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!

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

The Illusion of Choice

It’s been a short while since my last post, and that’s for a few reasons:

1) Work.

2) I’m in a rut.

You see, what to play?  Pax Emancipation?  ANOTHER Sierra Madre game?  Is that me?  The Eklund guy?  And if so, where’s my royalty check?

(I kid, I kid)

Or maybe All Things Zombie: Evolution?  ANOTHER Two Hour Wargame?  Is that me?  The Ed guy?  And if so, where’s my royalty check?

(I kid, I kid)

But, to be honest, that’s what gets the hits.  When I played Our Last Best Hope, maybe 8 people followed along.  Everything vs. Everything?  4.  Enemy Coast Ahead and Fields of Fire had a few more, so I could go the GMT route, so I’ve been thinking of doing Churchill….but I keep forgetting to bring the dang bots with me to work!

So here I am with a blank screen.

I’m also thinking about redoing the Bios: Megafauna 2 game because it’s LOADED with errors.  It was still in playtest at the time AND I put the carbon on the wrong side of the frickin’ cratons.  So, yeah, not a good resource for anyone.  But is playing a game more than once really interesting to anyone, even if it’s played “better” the second time around?

So that’s where I am.  Sorry folks.  I know I have to be “In the Mood” in order to go through the lengthy process of putting a post together, and the muse just hasn’t struck.

Stupid muse.

Although typing that, I did just think about Cataclysm: A World War II game.  That’s GMT and very new, so people might be interested in that.  It’d be a tough, tough game to get Very Wordy on…but that may have been the muse talking, or it may be another thing to add to the list of possible posts.

Eh, sorry for the lack of actual content, ya’ll.  I’m still here and thinking about posting.  I want to get one more thing in before jingle bells jam themselves into all my free time and I go dark until next year.  I’ll do my best to do that.

Who needs that other dimension?

Yesterday I focused on Tabletop Simulator which is fine if a) You have Steam b) You’ve spent money.

Pfft.  I don’t need to do that to play miniatures games on my PC!  I’ve also played it using the site: Roll20.net

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There are many online “Virtual Table Top” chatrooms available.  This one has been around for a good long while and continues to be free (with paid  bonus features) and integrates with Google Hangouts, so I’ve been using it for a while.  As a matter of fact:

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That’s a little humbling right there.

Of course, many of those hours were probably open games that were in a tab behind another page where I was working on something else.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself so I don’t cry.

Be strong. *sniff* Be strong.

Anyway, yes, you need to make an account and yet another password to remember, but hacking someone’s virtual tabletop is probably not high on anyone’s priority list.  So let’s make us a table.

 

On our home page there’s a shiny pink “Create New Game” button.  Why, I was in the mood for a New Game, button, how did you know?  Let me press you!

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There’s a place for a name like “My minis game” or something equally creative, and a place for tags in case you want strangers to be able to find your game.  You can also populate it with pre-made character sheets.  These seem to all be roleplaying games, so there’s no help there for simple minis games.  As are the Modules on the right side of the screen.  But hey, if you want to get some friends online and roleplay using this system, I ran a Torchbearer game using this, and it worked GREAT.  Just an FYI.

So I name it and then hit “I’m ready.”  Well, I don’t hit it, I click on it, but you get the idea.

Now you’re in the kinda lobby for your game.  If you were running a game for several people, this is where you would post your information so they could look it up whenever they needed to. But that’s really not necessary at the moment.  All we need to do is “Launch Game”

15 seconds of commercial?  Yup.  You have to wait a bit since you have the free version.  At least it’s not a YouTube commercial.  I think you can handle it.  Deep breath.  It’s a capitalist society after all.

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Ah, a big grid, a chat window.  This is much more familiar to gamers.  So now we need some terrain.

An easy way is to simply steal a map.  On the upper right the second icon is Art Library, a quick click gets you a search bar.  Change the drop down to “Map” and type in what you need.

How about a fight in a warehouse against rats.  You know:  Marrowind.

A list of things pop up.  No free bits from Roll20, but Premium maps come up.  Okay, paying might be awesome.  HOWEVER, the search bar ALSO searches the internet for us (awwww, thanks search bar) and it came up with a bunch of other things.  I hover the mouse over them to get a (slightly) better view of them and I think KalextheOmen’s Warehouse is perfect.

So now I need to let the table know this will be our map to play on.  I go to the left icons and hit the second one down, this will tell us which “Layer” we’re playing with.  I hit “Map,” because, um, map.  Then I drap the Warehouse I want down onto it.  Eesh, it’s small, so I resize it like it’s any other picture until I like it.Capture

Well ain’t that nice.  If maps aren’t your thing, or if you need further specifics, there’s also the third button down on the left: “Draw Shape.”  Here you can put down lines, squares or just freehand doodle all over the map to designate walls, doors, windows, bad terrain, whatever.

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Here I’ve drawn which squares provide cover.  Probably not necessary for what I’m doing, but it’s just an example.  Once I’ve got the terrain squared away, I go back to the Layer icon (second from the top of the left icons) and go back to the objects and token layer.  This way I can’t move the map anymore or accidentally erase lines.

Now let’s get our minis.  It’s done in the same way we got our map.  To the Art Library!  Now we switch the drop down to Tokens and search for what we need.  Like Warrior.

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And here they are.  Not great choices, but what do you want for free?

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And our rats. They’re a little squished, but again, I’m not going to flip the table over imperfect minis.

So, how do we keep track of stats and stuff?  Well, there’s a few ways, actually.  First, you can just click on the individual mini itself:

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The three circles over our mini can hold numbers.  I can put Rep, HP, Str, AC, whatever I need for the particular game I’m playing.  As long as it’s just 3 important stats, then I’m good.  Also, the “Lens” icon on the bottom there can let me put status icons on the mini.

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As long as YOU know what these things mean, then you’re good.

The other way to keep track is through the “Character sheets” over on the right. Instead of the Art Library, click on the third icon, the Journal.  Not much there, but that’s why we hit “Add.”

We want to add  a character.  And here’s a nice big screen where we can fill in all sorts of information.  And luckily, we can select a mini and then hit Default Token and BOOM, we know which mini belongs to which character sheet.  Easy Peasy.  (And the generic name generator is sometimes hilarious)

But these aren’t stats!  This is stupid story stuff.  What about my Bend Bars/Lift Gates stat?  Yikes, relax.  Hit “Save” and you’ll see yet another window.  On that one there’s a tab called Attributes and Abilities.

Here you just hit +Add to either an Attribute (if it’s a number) or Ability (If it’s just something that needs to be explained) and type in all that you need.

Abilities are kind of weird in that they’re intended to always be rolled, but I just keep them there so I can hit “Edit” and read what they do if I forget someone’s powers.

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So now we have statted minis.  How do we want them to move?  Our original map shows a square grid.  We could play that way, but we’re playing a minis game, dernit, the fun of that is we can move anywhere we want!

So here we find the little page icon hanging from the top of the screen and hit that.  Again, not hit, click.  Stop punching your screen.  Here you’ll see your “Screen” with the Players hanging out on it.  Considering you’re it, you’ll feel a little bit like you have multiple personalities, but don’t worry, it’s still just you and the NSA.

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If we hover over our page, a little gear appears.  Hit that to open the page settings.  Here we can turn the grid off and mess with scale.  I’m just going to turn the grid off.  Boop!

Now the minis will still act like there’s a grid there, so we have to turn that off, too.  On the left we’ll hit the 5th icon down.  That affects the “snapping” going on.  I wonder if I can make them go all Jets and Sharks….

Nope, not that kind of snapping.  Anyway, now we click on “No snapping” and the minis are now free to roam the landscape.

With that ruler clicked, if you click and drag on the map, it’ll show you distance (in feet, interestingly).  If you want it to show something different, that’ll be in the settings on the page again.  Probably want to change that to inches and make one mini an inch by an inch.

Then, finally, to roll dice you can either click on the 20 sided die on the left icon row, or type “/roll 2d6” or whatever into the chat bar.  Bam, you’ve got yourself a game!

So there you go, two ways to play a miniatures game without having to buy a giant table and fill up half your basement.  I hope this was useful to someone out there.  If it was, or if you feel like it, you can buy me a coffee over at my ko-fi page.  If not, that’s cool too.

Thanks for reading.  Back to playthroughs next time!

 

 

You mean you use this thing for work?

Here’s a little post to help folks who like playing miniature games, but don’t like having a gigantic table taken up with little trees sitting in their house for days.

Or people with cats.  Cats and wargamers don’t mix well.

