And Roll Credits


And there we have it.  No Post-Production for me.

I made it to Reel 4, but couldn’t survive the onslaught of fish-faced-folk.  Not getting the other Sanctuary on the table certainly hurt, though the Weird Medallion we stumbled upon caused much, much mayhem.

But it was all for naught.

So, sure, we can call that a “Loss” in the terms of a solitaire game.


We can call that a surprise ending for an American horror movie.  I mean, sure, in Europe and Asia horror movies have the bad guys winning all the freaking time, but America?  Never!

But Innsmouth 32 is a different kind of film.  It’s one that’s made on your table, with your friends and your dice.  Will it be a good one?  A bad one?

Who knows?  But it will certainly be a fun one.  If you’re interested in the game, as of this writing the kickstarter is still ongoing and you can pick it up there.

Reel them in!


Let’s all go to the lobby…let’s all go to the lobby…

Ah, forget it, we still have three reels to go, and this one is the longest in the game.  Hope you have a large popcorn and similarly sized bladder.

Oooo, the Gangster comes back right out of the gate.  They’ve turned him!

But worse than that, it looks like two of the characters have wandered out into the marshes (not the Marshes) and might get lost!  The Dice tell me it’s the Book Worm and the Art Student.  I wonder what they expect to find out there?  I hope it’s some answers because the doctor is feeling awfully lonely right now.

That Plot Device gets replaced with a Power Play card:

Ah, so you’re THAT kind of professor.  Insanity hasn’t been a problem yet, but it’s good to know I’ve got two shots against it.  And that card is replaced with a Strange Dagger, a Speed or Guts test to do +2 damage and it also brings along 6 Mythos Points, and if they’re used in a banishment, you get -2 to the Monster Save.  Preettyy Niiice.

I’m going to speed things up a bit since the mechanics are pretty well documented by this point, but I’m going to forego an Action phase and Spotlight our Theology Professor as he does a Take and Attack on the High Priestest in the 13 Strength Throng.  This will force a Take and Attack (sadly at 13 Strength again) and avoid 2 attacks.  It will also put a strong item in the Professor’s hands and he’s got a 7 Guts, so hits are likely.  It’s a risk, but I’ve got to put some of these creatures down…

But before we speed things up:


Whenever the screen shows 3 monsters, it’s called a Creature Feature (in Pittsburgh 68, it was called a Three-Card Zombie, which is a funnier name, but not as universal).  Whenever that happens on a player’s turn, the three monsters immediately attack!  If it happens on the BitJ’s turn, it immediately adds one monster to a Throng.  Multiple Creature Features can trigger in a row on the Director’s turn.  It can get brutal.  Looks like a 7, 5, 4 attack.


The 5 hits for 1 damage, and I soak it with a spoint.

The Movie continues…the girls stumble around the marsh….COMPLETELY lost. (Boxcars!)  While the Theology Professor puts the High Priestess out of commission, he doesn’t manage to hold back the tides (ahem) and the BitJ’s forces fill so quickly he establishes a 4th Throng!  But the man can dodge attacks like nobody’s business.


Reel 2 passes and…

The girls finally flee the marsh, but the Bookworm is slain the moment she escapes!  Several other characters appear and disappear in a chain of death leaving only two left on the screen: The Art Student and The Professor of Languages who is wielding a Broken Oar.

Highlights include: A Gun Moll appearing, grabbing a Tommy Gun and taking down an entire Throng with one shot!  And then experience the opposite kind of luck and bombing on a Flail check in the next turn.

The Aged Scholar filling up on Mythos Points only to have the Defense Points of the Sanctuary fail and he’s killed in the Strange Temple (that is still there with 4 Mythos Points).

There is only ONE card left in the Survivor deck, meaning the best I can do right now is a one-star movie.  I should have drawn more Survivors earlier…getting that Lost in the Marshes card at the beginning of Reel 2 really put me in a binding and I probably should have handled that differently.

The BitJ is handling just fine.  No weirdness and I’ve been trying to exploit it the best I can.

Reel 3 is only 15 cards, and Reel 4 is 10, but the deck is now packed with Familiar Faces.  There’s also another Sanctuary, so that might help.  It’s not looking good, and my movie may not make it to Post-Production.

Luckily, it plays so quickly, I can easily play again!

Roll ’em!



It Stinks!


No, not the game.

That’s what I get for trying to put more obscure references in here.

ANYWAY.  Back to our game.

