (The Prince ignores travel restrictions) and goes to war, trying to get their sites back. The Prince will attack the Hidden Place and the Mountains, but will not attack the Narrow Pass, as that would make it 9 dice versus 9 which would make it….oh crap, never mind, they have +2 dice from Tactics, so they’re actually at 11 dice, so they’re going for the whole shebang. They will not be targeting me or my Relic, so at least I have that for me.

So 11 attack dice, versus 4 defense dice + 6 Warbands. The odds are with me. Maybe. If I held the Darkest secret I would murderize them all. Ah well.

So my defense is 3×2=6 + 6=12. Prince’s roll is 12 exactly. 3 die from the skulls, and then they kill 1 more to make it 13 and they win. I can not resurrect anything because I need to win to use the ability, so I lose control of the Mountains, Hidden Place and Narrow Pass. 3 of my Warbands die as well. I took out more of them than us, so that’s nice, I guess?

The Prince now Musters up 4 more Warbands to get them all back. But they’re not zombies, so I’m not worried. And for their last action, they hop over to the Fertile Valley to slay the Bandits there and take over that Site. Strange that they don’t want any more Relics, but I guess having access to as many cards as possible to make it easy to grab Relics and make it hard for us to get them is the strategy.


As I start my turn, it has been several days, if not weeks since the last time I played, so I see that I have few Warbands, only 1 Secret, no Favors, no Sites, 1 Relic that isn’t very useful without Warbands to begin with and…..not much else.

What was past me DOING?

Losing. Past me was losing, it seems.

So I’m standing in the Narrow Pass, so I can Trade with the Inquisitor card to make my 1 Secret give me the 2 Favors sitting in the Arcane bank. That’s a start. If I get desperate I can try to grab the People’s Favor Banner and maybe go hunting for that Vision? For my next action, I’ll dig through the discards and see what I can come up with here.

Well hello there. That Ancient Pact would be amazing, but if I get my hands on the Darkest Secret, I’d want to hold onto it for my Fire Talkers. I like the Rain Boots better, as that’d give me a good strong thwap to get back onto the board.

I use my last bit of Supply to move down to the Tribunal. I can use the empty spaces there to raise more Favor later, and still use the Discord card for Trading as the Arcane bank is empty. I’m also closer to the Prince if I want to try and thwap them as I’m in the mood for thwaping.

So now we have Tybalt in the Salt Lands. When the turn starts, he gets to grab either a Secret or Favor that’s just sitting out there to be taken. He grabs a Secret. Because Secrets are good.

You come here for this kind of analysis, don’t you?

Then he goes into the draw deck and plays an Advisor, and a very good one given what we’re playing for:

So it looks like I won’t be getting his Sticky Fire any time soon.

Oh, and another smart thing, he now has two Secrets so he takes the Darkest Secret Banner, ’cause no one can take it from him.

Of course, he doesn’t know that the card I just took is Nomad. Okay, yes, he does, because he is me. BUT you know, *waves fingers in the air*. He then digs through the discard pile and plays the only card he can (because the other 2 were Visions) to the Flats. A Roving Monster. Knowing those two Visions are in the Cradle is nice, but Visions can only be used once 3 of them are drawn from the deck, and those are the only 2 in play. I need the 3rd drawn to make them viable. Tybalt then reveals his last Advisor to show his Faithful Friend and gain 4 Supply to keep his turn going.

He uses that Supply to Muster 2 more Warbands. Then he goes back to the deck (only spending 2 Supply using the Darkest Secret’s power) digging for my cards. He only gets 2 cards as the second one is another Vision. He discards that Faithful Friend (how Ironic) to put the Vision card into his hand, and the other goes into the Cradle discard. He then finishes his turn as the new Oathkeeper as he has more Relics and Banners than the Prince.

Methinks Tybalt is about to be hit.

Not thwaped. That’s my thing.

So Princey-poo starts their turn with Threat assessment as normal, but this time, there IS a threat: Tybalt. So the start space on their mind map moves to the top right, focusing the Prince’s goals to get more Relics and Banners. Because Tybalt is now considered the Oathkeeper:

He is doing what the Prince had promised the kingdom. If Tybalt is still the Oathkeeper at the beginning of Tybalt’s turn?

You see that each of these mantles also provide an extra defense die as well. So poor Tybalt will have to defend for 2 turns in order to win the game as a Usurper, but it could happen. Also, he has a face down Vision that is playable now. It might be only 1 turn to the win? But the Prince is going to try and put an end to that. What card will they play?

They are to play a Conspirator, but drew 2 Friends and an Unaligned, so the Unaligned becomes a Conspirator, so that’s good for we Exiles. And that card isn’t playable, so everything is discard to the Hinterlands and the Prince instead gains a Warband, a Favor and a Tactic. A good bump for them. But since it was an Unaligned Faction, the Prince is only getting 2 Actions this turn, so let’s see what they’ll do.