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Anyway, we’re going to take our minis games into the virtual realm.  I’m sure there are better primers out there, especially in the Tabletop Simulator forums or FAQs or whatever, but I never looked at those, so I don’t expect you to either.  This is just what I figured out by fumbling through myself.  Maybe it’ll help.

So I’ve recently been playing Two Hour Wargame’s “Larger Than Life,” a pulp ruleset.  My hero, The Hooded Hammer, has traveled to Cambodia to grab the last clue needed to stop the Big Bad (a Politician who has had in in for HH’s neighborhood back in Metrodelphia) and his evil scheme….whatever it is.  That part’s not important.

Anyway, he entered the secret temple….only to be ambushed by the Big Bad himself, and a bunch of his henchmen.  Dun…dun…DUUUNNNNN!!!!  Clearly this needs to be played out on the table.  I know I don’t have Abandoned Cambodian Temple scenery back home, so I have to make it in the virtual world.  So to the Steam Community page I go.  Here you’ll find all the stuff that hundreds if not thousands of things other people have already made.

The downside: it’s not organized very well, there’s quite a few scummy people making things, a lot of the stuff may be in languages you don’t speak, it’s an awful ethical dilemma at least.

I’m not going to get into the “Wow, I can play (insert game name here) online for free?” argument on this post.  Folks have taken the time to digitize a lot of their favorite games, with or without the blessings of their creators.  We’re not here to play boardgames right now, though.  We’re here to put together a miniatures game.  So to the search bar we go.  Let’s see if we can find ourselves an Ancient Temple to play in.

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Just typing in “Temple” gives me many options.  Some are full games (like “Lost Temple” and “Expedition to the Temple of Bir…”), but others are what we’re looking for.  Things like the Temple Chamber by Dr. Hyde, or Tyrene Temple by victory4193.  A little scrolling later I find the perfect two, “Jungle Temple Ruin” by Joystick and “Jungle Temple RPG Map” by The Yodax’s Workshop.

I subscribe to both of those, and then launch Tabletop Simulator.

Dooo..dooo da doo doo! Doo da doo doo!

I click “Create” and “Singleplayer” and there under “Workshop” should be my newly subscribed maps.

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The thumbnails will load eventually.  I’m impatient.  I’ll try the Jungle Temple Ruin first, as that looked the most promising.

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Dang.  This is always a possibility.  See those big grey blobs?  Those are custom bits that couldn’t load.  Wherever the program pointed to (usually a google drive or something similar), that file isn’t there anymore.  So it looks like I only have walls and pillars to deal with.  But hey, that’s still something to work with.

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I like those columns and walls, so I’ll take them.  So here’s how we steal bits.  Go to the Objects Menu and click on Components.  From there click on Tools and grab the Bag and drag it onto your table.  This will be your new Loot bag.  If there’s a part of scenery you like, put your mouse over it and hit the ‘L’ key.  That will “Unlock” it from the background so you can manipulate it.  Merely pick it up (by clicking and dragging) and drop it into the bag.  Do this with everything you like.

I robbed the place blind, even grabbing the fire lighting effect (it’s hard to find, but you can unlock it and grab it.  Once you’ve gotten enough, right click on the bag and hit “Save Object.”  Your bag and everything in it will be saved and you’ll be able to bring it to other tables.

So I go to “Games” and load the Jungle RPG map to see if there’s more things to steal.

Wow.

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That’s a thing of beauty.  And half the things didn’t load here either.  Now my little theiving heart goes to Objects and “Saved Objects.”  There you’ll be able to find your bag with everything you’ve already pilfered in it (under whatever you called it before).  Now you can stuff it with even more stuff.  You could make different bags with different things (just walls, just trees, etc.) if you’re into organizing more, but you can always do that later.  I have all sorts of bags for WWII games with terrain bits, unit types and such.

 

Now that we have all our terrain, let’s get a table.  Here we can just go to “Classic” and create a Dice or RPG table.  It’ll load a bunch of stuff we don’t need, but we can just highlight all that and hit delete or backspace.  Poof, it’s gone.

 

The base square table is 30″ by 30″.  Not really good for any big wargames, but okay for intimate fights.  The RPG table is 38″ by 56″ which is pretty good, though I’m sure most would want bigger.  If you want bigger, you can go back to the Steam Workshop and just search tables.  There’s MANY larger tables out there that you can just subscribe to and play on that.  For now, the basic RPG table will work for the small play space I’ll be working with.  In Larger than Life, we’re supposed to start something like 16″ away from each other (I may be wrong, but I don’t feel like looking it up for this post).

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A blank canvas.  So we load our bag of Jungle stuff, which should hold everything we need.

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Hmmmm….tree apparently was full size and not to scale.  That’s okay, though.  We merely hover over the tree and press the ‘-‘ key.  Holding it down the tree slowly shrinks until it is a size we desire.  BTW, it’s the hyphen key, not the minus key over on your 10-key pad.  Took me a hot second to figure that out.

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From this, I’ll make a nice little temple to do battle in.  It won’t be too pretty, but it’ll be functional.  To make things easy on myself, first I go to Options and Grid.  I turn Grid Snapping on so I can make things nice and even.  I’ll make the walls line up a whole lot better so I don’t have a wavy messy set up.

Of course, it’s an old temple, so old and messed up should be par for the course, really.  Okay, now with ample use of Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, I make enough copies of these things to make a nice little play space for myself.  Some objects (namely the door), I have to remove the gridsnapping to make it fit into the space between two walls.  You can turn it off for individual pieces by right clicking on them and going to “Toggles.”  There you can turn on and off a ton of different things.

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It’s not perfect, but it’s something.  And I kinda wish I had stolen some floor tiles so it didn’t look like carpeting.  And now I need minis.  I could just use the pawns that come with Tabletop simulator, or I could do the same thing and go searching around the Workshop for something I could use.

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Took these dapper gentlemen from someone’s “Mansions of Madness” game.  That’s the Hooded Hammer there in the middle, squared off against all of the Politician’s bodyguards.  The three other folks behind HH are his Sidekicks.

Now all I do is make dice (under Objects>Components), and anytime I need to measure anything, I use the “Line” tool which is one of the icons on the left side of the screen.  It’s the second one down.  Simply click and drag and it’ll show you how far something is.  If you want to measure and mark where you need to move something, simply double click and an arrow will appear pointing to that spot.  It won’t last long, so click back to the hand and grab the mini you need and get it to the spot quickly.  You can’t be too picky with distance playing this way, but it’ll do.

There are people who have created “rulers” for use in game that are probably better than this, but if you’re more of a relaxed gamer, than it should work if you’re just thwarting evil occasionally.

 

And if Tabletop Simulator is too much for you, there’s also Roll20, but that’s for another post.

If you enjoyed this post or found it anyway helpful, you can buy me a coffee over at my ko-fi page.  If not, that’s okay too.  Thanks for reading.  See you next time.

Anyone else remember the show Earth 2?

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It only lasted one season, but I remember loving it.  I tried watching it again way back when on Netflix and it didn’t hold up.  But look, it has Mr. Krabs!  Or the bad guy from Highlander, however you want to remember him.

Anyway, that just kinda hit me as we’re getting close to our new home here.  But I’m sure we don’t need any mid-90s nostalgia (Nice hair, Krabs).

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I only have one woke human card, and it’s the crazy scientists who murdered the other scientists.  They said it was a mistake…but who is alive to prove that?

So I think I need to decant both of the “children.”  Low age keeps them free from Alzheimer risk, though neither have shields, so if we have another Grey Goo problem….

Maybe I should decant the Convicts to keep an eye on things.  Another Engineer is good, though I’ll be decanting the Frankenstein Navigators who will be Engineering, too.  Wait, no, they’re piloting.  Okay, Convicts as Engineers, Navigators as, well, navigators and Malcolm as Business until I can get him to flip and be awesome.

Okay, so let’s wake them up and put on their profession discs, and because of the Scholastic improvement, they can do their duties right away.

The Navigators slow us by a step, so we’re now down to 1/2 speed.

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So we got pretty fast, 6.5% the speed of light, but now we’re going maybe 2%.  We’re out of range that Mag-Sail braking will work, so we have to rely on Scoop and Drogue braking, or Beam-Core braking, which is basically throwing bits of the ship into the engine to make it fire backwards.

Kind of a last resort, but fun.

Oh, if you’re in an anarchy and want to commit a felony, you can throw people into the engine.  How awesome is that?

My convicts will move our Baby-making nanobots back to Age 1 through some intensive repairing and 3d printing.  And those nanobots will use our penultimate bit of biomass to create Islamic Refugees which I have to immediately put into the Vats because I already have 3 humans awake.