I’m going to take a chance and introduce a new character with a Spotlight action.


Ah, the Shop Clerk.  Not good for stats, but at least he has 3 Spoints on him (and he’ll draw fire from other, better characters).  I guess while poking her nose around, The Book Worm found a local willing to help our heroes escape the town!

Now our Clerk has an action.  I could have him take a weapon, but I’d rather give one of them to a more useful character.  I could have him do a search action and dig through the discards (which also includes all the unused cards) and see if I can find a useful card in there.

Nah, let’s just have him Rest and get 2 more Spoints.  Let’s see if he can soak the upcoming attack.  That brings him to 5.  All characters can have 7 Rest Spoints max, so that works out fine.

And back to the BitJ (am I the only one pronouncing this like a naughty word?).  Like I said in the earlier post, it’ll do a Take and Attack, grabbing the only remaining monster and making his Throngs nice and strong.  So Our Four Fish-Faced Locals join some Deep Ones for a Total Strength of 10 and they attack our Shop Clerk for squealing to the Book Worm.

And we roll a 4 for their attack.  That’s a hit.  But what’s this?  I rolled 4 the hard way – 2 and 2.  That’s a special attack!

(Larry Wickman LOVES craps as you’ll see in all of his rules sets)

Any time you roll a number “the Hard Way” it boosts the attack, so a double ‘2’?  That gives +2 to the damage of the attack.  So 1d6 + 2 later, we get an 8 damage attack!  Our Shop Clerk must flail!  Okay, technically I could spend all 5 of his spoints and 3 from my Power pile….but that’s a bit much, don’tchathink?

Condiments and pickled pigs feet go flying off the shelves as the locals start busting up the place trying to get to the Clerk.  Run! Run for your life!

The Clerk’s speed is 6, but I’ll spend 2 of the Spoints I earned next turn to boost that to 8 to make my odds jump to the 77% range or so.  Yeah, still very conservative, but these attacks won’t stop in the first Reel, and we’ve got longer Reels to deal with.

Double 5’s!  That’s a miss and our Shop Clerk gets lost under a flurry of claws and fists!  That’s what you get for squealing!  The Clerk gets put into the discard pile because he may come back as “A Familiar Face,” turned against us at a dramatic moment.

*sniff* We hardly knew ye.

The BitJ replaces the 4 with….

Another weapon!  Good news for us!  Bad news for the BitJ.  However, the Fade Out token triggers, and the Pocket Pistol is discarded to be replaced with Popcorn.

You heard me.



Hmmm…this is a card I have not built into the BitJ yet.  Let’s go with: Take the first Familiar Face you find and add it to the Reel.  If no Familiar Faces in the discard, then take the first Monster you find.

So our Clerk is going to come back SOON.  What a surprise it’ll be for the Book Worm.  Maybe the information he gave was all a ruse! Dun dun DUNNNNN!!!!

The Popcorn is removed from the game (it does not go into the discard pile), so we have to add a card to the screen still- Elders of the Abyss.  7 Strength and if I do an All Out Attack, they will Attack from the Screen.


So I’m back to that same question: Spotlight a character, or have both the Gangster and Book Worm go?

Let’s buy ourselves some time.  There’s only 5 cards left in the Reel, and maybe if we thin out the Throngs a bit, we can forstall a big attack.  So let’s just do a regular Action phase.

So we’ll have our Gangster just take the Cargo Hook.  It works with Guts, which the Gangster has an ‘8’ in, and gives +2 damage.  Not bad.

I’ll also have the Book Worm burn 2 Mythos points to Banish the 2 Value card out of the 3rd Throng.  I know 2 isn’t a big deal, but that will make the throng value 6, which will make the BitJ do a take and attack on its turn, saving me from 3 attacks and only giving me one big attack.

The 2 Doubtful Shapes get a saving’s throw, but must roll Snake Eyes (Watch Out for Snakes!), but crap out and go into the discard pile.  The Book Worm only has 1 Mythos Point left, but there’s always a chance she can get more.  Before my turn ends we replace a card on the screen where the Hook used to be and….it’s a Plot Device:


Hmmm, I can choose to use it to wipe out a monster, but then it’s out of the game, or I can wait to use it in a later Reel where I could wipe out multiple monsters.  As much as I’d like a chance to kill a 6 or 7 strength creature, I’m going to discard this and move on.


The blur is for dramatic tension.

