Polio was bad.

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

Imdead

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

Truman

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

penultimatehand

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

Number9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

war9

GERMANY SURRENDERS!  V-E Day!

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

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

I just need the resources to back this all up.

Turn10

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

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

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

lasthand

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

yahtzee

YAHTZEE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At this point, Churchill’s jowls are vibrating.

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

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

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

last

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully.

Manchuria

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

CBI

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

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

Pacific

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

Surrender

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

I’m dating myself, aren’t I?

Now to figure out the score.

3VP per country or colony with your Political Alignment Marker

US: 12 (12)

UK: 15 (15)

USSR: 6 (6)

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

US: 2 (14)

UK 1 (16)

USSR: 2 (8)

5 VP per Global Issue won

US: 0 (14)

UK: 10 (26)

USSR: 0 (8)

3 VP per Conference chit won by UK/US

US: 9 (23)

UK: 0 (26)

5 VP per Conference chit won by USSR

USSR: 10 (18)

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

UK: 2 (28)

8 VP per Axis country where they have a Front

US: 8 (31)

UK: 8 (36)

3VP for UK if Front in Northern Italy

UK: 3 (39)

2 VP for US if Front in Northern Italy

US: 2 (33)

1 VP per German Technology marker

US: 1 (34)

UK: 1 (40)

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

US: 5 (39)

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

USSR: 9 (27)

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

US: 3 (42)

UK: 3 (43)

Scores: UK: 43 – US: 42 – USSR: 27

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

SIXTEEN

Which means we are in Condition 2 by ONE POINT.

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

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

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

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

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

*drumroll*

dice

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

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

Anyway.  let’s roll that die.

dice1

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

Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

I like my coffee warm and my war cold.

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

mypick

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

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

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

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

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

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

table

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

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

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

turn7

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

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

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

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

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

Board

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

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

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

Number8

Tee hee.  Naughty Document.

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

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

Hand8

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

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

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

agenda2

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

Because ‘Murca.

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

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

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

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

agenda2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*sigh*

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

Somehow I feel like I was a card short…

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

Dang.

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

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

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

And now, news of the war.

Europe

Germany is putting up fierce resistance in the Rhineland!

Pacific

Japanese Navy wins major battle in the Central Pacific!

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

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

US: 27 – UK: 27 – USSR: 29.

Yup.  2 Conferences to go.  Love it.

And here they are.

Don’t you know there’s a war on?

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

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

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

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

stage

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

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

Easy

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

DDay

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

*rolls*

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

East

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

Italy

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

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

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

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

seven

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

hand

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

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

Here.

We all have an Agenda

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

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

card1

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

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

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

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

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

*roll*

*roll,roll*

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

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

hand

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

ANYWAY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Agenda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So there we have it, the agenda is set.

Agenda

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

Let’s watch:

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

Stalin

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

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

Churchill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do they have in their coffee?

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

“Nyet!”

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.

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

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

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

So the Conference finishes.After

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

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

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

 

And here’s the next post!

 

 

 

I came here for an argument!

Oh!  This is abuse!

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

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

And then there’s this guy:719-1

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

And it’s freaking good.

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

board

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

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

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

Sometimes, you don’t want to win.

Ish.

There are three possible endings of the game:*

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

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

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

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

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

cards

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

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

Easy.

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

board

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

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

command

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

theater

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

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

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

And during all this, everyone else just gets mad.

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

Let’s get it on.

Tomorrow.

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

You say you want a (r)evolution

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

Ok, buh bye.

 

 

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

Originsmap

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

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

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

Playerboard

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

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

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

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

 

Insert Title Here

Phew.  End of year work can be tough.  So let us go back to a simpler time.  The time when you could probably get eaten by a leopard in infancy.  Those were the days.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Getting back to our game where we’re at about 2000BC or so, White just finished their turns Inventing Daubed Granaries and getting a city back in Eastern Russia.  *Raspberry*

But I think I can survive the game by Challenging the gods every turn, or most of every turn, so I’ll flip the comet card to end Era II and start Era III.  We now end the Age of Polytheism and are entering the Age of Empires.

Okay, maybe we’re a bit past 2000BC, or are going to be going awfully fast each turn.  Who knows?

Sail & Rudder and Wheeled Vehicles stay in the market because our Elders were on them, but the rest is replaced with more modern cards, so our market looks like this:

Market

Yay!  I can specialize in Manure!

So if I Invent the Sail & Rudder, I’ll be able to raise my Maritime and ultimately enslave the Neanderthal and sink their score while raising mine.  But I won’t be able to bid in a challenge next turn which could hurt in the long run.  But I think I’m good for now, right?  Yeah, let’s go with that.

So I get Sail & Rudder and my Industrial Splay looks pretty robust:

Splay

So I have a lot of Activism Actions.  First I spread back to Eastern Europe (I lost him to the chaos of the comet card).  Songs doesn’t do me any good anymore.  Then I use prospect Luxury to build a city on Hemp in India.  I can now do 2 knowledge actions per turn!  Hemp leading to more knowledge?  Huh.  Insert political statement here.

I then prospect metal using the Dragon Kiln to get the Iron out of Europe and get to Metallurgy 4: The Iron Age!  And I have a few options with the Sail & Rudder.  I could just get Maritime 3.  I can’t go enslave the Neanderthals, because my Foundations without chaos + Maritime has to be greater than theirs, and right now that would be 3 to their 5.  I have to get rid of some chaos, which I could do with option three: trade and get Energy 5 and lose a chaos, but Neanderthal would gain a tech on me.  But I think I still win out doing one trade action, so I think I’ll do that first.  I’ll have him gain Footprint 3 for his side of the trade.

I think that was a pretty good turn for me.  Let’s see what he can do.

Hmmmm…he can Invent Wheeled Vehicles, which would get him Energy 5, and then he could get Footprint 4 or enslave me.  That’s not so hot.  So I could have him Specialize some more Inventors, which makes bidding a problem for me, but I think I may have to give up the Diversity battle and just go for a Central Planning win.  So I’ll Specialize.  I put one on Royal Road and one on Manure Fertilization since there wasn’t anything else on row 1 he would want and the only other option on row 2 was Iron Bloomeries which would raise his Metallurgy to where my advantage would evaporate.  Mmmmmm…no thanks.  And as his last Activism action, he can domesticate or cultivate, so I’ll just have him slap a city in eastern Russia.  I hope to demolish it later.  And that’s his last use of the Granaries, so to the Lore deck it goes.

And here I go, challenging the gods.  I have nothing to bid with, so Neanderthal will win this no matter what. *sigh*

Foundation

Insert political statement here.  And, of course, I’m a victim of Cowpox!  I lose half my cities.  Dernit.  I bid zero and Neanderthal bids one and wins.  I’ll take his elder off of the Wheels so he can’t invent this turn, so nyeah to you.  Sadly he gets Information 4 as the Eureka bonus.  Shot myself in the foot there on that one.