The Mind asks if the Prince holds the most Relics & Banners. Well no, that’s why we’re in this situation to begin with. So we follow the Orange line where it asks if we’re Battle Ready (meaning if they go to the Holder of the Most Relics, would they be rolling more red dice as defense dice + Warbands of the defense). So they’re looking at Tybalt who has 5 Warbands + the defense die for being the Oathkeeper + whatever defense dice the Banner or Relic the Prince would be targeting. The Prince only has 5 Warbands at the moment, so they are not Battle Ready. That being the case, we follow the black die to the Travel Icon and they go to a Site with a Relic.

Like a coward the Prince retreats to The Hidden Place (again, they don’t follow the rules for locations, so they don’t have to turn a Secret facedown, which will be a big deal soon), and then we check to see if they can buy the Relic in that location. According to the location, all the Prince needs to do is burn a Secret, and guess what? They can. So poof, the Relic is now theirs and:

Hmmm, interesting. The Prince won’t use it (they don’t use anything that has a cost), but I could see where that would come in handy.

But that was the 2 actions. An amazing lack of thwapping involved. Here’s something interesting: Since the Chancellor is no longer the Oathkeeper, they have a Threat and no Successor, any Exile may look at the bottom of the Relic deck and take it in exchange for becoming a Citizen in this fine land.

And I MIGHT DO IT.

For you see, I have 2 Favors and could become the People’s Favor, which would make me the Successor. Getting more Favor might become difficult to hold on to the People’s Favor:

BUT if I concentrate on building up Favor while Tybalt and the Prince beat each other up? That could be a way to sneak in a win. I know I’ve been hoping for the Darkest Secret, but this could be a way to do it. Though I do have a Plan B which I was thinking of instituting. Let me at least look at the bottom of the deck- Cup of Plenty (“Spend no Supply when you’re trading with a card that matches any of your Advisors.”) Hmmmm, that’s pretty darn good. You know what? I’m going to bank on Tybalt not going to become Citizen and believe that will still be there next turn and try my plan B. Tybalt is probably pretty confident he can hold on to his Relics (and maybe even beat me up for mine), so a Usurper win is probably in his future (Unless he’s holding a Vision that’ll just guarantee him a win. Then, well, there you go).

So now that’s its my turn, I spend 2 Supply to hop back over to the Narrow Pass, and then spend 2 more to dig through the Discards there, and if I remember right, there should be 2 Visions there.

Well crap, the other one is on top of the deck. Well, the good news is that’s not the card Tybalt has. The bad news is that’s not the card I need. But I can buy some time getting what I need here. So I’ll discard my Favor and let a Faithful Friend pay it off. Get my Supply back and use it to dig out that other Vision. That also buries the Vision of Faith even lower, keeping it from Tybalt.

And there it is, the Vision of Rebellion. You win if you hold the People’s Favor. I play that immediately Face Up (because I don’t want to discard any of my Advisors, and I want to have it available as soon as possible immediately. Might be a stupid move, but whatever). I then spend 2 Supply to move back to the Provinces and check out the River. From there I’ll play a card face up from my hand, putting the Rain Boots into play there. That gets me another Favor from the Nomad bank. I then use the last of my Supply to grab the People’s Favor.

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, have my Boots and let me lead!”

So the Prince is in a bit of a bind now, outside of his kingdom, he has one rabblerouser who is doing a better job protecting the people than its own rule, while another one is winning over the hearts and minds of its people.

But…

It’s Tybalt’s turn, and no one has gotten more than 2 Banners or Relics? You know what that means? Tybalt is now officially the Usurper to the throne!

He has no won yet, but 1) It is now harder to attack his pawn or any of his Banners/Relics. 2) Jerk will win on his next turn if no one does that.

Of course, if no one takes my banner next turn, I’ll win on my next turn due to my Vision, too. Oh, what a kettle of fish we have here. What will happen?

Guess you’ll have to wait, won’t you?

BUT NOW YOU WON’T

AND LO!

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When speaking of things epic, the world “Lo” comes to mind. What can I say? Apparently it’s a shortened form of “Loken,” which means “to look,” so this title says “READ ME.txt”

But, you know, more biblically.

But let us start the epic tale that is Oath: Chronicles of Empire & Exiles. It’s a card game, resource management, area control, variable power, variable victory condition, legacy, non-legacy, campaign, non-campaign, not easy game to explain.

images stolen from LederGames website. With apologies.

So rather than get bogged down in all the minutae, let’s just start the story, I’ll fill in the details as we go. And there are a lot of details, but I would hate to get overly wordy. (*ahem*)

In the beginning there was a ruler…

The Chancellor had been ruling for as long as everyone could remember. It was better this way. We all knew it, or at least, we all thought that’s what we all knew. The Chancellor kept us safe. That’s what their forces were there for. Safety. Their words constantly spoke of THEM of OTHERS, of NOT US.

The people listened. The people felt safe. But not everyone felt safe. For only those the Chancellor saw were safe. Those on the outskirts of the land were not safe. Those the Chancellor did not favor were pushed to the side. They were labeled as others, though they were at home in these lands as the Chancellor themselves. Exiles in their own lands.