My mad scientists are going to promote Malcolm, and hopefully not kill everyone while doing it.  The die roll was successful, so Malcolm becomes a Renaissance Man.

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You see, he can take 5 different careers (the big three, plus Biotech or pilot in the box under there).  And out of kindness, the Renaissance Man will build the Scientists a toy to lower their stress down to 1 for the up and coming Event Phase.

Now during the Move Phase, we’re going to move our ship one step forward toward Bernard’s star, however we’re going to then put it on its side.  Next turn, rather than moving it, we’re just going to turn it back right side up.  THEN we can move it to the proper space.

By then I hope to have 2 pilots with Drogue or Scoop brakes so I can do it twice (and not blow up in the process), then I will be at a dead stop over Earth 2.  THEN I’ll need a Spacewalker to actually get us down there.  Yeah, you actually have to think ahead about that, otherwise you’re pretty much putting your humans into a metal cylinder and launching them down to the surface.  Survivable, but not bloody likely.

And the roll for events is……’1′.

Engineer Alzheimer’s check.  4 or less….’6′ Phew.

Business Mutiny check.  Renaissance Man is content.  A lot of centrists on board.

Pilot cancer risk.  Pilot is a robot.  Moving on.

Domestic Accident risk.  Only happens on a ‘1’:

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Welp, my luck ran out there.  Back to my hand it goes.  And if I reprint them, they will not have the Domestic disc.  I’ll have to reinvent that.  But I think we’re too late in the game for that.  Might try biotech if I need more humans on Earth 2.

But that’s it for Events.  We age, we move on, the wheel keeps on spinning.

To everything, turn, turn, turn; there is a reason, turn, turn, turn…

*ahem*

Welp, our ship is now 108 years old.  That means systems are starting to deteriorate.  If I 3d print any more robots, they automatically start with 2 stress on them.  Things are just going to start breaking down.  But we only have to hold on for another dozen years.  Or so.

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Now, some may say a good plan would be just to dunk everyone in the vats and wait ’till you’re at the star.  You’ve got some possible space walkers and a few pilots out there already.  Sure, there’s a possible Alzheimer’s risk in the vats, but that will only take your oldest colonists, you can still land with your youngest.

However, there’s one thing that I haven’t mentioned, and it’s called “Midwife risk.”  If you don’t have any living colonist on board when you decant someone, you have to roll a die.  If the die is greater than the rad-hardness of the colonist being decanted: BLARG.  They’re dead.  I once had 3 separate colonist cards go the way of the dodo from that move.  Not making that mistake again.

So let’s see here.  I don’t need the pilots this turn, so I can put them in the vats.  Science isn’t necessary, though flipping more cards is good just to protect people.  Engineers aren’t necessary at this point as I never got the Protium Fusion breakthrough.  So there go the Convicts.  Actually, as I’m looking at this, just leaving the Renaissance man awake is probably best.  There’s 3 risks on the event table, mutiny risk isn’t a problem since he’s content, so there’s only 2 risks, and both only affect him on a roll of 1 or 2.  And one of them only flips his card.

I think we’re good, then.  Everyone else into the vats, our Renaissnace Man will keep an eye on things.

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We are so close!

If you consider 90 million miles close.

And with an event roll of ‘2’ nothing happens. Ab-so-freaking-loooooootly nothing.

Now that our Bernal is 120 years old, our alert humans will be aging two steps per turn due to the extra exposure to radiation that the ship can no longer protect them from.  Sadly this puts our Renaissance man up to the equivelant of a 60 year old right away.  This could be bad if a cancer risk comes up, so I better decant a younger human as well.

So I’ll keep the Renaissance Man up to keep systems up and running, and wake the Islamic Refugees and train them as Spacewalkers, to get some training on how to get everyone down to the planet’s surface.

Gotta move and then we’ll be on the same space, and we have to survive another event phase.

I roll a 5, which doesn’t interact with any of our humans….and if I had any robots they would have wigged out.  Interesting.  So we age again (twice *sigh*) and here we go.

And since you can end the game at any time, even in the middle of a turn, if I can stop the ship before the events phase, this should be it.  So might as well wake everybody up and try to create the newest generation.

Now to stop the ship.  Drogue braking…how does that work?  Well, we use the gas giant to slow ourselves down.  Big gravity and big radiation.  It’s dangerous.  So it’s a Hazard.

Remember Hazards from High Frontier?  Only there is no Failure is Not an Option check.

That’s right, I have to roll a die.  If I roll a 1, the ship blows up.

If I roll a 1, the ship blows up.

Everything could end here if I roll a 1.

What? (you’re probably saying)  What a horrible game!  All that and you have to rely on this all or nothing die roll?  Well, no, really.  I could do a Nano-Reconfiguration of the Hull with the Protium Fusion breakthru which would slow me down.  I could also do Beam Core Braking, but there’s something called Anti-Matter risk with that style of braking.  I should have done the breakthrough, that’s the least riskiest outcome, but I didn’t.  So I have to do this.

Besides, I used the Sun and Jupiter to start this journey, might as well end the same way.

Siren Cybernetics Inc do the first action.

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Yay!  We didn’t crash into the sun!  But now we have to look at the radiation risk.  We roll for everything in the ship stack, and if we roll over the Rad-Hardness, the card is destroyed.

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Great, the guys who would get us off this boat.  Okay, we can still do this.  Breathe, Adam, breathe.  I have to do it again.  I don’t have enough spare mass to do Beam-Core braking (I need 10 mass for that and I only have 5 before I start throwing in humans or the living area of our ship.  I have other options for a space walker, though, so we’re not done yet.

But before I do that, I’m going to brake again.  We could still blow up.  One more time.

Just one roll.

Here we go.

1d6.

5 out of the 6 is just fine.

1 of them will end this game in flames.

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But now can we make it through the radiation belts?

Jeez.  That’s a lot of dead people.  Um.  This isn’t good.

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That’s all I have left.  My youngest colonists is 72 years old.  This is going to be a tough colony.

If we can land.

So we do have the Panthropists that can do some biotech.  They are going to create some humans.  They are allowed to do that when making a colony to represent the 1st generation on the new planet.  Shame that it has to be this way instead of “naturally,” but after the crazy way they had to stop, what you gonna do?

Now to Bail out.  I really didn’t want to do this, but I have no option.  I have to roll for each card.  This is simulating the colonists being dropped from orbit in liquid-immersion crash suits.  Some are better at this than others.  In order to survive, I have to roll 1d6 and be above their age – shields.

For some paying attention, there are colonists that will not survive no matter what.  I can’t help that.  I should have paid more attention to the radiation risk and made sure the Hablonauts were built before we got to the star.  In fact, now that I’m facing this, I’m thinking of a large number of things I should have done.  But now our pilot has his hand over the “Launch button” so away they go.

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I needed a 5 or 6 for the Convicts, so I got lucky there.  So after all of that we started with this:

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13 Mass worth of humans and 1 Mass of robots.  And we finished with 6 Mass worth of humans, only 2 of them originating from Earth.

We started as a military expedition, but switched halfway to a centrist science-forward expedition, though looking at the buttons on our colonists, they might be going back to an authoritarian governmental structure on their new planet.

The new colony has Engineering, biotechnology and communication skills to help with their expansion.  It will be very regimented at first, but I hope some domestic and business discs will be placed soon.

As far as final scores go, I get 2VPs for having 2 claim discs on 2 habitable planets, and then 1VP per mass point of human.  So 8 points total.  According to the rulebook, that means we end with zero colony growth, the birth rate equaling the death rate.

Looks like this little tribe will be sitting alone on this planet for a long time.  Don’t know if it’s worth sending out another ship to join them.

My brain hurts.

Yet I want to play again and see if I can do better.  3d print the right robots to be properly prepared for landing.

But I’d hate to bore ya’ll with another playthrough.

But I hope this gets some of you to play and I’d love to hear your stories!

If you enjoyed this and got anything out of it and would like to thank me, you can visit my ko-fi page and buy me a coffee.  If not, that’s okay too.  Thanks for reading.

I’ve been pumping these posts out quickly recently, so I’ll be taking a short break before I go into my next one.  It won’t be long, though.  All the positive feedback I’ve been getting has been fueling my desire to keep posting, so I will!

Thanks again!

 

My ship knows just which way to go-ho-ho

So where were we?

Ah yes, the inky blackness of space.

People are freaking out because HAL has achieved sentience, but that might be okay be it (is it they, now?) says he knows how to slow down the ship.  I wonder how the humans in the vats will take it when they wake up to see their former crew mates being inhabited by their former security systems.

Mondays are rough in the future too.