Oh no!  Let’s see who gets snagged- The Gangster!  Of course, the guy with the Cargo Hook.  Dangit!  Only 3 points ’till it’s gone, at least.  But it’s still a waste of an action to free him.

And yet another card is revealed

3 Vile Villagers.  Okay, that I can handle.  What a way to spice up the end of the Reel.  Well, there’s still 2 cards there, and one of them is the turned Store Clerk.  *sigh*


So we’re back to the Brain that grabs the Elders of the Abyss to make a strength 13 Throng…

But wait, what’s the point of going over 12?

There is no point, in fact 12 is an auto-fail, so going over 11 is unnecessary, but it’s a brain in a jar.  Perhaps when the Mi-Go was transporting it a few bits of strategy were forgotten.  Cut it some slack.

Anyway, it attacks our Book Worm as she’s the only remaining Survivor on screen.

It does not roll boxcars, so it does damage, and that damage is- 4.

She only has 1 spoint herself.  I could buy it all off, but with a Speed of 6, I could buy that up to 9 and save myself a spoint….or even up to 8?  Of course, that worked so well with the Store Clerk.

Ah well, Odds ‘n’ Gods, baby.

I’ll spend her 1 spoint and one of my Power Spoints to give myself an 8 or less to flail.

And I roll 8 the hard way!  Sadly there’s no hard way bonus in a flail test, but it feels good!  We refill the screen, and there’s the Shop Clerk.  Familiar Faces use their Muscle score as their Strength, so he counts as a ‘6’.

Oh, and he puts the Fade Out token on the Broken Oar, too.  Dangit.

So it’s back to me, and I need to rescue the Gangster.  That’s going to involve another Spotlight action.  Let’s see who is going to shine as the great rescuer?


Ah, the Art Student.  Jinkies!  She’s got a Guts of 7, so a good chance to set the Gangster free.  I could use some of her spoints to help, but I’ll go with my, ahem, Gut and stick with seven.

And I roll exactly 7.

However, I only roll 2 for damage, so the Gangster is still imprisoned.  Uh oh, they’ve been spotted!

And now it’s time for an All Out Attack from the BitJ.  The Brain goes from highest to lowest strength, attacking down the length of priority, never fixating on a character.  So it will be:

Strength 13 vs. the Gangster (for having a weapon)

Strength 10 vs. the Book Worm (for having Mythos points)

Strength 7 vs. the Art Student (for being what’s left)


4 the hard way against the Gangster, plus 6 on damage is 8 damage, so he’s flailing.  2 spoints later he escapes certain doom.

The Book Worm makes an easy escape from her attacker (I risked no spoints on her roll of 6- and made it!)

And I lucked out by rolling 11 on the Art Student’s attack.

But the Broken Oar fades out at the end of the turn and…


We find a Strange Temple.  This gets moved to the side and 12 Mythos Points and 12 Defense points are put on it.  I can send characters here to Investigate and get some mad points, items and it prevents them from being attacked.  Of course, the BitJ can attack the Sanctuary and blow it up, but I hope to do some more damage before that.

No card is replaced as the Reel deck is empty.  We have to remove the Shop Clerk to move on to Reel 2, so I’ll do a Regular Action, hoping one of those will be putting an end to that poor kid.  Oh, there’s a 3 Strength card there, too.  Can’t forget those.

So let’s start with the Art Student doing another Guts action to rescue the Gangster.  Another roll of 7 is successful, and with only 1 point left on the card, Taken is discarded and he is freed!

So I’ll have him use the Cargo Hook on the Shop Clerk.


I hit, but only do 5 damage, so I should have spent spoints on damage.  Dumb me.  And I’ll move the Book Worm to the Strange Temple for obvious reasons.

Another All Out Attack from the Brain.  Now, though the targets are different:

13 vs. the Sanctuary

10 vs. the Gangster

7 vs. the Art Student

5 hits get taken off the Temple.  I soak 2 damage to the Gangster from my spoint pile and the Art Student is missed again.  Not bad at all.

Only 2 cards on the screen, let’s finish this thing.

Gangster swings at the Clerk.  Hits and kills.

The Book Worm Investigates in the Temple to gain 1d6 Mythos Points.  And the Art Student is doing a base Muscle attack on the Three Vile Villagers.  Hey, it could happen.

A nine won’t do it.

Back to the Brain and….


the Gangster goes down!  I took a risk on a 7 flail test and rolled a 9!  The folks don’t take kindly to murdering their Shop Clerks, it seems.  The Temple is holding up nicely with 5 defense points left.