Now I get ONE knowledge action because of the damn disease. I have to specialize, so I’ll be dropping 3 elders onto the board.  I drop two onto the Bloomeries because on the Industry side, they can get me up to Energy 7(!), and that’s a lot of points right there, not to mention a whole lot of movement potential.

I want Wheeled Vehicles, but I can’t take the card as an Invention, because it has a tech requirement of War Animal city, and all my cities are metal or luxury based.  I guess I’ll put my last guy on Plumbing, because that will fall when I invent the Bloomery, and I don’t want to die from Cowpox.

For my Activism, I rebuild some cities and raise my Maritime to 3 (Ships!)

And for Neanderthal’s turn, they simply place their last free Elder back on Wheels.  Good on ya, Neanderthal, getting right back on that horse.  Right proud of you there.  I have to challenge again (or do I?).  If I want the card, I would have to use ALL of my elders, since he has 3 out and so do I.  I’m starting to second guess all this rushing.  But if I don’t, I’ll take a chaos, and when I take the comet, that chaos will cause a chaotic revolution.  The City State will go to white, and both my inventions will get discarded.  Yeah, I’d rather that not happen.  So challenge I do.

Foundation

Funny that comes after democracy.

Insert political statement here.

Oooo, civil war.  I know for a fact that is being handled a bit differently now, but in the rules as I have them, civil war means if you have Chaos + Urbanization (# of cities) > Diversity, then you take 2 chaos.  Which, of course, is 6 to my 3 Foundations.  So I take 2 chaos.  And the 2nd guy has no where to go so….CHAOTIC REVOLUTION!

Guess I didn’t need to worry all that much, huh?

So I have to put down the war by quelling all my chaos.  I have to either get rid of an elder or a city for each chaos I have (3).  The only way to retain 2 Knowledge actions is to only burn Elders, so all 3 of them come back to Free Will.  Guess I won’t be winning this bid either.  *shakes fist at ceiling*  Putsch sends City State over to Culture, flipping it over.  No inventions have a white side, so both get discarded as Obsolete Ideas.  And Culture is now my Ruling Class.

Balance

I’m nothing if not balanced at this point.  The second event triggers, which is some kind of Volcano eruption.  I have to find the damn thing on the board now.

Jeez

Jeez, right in the upper left of the board.  Well, that blows up, but no one is there, so who cares?  White bids 1 and gets the card.  I remove the Elder I removed last turn, because it forces Neanderthal to stagnate more, if you call gaining 1 Diversity point a turn stagnation.

And now I have 2 Knowledge actions!  Action 1 will be to Specialize 3 Elders as I did last turn, but now I’ll be able to Invent the…..

Oh. Crap.

The Red sides of those cards are worthless to me now.

card

OF COURSE there’s no white on this card!

Okay, now I have to rethink EVERYTHING.

After further review, I can get Parchment Scrolls to get my Information up to 4.  And I can get an Elder on Manure Fertilization so when Neanderthal takes it, I can get my Footprint up to 4, too.  And I guess I’ll throw one on Horse Collar just to make it harder for Neanderthal to get Energy 5.

So 3 Elders down, and then I invent Parchment Scrolls.  And for Activism…hey!  I can domesticate a War Animal!  Look, a Black Rhino city!  I can recreate scenes from Black Panther now!  My Species card allows me to Spread into Russia so if I should happen to be able to wage war, a land war in Asia is PERFECT.  Right?

Finally I get my Information 4, making my next turns much more awesome.

For the Neanderthal turn, I shall have him Invent Manure Fertilization so I (and he) can get Footprint 4.  It also makes my Horse Collar viable next turn.  With that he builds a Crab city in the Philippines.

Back to me and my challenge of the gods.

Foundation

Aw, man.

Insert political statement here.  I’m just playing a game, man.

Anyway, the genocide action is if your chaos > Mysticism, you take 2 chaos.  I’m chaos-less at the moment, so I’m good there.  Dictator has gone through quite a few incarnations.  I’m not sure how this would work in the solo rules.  Let’s see what the current versions says (if anything):

Oh, huh.  Now it’s no longer bidded on, but the cards are either “Rightest dictator” or “Leftest Dictator” and they are rewarded to whomever has the most Mysticism or Chaos, respectively.  Looking at the newest edition of this card, it is a Rightest dictator, so it would go to whomever has the most Chaos.  In case of ties, it goes to the left of the challenger and first person to be that tied person gets it.  As we both have none, Neanderthal would get the card.

So there ya go.  It also has the “Purge” ability under Eureka, which means it gets rid of all the Foundation cards below it.  Can be devastating.

Anyway, that’s another point I don’t have, but I didn’t lose anything either, so let’s continue.  I can put 4 Inventors down now that my Information is up, so I’ll put one down on Wheeled Vehicles (hey, if he won’t take it, why shouldn’t I?) and I’ll put 3 on a newly revealed Surgery, which can ultimately get my Immunology up to level 6!

And then I’ll invent those Wheeled Vehicles, because I can now.  The Requirement is a War Animal city, and I’ve got those Rhinos.  Awwww, yeah.  Rhino pulled chariots!

I demand fantasy art!

And for Activism, I’ll cultivate Wheat in western Russia, and then Spread among eastern Russia.  Why?  So I can use my wheeled vehicles to Siege the Elasmiotherm city and take it over for myself!  Giggidy.

And in retaliation, he places two Elders in the market…..mmmmmkay.  And he can prospect or cultivate.  So I have him create a city nearby (making Opium of all things), so I can blow it up later.

I just realized as I’m starting a new turn there was 3 cards in Era III’s challenge deck.  There was supposed to be only 2.  I don’t know why that happened.  Crap.  That’s obnoxious.

Guess we’ll just have to lay that there and move on.  I’ll blame that if I lose, though.  So I challenge the comet card, take my chaos and set the market for Era IV.

Market

I have now spread enough I get 3 Knowledge actions.  So I’ll Invent Surgery.  Then I’ll put down 4 more elders (3 on Calculating Engine and one on Natural Rights), and for my last action I’ll actually pull my elder off of Horse Collar and bring it back to Free Will.  I don’t need that card anymore, and while I can keep that elder out for bidding purposes, I still have enough out there to win, and I can put it in better spots next turn.

And Activism has me spread twice into Southeast Asia and Australia.  I wage war in Australia to get War Kangaroos!  And Surgery gets my Immunology up to 4 (Food Storage).  Ewwww, how were we surviving before?

Neanderthal Invents the Royal Road.  And I’ll let him use that card to trade with me.  He gets his Metallurgy up to 3 (still below mine), but I get rid of a chaos.

Challenge the gods again:  The Supreme Court!  And global warming floods Hawaii!  And I suffer 1 chaos and lose 1 elder due to Pollution (U > Energy).  Glad I traded away that chaos!