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A refresher of how we stopped last turn. I have some more tough choices to make here.  3 stress is pretty rough, but I can only have 3 woke humans, and doing a full crew change just leaves my robonauts and my 2 stress robots around to do any work.  I also need to add a Pilot disc to the Security Systems if I want them to do any slowing down of the ship.

Okay, so here’s what I’m going to do….

First, I’m going to try to make new humans rather than decant old ones.  Newer and younger might help out better.  So I’ll have the Vatacan Observers do a Domestic action of Parenthood.  I have to roll > Age (4+) to get this to work, so fingers crossed.  And I roll a 2.  Nuts.

Since I’m risking everyone stressing out anyway, I’ll have my Engineers 3d print the Hablonauts again because that +1 to rad-hardness is valuable.

The networks spend its time in school learning how to pilot the ship.  The Nanobots fix the EM shield (which shouldn’t be needed for the rest of the game, but I may have forgotten a rule somewhere, so I’m doing it just in case).  And I’m decanting the “Wet Nano Seed Sail”  which I’m sure are just LOVELY people(?) to have on board.  They will be my new scientists.

I could have my Vatican Observers also do a Business action….you know what, they will.  They will do the service action on itself, to half their stress, rounding down that lowers it to 2.  I think I can handle that.

Now we move again:

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Look how close we’re getting!

Nothing else to do on the Move step, so we motor right on to the event step and I roll a 2.

Engineers have a cancer risk: Convicts are Age 3, so on a 1 or 2 they die.  I roll 5, they are okay.

Scientists are at risk of Alzheimer’s.  Wet Seed Nano folks are Age 5 so get demoted on 1-4.  I roll 2, so they get flipped back to Calypso Seed Sail.  Still lovely people.

Pilots are at risk of mutiny.  But they are content, so nothing happens.

Space walkers/Networks are at risk of accidents.  Nanobots decommissioned on a 3 or less.  A 4 keeps them alive.  Security System “bots” decommissioned on a 2 or less (since they are treated as human, their stress is the measure, not their age).  I roll 3.  We’re good.

And that’s it.  One flipped card.  I think we can handle that.  Another dozen years have passed, and I think we did okay.  I age cards and we move on.

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I think our Businessmen are going to create a baby machine now that our humans have aged themselves out of child bearing years (sure, it can be done at 48…but they probably don’t want to).

So my Halbonauts are going to move the Nanobots to Age 1 by 3d printing all new parts for it.  Then if I can roll 3 or less, the Vatican Observers will Invent a new job for them (after discarding a robot from my hand).  I roll a 3 and there’s now a domestic token on the Nanobots instead of their spacewalker token.  And I’ll do a Parent action with them since they haven’t gone yet this turn.  As long as I don’t roll a 1….nope…then I can draw a random human and put them at Age 1 with a new job token after removing a card from the Graveyard (to conserve Biomass).

I draw Siren Cybernautics Inc.  which can be an Engineer or Biotechnician.  However, I already have 3 awake humans, so I have to immediately put them into the Vats.

I’m going to put the Convicts into the Vats since they’re pretty stressed out and I’ve got new Engineers on deck.

Had I been smart, I would have done that BEFORE the domestic action.  Ah well.

My scientists can’t do an Endowment on Scholastics anymore as its not in the same politics, but I can still do “Eureka.”  So I put 2 data discs on it, and I roll 3d6 and try to get less than Age (6) + Discs (3).  And I roll 10.  *sigh*

And finally the Frankenstein Naviagtors do a Mag-Sail brake which can slow us down by as many steps as our current speed.  We’re going ‘2,’ so I lower our speed by 2 steps, from 6.5% the speed of light to 4%c.

And we’re already at the event roll.  The pain comes quickly.  The die roll comes up as a ‘1’.

Our Engineers have Alzheimer’s risk.  Halbonauts decommission on a 1.  I roll 3, so I’m okay.

Business owners may Mutiny.  The only ones are content, so no problem there.

Pilots are a cancer risk, but robots can’t get cancer, so we move on.

Domestics have an accident risk, our Nanobots are decommissioned on a 1.  A ‘5’ means we’re good.  And that’s it!

Fantastic!

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I’m getting to the point where I’m almost embarrassed to post my plays.  You see, I’m very close to the star.  I’m very close to actually getting humans on an extra-solar planet.  That’s a big stinkin’ deal.

I’m also very close to making a big mistake that someone reading this will notice and scream at their monitor: “What are you doing, dummy?”  I kind of don’t want to be called a dummy, so I really, really don’t want to make a mistake.  But so much hangs in the balance, that if one person dies of cancer, one Eureka roll doesn’t make it, I forget to pilot at the right time, this whole thing can go pear-shaped and I lose the game.

So the pressure is on (as much as a solitaire game can have pressure), and I’m starting to feel it.  THE EYES OF THE WORLD ARE ON ME!

Well, the 20 or so people that are actually following this one, it seems.

Okay, I don’t need to pilot this turn, as I’ll hit 1/2 speed when I slow down next, so I can put my Frankenstein Navigators into the vats to clear their 3 stress.  That will spare them from one of the possible problems we could run into.  I’ll decant them next turn to start slowing things down.  I can also use the Convicts Drogue breaking to surf on the gas giant that is also around Bernard’s star to get us to a complete stop.  Risky, but necessary.

And to speed up work after the Decanting process, we’ll try to Eureka the Scholastic program….again.  Now we’re 7 + 5 or less on 3d6.  And I roll a 9!  Factory Cube is now turned into insta-learning.

Wow, we’ve messed with people’s brains a lot on this trip.

The Vatican Observers will self-promote (needs a 4 or less): I roll a 6…no love there.  But I do some service to halve its Stress back down to 2.

My Halbonauts will discard a Robonaut from my hand to make another Factory Cube.  Worse comes to worse I’ll use that as mass I shed from the ship to slow it down if necessary.

My Nanobots will do their best to create more babies out of bio-goo.  A roll of 3 is a success and I get Malcolm.

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Ain’t he cute?  He’s not much, but his promoted side is fantastic, so I’m going to put him in the vats for now.

I will, however, decant the Microgravity Panthropists to keep scientists working on this boat.   I’m going to use them to try and promote the Calypso scientists who, by nature of their age, are at risk of dying from Alzheimers, but if I can flip them first, that will keep them alive for another turn or two.  A die roll of 3 makes it so, so we have our Wet Seed icky beings again.

And that’s it.  We move closer to our goal and we’re now 2 light years from our goal.

Now let’s hope we don’t all die.

We roll a 3.

Our Hablonauts may break on a 3 or less.  And they do.  Hrmph.  It’s just decommissioned to my hand, though.  I can get them back.

Uh oh, both scientists face a grey goo risk.  Going youngest to oldest, we’ve got our newly decanted Microgravity Panthropists.  Their rad-hardness is 5, so they’ll only mess up on a 6.  I roll a 5, so I just miss a nasty fate.  I only have 3 awake badges, though, so it’s possible something got into the vats.  D6 + the number of Factory cubes = 7.  Oops.  The factory cube gets removed and everything in the vats ages one step.

Now the Wet-Nano scientists will also unleash a plague on a 6.

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Crrraaaaaaappppppp.

So they’re dead, and I add 1 stress to all awake humans.  And if I roll 3 or more, they also affect the sleeping humans and age them.  Ah!  I roll a 2.  Phew.

Our Vatican Observers are at risk for Alzheimers.  And a roll of 3 kills them.  Dangit.  That’s why I was trying to promote them!

That’s the end of the Events phase, but it hurt enough.  I age what needs to be aged, and we’re looking at the next year’s field with a bit less optimism.

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Our ship is 96 years old.  Any older and we’ll start to feel the effects.  People will “age faster” (more radiation will seep through).  Then robots will start with stress on them.  Things will get harder.  You can stop your ship at a fuel planet (any rock that has the same fuel class as your engine) and send some engineers and space walkers out to bring your Bernal back to 1, but as you see, stopping ANYWHERE is a struggle.

Let’s just get to our new home.

If you’re enjoying this playthrough and it’s earned me a cup of coffee, you can visit my ko-fi page, but if not, that’s okay too.

Stay tuned for our exciting conclusion!

 

Tuned!!

 

 

 

Are we there yet?

So we’ve flown out to Jupiter, out towards the Sun, back out towards Jupiter AGAIN and flew out of the solar system.  Years have passed and work needs to be done on the ship.  And that is how we start our turns: Working.