We are a little low on Muscle, so let’s see if we can spotlight a savior that will end this Reel for us.


The Doctor of Theology?  Not what I was planning on, but as his Action I can use the 3 Mythos Points he starts with to Banish those Villagers and end the Reel.  Begone with you!

They miss their Saving Throw and go to the Discard.  One Reel down, 3 to go.

So now we do a little record keeping.  First we give out an Insanity.  This is a chit that goes on someone’s stat and lowers it to 4.  However, the Doctor can heal one of these per Reel, so I’ll just auto-heal it and we’ll just move on.  Don’t worry, more Insanity will come out later.

Then we shuffle the discards and deal out the next Reel.

Oh, and this Reel is 20 cards deep.  It’s the Rising Action.  I have 7 cards left in the Survivor deck.  I need to bring 2 more of them into the game and then stay put in order to get the best win condition.  Of course, if all of those die, then I start dipping into the pool and my score drops.

Of course, I can draw extra before that happens to keep my alive Survivors more numerous in exchange for the “perfect” score, but we’ll see how that all pans out.  I have no weapons and if it wasn’t for the Book Worm soaking up Mythos Points, things would be looking pretty bleak.


It came from the…


Cell phone!

One new wire and we can continue.

Was the suspense worth it?  Let’s not worry about it, let’s get started.


Boy, if this is the quality of my pictures, then it was TOTALLY worth the wait, huh?


Before we dive into Innsmouth, let’s take a look in Pittsburgh to show where we’ve come from.  Pittsburgh ’68 was the first game in the series, and featured some punk rock art work for its cards:

It wasn’t pretty, per se, but it fit the genre and was totally fine for a small game company’s first foray into card games (Gamewick also produces an excellent RPG called “WEGS – the Wickedly Errant Game System).

But, um, Innsmouth has a biiiittttt of an upgrade with the art, in my humble opinion.



Our B-movie just got a big budget.  We’ve been Sharknado’d.

But anyway, let’s get on with our playthrough.  I’ll pull out my Brain in the Jar (which we’ll just call my BitJ from now on), which, sadly, just looks like this:


Clearly I’m the son of a pharmacist.

And let’s start our Movie.

We start with our Pre-credits sequence.  We get 7 “Spoints,” which stand for Survivor Points.  These are also our Power Points which can be used on ANY of our Survivors.  However, these 7 are all we get for the WHOLE MOVIE.  So they have to be used sparingly.  And then we deal out our survivor the camera first falls on:


Ah ha.  So a group of Gangsters hijack a bus of Miskatonic University students and Professors who were on their way to Dunwich.  They take them to the nearest port so they can evade the cops, and now they are in Dunwich.  WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

We now shuffle up the deck and deal 3 cards to the screen to start our Movie.


Oh no!  It looks like the Gangster drove him right into the middle of a Ritual where a High Priestess and some Deep ones are praying to something off in the distance.  Not a good start for the Gangster.  Per the Opening Scene rules, any monsters that appear in the first 3 screen cards are taken by The BitJ and become the first cards in the first three Throngs (piles of monsters) it will use to harass and kill my Survivors.

Now the credits roll as the camera gives us a nice dolly shot of the creepiness of Innsmouth as our heroes escape from the bus as the fish people look on.  We deal out 10 cards from the deck to be our first “Reel” of the four Reels of the game and then place 3 back onto the screen.20190717_093046

And now it’s my turn.  I have 2 options, either a Spotlight Action, or Regular Actions.  A Spotlight Action is a significant action that only uses 1 Survivor, while Regular Actions are what you can do with all of the Survivors in front of you.

Of course, with only the Gangster in front of me right now, a Spotlight Action is pretty much a given, however, here are my options:

Take + Attack.  The Gangster can pull out that Pocket Pistol.  That allows him to “Test” whatever trait is lit up there (Speed in this case).  The Gangster’s Speed is 7.  So if the Gangster can roll 7 or less on 2d6, he would hit whatever monster he decided to shoot (You decide before you roll, of course).  Then he deals damage, which is 1d6 +3.  If you do the value of the monster or more damage, boom, no more monster.

That wouldn’t be a bad choice.

Now, technically the move is “Take + Act” which means he could take the gun and do any of the actions from the Regular Actions list….but why would you grab a gun and then rest?  C’mon!  Start shooting already!