I’m going to bid 2 and win this one.  Why?  BECAUSE IT’S ONE LESS POINT FOR THE DAMN BOT.  And I want to win another card, dernit.  The powers I get are Constitution (I can reorient any of my Foundation cards to their other sides…it would only get Songs to my side and allow me to Encephalize.  No help at all) or Artisan, which lets me put out one Inventor outside of the Knowledge action.  Not a huge effect, but good enough to deny a point to the bot.  And it’s another chaos soaker.

Knowledge action 1 is putting 4 Elders down on Specialize.  Then I’ll Invent the Calculating Engine.  Then I’ll put down 4 more elders (I have 6 down now, good for bidding next turn!)

Activism gets me my 10th city by taking over another of Neanderthal’s.  Immunology up to 6 (Drugs & Anesthesia) and Energy to 6 (Coal & Steam).  When you get Energy to 6, you can a free raise in any of the other tech tracks.  I’ll choose Metallurgy.  I’m in the gunpowder age now.  Time flies in these last turns.  Then again, when the turns are several hundred years, that’ll happen.

For White’s turn, I could either have him Specialize with his one Elder, which normally would be great, but the only places that are legal, are the places I’m planning on inventing, which would boost his scores, so let’s just let him Invent his Iron Bloomeries.

He goes into the Iron Age, and then he uses the other half of the Royal Road to enslave one of my meeples!  The cad!  Revenge shall be sweet.

And now let me challenge the gods for the penultimate turn.  Labor Unions.  And another genocide event.  Phew, just one chaos, and I kept my one Mystic.  Almost brought him back at one point, too.  Good thing I didn’t.  It’s a Leftest Dictator, so goes to the leader with the most chaos.  As I’m the only one with chaos, I guess it goes to me.

So I get the thing, but it Purges all the other Foundations in that column, so Supreme Court and City-State go to the Discard Pile.  I do get a bump to my maritime, though.  Planes!

3 Knowledge actions again, so I shall Invent Bio-engineered Crops.  That boosts my Footprint, but I have to cull an Invention, so Parchment goes to the Lore pile.  And there are no cards that can help me, score wise, so I’ll just skip everything else.

For Activism, I’m able to hit one more city of the Neanderthals, but I’m also able to get Energy 7 from the Calculating Engine, which gives me a free advancement, which gives me Martime 8…..SPACE!  And the Bio-Engineered crops gives me Footprint 6, the Green Revolution.  Bam!  Good turn!

For White’s last turn, I have him Specialize since it won’t do him any good.  Then I give him Energy 5…because him not even using Windmills while I’m driving around in cars is just sad.  And then I challenge the last card and GAME OVER.

Here’s our scores:

scores

Hmmmm, the screen isn’t wide enough to show that well.  So let’s map it out, left to right.  First is the Spiritual score: Environment + Mysticism.

Me:

Environment (Footprint + Energy) (6+7) 13

Mysticism 1

Total Spiritual Score 14

Him

Environment 9

Mysticism 4

Total Spiritual Score 13


Central Planning: Welfare + Urbanization

Me:

Welfare: (Metallurgy + Immunology) (6 + 6) 12

Urbanization 10

Total Central Planning Score 22

Him:

Welfare: 5

Urbanization: 7

Total Central Planning Score 12


Laissez-Faire: Economy + Diversity

Me

Economy: (Maritime + Information) (5+4) 9

Diversity: 3

Total Laissez-Faire Score: 12

Him:

Economy: 6

Diversity: 6

Total Laissez-Faire Score: 12


Final Score is highest of the three:

Me: 22

Him: 13

And there you have it, a pretty good thrashing of the Neanderthal bot.  Of course, the bot has been strengthened since these rules.  Jose has been playing it and getting his butt whipped, so the fine tuning between unstoppable and unplayable are currently underway.

I think there’s a lot of potential here.  The bot is easy to handle, and you still have a lot of hard decisions to make.  If Neanderthal just did a little bit more and wasn’t as easy to stall out by the player (though I loved that being part of the strategy), then a great variant will be in that box that many of you have kickstarted.  If not, I believe you can pre-order it over at The Sierra Madre website.

Welp, that was a lot of typing and I hope it was at least entertaining.  If you found it worthwhile, find me at my ko-fi page and return the favor by buying me a cup of coffee.  Or if you didn’t, that’s okay, too.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

Era – reminds me of Kennedy’s accent

Let’s get this 2nd Era hopping.  Neanderthal doesn’t like the way the Market looks too much.

Newmarketround

All it sees are the Eureka actions and thinks: Got it, got it, got it, until it reaches Wheeled Vehicles and Daubed Granaries.

Daubed, not Dabbed.

Do kids even do that anymore?  Is my seven-year-old shaking her head at me right now?  Oh right, she’s always shaking her head at me.  Never mind.

So for their Knowledge action, they place one Inventor on Vehicles and one on Granaries.  Looks like I’ll be avoiding them for a bit.

They have no Inventions right now, so I can hop over to my own turn.  Where I have to think about challenging the gods again.  *sigh*  This is always a tough choice.  In the multiplayer game, at least, you can kind of read the table and get a few turns (sometimes) knowing that you don’t have to worry about it, though sometimes a hail-mary challenge can really shake the game up.  In the solo game, however, you get penalized if you don’t challenge by taking more chaos.  Ug, and seeing that my only open space to receive chaos is full, I would actually lose a city.  Yeah, I don’t want to do that.  I’m working so hard to develop a board presence, I’d hate to lose that.  So let’s challenge.  I might be speeding this game up faster than I want to, but I hope to get a Foundation that can support more chaos (or allow me to trade it away).

tombs

Forestation.  I actually move the African Jungle back to allow my Sudanese Sapiens (great band name there) a place to build a city.

news

It also prevents Neanderthal from coming over and killing me, which is also nice.  And we have the Catastrophe of the Storegga Tsunami.  This is an actual historical event that happened up by Norway and is marked on the map (a little starburst with a II on it to show which Era it could trigger in).  If there was anything living on that hex, it would explode.  Nothing is happening, so we just go to the auction.  And now you see the tombs have “em” next to the Era.  That means this auction is augmented by Mystics.  So, since I have one Mystic, all of my bids are considered 1 higher.  So my max bid can be 3 in this case.  However, Jerky McJerkface has 4 Mystics, so even bidding 0 gives him 4, out bidding me, so he wins no matter what.  So another Diversity point for our foes.  Luckily Prayer gets him nothing and I can get to my knowledge actions.

I could drop off two more Inventors, giving me greater bidding powers, but if I Invent Symbolic Script, I’ll be able to drop 3, possibly 4 per turn, so I want to get that right away, so I’ll invent that.  It says, “Cull I” on it, however, which means I have to get rid of a Era I card…which my Domesticated Dogs are the only ones.  Drat.  So to the Lore pile they go.