Each Robot/Robonaut/Human on board who isn’t in a Vat can perform a task.  The tasks they can perform is based on the Profession Disc they have on them.  Luckily it’s pretty easy to know what everything is, because it’s listed right on the board:

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Got all that?  And sadly, the only way to be good at this game is understanding all of the various actions and understanding them WELL, because it stinks if you’re planning on doing a Parenthood action and realizing you don’t have a card in the Graveyard or rolling a successful Research action but not having a factory cube available.  Lucky for us, we only have three colors to worry about, and the blue discs have one action: Decant.  Which is waking the fellas up.

Getting started by making things, either alert humans or robots seems like a grand idea.  So I will first use my Hobonauts to do a 3d printing action to create a new Robot at Age 1.  I choose the Security System because it has the Network ability which will let me send an Exploration wisp to explore Proxima Centauri.  So I put that card in Age 1 and a Network token (a red disc) on it.  I place it on the left side of the card because I can’t do an action with it yet.  I put the discs on the upper right when they haven’t done anything yet, and then move it to the left when I’ve done things to keep track of actions.  The rulebook tells you to do the exact OPPOSITE, but for some reason moving from right to left felt more natural to me.

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For my Scientist, I can do all sorts of cool things, but we’ll start with Eureka.  I can put two “Data Discs” (which can be anything really) on one of our technologies:

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ALL of them are good.  I mean, c’mon, the cure for freaking cancer?  However, I’m going to put the two discs down on Neurology if only because it matches my current politics, which will make it easier to discover it down the line.  They now ask the I roll 3d6, and if I get under the age of the Scientists (2) + the number of data discs (2) then I can have a breakthrough and have that technology for the rest of the game.  However you have to discard a factory cube to do that, so there’s not point in rolling.  I guess engineers would need to build all the brain enhancing teach into the ship before the vats could give the stress releasing properties.

Speaking of stress, because a Human just did some work, we put a stress token on the card.  Stress is bad, but you’re bound to get some.  You can lose stress by chilling in the vats for a while.  We’ll see once we get to the events phase what high stress can do to us.

So that’s all of my woke passengers.  Ahem.  Now to choose which of my other humans to wake up.  I can only have 2 more humans awake, so 3 will have to stay in the vats.  After some thought, I wake up the Juiced Cosmonauts to help with security on board and to have another Engineer to help keep things running (and get more robots booted up).  I also wake up Calypso as Bioengineers due to their Promote ability.  They will be able to flip colonists to their purple sides, which will get them to last a whole lot longer.  Little messing with people’s DNA never did any harm, right?  And that ends the Operation part of the turn.

Now we’re in the movement phase.  I can move our speed by the thrust on the “Thrust Triangle” of our Starship.  Which is minuscule on our card:

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So we can move it up by one step.  Usually we’d be able to move it down by one, but “No decel” means we can’t do that.  And the zero means it costs NO fuel to do that.  So let’s move that puppy up and start moving at 4% the speed of light!  We can now actually move our rocket figure on the map into the first space (or bubble…whatever you want to call them) away from Sol.  We are officially one light year away from home and it only took a dozen years!

Now we look at the space we’ve just moved into.  If it has a blue border, that means we’re moving through a “cloud” of dust, which will pummel our EM shields and cause our Bernals to flip over to their unpromoted side.  If it’s already unpromoted, you have to discard a Bernal and lower the mass of your ship by 10.  You’re just losing it all to micro-meteorite erosion.  And if you don’t have a Bernal card?  People start dying.  Let’s hope we don’t go there.

We’re not in the Local Interstellar Cloud yet, so we don’t have to worry about our shields failing, so we now move onto the dreaded EVENT ROLL.  This is when Bad Stuff happens.  And it’s a simple roll of 1 die.  Yes, 1 6-sided die rules your fate.

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other

The colors and symbols mean: If the die shows this and this profession disc exists, then this problem may occur to that person/robot.  Let’s see it in action.  I give the die a roll and get…4.  Going down the list, I see the first 4 on the cancer symbol in the Orange/Business section.  I don’t have anyone with business on their resume, so I can move on.  Now I see it on the Alzheimer’s icon on the Red discs which is Spacewalker and/or Network.  I do have that on the Security System.  This is where the system could crash and stop working before it even got up and running.  I have to roll 1d6, and if it’s lower than the Robot’s age, I have to decommission the card to my hand.  Of course, its Age is 1, so that’s impossible, so I move on.  We now see the four on the Accident symbol on Biotechnicians.  This will kill the humans if a d6 roll is less than or equal to the amount of stress on that human.  (See how much stress stinks?)  Luckily our techs have no stress at this point, so we move on.

We finally arrive at “Starship Stack” where there’s a Glitch and I’m to decommission my heaviest black card in my Starship stack.  WHERE I HAVE NO BLACK CARDS!  Looks like I got through this turn Scott free.

So we do the final cleaning up phase, which is the Age track.  All cards move one step to the right on the Age track, unless it’s in the Vats, then it doesn’t move at all (and gets to remove a stress).  So now my Age Track looks like this:

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Woops, looks like the Network chit didn’t make it to the Security System card, but it’s there…trust me.

To start with, I’m really curious about Proxima Centauri, so let’s send a Wisp out and take a look-see.  I roll an 8, which means I would DIE if I flew past it.

Well dang.

I mean, it’s good to know, but now I need to fly somewhere else.  Looks like I’ll swing “Down” (as much as directions work in space) and head towards Bernard’s star.  I need a 4 or less to find a habitable planet there, but I can also swing back around and get to Alpha Centauri without interacting with Proxima Centauri at all that way.

On to pressing matters, my Cosmonauts do some work on the Babbage Halbonauts and move them back to Age 1.  I want to keep those bad boys working.  Those Halbonauts are going to do some Cube Nanofacturing and ditch a Robonaut out of the game.  The purpose is if I happen to, say, have a breakthrough in Neurology, I’d like to be able to have the parts to build it.

Now I can have Calypso do some promoting.  Sadly it only works if 1d6 is < its Age.  1/3 chance.  And I roll a 2!  I’ll actually have them turn themselves over as it gives them the ability to take yet another job.

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It also means if they have an accident, they just flip the card over instead of dying.  Always a good thing.  And now I have our Scientists (who kinda photobombed the above picture) do a bit more research, only this time, it’s called an Endowment.  This is handled a bit differently.  I’m only putting one Data Disc down AND I have to put it down on the tech that matches my politics.  However, now I only roll 2d6 and if that’s less than the scientists age(3) + number of discs(3) then I get to do a little happy dance.  Not a great roll, but definitely in the realm of possibility.

And I roll 6.

*sigh*

That’s it for the Operations phase that I’m planning on, so let’s go to movement.  We’ll pop up the speed again to 5.5% the speed of light (though that’s still only one space per turn).  And now we go to the event roll.  And our number is ‘2’.

First: Engineers check for Cancer.  Our Juiced Cosmonauts are killed if 1d6 < Age(3).  And I roll a 2, so into the Graveyard the Cosmonauts go.  Stupid Interstellar radiation.  Our Halbonauts don’t get Cancer, so I don’t have to roll for them.

Now we check for our Scientists to get Alzheimer’s.  It’s the same roll as Cancer in this case.  I roll a 4, so the Microgravity Pantrophists live another dozen years.  Finally we check to see if the Security System suffers an Accident and is decommissioned.  I have to roll a ‘1’ for that to happen, and I roll a 5, so all is well.

So our first fatality, but we press on.  I hope to cure cancer soon.  Was hoping to start working on that after getting Neurology this turn, but you can’t always get what you want.

Things age and we get set for the next dozen years.


And one night passes in real time, too, so I have to spend a lot of time thinking about my next actions.

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We’re down an Engineer now, so using my Robot to build another Robot Engineer is probably not a bad idea.  It gets risky if I use my Scientists again, but I would need to roll a 5 for an event and THEN roll a 3 or less in order to lose them due to stress.  Fairly specific circumstances.  Then again, I might lose them due to age first (Cancer or Alzheimer’s).  I can get more humans out of the vats, so I can get my Legacy crew out…they’re old, but they can take Engineering, Science or Business jobs (having old scientists is good…they’re smart).  And it’s a good idea to have young humans in statis.  Why?  BABY MAKING!   Now that our Juiced Cosmonauts are gone, we have “bio-mass” available, so we’re able to have more kids…who can essentially eat the leftovers.  In a completely closed system, our biomass has to stay the same, so I can’t just keep pumping out kids, because we have no way to feed them all, so we have to wait for someone to die, then we can introduce new life into the cycle.

Circle of life, ya’ll.

If I had a Business human awake, I could reduce some stress, which would be nice, and I could get that with the Vatican Observers.  The Convicts are more Engineers, which never hurt either.