The other option with the Spotlight is to throw that Spotlight onto a NEW character!  You get to draw a new Character, give that character 3 “Rest Spoints” (Points that can only be used on that character) and then that character gets to act.

So, in order to actually win, I need to bring in more characters, so I’ll Spotlight a new one and draw The Bookworm.  She has 6 Muscle, 6 Speed, 7 Brains and 5 Guts, but she also has 2 Mythos Points.

Mythos Points are a new addition for Innsmouth.  You can spend Mythos points to “Banish” monsters.  You spend as many as the value of the monster and the monster has to make a “Savings Throw.”  That is against its own value on 2d6.  If it fails, it’s discarded.  It’s possible to amass quite a few Mythos points, so that’s a nice way to clear out some big creatures so her head start of 2 points is nice and her other stats aren’t bad either.  I’m not going to use her action to grab the gun as I want that there for the Gangster, so I’ll have her do some Investigating.

So we focus in on a student as she rummages through a house, trying to figure out what on earth was going on down by the ocean.  I have to Test Brains, and since her Brains are 7, I think that’s a fair roll, so I don’t spend any Spoints on it (each point raises the stat by 1).  I roll 7 exactly.  That gets her Reel# in Mythos points, so it’s only 1 so far, but it’s a step in the right direction.

But now, it’s the BitJ’s turn.

So we look at the throngs of the BitJ.  If there are 3 throngs of strength 7+, then it would do an All Out Attack, but since this is not the case (it currently has strength 7, 6, 2), it does it’s own Take and Attack action.  It will take the highest value monster and add it to its lowest value throng.  So it draws the Deep Ones and adds it to the Two Doubtful Shapes to make that a value 8 Throng.  It can then attack a Survivor using a simple priority list:

– In Sanctuary with Most Mythos Points (then lowest defense)

  • Survivor with Item that gives biggest damage bonus (2d6 damage is considered greatest).
  • Survivor with most Spoints
  • Survivor with highest Muscle.
  • Survivor with highest Mythos
  • Random, but did you really make it this far?

So it attacks our Book Worm since she has 3 Spoints and it wants to drain those from her.  So it has to roll 8 or less in order to hit her.  Let’s roll those bones!  A 6 will do it.  Everything does 1d6 base damage, so she gets hit for…2 damage.

So now I have a decision to make, I can either have her soak the damage.  To soak you simply spend spoints on a 1 for 1 basis until the damage is gone.  2 spoints gone, and she’s safe.  OR I can do a “Flail Test.”  Roll Speed or less and she survives.  A six isn’t too difficult to make, but you’re still taking a risk.  I think I’ll spend 2 of the 3 she started with and let her survive for another turn.

Now we replace the screen card that used to house our Deep Ones.  It is replaced by a Broken Oar: a Weapon that can use Muscle or Speed and delivers +2 damage.  Nice!

However, at the end of the BitJ’s turn, he gets to use the “Fade Out” token.  This token is placed on the weapon that provides the largest bonus.  If it is still there at the end of the Director’s next turn, the card is discarded.  So the Pocket Pistol may fade away.  Chekov’s gun, this is not.

And that’s it, one complete turn around the table.

It ain’t Shakespeare, it’s dice chucking fun.

But I still have to choose: Do I start shooting?  Do I focus on strengthening my party?  I know the BitJ will do a Take and Attack next turn with a strength 10 throng.  After that, it’ll be an All Out Attack with 10, 8 and 7.  Bing, bang, boom.  That will hurt.  Of course, you can’t have a horror movie without people getting killed, and I need to drain, what, 8 people from the Survivor deck to get a 5 star success?

So it’s not completely brainless.



Watch Out for Snakes!


Snake-eyes, that is.  This is a gaming blog, after all

PS – Those who get the subject reference are my kind of people.

So I know this blog seems to cater to deeper games.  Sure, the Two Hour Wargames line is fairly light, but it brings with it high overhead in story creation to link it all together.  In fairness, I’m pretty sure people come here to read about complicated games so they can understand how they work and feel confident when they try them out themselves.

But you know what?  Sometimes I just want some popcorn, beer, and a bad, bad movie.

Luckily there is an entire series of games that simulate the experience of bad, bad movies:


Shuffling Horror.  Get it?

I said BAD movie, didn’t I?

I’ve got Pittsburgh ’68, mainly because I did the bulk of my growing up in Butler, Pennsylvania, where “Night of the Living Dead” was (ahem) shot.  I used to drive past the graveyard in the opening scene (“They’re coming for you Barbara!”) at least once a week.