And now let’s get snotty.  I was going to build up my little empire, but I lost my ability to domesticate with losing my dogs card, so let’s choose War from Time Sense.  I’ll create a meeple from my Zebra people and have them interact with the Neanderthal people outside of their Black Rhino town.  They annihilate each other like protons and anti-protons.  My Politics card will allow me to spread and fill that same space.  And finally, Syllabic Script allows me to War again.  Since I have a Meeple in a hex with an opponents city, I can attack it and destroy it.  The Syllabic Script says War>Information 4 as well, so my Information goes up for doing that.  I’m only at Information 2, so it only raises to 3, but if I do that again, I can raise to 4.  The number only shows how high that action can take you.

Homo Sapiens are now officially using an Alphabet and Numbers.  Presumably to aid themselves in war.  It’s not a perfect system.  Whatcha gonna do?

The Neanderthal Knowledge action is an interesting one.  The new card that came out into the market (Longships) doesn’t help it any (Maritime-2), so it doesn’t want to Specialize onto it.  The two inventors it has out are on cards that need at least 2 elders in order to invent, so it can make no inventions….however, it DOES have 2 inventors, which means it can perform a Library action and pull those two back and increase its Information to 3.  Which stinks, because that was a big advantage I would have.   Good design of the bot, though, that it doesn’t always get perfectly stuck and it can keep up with the Jones’s, as it were.

So in order to defend from those pesky warlike Sapiens, Neanderthal have developed Alphabet and Numbers.  To count their dead, I guess.  Again, with no inventions, they have no Activism turn, so it’s back to me.

And again, the horror of the Challenge choice.  Now it’s a bit less about chaos and more about timing.  There are only 2 Era cards per Era now, so if I challenge every turn, this game will be over in 6 of my turns.  I don’t know if I can get my score up high enough in that amount of time.  Of course if I’m getting smacked around with chaos every turn, will that matter?  Let’s think about this.

Foundation

Here’s what I got right now.  Time sense has a chaos on it already (the meeple to the upper left of it), so if I took another, I would face a Chaotic Revolution.  That would mean I would have to a) Quell the Chaos by removing 2 Elders or Cities.  I have one Elder out, so I’d lose at least one city, b)Putsch – Time Sense would flip over to red and move over to Industry (sans chaos).  Not too bad considering I would get access to Songs again. c)I’d lose Symbolic Script because there is no Red side to that card.

I only have 2 cities, and neither Time Sense nor Songs gives me the ability to make more.  However Industry allows me to Prospect Luxuries.  Gold only needs Metallurgy of 2 to build on, so I could easily get that city back.  Almost every card in the market bears a red size as well, so it’s not like I’m losing opportunity there, either.

The big loss, though, is the Information 4 that I haven’t gotten from Symbolic Script yet.  The only other way I can get that is from Accounting Tokens in the market, and I would get that from the trade action, which the Neanderthals would immediately trade for.  I’d like to have that as an advantage for a turn or two.

So it looks like I’ll challenge the gods on this turn just to use my Symbolic Script one more time, then we’ll do a Revolution next turn to slow things down.

I think.

My brain hurts.

Foundation

Of-freaking-course.  It doesn’t have a purple side, so if I win this, I’ll lose my war>Information 4 ability anyway. *shakes fist at sky*

First I remove some ice out of India and move it to the Philippines and see that I missed a Famine by having my # of cities = my footprint.  No onto the auction itself.  There’s no “m” there, so I can win it by expending my one elder, but then I’d have to do a Quiet Rebellion, which is like a Chaotic one, but I wouldn’t get to move a Foundation from one Ruling Class to another.  Hmmm…I’ll be able to handle 2 chaos if I choose red, though.  And footprint 3 would be nice, too.  And I could trade away chaos before I do that (so Neanderthal can’t steal my footprint tech).

Now imagine trying to make these decisions while staring at another player who may or may not bid higher than you.  Yeah.

As I’m behind in Diversity points, and gains in Information are in the same point tier, I guess I should win this.  It throws my plans out of whack, but that’s what you get when you challenge the gods, amirite?

I could choose the white side of the card and keep Syllabic Script, but it doesn’t really do that much good, so I’ll go red so I can get songs again and have 2 openings for Chaos.  But first I have to deal with a Quiet Revolution.  I lose my Elephant Bird city.  I knew that couldn’t last.  But now I have no chaos and the ability to absorb 2.

For my Knowledge action I have to Specialize to get 3 elders back onto the market.  I put one back onto Dragon Kiln because I want to be able to prospect some metals and get my metallurgy and win wars, and then I put 2 onto Sail & Rudder to get my Maritime up, too.

My Activations are to cultivate Beeswax out of Egypt (a biofuel, which should open up some exciting tech in the future).  And Songs will allow me to do some Abstraction and get yet another token in Free Will.  Can never have enough elders to throw around.  Oh!  With Energy 4 and Maritime 2, I can use my species card to Prospect a Luxury all the way up in Europe and get Opals, which just require 2 Metallurgy.  Noice.  We’re out of Africa!

Spread

Neanderthal’s turn is pretty uneventful.  It just puts its elders back onto Wheeled Vehicles and Daubed Granaries.  That’s it!

Rather than challenge and trigger the comet that starts Era III, I’ll just absorb a chaos and keep a bit of time so I can spread around some more.  Right now Neanderthal’s scores are floating in the 10-11 range while I’m in the 7-8 range.  I might be able to make it in 4 turns, but I don’t want to risk it.

I pull my chaos from the hex with the Black Rhino, effectively cutting off South Africa from the rest of the world (you can’t travel between two Forest hexes until you have a high enough Immunology tech).  That’s okay, I have some spread ability.

For my knowledge action, I’ll Invent the Dragon Kiln…because Dragon.  Now if I prospect a Metal, I’ll get Metallurgy 4.  Unfortunately you have to go in order from bottom up during your Activism, so I won’t be able to use that immediately for war, but I’ll still have a pretty good Activism phase.

I’ve spread back to Madagascar and to eastern Russia.  I’ve also mined Gold and have entered the Bronze Age.  One more city and I will get two knowledge actions per turn which will be awesome!

By doing this, unfortunately, I’ve brought Daubed Granaries down to where Neanderthal can Invent it, so that’s what they do on their turn.  That also means during their Activism, they can either Domesticate or Cultivate>Footprint 4.  I’d rather not have them gain a Footprint, so I guess I have to give them a city back, as long as there’s one within range of one of their meeples.  Yup, looks like they can domesticate the Elasmotherium.  Like ya do.


We’ve caught up to my play in real time as I post this.  I hope to get more play in today so I have a post for you tomorrow, but Monday work is always a bit much, so that may not happen.  I was hoping to have more for you today and a good chunk for tomorrow, but sometimes you have to think about turns longer than you plan on.  But I think I’m good for a faster pace as I’m pretty sure I can challenge the gods each turn from this point on and still score the win by a point or two.

And yes, from what I see this variant is undergoing many changes to make it more difficult due to this writing.  So if you have a physical copy of the game and you can’t win and you’re trying to read this for strategy advice: HA!  I’m the reason it’s so hard!