This is their story, the few who decided to fight back. To light the candle and and stand up against the darkness and say “we are worthy too.” Including the Exile will not result in less right for the Citizen, but more right for all. But there is no irony lost in the capital, the Cradle of the land laying in a Narrow Pass,

nor in the irony that in order to fight our labeling as “other,” we have to become the “Other” that the Chancellor has sworn an Oath to protect their people from.

But with right, fate, and a little bit of luck, perhaps the lands can be ours.

This just writes itself, doesn’t it?

So from this, what of the game have we learned: There is a Chancellor. This is one of the players who has more “power” than the other player(s). They represent the entrenched ruler that the Exiled players are trying to uproot. The Chancellor has sworn an Oath which is the win condition of this particular game. There are 4 different Oaths that can be played for, and this one is for Protection, so the Chancellor has to finish the game with the most Relics and Banners at the table. If a Citizen (someone who has taken sides with the Chancellor and the Chancellor has given power to) fulfills the secondary goal you see on that tile there (in this case, Holds the People’s Favor), then the Citizen will win, even if the Chancellor fulfills the Oath.

The People are a fickle bunch. Yes, you have fulfilled your duty to us, but we grow tired of your rule, and we believe you should pass your crown to this one-we like them better. So nyeah.

The Exiles are trying to stop that from happening. There are other paths to winning, but path #1 is making the Chancellor not win, so we’ll start there.

We also see that the Cradle, ie. the central lands that events of this tale will be happening, is a Narrow Pass. Odd place to build your kingdom around, but I guess you can place the head of your kingdom at the place where everyone is trying to head people off? As in “We’ll head them off at the pass.” That was funny in my head. It’s funnier when you have to explain it.

For the purposes of this playthrough the Chancellor will be played by The Clockwork Prince. This is a set of special rules and a map full of arrows and symbols…

that tells you what to do. Or at least tries to. I probably do it wrong. I’ve only played a few times and still make errors. I still make errors with the rules, too. I don’t care. It tells great stories. So nyeah.

In fair Verona we lay our stage

Verona is a good a name as any to name our Kingdom. Let’s go with that.

This picture shows everything about our game. It’s a lot. Upper left is our Prince (which is easier to type than Chancellor, so I’m happy about that), with their Imperial Reliquary, filled with toys that can be offered to us Exiles in exchange for Citizenship. To their right are the playerboards for me and an NPC Yellow player. For them I’ll be playing them to the best of their ability to try and create some chaos and see what happens. While I play to win, I also play for story and for fun. So nyeah.

Nyeah.

Below that is fair Verona. In the Cradle is the Narrow Pass, where the Prince sits, out in the Provinces sits Yellow…um…Tybalt, yes, we shall name him Tybalt. He is by the River. Way out in the Hinterlands, far from the safety of the Cradle is where I sit in the Mountains. There is a good reason I am out there, though, for the Mountains are a rough place to attack, and there is a “Dream Thief” there, and I am wise in the way of Magic. But more on that later.

On the bottom of the board you can see a circle that shows the round counter. There are a maximum of eight rounds in the game before the people get so weary of the war and just throw their hands up and give the crown to SOMEONE and tell everyone else to shut the eff up. It’s like putting limits to political campaigns. A good idea. Then there’s a stack of Relic cards, a stack of denizens, the good people of Verona, and then a row of “Favor,” the little coins representing the help gained from the various factions throughout the land: Discord, Arcane, Order, Hearth, Beast and Nomad. The Favor starts out even, 3 in each bank, but it will ebb and flow throughout the game, and keeping the banks full for those in your pocket is an important part of the game.

It me.

So here’s me. Under my title of Exile is my win condition: Being the Usurper at the start of your turn or at the end of the eight round. Usurper is on the back of the Oathkeeper tile. How do you flip the Oathkeeper tile? Take it from the Prince or Citizen, of course. Below that is the other way to win, have a Vision. These are cards spread out in the top 25 or so cards of the denizen deck. These are clear cut goals that you can get the people behind you to take the crown. Basically they are the other Oaths that aren’t being used this particular game.

Then you see to the right of my board my “hand” of Advisers. If they’re face down, they don’t count as anything but a card placeholder. When faceup, they do stuff. Right now, it’s facedown, so you’ll have to wait and see what I have planned.

On the bottom of my board is a row called “Supply.” This is a currency that replenishes each turn that basically regulates how much you can do in a turn. Each Major Action costs some Supply (1 or 2) and when you run out, your turn is pretty much over. There are some Minor Actions you can do that are free, such as playing cards and spending your other currencies. Like the other bits below my board, which are Secrets (the blue books) and Favor (the coins). I already mentioned Favor, Secrets are a harder currency to get, but when you get them, they stick with you longer, and can be burned (spent to the bank) for more powerful effects. Then there are 3 Warbands, groups that let you get sites, steal Relics and Banners from others, and generally make trouble for other players.