Hmmm.  Tough choice.  I almost want to double down on science to get more breakthroughs and keep my aging population from dropping like flies, but we’re about to hit some interstellar clouds, so I’ll need Spacewalkers to deal with that, so I need to start printing robots in order to get that going.

Like I said, this game is hard.

Okay, I’m going to decant my Legacy Crew and hope they survive long enough to drop some data discs down and get some good rolls  (at Age 6, even their first Eureka action will be 3d6 versus 8.  Not an unheard of roll).  I’m also going to build some Nanobots to be ready to repair the outside of the ship.

I guess my Biotechnicians will try to promote my Scientists (not the Crew card, they can’t be promoted).  I have to roll a 3 or less and get a 6, so no luck there.

I send out another Exploration Wisp, but now 10 light years away to Bernard’s Star to see what’s there.

I roll 3!  There’s a habitable planet there!

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So I just have to survive for 10 light years of flight, figure out how to stop this crazy thing, and we’ve got ourselves somewhere to go!

Finally my Pantropists try to get this Neurology thing off of the ground.  We add another disc and roll 2d6, hoping for 7 or less now.  And the roll is a 4!  I discard the Factory Cube and now whenever I put someone “Into the Vats” ALL stress will be removed, not just one per turn.  Excellent.

Now we hop to the Move Segment where we are going 6.5% of the speed of light, or 2 spaces per turn.  This is as fast as I’m going to go, because I’m afraid of not being able to stop!  So I move my ship forward 2 spaces, and that puts me smack dab in the middle of the LIC.  So I flip my Bernal to the white side to show the shields are down and will need to be repaired before I hit the next cloud space.

And now…

dun dun DUNNNN

The dreaded event roll.

I roll 6.  Let’s see what happens.  The Scientist gets a Mutiny risk!  If he’s content with the current politics (red), then it’s no problem.

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Unfortunately our Scientists prefer Libertarian tendencies (Orange), and they’ve their whole lives under a strict military lifestyle and they just want to be left alone to do their research!  Perhaps the brain modification tech they just finished pushed them over the edge.  Or maybe they just have been smelling too many chemicals and it just seems like a good idea at the time.

Well, let’s look at all the other humans on board and see if anyone is content on board.

Seems like you’re either a robot, or really like robots (Purple are Centrists who believe Robots should be treated like people).  Robots like Purple, too.  So, um, yeah,  everyone is discontent with the current government.

So a whole lot of arguing later, and the politics get moved to the Scientist’s politics (why?  Because they started it).  And ALL awake humans get stress equal to the number of spaces the politics marker moved because change is HARD.

*tests political climate*

Nope, not going there.

What really stinks is Libertarian and Authoritarian are COMPLETELY OPPOSITE on this chart, which means all awake humans receive FOUR stress.  YIKES!  Looks like we’re going to have to have a changing of the guard and put some folks up into the vats for a while.

But we still have more event turn…

6 is also a “Gray Goo” risk for the Biotech Girls and Guys.  This is just a sci-fi way of saying an experiment goes awry and costs them their lives.  Either they poison themselves, something explodes, or that shot they gave themselves 40 years ago actually had a long range effect that we are simulating by removing one card.  That kinda thing.

So first I roll against Rad-Hardness their Rad-Hardness.  Luckily it’s still +1 for the robots, so it’s a 6 and I can’t roll higher than that.  That means whatever happened didn’t hurt the AWAKE people.  Now I roll 1d6 and add the number of factory cubes (which is 0 now that we had the Neurology breakthrough).  If that is greater than the number of badges on the awake humans, then everything in the Vats ages one step.

Here’s we’re making sure that if there is a problem, someone would notice in time.  Let’s check our badges.

Oh yeah, we have a Security System robot.  That’s 3 badges there.  1 on our Biotechs themselves, and two more from our other Robots.  So we’ll only have trouble on the roll of ‘6’.  Wherein the die comes out as a 1 and we’re okay.

Finally we have an Alzheimer’s risk for anyone IN THE VATS.  This stinks, but that’s the price of interstellar space travel.  I mean, think about it, we’ve been traveling for 36 years in a metal box using only the supplies that we brought with us.  Magellan ain’t got nothin’ on that.

Luckily I didn’t roll a ‘1’ on either of my sleeping babies (who are both Age 2), so we can continue on.  There is also a meteor threat that would damage a Radiator if we had one, but we don’t so Event turn over.

We age, we get ready for the next turn, we sweat a little bit.

So, clearly we have to drop some of these colonists into the Vats.  Now that we have the Neurology breakthrough, all their stress will instantly vanish (that’s some goooood liquid in there), and I can decant them next turn.  But I JUST decanted the crew card, so I kind of want to use them anyway and risk the accident/cancer/whatever.  With us in the Orange politics now, I could do an Endowment action with them, drop one disc on the Scholastics breakthrough and have to roll less than 7 on 2d6 right away.  Bonus to that, is the same turn I decant humans or build robots, I can have them act.

Although I don’t have any factory cubes right now.  UGH!  I could make one, but I only have one Engineer right now, and that would be its only action.  I’d rather build another robot.  I’d hate to run low on building power.

And I need to start worrying about slowing down.  There’s no LIC near Bernard’s star, so I can’t use a Surfer brake.  I can use Mag-Sail brake, but that’s kind of rare, and I don’t currently have any pilots that have that skill.  I’d have to start making babies.  I could also work on the Protium Fusion breakthrough which lets you slow down everytime you do a certain Engineer action (which is basically just shedding mass).  Once I slow down two steps, I’ll also be able to slow when I hit the gas giant near Bernard’s star.  It’s a bit risky, but doable.

So I think I need to get Protium Fusion or find a Mag-Braker before I get to the star, or I’m going to sail right past it, and I have 4 turns until I get there!

Did I mention this game was hard?

Luckily it’s right near my lunch break here in the real world, and I’m going to take it and mull over this problem for a while.  Do I focus on survival now, knowing I can sail past Bernard’s star and go to Alpha Centauri if needed, which will be easier if I focus on getting breakthroughs and building up that foundation, or do I get pilots and train the next generation because we’re landing in 48 years and we’ll need some young bucks to stop this thing?

I’m going to Wawa and getting a sandwich.  You have to be from around here to understand that sentence.


*burp*

Okay, so I think I’m going somewhere in the middle (which is usually the wrong choice).  So I’m going to use my science abilities to lay a good foundation, but I’m going to study Scholastics so I can decant my humans and get them to baby making right away.  I’ll get a Robonaut and Businessperson around and use the Invent action to give the Robonaut ANY color disc and fill in whatever gaps I have (including making babies…yup, you can make a test-tube baby growing machine).

That means I’m keeping my 72 year old stressed-out crew alive to go for the ~40% chance of getting Scholastics this turn.  My engineering robots are taking the Network robots apart(don’t need them anymore) to make another factory cube.  And if I’m lucky, all that happens before I decant my other two humans, and they’ll be able to go to school and then do work.

Hey, I just noticed the back of the Network card has Mag-braking.  Okay, I’m NOT taking them apart.  I’ll just ditch a card from my hand like, say, this Robonaut.  I’ve got more.  Okay, got my cube.  At some point I may have to Emancipate the robots so I can flip them to their Purple side.  One thing at a time….

Okay, I’ve done all the other bits that I can do before the big roll.  Now to see if I can get Scholastics out of the way……rolling rolling rolling….

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&*($&.  That would have made things SO much easier.  So I decant the Convicts as Engineers and take yet another risk and decant the Vatican Observers as Business AND as Domestics.  Twice the chance of an event affecting them, but I gotta get stuff done.

The ship moves 2 spaces forward and the recently fixed EM shield is again flipped back over.  No biggie.  No more dust clouds in our future.

But what is in our future is the die roll of 3, which is an accident check for our engineers.  This will decomission or Halbonaut on a roll of 3 or less.  There’s no stress on our newly decanted engineers, so no roll there.  I roll a 2 and the ‘nauts break down and go back into my hand.  *sigh*  I guess they’ve been smoothly running for, what, 72 years now?  I guess that’s better than my home PC.

3 is also a “Gray Goo” risk for regular scientists.  Sadly the Halbonauts are what gave everything the +1 Rad-hardness, so I have to roll against the crew card’s natural 4.  On a 5 or 6, whatever they made is going to hurt all the other people on board.  AAAaaaannnnddd the dice hate me.  I roll a 6.  Whatever horror they created kills the crew card and adds 1 stress to all other awake humans.  I have 7 badges awake right now, so I don’t have to worry about anything happening to the humans in the vats.  The good side of having a security system and convicts on board.