If you enjoy these posts and find them worthwhile, head on over to my ko-fi page and buy me a coffee as a way to say thanks.  If not, that’s okay too.  Thanks for reading!

History’s Eraser

Within 5 minutes of the release of yesterday’s post I found I was playing a rule wrong, so I’ve had to edit this post and do a whole lot of wiggling.

Apparently “Specialize” is not a Knowledge action, per se, so it doesn’t fall under the Neanderthal “You must do each action fully” rule.  Therefore way back in turn 3 and 4, they should have Specialized with one Elder.

And here I thought I was being clever.

So if I win, keep in mind I had two free turns that I shouldn’t have.  But let’s get back to the game and maybe I won’t screw anything more up.


So right now Neanderthal’s brain has been getting bigger at about the same rate that my own has, and they got Semantic Memory off of my challenge of the gods last turn.  However, I also have grandmothers passing down jewelry which is opening up more abstract ideas, so that should help.  But not much has happened so far, so let’s see what happens next.

So far, the only change to the market has been on the left column:

Market

So Neanderthal will put an Elder on Totems in Row 1, and I’ll put the other on Bone Dwelling again because it worked pretty darn well last time (although now that I’m playing by the actual rules, we’ll see about that).

Neanderthal still doesn’t have an Invention to use (yet), so I’m safe from that, so we hop back to my turn.

Again, I have no elders, so going into chaos would only have me flip Ruling Class (and flip my Invention with it).  Since I have only one Invention and my choice of Ruling Class to flip to, I’ll take the chaos, flip to Culture, and bring my jewelry with it.

Having an Information of 1 is really hurting my game at this point.  I have 3 tokens in Free Will, but I can only place 1 at a time.  There is a Knowledge action called “Library.”  It lets you return as many elders as your current Information level to increase your information by 1.  Sadly, I still have to spend the turn to put the elder out there, but wait.  Looking at the Adze Dugout, I see Information 2 is one of the Activism actions in the white bar.  So if I’m still in Culture at the end of next turn, I’ll be able to get Martime 1 AND Information 2.  I think that’s a pretty good deal, so I’ll put my Inventor there.  Boats!

Spreading is a no go for my Activism, and I can’t do Art again as I have no more Mystics, so my Species card is useless, but the Culture side of Jewelry has “Metallurgy 2” and “Encephalize” as options.  I already have menopause, so I can slow brain growth a little, so I’ll bump my Metallurgy up.  I’m finally into the Copper Age people!  The other benefit to that is I can now wage war with the Neanderthal, and though I will lose my meeple-so will they.  I can finally start cutting a path north!

Back to Neanderthal’s turn.  I could have him put a third Inventor down in the market, but that might make things difficult if I challenge the gods next turn.  If I let them get Totems, then I’ll be able to win an auction if I wanted to (barring Mysticism).  I’m going to have to do it eventually, so I’ll let them have Totems.  They immediately get a token out of Vocabulary and into Mysticism.  Their third!

Totems

And now they can do either a Preach or a Prayer action.  What’s Preach you ask?  That’s taking a meeple and moving it around the map (as far as your energy score) and encountering a meeple of a different species.  If you have more Mystics than your opponent, you return their meeple to their freewill and replace it with your own.  It’s more like conversion.  Since I only have 1 meeple, Preaching isn’t possible for the bot, so it has to choose Prayer.  The card says this creates chaos, but the bot isn’t affected by chaos, so that doesn’t happen.  Now the Neanderthal brain is fully grown, three tokens in free will, and four in Mysticism.

When they do this action, the Totems card flips.  Next turn they’ll be able to try the actions on the Politics side of the card.  If an action is done off of that, the Totems card is discarded into the Lore pile.  If not, you just move up the chain of inventions until you run out or find an action it can do fully.

Pretty easy, really.

Back on my turn, I’m stuck with the challenge the gods conundrum again.  But I pretty much have to at this point, again, I won’t be able to keep an elder out if I don’t, so here we go again.

Capture

We’re making goo-goo noises to our babies now.  Awwwwwwwwww.  But first, deforestation (the opposite of Forestation), which I again mess with South America.  Malaria only affects you if the number of cities you have is greater than your Immunology tech.  Yeah.  Cities would be nice.

Here’s another Foundation that I could win with my one Elder, but I’m not sure if it’s necessary.  On the plus side, the Red side has { } which is the symbol for a square that can hold Chaos.  That prevents Revolutions from messing with all your stuff, so that’s nice to have around.  But adding a Spread or Encephalize?  Meh.  Abstraction’s pretty good, but if I switch to Red, I lose Jewelry. *sigh*

I think I’m going to give Neanderthal this one too.  Ugh.  This might be a terrible idea, but it doesn’t count because it’s a playtest, right?  Yeah, we’ll go with that.  It’s not because I’m a bad player.

Speaking of a bad player, I just realized if I Invent the Adze Dugout, I’ll have to get rid of Jewelry anyway since I only have Information 1.  Arg!  I’ve already gotten the Metallurgy out of it, so I guess that’s okay.  So I’ll Invent the dugout.

I immediately get Maritime 1, so I finally am able to travel over 1 water dot per movement action.  And I still can’t spread, so I’ll use the Boats to raise my Information to 2.  Ahhhhhhh.  That’s better.

Back to the Neanderthal, whom I believe stagnate for their Knowledge action (for realsie) because there are NO Eureka actions in the market that they would benefit by.  They also stagnate in their Activism, as they can’t do war against only one meeple, they’re done Encephalizing, and already have Information 2.  I can rest easy.  For now.

So I will be accepting chaos again since again, I have no Elders and all it will do is change my Ruling class.  I change it to Industry this time so I can keep the Adze Dugout.  And now I can place TWO elders onto the Market if I so wish.  I would love to start fighting my way out of Africa by getting my footprint up to 2, and I could get that with Dog Domestication, but I wouldn’t be able to get that as an Invention right now.  But who knows, that might change….

But the Knife will get me Encephalize (which I still have 2 tokens in Emotions) and I’ll be able to increase my Energy, and I’ll finally be able to move around the map a bit farther.  So I’ll put one Elder there.  I’m going to put the second onto Dog Domestication.  Either I’ll fill it up later, or use that Elder for auction winning or….who knows.  It’s a place holder for now.

With Industry as my species card right now, I could Spread (duh) or Prospect Luxury (oooooo).  Unfortunately the only luxury I have available are the diamonds right under my butt, and I need a footprint of 4 to do that, so I guess I’ll have to wait on that.  I will, however,  use the Adze Dugouts to increase my Maritime tech to 2.  I have to trade with the Neanderthal to trigger this, so I create a meeple where my other one is, and move it 3 spaces to the hex with the Neanderthal city to do that.