And here’s where I’m staying at the moment, the Mountain in the Hinterland. First under “Hinterland” you see the movement cost table, 4 to move to the Cradle, 2 to move to the Provinces and 3 to move to any other place in the Hinterlands. That’s the cost in Supply. Then there’s a small deck there, that’s the Discard pile for anyone discard cards from the Provinces. Yes, you discard from the next land over. So I discard to the Cradle from where I am. Weird, right? But there you go. There’s also a little reminder there to show that it costs 2 Supply to search through that discard pile.

Then there’s the Site itself I’m on. You see there’s a Purple Warband on it, that shows that the Prince owns it. Boo. But you can’t overthrow someone that doesn’t own anything, I guess. The symbols on the card quickly (starting at the top left and going left to right, top to bottom) mean: Site has a Relic – Site gets one defense die if attacked – Site can hold 2 Denizen cards – Site attacker gets -1 attack die – To get the Relic at this site, Burn 2 Favor.

Next to the Site card is one of the two Denizens that can be there, and that’s our Dream Thief. Next to the name of the card is its Faction, Arcane in this case. On the bottom is the card’s power. The cost is 2 Favor to Swap any two facedown advisers. Neat. That can be used by whomever “Rules” that card, or anyone at that Site. So both the Prince and I can use that action, as long as there are no tokens on that card yet(tokens are removed at the end of each turn, so that pretty much limits to most actions to once per turn, but Denizens break a lot of rules, so…). And next to the Thief is a facedown Relic. Relics are fun toys that break rules, give powers and are generally awesome. They’re also one of the ways to win this particular game.

I think I’ve already said too much, let’s have our Prince start their machinations and see a turn in action (even though it’s a little different than an actual human’s turn) before I have my own turn.

First thing that happens is our Prince survey’s their land, looking for threats.

(This is technically skipped turn 1, but I’m including it for completeness) There is no one in the realm who is fulfilling their Oath better than they are. There is no one who is doing a duty the People like better. The Prince is feeling pretty good about themselves. So they just move on. First the look at some cards and play one.

A Vision is drawn (I don’t get to see it, dangit), and a member of the Arcane faction becomes a Conspirator for the crown. The card can’t be played to the board, so as a consilation, the Prince gains 1 Warband, 1 Favor and 1 “Tactics,” a special bonus the Prince can get that gives them more dice during Campaigns. The Favor goes in the Prince’s “Ambition” box, which is a location for some Favor that the Prince will only use to buy Relics or to gain the People’s Favor. The smooth operator…

Now we use the Prince’s mind to see what they’re thinking. Most Relics/Banners? Yup, so it uses the 2 Actions it will do this turn to Muster (gain more Warbands) and then go try and take over another site. As the Prince already rules all faceup locations, they’ll move to the other site in the Cradle and take out the Bandits there (all locations not ruled by players are considered ruled by “Bandits” with 1 warband on it). So our Prince, in their infinite wisdom, sees that the land is a wild and crazy place, so in order to protect their people better, is doing a “Police Action” to keep his lands under control, so they ride out to the…

Hidden Place. Clearly an encampment for ne’er-do-wells! Normally you can’t go to the Hidden Place without flipping over a Secret, but the Prince isn’t restricted by Site movement restrictions (not because they’re the Chancellor, but because they’re the bot). So…poop.

So now they fight for the location. Campaigns are….finicky. If the Chancellor was human, they would spend 2 supply and declare they are campaigning at this location. They would declare they are attacking the site, and then could attack any other site that the defender rules (I don’t believe bandits “rule” anything, so you can’t attack multiple Bandit sites, but I could be wrong**). If any of those sites involve the pawn of another player, you could also attack that pawn and/or that players Relics and/or Banners. Each of those Sites/Pawns/Relics/Banners offer defense dice that will be rolling against you. Those dice will produce Shields. Those Shields will be added to the warbands on the Sites (and player board if the player’s Pawn is involved in any way) and that is the defense value that you need to exceed to win. For your attack value, you’re rolling dice equal to the number of warbands you’re bringing to the table on your board. If you roll higher than the defense number, you win. Great. If not, you can kill your warbands to raise your number on a 1:1 basis. If that gets you to the win, great. If not, you lose.

Loser loses half their forces and the other half goes to the loser’s player board. Winner puts however many warbands on sites taken they want (if any sites were involved in the battle), the rest to their player board. If Relics were in the battle, winner take’s em. If Pawns were involved, some Favor gets destroyed and the pawn can get relocated to whatever site the winner wants. Stuff like that. I’ve already talked too damn much about it. I’m tired. Deal with it.

In this case, the Prince has 6 Warbands on his board. He’s going against a site that has 1 die in its Shield on the site. Whatever that rolls will be added to the 1 Bandit warband that is considered on that site. That’s what they’ll have to roll against to win the site.

I would show you a nice picture of the rolled die, but I rolled a blank side, so a blue square isn’t all that visually pleasing. So 0 shields rolled, so Princey-poo needs to roll 2 or greater on 6 dice.

I’m sorry 7 dice! Remember that they got to raise Tactics by one level?