That was a weird sentence to type.

3 is an Alheimer’s risk for our newly decanted business colonists.  Let’s see if their brains liquefied in stasis.  I roll a 5, and it only would have happened on a 1, so we’re fine.

3 is ALSO (JEEEEEEEZZZZZZ) a mutiny attempt by Spacewalkers which means….

Oh.

 

Oh no.

Not that.

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The neat thing is that if it’s a robot that mutinies, it first promotes itself.  So the card flips and becomes “Frankenstein Navigators”

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Ewwwwww, the security system injected itself into the dead crew members so they are now half human.  What’s amazing is the two other woke humans?  Yeah, they have purple voting boxes as well, so they are like “Yeah, you’re right, you should be treated as a person.”  Strangely it still causes 2 stress on the humans….and since we now treat robots as humans?  Yeah, 2 stress on the navigation systems.  (We can even put them in the vats now!)

Isn’t this wild?  We have cyber zombies on board!

And that’s the last event…thank god!  So the two people who just came out of the vats?  3 stress right off the bat.

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And another turn is presented to us.  But I think you’ve had enough for a day…..

If you enjoyed this post and have been enjoying all these playthroughs enough to buy me a coffee, you can go to my Ko-Fi page and do so as a small token of appreciation.  Or don’t, and that’s okay too.

Thanks for reading, see you 2 light years closer to Bernard’s Star!

 

Maybe that’s why these words are blue shifted!

There’s a starShip waiting in the sky…

I think I’d like to teach it, but I’m afraid I’ll blow your mind.

Now that that blasphemy is over.

Let’s talk Interstellar.  There’s a number of ways to get started with the game, which is the first barrier to actually playing the thing.  One of the ways is actually finishing a game of High Frontier and exiting the board using one of the actual exits:

Or finish using one of the Futures that specifically refer to leaving the solar system (which usually involve exiting the map anyway):

Pictures on cards are less blurry than they appear.

BUT, we won’t be starting that way.  That would involve playing a whole other game (which will take several hours) and will result in a rather hap-hazard starship, since I’ll be limited to what I could throw together in a CEO solitaire game.  So we can flip open our rulebooks to the Quickstart rules (Quick, HA!) and see we have 2 options.  We can either take an actual Starship, which is a metallic thing with an engine and cockpit and all Star Trekky, OR we can use a Beehive, which is a hollowed out Asteroid which has either been flung on its course, or has a small engine on it.  The game is VASTLY different depending on which you choose.  The scale is even different, with a crew card representing 12 people in a Starship and 10,000 in a Beehive.  I kind of want to show both, since they both create interesting challenges, but I think I’ll do a Starship since that’s what people are more comfortable with.

So, first we start by choosing which government/faction put together this mission.  It could be a

  •  – Libertarian Work Ethic
  •  – Left Wing Commune
  •  – Right Wing Family Values
  •  – Centrist (Robot Emancipators)
  • or Authoritarians

I’m going to say this started out as a military exercise, so we’ll start Authoritarian.  Don’t worry, the ship will be in space for a long time and a rigid military structure will probably break down…or not, who knows?

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It prevents me from talking to other ships (only useful in multi-player games…which this game is NOT, really…but I suppose it can happen), and helps me defend against Mutiny and any scientific accidents that may go wrong.  It also makes it easier for me to study Neurology, which is a good way to fight off stress.  I also get the Red crew card as the first members of our, um, crew. They’re old (60 years), but they brought this plan to fruition, so we bring them along anyway.

So we start with our “Market,” which is going to look very familiar with those of you who have played High Frontier before:

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The difference is most cards are starting on their upgraded side.  Much more fun that way.  Not to mention, you don’t want to travel to Alpha Centauri with stuff we could build in 2010.

The upper-right corner we don’t need to worry about as that’s our Beehive choices.  Pfft.  Who needs a Amat-initiated H-B Magnetic-intertial thruster?  It only uses 9 nano-second pulses of a hundred billion anti-protons at the Hydrogen and Boron in a 50mm pebble to cause it to burn and produce 140 giga-joules of kinetic energy.  Yeah, every 2 seconds that would make 83kiloNewtons of thrust…and .4%c exit velocity.  But who wants THAT?

BTW, the idea for the Magnetic-inertial thruster?  The paper was written in 2003.  WHY AREN’T WE BUILDING THIS STUFF?

Ahem.

So let’s get our cash for our Mission.  We start with a measly 16WT.  I’m sure the scale is larger for this, but it doesn’t seem like much.  I suppose I could raise it to make the game easier, but we’re going according to Hoyle here, so 16 it is.  Before we spend all this money, we get to search the nearby stars for planets.  If there’s no habitable planets in the area, nobody would start this silly mission to begin with.  Makes sense to me.  So we make some Exoplanet Search rolls until we find one.

Of course, we start with Alpha Centauri:

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All we do is a simple 2d6 roll.  Looking under Alpha Centauri we see if we roll a 7, we’ll find a fuel rock that can give us fuel for D, M and V class rockets.  If we roll a 3-6, we’ll find a habitable planet as well as that fuel rock.  On snake-eyes there will also be a Living Planet which is habitable and gives you double Victory Points at the end of the game.

Yeah, I don’t worry about Victory Points.  I just want to get humans there.  So we roll and we get 5!  Good roll!  So we have a habitable planet there.  Now I can continue to scan the skies for more planets, but at the cost of 1 WT each.  The government isn’t made of money, ya know.

I’m sure you’ve noticed Proxima Centauri and the skull and crossbones on it.  Yeah.  That.  Before we make it to our new planet, we’ll have to see if Proxima is actively flaring.  If it is, we can’t go there.  Or we die.  If it isn’t (on a roll of 2-6), then we’re fine.  I could spend the 1WT now to see if it is or not, but let’s make our ship first and see if we have any money left over.  I can scan the star on the first turn and then start scanning other stars as I move along.  Not the best plan, but the cheap one.

So now we use our WTs to get cards.  1 WT gets you a card off the top of a deck OR you can move some cards to the bottom of decks with 1 WT, which I HATE doing.

Here’s what I generally go with:

  • Mass 0 Robonauts are a must.  They are a free throw-away card to get you factory cubes and all sorts of other things in game.
  • Scientists are important.  Make sure to have a few.  Get low mass people, though.  Short people are good in space.
  • I’m thinking using less Bernals are better since you don’t need that many humans Active, but I could be persuaded otherwise.
  • Extra radiators aren’t a bad thing, especially 0 mass.  You can always discard them for other effects.

So the Thruster on the top of the deck is the Magnetic Mirror Beam Rider.  The fun thing about this, you don’t need to bring any fuel with you, you’re flying on a laser beam shot from Sol.  The BAD thing is stopping.  You have to figure out another way to stop.  There are many, but they are difficult.  For instance, the colonists on the top of the stack, the Juiced Cosmonauts, have one way to brake: Drogue braking.  That’s skimming the Starship over a gas giant.  Ouch.  Considering Alpha Centauri has no gas giants, that’s not an option.

But hey, it’s a challenge, right?  So let’s light this candle and go with the Beam Rider.

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If that astronaut’s to scale, I hope we’ve built a few more things onto the ship….

Speaking of which, I’ll grab a Bernal now.  Which Bernal you end up with doesn’t matter.  There’s no Faction privilege or anything, all the Bernal pretty much represents is the hull of the ship.  So it’s Mass counts, and it also counts as a limit to how many humans can be alert at once.  You can keep 1 colonist awake + 2 per each Bernal you have.  So if I only grab 1 Bernal, that’s 3 awake humans, so I’ll have to rely on Robots for everything else.  Yet another limitation, but one I’m willing to work with to make my ship smaller.

As an amazing bit, the Beam Rider doesn’t need any Radiators or anything AND it has its own Generator, which can power the electro-magnetic “shielding” that is used to keep dust from puncturing the Starship and killing everyone aboard.  That being the case, most of my mass is going to be humans and robots.  So let’s see what we have.

 

The Quantum Cascade Laser will need a radiator attached to the ship, which stinks and it is used in order to scan planets at a distance.  Or I can just grab it as mass and discard it later for something useful (just using it as an idea in our 3D printer), which I think might be better.  The Juiced Cosmonauts are engineers, which are important, they are also politically aligned with the current regime, which will prevent any mutinies.  They can also do some space walking to repair shields and radiators and do some crazy brake maneuvers.  A bit heavy, though.  And finally the smart pets can do the space walking and fix the EM shields and they weigh nothing.

If they weigh nothing, they are going into my hand, no contest.  I’m going to grab the Cosmonauts and Laser as well.  I may discard them later, but they seem okay for now.