First, I get my bonus for choosing the trade actions, which is Maritime to 2.  Up to Galleys.  Windpower, baby!  I’ve finally surpassed Neanderthal in some technology!  Then we get to do the trade, which is I get to choose a benefit, then he gets to choose.  It can be 1) raise a tech advancement that the other has and you don’t. 2) Clear an elder from somewhere to your Free Will or 3) Clear a Chaos.  2 and 3 aren’t really an issue for me at this point, but I’d love to increase my Footprint….but I also don’t want disease, so I’ll get one better Immunology.  I bury people now!  The bot always chooses to increase a tech if it’s possible, and it is, sadly.  They get wind-powered boats as well.  Welp, it was nice while it lasted.  And that’s it for my turn.

As nothing much has changed, Neanderthal still sits and thinks about why it’s not going anywhere and I start my turn anew.  Wherein I challenge the gods.  Wish me luck.

Songs

First a bit of warming, so I flip a white hex to a blue hex (you can figure out the symbolism, I’m sure).  Then there’d be more disease if I had increased my footprint before my immunology.  Good thing I wasn’t able to do that.  Okay, again, this one isn’t great.  I only need to Encephalize once more before I’m done with that.  I do, however, need to use Abstraction to get those tokens into my Free Will, so the Red side of the card is good for me.  AND I’ve already given the bot 2 cards, so I think bidding the one elder on Dog Domestication is worth it.

I get Prayer, so I move a token from Emotions to Mysticism (and hey, I just noticed the chaos holder on the red half of songs!).  And rather than Inventing Knife right away, I’m going to drop 2 Inventors down to be ready for next turn.  I’m putting them both on Dog Domestication because then it’d be possible to actually “Invent” that if I don’t use them in an auction next turn.

As for Activism, I use songs for Abstraction, moving a token from Vocabulary to Free Will (bigger brains!) , and I’ll use Encephalize on the Dugouts to get my last token out of Emotions.  Me an my big honken cranium is going to sit down and finish this turn.

Oh, Neanderthal?  You still can’t do a turn?  I’m so sorry.  That’s okay, I got this.

Challenge the gods again, the last time in Epoch I.

Time

Cooling just reverses what I did last turn.  Don’t have to worry about Famine.  Okay, so will this do me good?  The purple side certainly will.  It gives a LOT of options.  Not to mention the chaos control, so I think I’ll grab it by throwing the one Elder on Knife at it.

Because of what I’m going to do on my Knowledge turn, I’m actually grabbing Time Sense on the PURPLE side as opposed to the red side, which is my current Ruling Class.  Because I’m doing that, it starts a Quiet Revolution.  Similar to other Revolutions, but not as bad.  I don’t have any chaos to quell or anything, so I just have to move ideas over to Purple if I can.  Sadly, the Adze Dugouts do not have a Purple side, so they are discarded to the Lore deck as an Obsolete Idea.  I’ve got Galleys now.  We’re good.

And now I shall domesticate puppies.  This didn’t have a red side, but now that my Ruling Class is Purple, I can take it as an Invention.  Yay!  And Footprint 2!

Now

Since I am still hemmed in by those pesky Neanderthals (even though I could safely move to Madagascar now), I am going to use the Exogamy action from Time Sense.  This allows me to take a token from Free Will and make it into an Emissary Elder and place it on any Invention in an OPPONENT’S tableau.  Any time they use this Invention, you get a Negotiation benefit, so I’ll be able to get my tech up to par with them, or erase chaos or whatever.  And I know they’ll be using their Totems next turn.  I’m making sure of it.

With my Politics card, I’m going to Spread over two water dots and settle in Madagascar.  I’m finally expanding.  And finally, with my Dog Domestication, I am going to Domesticate further, and Domesticate the Zebra.  My first city!

map

With Footprint 2, my meeple in South Africa won’t die, since there can now be 2 tokens per hex for my species to survive.  That’s what footprint means for technology.  I’ll need 3 if I want to coincide with Neanderthal.  But why coincide?

Speaking of Neanderthal.  They still don’t have anything interesting in the Market, so they skip that, but boy oh boy do they want to do an Activism action.  They want to do war, which means they create a meeple on the hex where their city is, then go somewhere where one of my meeples or cities are, and they both annihilate (because we have the same metallurgy tech).  Luckily I get to choose what gets destroyed, and I choose the poor guy living on the very tip of the continent.  Clearly man has been living there for some 80K years.  They can move on.

Totems gets discarded because this was the second time it was used AND it had an Emissary elder, which means I get a benefit for it…and I choose to get Energy 4, meaning I’m caught up on everything tech-wise with Neanderthal now.  Booya.  The comeback begins.

Back to my turn, I challenge the gods, because I know no matter what I do, the results will be the same.  Why?  Because it is the comet card that separates Era I from Era II.  Everyone gains a chaos when this happens, so my poor guy in Madagascar goes bye bye, but that’s okay, I finally have the ability to move around.  Time Sense has the ability to hold one chaos, so I don’t have to have a Revolution or anything, so that’s nice.  And now we change out the Market to the next era.

Newmarketround

If this were multiplayer, there would also be a small scoring round where you could get some bonus points for having more mystics than other players (I would clearly lose there) and I would get the card as a “Bellweather,” which could be used to shift the philosophy around, but that’s not in the solo game so I’ll just move on.

The Eurekas on this Market aren’t that great as we’ve already achieved most of them, but the Inventions themselves usually allow you to knock those numbers up a point or two.  I’m looking at Syllabic Script which can get up to Information 4 if you engage in warfare.  The Dragon Kiln can get you Metallurgy 4 with war as well, so those seem like great buys for someone like me, sitting in the purple ruling class.  So 1 on Syllabic Script and 1 on Dragon Kiln.

For Activism, I use Time Sense to spread back to Madagascar, and then the Species card to spread PAST those pesky Neanderthals and settle around the Sudan.  And for my Dog card, I domesticate the Elephant Bird on Madagascar because…..Elephant Bird!  In case I need to make any stealthy attacks!

And thus begins Era II.  Next will begin the wars where I will get points by killing and such, but many of the Foundation cards will be religion-based, so I’ll probably lose those auctions (since the bot has 4 Mystics), so that will hurt when the final score comes out.  But who knows what the next few thousand years bring?  Technology ramps up in speed each Era and we’ll be inventing the internet before you know it!  Strap yourself in!

 

If you’re enjoying these posts, stop on by to my ko-fi page and show your love by simply buying me a coffee.  If not, that’s okay too.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Ah, to hell with it

So we’re half way through December as I’m writing this, and I had promised a post before end of year craziness put an end to writing until January.

Woops.

So here I am, and what am I going to be playing for you today?  Well, I’m going to be typical and do yet another Eklund game.  I know, I know, but it’s for a good cause.  No, not for little Billy who is dying in his hospital bed.  He wanted me to hit a home run for some reason.  I don’t even know what that means.  I’m doing it because the game isn’t done yet and by my playing it, I might put a little spit and polish on it and ultimately make the game better by the time it’s produced.