Well that lets it add or remove 1 die depending on which side of the battle they’re on. So here we go:

And that roll counts as 4. The two white swords are 1 each, the sword outlines are 1/2, and you drop fractions. So not a huge roll, but enough for a Prince win. More importantly, none of the dice came up with a little skull head which would have killed a Warband. So the Prince’s domain grows. One Warband gets added to The Hidden Place, five are still on his player board, and they have their Rest Phase, which just takes the Favor that they used to Muster earlier in the turn and places it back into the Arcane Favor bank.

Now we set our machinations into motion. Now to talk about why I’m hanging out in the Hinterlands. First, it’s what my trusty advisors told me. Who are my advisors? Well, let me do a Minor Action (costs me no Supply) and reveal them:

Sure, they look intense, and they are. BUT, they’re very powerful if I hold the Darkest Secret (which holding Relics and Banners is one of the ways to win today’s game, so I hope to hold it at some point), AND they’re part of the Arcane Faction, and who else is in the Mountains? The Dream Thief. So we’re all friendly. And because of that, trading Favors is easier. Which is why my next Action is going to be Trade.

With Trade, you can trade Favor for Secrets or Secrets for Favor. I’m going to get some Favor by placing my only Secret onto the Dream Thief card. What that gets me is 1 Favor from the Arcane Bank, PLUS 1 Favor for each advisor of the same rank I have. So for the 1 Supply I spend for the Trade action, I am now 2 Favor richer. The Secret I spent will come back to me at the end of the turn.

There’s another interesting thing out here in the lands, a Relic. The Mountains card shows that if I Burn two Favor (remove it from the game), I will get the Relic here. It’s a steep cost, but usually worth it. It’s rare that a Relic isn’t worth it, and considering the goal of the game is to have the most Relics/Banners at this point, I’m going to go ahead and grab that with the 2 Favor I just grabbed. So 1 Supply later, I do a Recover action and nab that Relic.

Oh gee. Now I can become a necromancer. What have those Fire Talkers got me into? Looks like my strategy is going to go a bit more military now. I could try to take over the mountains, but I’d be at -1 die due to the Prince’s tactics AND -1 die due to the Mountains themselves, so that’d be a bit rough. I can’t Muster because the Dream Thief was already used for the Trade Action, so either I need to get some more cards, or I could travel and try and kill some Bandits to raise into my undead army (and hope my own troops don’t die due to bad rolls).

Well, it’s still early, so digging for cards is prudent, so I’ll do a search action. It’s 3 Supply to search in the main deck, 2 in the Discard deck. It could cost 4 in the main deck later in the game, so I’ll do the main deck. Maybe I’ll find a Vision that I could aim for.

The eff with that Python card? I’ve never seen that one before today….Weird. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I think I need to make a deal with the devil and get my army started. A Small Favor. What could possibly go wrong? The Ancient Pact seems interesting. Unfortunately I burned all the Favor out of the Arcane bank so it’ll be hard for me to gain the People’s Favor and hold onto it for long, so becoming the Successor isn’t going to happen anytime soon. But hey, let’s get some more warbands.

So I play the A Small Favor to my Advisors face up. I immediately get 4 Warbands added to the 3 I have when I start. I still have 2 Supply remaining. I think I’m going to spend that to move to the Provinces. I’m doing that hoping to find a location that has a Relic, and also because I know that on the top of that Discard pile is a Vision, and maybe it’s the Conspiracy Vision, where I could steal a Banner, which is always nice.

Well, not nice, as in friendly, but you know what I mean.

No Relic, but it will pay if I had Hearth cards to the Site. No big deal but could be nice if I get some good cards here. But my turn is done. During the Rest phase, I get my Secret back, my Supply replenishes, but only 5 spaces because it costs some moola to keep all these warbands fed.

Now our fellow Exile takes their turn. Yes, I will be playing their turn myself but will be sorta playing them a bit chaotically. I’ll keep you, dear reader, a bit in the dark, to perhaps make it a bit more fun. If it’s really obnoxious, let me know, but let’s see what we see from this yokel.

So Tybalt is in the River and starts Mustering forces. And immediately attacks the Prince! 5 dice versus the 1 die at that location. Tybalt says he has a Battle Plan in hand, but does not use it. He can choose to attack more than one location, but the other locations are: the Mountain which would lower his attack dice, the location with the Prince pawn which would bring down the might of the Prince’s army, or the Narrow pass which has 2 warbands on it, greatly increasing the odds in the Prince’s favor. So it’s a simple fight over the one site. 5 dice versus 1 die + the 1 Warband there.

The Prince’s die came up empty, so Tybalt only needed 1 success. He got 5.5, but those two skulls means he has to kill 2 of his Warbands anyway. So tough win, but a win none the less. The warband that was on the River retreats back to the Prince’s player board, and a Warband from Tybalt’s board replaces it. Only 2 remain on Tybalt’s board, though. Tybalt then continues to tour the Provinces and discovers:

Is it just me or my pictures getting smaller?