I’m ankle deep in Engineers.  The Robonaut is mass zero, so that goes into my hand without thinking (and it doesn’t need support).

I grab the others because having some badges are good, and robots are worthwhile  So I’m 8 WT deep in already. I do this until I end up with quite an extensive hand.  Cards in my Starship Stack are on their Black sides except Colonists and Crew, which are on their white sides.  Bernals are on their Promoted sides to show that their shields are working.  We also put in our Thruster on the Promoted side, because otherwise we’d have a short-ass game.

Sadly, looking at the cards I ended up with, I’ve got way too many heavy colonists.  I leave the Siren Programmers back on Earth, and end up with a Mass of 28.  Just like High Frontier, we put that Mass on the Fuel Strip:

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We round down on the strip, which is why I didn’t want to go over 30.  You CAN shed mass as you fly, but it’s a pain in the tookas, so why not get just as close to it as possible so I’ll be able to brake other ways.  Also good considering I don’t need to bring any fuel.

And now one of the hardest choices of the game:  Exiting the solar system.  There are 3 ways to do it, with pluses and minuses:

Exit by Neptune, which has you starting the game at a dead stop.  Not too bad because being parked at Sol allows you to interact with Earth for an extra turn BUT it takes a long time to build up speed and the faster you get to where you’re going, the less chance you’ll DIE on the way there.

You can exit by the Oort cloud, but you have to make a radiation roll (if you roll higher than the Rad-Hardness of the card, it gets killed.  Fun) and do an Event turn before you get started.  It represents the long hard trek out there.

OR you can spin around the sun and Jupiter and really fling your way out there.  That gets you going the fastest, BUT you have to roll 3 dice and take the HIGHEST as your radiation roll.  However, it doesn’t affect humans in “The Vats” (more on that later) AND I have a robot that provides +1 rad-hardness to all co-located cards.

I’m going back and forth between Neptune and Jupiter.

What do you think, guys?

Neptune has a good point, water is essential to human life.  Jupiter, on the other hand, tried to kill me.  So I’m going to go big and scary and try to slingshot myself around Jupiter and the Sun (twice!) and fling myself at a crazy exit velocity.

Because why not?  And I don’t want to get hit with a lightning bolt.

Because of the radiation hazard, I’m going to change my crew a bit.  I’m dumping most of the humans into the Vats (basically suspended animation) and I’m going to disassemble my ‘bots.  They won’t get fried if they haven’t been built yet.  Of course, that means I’ll be spending the first turns waking people up and building robots, but we’ll see how that goes.  It’s honestly a strategy I’ve never done before.

So here’s what my layout looks like (The Age Track):

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On the left at Age 1 is an upgraded Bernal which represents my ship’s hull with working EM shields.  If it goes unpromoted, the shields aren’t working.  If it gets discarded that means we’re pretty much open to interstellar radiation.  And that’s bad.  At Age 2 are my pile of colonists and their “Profession Disc.”  In a physical copy of the game, you’re just using all the various discs that come with the game.  Here they are much more fancy.  Blue means that Colonist (or those colonists, since it represents 15 people or so) are chilling in the Vats.  The White disc on the Microgravity Panthropists means they will be acting as Scientists on this journey. They could also act as Biotechnicians (see the little leaf under the Scientist marker?) or even Spacewalkers (The buggy icon under the leaf), but having Scientists available is good.  They are also Rad 5, which is 6 with the Halbonauts, so they are safe from radiation from my crazy slingshot maneuver.

At Age 3 are the before-mentioned Babbage Halbonauts, acting as Engineers.  They could also act as Spacewalkers.  Finally is the crew card way over at Age 6, grumbling in their Vats.  I could give two career discs to my awake humans (or even the robots), but as you’ll see, working a lot makes you more prone to…well….dying.  So let’s not do that, shall we?

So let’s fly around Jupiter a couple times!  My results are 1,1,6.  Which would be a rad hit of 6, which would have shut down ALL of my robots and most of my humans.  Luckily I shut everything down during those slingshot maneuvers.  The good news is that because I chose the Jupiter maneuver, I can put my speed on the fastest starting point available:

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You’re still only moving 1/2 space per turn, but it’s not hard to get going at 1 a turn (or 4% the speed of light!). Then you can start going crazy speeds after that.  But one thing at a time.  Let’s just get outselves settled for our journey to Alpha Centauri.

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It is only 8 spaces to Proxima Centauri, so I have to make sure I know whether I can actually go there or not by then.  If I know by the time I hit space #2, I can turn to the right and head toward the lower half of the board towards those stars.  If not, space 5 lets me hit the left branch and head towards the top half of the board.

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There’s quite a few places to go, actually, but let’s just worry about the first 8.  So let us now officially start turn 1.

 

Yeah, that’s right, I’m 2500 words into this, and I haven’t actually started the game yet.  I mean, sure, I still had to make a ton of decisions setting up my Starship, so you could definitely call that part of the game, but the official turn structure starts now.

Or maybe they start tomorrow.

How’s that for leaving on a cliffhanger?

If you enjoy this post and want to buy me a coffee, go and visit ko-fi.com/cthulhukid.  If not, that’s okay too.  Thanks for reading.  See you in 4,730,365,236,290,400 meters.

 

Now off the cliff.

 

Getting Kierkegaard up in here.

The defense mission ended in success.

Kinda.

The last PEF contained the Hishen Planet Conquest Ship, a Class 6 monster with 10 guns pointing out of it.  It also had a ton of shields, so my Cruisers couldn’t do squat to it.  It was all on my Carrier’s fighters.

Oh yeah, there was also a Mothership launching its own fighters.  So defense was high.

Needless to say, my whole squadron (well, two squadrons) was wiped out.  I wasn’t even able to flee.  10 guns is hard to survive when you’re taking 7 hits at 6 damage each.  I did manage to take down their Mothership and a few of the Class 3 ships that were sailing along, but I got real lucky.

A fighter was able to do an Engine hit to the Planet Conquest Ship.  When your Engine gets damaged, you only roll 2d6 on the After the Mission table.  And I rolled high on that table for the Conquest Ship, causing it to go home for repairs.  That being the case, there were no Class 5 or 6 ships available to Bombard the planet.  Win!

It cost me almost an entire Task Force (I literally only have 3 ships left from the original 12), but I protected the planet of Planet.  I also rolled well on the Morale table, resulting in our campaign morale’s switching, with mine raising to 4 and theirs dropping to 3.  The tide is turning.

So I’m putting 5150: Star Navy aside for now.  I can continue this campaign later.  Another good thing about most THW games.  They’re easy to come back to later (I restarted a Red Sand, Blue Sky game that was over 4 years old).

So what now?

All these space battles got me wondering?  How did we get here?  Not in a cosmic sense…I mean, I’m always wondering why are we here, what series of biological hiccups created a self-aware species able to understand the universe.  We live on a pale blue dot and argue over who is allowed to live on which speck of land while not realizing that the whole planet is but a speck and we should be working on making it the best speck for us, and moving to other specks.

But I digress.  A little.

Let’s try to get ourselves off of this speck.  In game form.  Let’s start the VERY difficult, yet scientifically accurate (to a point): High Frontier (wait for it): Interstellar.

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This game originally came as it’s own “expansion” for the earlier versions of High Frontier.  It was essentially a new board (commonly a poster you would print yourself) and you used all the component of standard High Frontier to play this new game of trying to get colonists to a new planet around a (relatively) nearby star.

In the recent 3rd edition of High Frontier, the Interstellar board was printed on the back of one of the game boards and all the Interstellar rules were included on the cards.  There was also an included rulebook for the game, but I’ve heard many a complaint about it reading like stereo instructions, so I’ve decided to give the game a run so everyone can see how it works.

The game creates a FANTASTIC story as it goes along, but I will warn you: It is hard as all get out.  I’ve won once.  I’ve played maybe a dozen times.  I will keep playing.  I have fun every time.

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Interstellar is a bizarre mix of science and science-fiction since we really don’t know what would happen with humans staying in interstellar space for hundreds of years.  Some of the results can be silly.  Some can be frightening.  Some can just be frustrating.

But at the very least, it’s quite a ride.  And if you’re curious, Matthew McConaughey has nothing to do with the game, and the game and movie have nothing to do with each other.

So get ready to strap in for a nice long ride, when each turn is a decade of time, you know you’re in for a long one.

And if you’re looking forward to those posts and want to show your appreciation, you can always buy me a coffee at ko-fi.com/cthulhukid.  If not, that’s okay too.  See you tomorrow!

It crept upon its petty pace, but ARRIVED.