So I present to you: Bios: Origins 2.

Electric Bugaloo.

Specifically I am going to be playing the Solitaire Variant “Last of the Neanderthal” by Jose Cunha.  In it, you play Homo Sapiens, who have just come down from the trees in South Africa.  Neanderthal have spread all over the planet and are living the high life.  Unfortunately for them, they have stagnated, so it’s now time for Sapiens to shine, and that’s your goal.  Okay, your goal is to get more Victory Points than them….but you get the idea.

Let’s check out Earth, shall we?

Bios Origins 2Map

Let me first say “These are all playtest graphics and things may change with the final product, blah blah blah.”  So let’s see what we have here from the top down:

Urban

Here’s the Urbanization track.  It shows how many cities you have on the board, and how many knowledge actions you get per turn because of them.  I am playing black and get 1 knowledge action per turn because I have 0 cities.  Neanderthal has 7 cities and would take 2 actions per turn, but thankfully the bot only takes 1 no matter how many cities it has.

Example

Now we’ve got the map itself which has ALL sorts of stuff on it.  Let’s point out some specifics:  The meeples (Migrants in this case) move around on the outside of the hexes (a la Catan).  The gray dots are land, while the wavy blue dots are water.  You can only travel over water once you have some boat tech.  The cube represents the city built around whatever the cube happens to be on, in this case the domestication of the Black Rhino.  Each hex has all sorts of things to dig up or domesticate.  You see Millet to the north of the Neanderthal City, and Zebra in South Africa near me.  To the south of me I could mine gold or diamonds.  The symbols besides these metals are the tech I would need (2 Metallugry and 4 Footprint, respectively) to be able to build a city there.  The colored rings indicated that it is possible for desert(Brown) or forest(Green) to appear there.  The green hex is Forest and means no city can exist there.  It’s deep jungle and less happy Disney forest.

Environment

Finally we have the tech tracks.  There are three “Bundles:” Environment, Welfare and Economy.  These are added together for points at the end of the game.  You’re looking at Environment here.  All techs have in game benefits the higher their numbers are.  The Neanderthals start the game with all techs one step higher than Sapiens.  Yay for them.

Philosophy

This is the Philosphy track.  It’s not used in this solitaire variant, but it’s very important in the multiplayer game.  This tracks what can be scored, and what ticks off your civilization when you do it.

Final score in this game is calculated three times.  Spiritual score, Laissez-Faire score and Central-Planning score.  Whichever you score highest in is your final score.  However, if your opponents move the philosophy two steps towards an extreme on the philosophy triangle, one of those scores is worth 0, nothing, nada, zilch, bubkiss.

Oh, and if you’re curious why there’s all these resources in water hexes.  It’s not because you can build shipping industries based on them: you can play as water based beings, either because that’s how they evolved from a previous game of Bios: Megafauna 2, or you’re just weird and want to do that.  And hell, the back side of the board is blank(ish) and is set in such a way that you can devise your own continents and play god in your own way.

Science is fun.

So let’s look at my primitive brain.  In the game, I mean.

Placard

This is your brain.  This is your brain on Evolution.  Any questions?

So as the game progresses, you’ll be moving tokens out of Emotions (our primitive, animal-like actions) and adding them to Vocabulary or Mysticism and finally to Free Will, symbolizing brain growth and  abstract thinking.  The arrows tell you which actions do what (Encephalize, Prayer, Art, Abstraction, etc.).  They’re just tokens unless they are on the Mysticism side of your head, then they are “Mystics.”  This is points for your Spiritual score and also helps with some of the Foundations, which I’ll get to later.  Your tokens will also be moving out of your Free Will to become Inventors here:

Market

These are the Ideas and Inventions that are available to be purchased during the first round of the game.  More will trickle in as the game progresses, which large leaps in technology as the Epochs pass.  There are four Epochs before the game ends with a player controlled(ish) number of turns.

Let’s just start this mess and I’ll explain along the way.

Start

At the beginning of the game you’re dealt a random crown that you put on the Species card that says “Start” on it.  I start with a Political stance, while Neanderthal would start with an Industrial bent, but the bot doesn’t care about that.  However, the number on the crown does show who goes first, and the enemy drew the 2 to my 4, so it goes first.

The bot is pretty easy to handle as it always does 1 Knowledge action and 1 Activism action if possible and to the fullest of its ability.  First it tries to do a Specialize action by getting its Free Will pawns as Inventors onto cards in the Market.  You are allowed to move as many Elders as your Information level.

Info

Oh look, they are using Art & Symbols already AND their brains are bigger than mine, so they can put two Inventors down.  They will always put 1 down on bottom row Ideas that will get them benefits from the “Eureka” effect.  If there’s a choice, I get to choose, so let’s see what will give me the most benefit.

Row1

Actually I don’t have a choice!  It won’t choose adze Dugout or Skin Boat because it already has Maritime 1, so it places 1 on Venus Figurines.

Row2

So we look at Row 2.  It needs to Encephalize one more time, so any of these would help it.  I’ll place the Elder on Bone Dwelling because the Invention itself won’t do it any good as you’ll see later (I think).

Now the bot would do an Activism action, which is an action from one of its inventions…..but it hasn’t invented anything yet, so it’s turn is already done!  That was easy!  Now it’s my turn!  As a benefit of going last, I get a bonus knowledge action on my first turn.

First thing I have to decide is whether I “Challenge the Gods.”  This is a time keeping mechanic, as well as a kind of push-your-luck tense, fearful…neat part of the game.  There’s a deck of event cards that you have to go through before the game is over.  In a 2-player (and this solitaire game), you’ll be going through 4 Epoch I cards, and 2 of Epoch II through IV cards.  The Roman Numerals make it classy.  Between each Epoch is a “Comet Card” that causes a bit of future shock to the world.  The events change the world in some way and maybe a crisis or plague spread around the world.  That’s dangerous in itself, but then you get to auction off the “Foundation card” which give you more actions to perform during a turn.  Of course, you have to have the Elders out on Inventions (or as Emissaries, which you’ll see later) in order to bid.  If you win the auction, those Inventors come back to your Free Will, making you have to take another turn to put them back out.  Worth it?  Most of the time.  Maybe.  I dunno.  That’s the risky part.  You might Challenge the Gods and give a great card to your opponent and have half your civilization die by the plague.

Anyway, in the solitaire game, if I don’t challenge the gods, I “Suffer Chaos,” which means I have to remove a meeple off of the board (or out of Free Will if I only have one meeple left) and put it onto a Foundation card that has a chaos holding box.  I don’t have any of those, so I would have a Revolution!  Which, given I don’t HAVE anything, would only mean I would have to change my Ruling Class (Politics/Invention/Culture) and that’s it.  No problem at the beginning of the game.  So I do that, changing it to Culture because I like some of the white powers on the inventions out there.