Anyway, the Tribunal. 3 Favors get you the Relic there. For his final Action, Tybalt searches through the discard pile and takes a card from there and adds it to his face down Advisors. I would assume he would want to try and get more favor by playing it to the site, but it didn’t happen. He also drew a Vision but did not keep it (Remember, Visions are ways to win the game, but they also take a place in your hand unless you show the table “Hey, this is how I’m trying to win.”), so that should tell me something about what the Vision probably is, but it’s a bit early in the game.

And that’s it, he gets his supply back and we have now finished the first round of the game. There is at most 7 more of these before the game is over. What could possibly happen in that time?

Who knows.

Who cares? Maybe you?

If so, stay tuned for the next post (that you can find here). Let me know what rules I should be pointing out, what I should be focusing on, what I haven’t rambled about more, etc. I’ll try to edit that in to the next posts.

Also, if you have enjoyed these and they have added any meaning to your life (or whatever), I do have a ko-fi page, and if you want to buy me a cuppa, you can do so there. If not, that’s okay too. Hope to see you all soon!

**-Edit 9/1/22 – Turns out I was – Sean McKitrick through BGG told me that you can attack all Bandits through one Battle action. Ya learn stuff!

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,

Yup, that’s what it said when I showed up.

It's been that long.  I see my last post was January 2020.  I wonder what's happened between now and then?  Hmmmm....

Can't think of a thing.  Besides, it's all still happening, worse for some than others, and this is a blog about game, which are meant to take us out of this world we live in and let us experience fun.

Fun is an interesting word, mainly that until recently, it really hasn't been well defined.  No, not that it isn't in the dictionary, but that it hasn't really been studied.

Before I ramble on, if you don't care about this and want to hear about what game I'm going to play and when, just jump to the break below.

But what I have been doing for the past two years is learning.  A LOT.  Mainly about how my mind works (and doesn't work).  So learning what makes a thing "fun" was important.  And what can make a thing more fun was also important.  As we saw from a previous post, I have a mental illness that can suck the fun out of anything and everything.  So finding out how to make every moment count is important.  So reading papers like this one that shows the correlation with fun and other people...well.

But wait, you say.  You're a solo gamer!  Introvert all the way!

Hell yes, I am.  I have 171 logged plays in 2020.  56 of them were with other people.  So 2/3s of my plays in that fateful year were solitaire.

And I had fun.

But one thing 2020 has taught us:  Maybe scientists know a thing or two.  Maybe we should listen.  Rather than saying "No, I'm an introvert, there's no way adding people to my hobby would make me have more fun.  I know better than people who do this for a living!"

BUT.

Here's how I had more fun.  I found the One Player Guild on Boardgamegeek.com.  I went and posted about my plays.  I interacted with others.  I took a solitary action and made it social.  I've been doing this since 2017 and never really thought about it.  

And I made this blog.  The simple act of typing out the stories of my games introduces flow and I lose a chunk of time during the day (much to the chagrin of my boss, I'm sure).  Flow is another thing that leads to joy as you can read about in papers like these.  

So I need to get back to this blog.  Increase my joy.  Get back to it.  Things are troubling in the world.  Things are troubling in my world.  But that will be true for as long as I exist (see definition of dukka).  But there are things that I will be doing to help with that, and this blog is one.  So:

What to do now

So I plan on doing some long and *ahem* very wordy playthroughs like I have in the past.  However, since I no longer have the time like I used to, the access to Tabletop Simulator at work (shakes fist at the IT Department) and am just more aware of how I operate, I won't be posting as I play like I used to.  Instead, I will only post when I have AT LEAST 5 saved posts in the queue, or a full playthrough that finishes a game.

I will be posting REGULARLY EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY WHILE I HAVE A GAME GOING.

That way we won't have another Pax Emancipation moment where a game fizzles out in the middle, weird pauses in the middle of games or (I hope) two year hiatus moments.

This should, also, allow for some editing of posts so we'll have less spelling and grammar errors that I only caught weeks later (sorry!), more likelihood that I'll play games that are physical versions that I play on my table at home, and generally better quality everything.

Don't expect great quality or anything, I'm still just a person doing this between sips of coffee and everything else, but I can improve.

My next game(s)

What will be coming up:

Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile.

I would like to play out a few games of this, complete with full storyline of the rise and fall of a woodland empire. I’ve always said I love a game that tells a story, and this one certainly does.

I’ll be honest here

I made this post in March of 2022. I’m now editing this in August. I have yet to make 5 posts for a game or complete that game of Oath. *sigh* Things aren’t looking good.

But, as they say, the hardest part about going to the gym is getting in the car, so I just need to complete this first one and get it going, and the rest should be good.

My original draft of this post had a series of games posted for AFTER I finished Oath, but I deleted that. Clearly that was aiming too high. I shall merely post one game at a time.

See? I’m already learning.

But aren’t you glad to know that once I start the game, you will get the ENTIRETY of the game, given to you every Tuesday and Thursday until its completion, without any flaking and fading away in the interim? I know I am.

Cheers.