Alien invasion movies are also fantastic, so Roswell 51 strikes my fancy, too.  Especially because the board is so pretty.  And we can’t forget this great film:

So when I heard that the third game in the series was hitting kickstarter, I was thrilled to hear it.  And, well, the kickstarter is dropping in about one hour as I type this!

And what type of movie will we be playing?  Why a tentacled filled horror, of course.

Join me as we play:



Some of you may have noticed a “problem.”

3-13 players?  I thought you played most things solitaire, you friendless loser!

Well, first, playing solitaire has nothing to do with how many friends I have, so take your preconceptions and blow them out your patoot.  And second, this is going to be a different kind of playthrough.

This is going to be watching me playtest my solitaire system for the game, which I am delightfully calling the “Brain in the Jar.”  This rule set should be able to be used for any of the Shuffling Horror games and should even make the game playable with 2 by using the win conditions I’ve created.

Neato, huh?

Of course, we have to find out if they work.

And if they’re fun.

And playable.

And understandable by anyone other than myself.

And able to be conveyed clearly and concisely (I’d love for all the rules to be able to be stuck on a single card).

And thematic.

So it’s not without stress, which does take some of the fun out of playing.  But on the good side is I’ve gotten about 7 playtests and I’m still enjoying myself, so if nothing else, that’s a positive for the base game, if not my solo rules.

The solo player’s goal?  Create a 5-star movie.

You do this by finishing your film with 5 survivors left in the survivor deck.


If you end up with 6, your B movie falls out of the “So bad it’s good” category, and just fall into the “Bad”.  Less than 5, and you just get different levels of bad.  Going from Plan 9, down to Hobgoblins, to Manos: The Hands of Fate, to Octaman and finally Rollergator (the only Rifftrax I couldn’t finish).

Of course, your movie may not finish if all your survivors are killed by the oncoming hoard, too.

So far, of my last 4 playtests, I’ve had 2 total kills, 1 one-star movie, and 1 7-star failure.

I would start today, but apparently the wire I brought in that can transfer the pictures off of my phone is completely kaput, so you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow.

For now, though, pop up some popcorn and grab that VHS of “Samson vs. The Vampire Women” and make a night of it.


What a headache.


I am back from Dexcon (a gaming convention in Morristown, NJ), where I happily ran High Frontier and Expedition Zetta.  I also spent much of the convention on my back enjoying a migraine.


Anyway, I’ve been wracking my brain about what to run next on here, as my choices are limited by what I can do on Vassal, or what I can get set up at home and take adequate pictures of to make a compelling narrative.  Sadly it’s much easier to play Vassal here at work as I can squeeze in a few hundred words during any downtime I have, rather than trying to get an hour of play during the moments when I’m home doing homey things.  And then I’d rather just play, rather than document.

And darnit, I’m still bummed that Steam got blocked by our firewall here.  Tabletop Simulator was an easy way for me to port in a ton of games for you guys.  I guess it was a security concern.  *shrug*

Anyway, while monkeying around, I noticed all of the pictures in my old High Frontier posts were broken, so I’m taking the time now to fix them (and also fix spelling/grammar errors as I find them).  Sorry to anyone who went back to read that and were confused without any references to guide them.

So that’s what I’m doing now: improving past posts.  Who knows what new stuff I’ll do in the future, but I’m just putting this up there to say that I’m still thinking about it.

Shhhh…I’m listening to reason



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

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

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

Which is the elephant.

Pax EmancipationMap

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

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

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

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

Red Agents on the board: 4

Slavers: 6


Freemen on the Board: 7

Needed: 15

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

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

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

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

The Revolution soon passes while Korea gets pretty uppity.

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


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

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

Red Agents: 6

Slavers: 5

Freemen: 11

Needed: 15

Gotta get those Westernize actions and fast.


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


Oh no.

*slaps forehead*


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Apropos Tunes

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

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

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

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

It just worked.

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

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

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

Pax EmancipationMap

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

But I guess you can wait until tomorrow for that.

Creeping upon its petty pace-

Dice, it seems, are jerks, too



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

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


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

Tee hee.  Sextant.

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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

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


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

Refill the market….and cry.

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

A 1 day more modern post.

Humans are jerks



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Pax EmancipationMap


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


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


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


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

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

I guess I’m going by order of importance.


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

What don’t suck are Ideas:


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Me?  I smrt.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

That turn did NOT go well.

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

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

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