Hmmm…the first row doesn’t do me much good either.  Martime 1 isn’t too bad, but right now I need to focus on getting my brain bigger.  In order to “Invent” the cards, you have to have as many Elders on it as the row the card is on (1/2or3).  Getting Bone Dwelling is kind of pointless since Neanderthal Inventing that won’t do him any good, why save them a turn?  I can’t actually gain the Invention card since I don’t have menopause yet (theory being that Grandmothers passed knowledge down through generations).  I’ll get menopause once I only have 2 tokens in Emotions, so I have to Encephalize or Prayer twice first.  So I’ll Specialize my one Elder to Venus Figurines in the first row there with the Neanderthal.  Now that there’s two Elders on there, I can use my free Knowledge action to “Invent” the card.  Those Elders come back to Free Will to be used for something else later.

Since we both have Elders on there, we both gain the “Eureka” effect: Prayer.  We both get to move one token from Emotions or Vocabulary to Mysticism.  I don’t have menopause yet, so I don’t get to keep the card, so it merely gets discarded into the Lore pile.  Lore is a separate discard pile that creates a history of everything that’s been used throughout the game.  Cards can come back into play later on due to Science or Pseudoscience which is a hilarious yet brilliant mechanic, if you ask me.

True, that “helped” Neanderthal a bit, but it also prevented them from gaining an Invention card that would have given them powers to convert my species to their way of living (Preach) or pile up more tokens in Free Will (Abstraction).

Now it’s my turn for Activism.  Lucky for me, I can do as much Activism as cards in my Ruling Class, which is now Culture:

Culture

Unlike the bot, I’m allowed to use my species card.  Because I’m awesome.  And it’s in the rules.  But mostly because I’m awesome.  You see in the upper left of the card the two options I have, “Spread or art” (Art is in blue because it is only used in the Advanced game).  Spread allows me to move more meeples onto the map.  Art allows me to move tokens from Mysticsm to Free Will.  That’d be handy as it’s more Elders for me to fling about, but since I only have Information of 1 (Storytelling), being able to only place 1 at a time means I don’t have to rush to do art, so I’d spread.  But check this out:

Movement

I have the Energy of 3, which means I can only move 3 “dots.”  I have Maritime of 0, so I can’t travel over water dots.  I have a Footprint of 1, which means at the end of the movement, my meeple needs to be the ONLY meeple on the hex.  So of the ONLY TWO valid spaces I could move, I’d either 1. Be in the same hex I started in and starve or 2. Be in the same hex with the Neanderthal and their city….and starve.

So. I. Can’t. Move. Anywhere. Yet.

Harsh.

Just to do something, I’ll use Art to move my Mystic to Free Will.  Might not be the best idea since having Mystics isn’t a bad thing…..but I feel bad just wasting my turn.  So there we have it.  Turn 1.

Turn 2 starts with the Neanderthals stagnating.  You see, their actions only go if they can do them FULLY.  Since they can’t place 2 Elders with the Specialize action, they don’t.  Since they can’t invent the Bone Dwelling without having 2 Elders on that card, they don’t.  And without inventions, they don’t get an Activism action.

Awwwww yeah.  Gaming the system.  but it’s necessary in order to make any gains against a superior species.

Again I have no Elders out or meeples to lose to Chaos, so I have another Revolution, but since my whole species is a tribe, it’s more like a family spat. This will be the last time that I can do that for no loss, though. I move my Ruling Class back to Culture.  For my Knowledge Action I put an Inventor on Jewlery, which will let me Encephalize.  My Activism choices are to spread (still in the same pickle) or war.  War is only good if you have the same or better Metallurgy than your opponent.  If I did it, only my own people would die.  Kinda silly, so I’ll just sit tight.

Hey look, they don’t do anything on turn 3, either.

So now I have to Challenge the gods.  If I don’t, I would have to bring my elder back, and I would get stuck in an endless cycle of putting an Inventor out, and bringing them back until I Challenged the freaking gods, so lets do this:

Foundation

No artwork.  Yuck.  Anyway, first we have to deal with the events: Forestation.  One of the desert hexes is going to get flipped over to a forest and placed on a hex with a green ring.  A solitaire rule is that you can never place the climate hex onto a hex with Neanderthals in it, so you’re stuck flipping one and moving it to the nearest eligible hex.  Seems fair as that’s the only way that the climate could actually affect you.  At this point, though, I move the desert in Chile and make the Amazon Rainforest bigger.  Then the Roundworm Zoonotic Disease hits if your footprint tech is greater than your immunology tech.  Luckily both of those are at 1, so I’m fine.

And, of course, the bot isn’t affected by this no matter what.  Because solitaire rules like challenge.

Now we get to the auction.  The ‘e’ next to the I (which means Era I) means we will be bidding with our Elders.  If there was a ‘m’ next to that, our bids would be ‘augmented’ by our Mystics, meaning our bids would be elders bid PLUS mystics, though the mystics are never spent.  This one has nothing to do with religion, so mystics don’t count.  If you win the auction, you get the Eureka, and if you have the tech requirement (menopause) you can add this card underneath your species card (either red side up, or purple side up) and you’ll get to do those actions each turn.

Of course, I don’t have menopause yet, so is it worth me winning the card just to get the Abstraction and to keep the card out of Neanderthal’s hands?  Eh.  I don’t think so, though I think if I do, Neanderthal would stagnate for several more turns….but I don’t know if that would help me so much in the long run since I would also have to do more AND challenge the gods more, which just speeds the game up, and time is definitely against me.

So I pass and the bot always bids what it needs to do to win.  So it bids one and the Inventor on the Bone Dwelling is returned to Free Will.  Neanderthal gains an Abstraction, so a token from Vocabulary to Free Will, and the Foundation gets added to its stack.  It won’t use it, but it will count as a point of Diversity for its score at the end of the game.

Now I can get to my Knowledge action, which will be to Invent Jewelry.  Hooray!  Bling!  The Eureka gives me another Encephalize, which grants me menopause!  My species is finally living long enough to pass its knowledge on to its young.

’bout time.

That being the case, I can take the Invention card and add it to my splay.

Splay

Now during my Activism turn, I go from the bottom to the top, doing an action from each card I have.  You are limited to the number of Inventions by your Information level (so if I get another one, out goes Jewelry), and the limit to Foundations is a little thing called dictatorships.  Those might come up later.  But for now, I can’t spread, but I can do Abstraction and get another token out of my brain and into Free Will.  My brain is getting bigger!  About the size as Neanderthal at the beginning of the game.  Only took about 40,000 years!


So that’s all the main mechanics in a nutshell.  I shall continue the game tomorrow where you will probably see war, enslavement, dictators, preaching, trading and desperate point grabs.

And then you’ll turn off the news and read my blog.

Too soon?

If you’re enjoying this kind of content and would like to see more, or just to say “Thank You” in a very substantial way, visit my ko-fi page and buy me a coffee.  If not, that’s okay, too.  Thanks for reading!