(Yes, I still have a ko-fi account, if you would like to give me a toast and keep these coming, that’s a great way to let me know you like the work I do. If not, that’s okay too. Thank you for reading)

Click here for the next post in the series

Losing in Real Time

Remember how I said I would post weeks ahead to make sure I would stay ahead of my posting schedule?

Well, my last post just went up yesterday, and I am now beginning this post.

The future, it seems, has caught up to me.

How apropos.

Okay, first thing is I’m going to type up the current splay, because how it looks in Vassal is getting really messed up.  In fact, I may have already messed it up, so I apologize if anyone is following along at home and they look at this and go “HUH?”

Green>Blue>Yellow>Green>Yellow(BlueCube)>Red>Green(BlackCube)>Yellow>Yellow(BlackCube)>Blue

Got all that?

Neither do I.

Anyway, my goal, now that I got a boat load of cubes down on the Neurohacking Idea, is to flood the Splay with Blue Cubes, blow that last Blue out of the splay and try to end the game with either 3 Yellows in a row, or jam 5 Yellows at the end of the Splay and trigger a Singularity.

Easy Peasy.

Capture

Thank you creepy Ms. Marvel clones.

Speaking of which, it is my turn and it costs me 2 to Commercialize Neurohacking, so lets hop to it.

Capture

I’ve got loads of cubes covering the Heat, so I clearly put in the time and effort to work out any problems that may cause any kind of Brainwashing or Manchurian Candidates.  By the way, if you’re curious about where the state of the art is with putting actual computers into our brains, take a look at the book Soonish by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith.  It’s an amazing book.  Really freaking cool and a fun read.

So I spend my Blue Patent for the 2 bucks, send a Maker Worker into Unemployment and trigger the Industry Disruption Impact.  I decide on Blue, so all Blue Patents get destroyed, and I discard that Blue card at the end of the Splay.  So what if I was the guy that put it there?  We don’t need Co-Bots anymore, we have virtual assistants IN OUR HEADS!

Then I solve a Wild Problem, which happens to be Collective Identity…not sure how Neurohacking could solve that.  I’ll leave that to your imaginations.  And then I get a factory on the Idea side of the Cloud.  Which is kind of awesome to have.  Hmmm.  Could I get a Tycoon victory?  Probably not at this rate as that’s only my second factory, but it’s fun to fantasize about.  Like having Clippy appearing in your brain.

clippy-clip_resize_md

KILL IT WITH FIRE!

I then add Neurohacking to the Splay, Yellow side out, with my 3 cubes on it.  That changes the Regime again.

Capture

This is the Regime I want if a Tipping Point gets triggered.  It’s the only way I’ll win.  Since I now have a Patent worth $10(!), I can use my other action to Research in the Cloud.  That will earn me 2 Patents in whatever colors happen to be at the bottom of the Cloud column.  I don’t much care because the bot isn’t going to commercialize this turn, and anything is better than the 1 in Wealth I have right now.  Not to mention it gets cards out of the deck, including the Tipping Points I need, if I get lucky.

So Digital Microfluidic Microchips (that’s a mouthful!) gets discarded, netting me a Blue and Red Patent.  They’re both worth 1 right now, so doubled to 2.  Blah.  But still, better than nothing.

Capture

Bah.  No Tipping Point for me.  Not much for Yellow Ideas either, which makes it harder for me to try for a Singularity.  That stinks.  Let’s see what Citizen Pink does.

Ah, Industry Disruption.  I have to burn a Red or Yellow Industry.  Since I just got a Red Patent, I’ll burn Yellow and discard something way up high on the Splay.  Sadly this makes Yellow/Blue no longer viable, but that only makes Personalized Medicine out of the running.  I may have shot myself in the foot a little, but that’s what the bots do, shoot at your feet.

I strained the hell out of that metaphor, didn’t I?

Ah, then Citizen Pink will add a new Idea to the Market.

Capture

Ooooo, that’s fun.  No, not the individual’s right to uninhibited self-modification (though that could be fun….maybe), but it’s a viable idea with a Yellow.  And the ability to make another factory.  Though the Developing World is not my bag right now, but hey, who knows?

And that’s all it does.  And hey, next turn it’ll Commercialize Genetic Augmentation!  Another Yellow into the Splay!  I might get my Singularity win!

Okay, since Syndication is still free, and all my money is tied up in Patents, I’ll use one action to Syndicate Somatic Rights.  That way I can pull a cube out of Debt and stick it there, and use the Bioethics Surge Arrows to also Syndicate FemTech way at the top of the First World Sphere.  Then I’ll wish I had gotten a First World factory at some point, but I gotta work with what I got.

Man, if I hire into the First World now, it would cost both Patents (since they’re 2 dollars a piece).  Both would end up in Wealth, and one would go to the First World Sphere as the Employee.  Then next turn to Commercialize, it would cost 2 to do the action.  And I would only have the 1 cube in Wealth.

A day late.  A dollar short.

But I could Fundraise first and get back my two unemployed people in the Cloud!  And then get the fifth Yellow in the Splay!  Could this actually work?

Pax TranshumanityMap

Splay can’t be seen here but it’s currently:

Green>Blue>Green>Green>Yellow(BlueCube)>Red>Green>Yellow>Yellow(BlackCube)>Yellow(3BlueCubes)

Okay.  Here we go.  Action 2, Hire into First World.  Spend both Patents.

Pink Citizen goes.  Pink Syndicates Genetic Augmentation.  Then Pink Commercializes Genetic Augmentation, adding it to the Splay.  That adds >Yellow(BlackCube) to that crazy list above.

That’s all the bot does.

Then I fundraise, taking the two Unemployed Workers from the Cloud to my Wealth.  Then I Commercialize Somatic Rights.  It costs 2, so I move those 2 cubes to Debt.  I get a factory on the Idea side of the Developing World. I add another >Yellow to the list above.

AND WE HAVE SINGULARITY!

artificial-intelligence-singularity

Whenever the Splay ANYWHERE shows 5+ cards of the same color, the game ends and we go to scoring, and the scoring is simple.  Whomever has the most Future Shock wins.  Each cube in the splay is 1 point.  So whomever helped humanity deal with the coming of the new age is considered the winner, and the final scores are:

Blue: 4

Black: 3

Pink: 0

Red: 0

WOOT!

The other great thing about this game, is the Splay now tells the story about the game.  The Orientation of the card tells you what kind of impact the card gave, and the covered squares show what kind of fears were quelled or not.  So our splay looked like this.

Capture

Capture

So the “New Age” began when Open Border Rights started a new wave of innovation.  Sure, there was the same nationalists shreaking about terrorism and problems were many, but innovation began.  Though everyone thought 2100 would be like 2001: A Space Oddessy, when computers like the HAL 9000 became a reality, it took the gaming industry to make the people accept it.  Once a group of solitaire boardgamers found that these neural networks could be taught to become intelligent opponents, the idea spread and a neural network could be found in every home.

It was only natural, then, that a true Semantic Web was developed, allowing all of these “smart” machines to talk to each other.  It was the machines themselves that came up with this idea, and it was hard to talk them out of it.  It was hard to convince a translator program not to be able to talk to a competing company’s computer.  Rather than create a rush of new programs, this had the interest effect of allowing “lesser brands” of computers to learn from the more intelligent, leveling the playing field for poorer countries

Concurrently, large databases were becoming easier to handle since all computers spoke the same language, so healthcare was able to track epidemics easier.  A movement was made to put all of this disparate information into one place to stop not only the next ebola, but even the next cold.  Many protests were held by privacy advocates as to where the limits of this data could be used.

With all of this new data, doctors were able to implant small machines into people’s bodies, that were able to adjust to that incoming data to produce antibodies for the proper strain of flu as it was caught in real time.  The lifespans of humanity (which had theoretically been increased due to Telemere therapy) had been tremendously increased, especially the functional years.

In order to make these Biomechanical Implants easy to interact with, new “SmartScreens” were introduced that were basically pieces of paper with BlueTooth in them that doctors could use to see what was going on inside the patient.  Eventually these thin, flexible polymers were used in everything.

As healthcare was dealing with large amounts of data, these smart computers, now uncoupled by the Tower of Babel-like issue of language, could handle transaction in the Quintillions-per-nanosecond.  This made the old idea of “Blockchain” into a much more feasible idea than the fad of the late twenty-teens.  Using those old ideas, soon currency was spread among the whole of web, reducing corruption and increasing transparency.

Of course, all this costs energy, which is a problem many, MANY people were working on for a long time.  But finally someone launched some solar panels into space, took that ridiculous amount of energy and beamed it to a receiving station on Earth and the danged thing actually worked.  Many waited for the company to start demanding ransom money lest they aim the beam at major cities.  And maybe this fear was what started what was to come.

Because now unrestricted with a seemingly unlimited amount of energy, humanity became ready for Germline Augmentation, changing the next generation to make them ready for this new, long lived and powerful world.  Genetic diseases, as well as spread diseases, were now becoming things of the past.  Though memories of WWII and Eugenics caused many to wonder just where humanity was headed, the new crop of children were healthier, smarter and gosh darnit, ya just liked them better.

And then, finally, we could become one with the computers.  It was a strange 3rd rate celebrity who first showed off the small surgical scar.  But the things they explained they could now witness and do amazed the world.  The side effects were minimal to nil.  The new generation seemed immune to any worries and they enhanced their brains to a level two generations ago can barely understand.

And then that understanding truly broke down as the “kids” began to tinker with their own genes, making them able to live in places never thought possible before.  Humans living in the ocean?  Antarctica?  Space?

When they finally made it legal for anyone to alter their own bodies in any way they chose, the floodgates were opened and anyone from 2100 would no longer recognize the Earth of 2200.  Human/non-human is a shade of grey in colors never before seen by your generation’s eyes.

Oh, you can only see in that spectrum?  We can fix that.

I hope you enjoyed this playthrough, and I hope you learned something.  If you got something out of this and would like to show some appreciation, head over to my ko-fi page and buy me a cuppa.  Or don’t, and that’s okay too.

Thank you for reading!