And here’s the box I’m playing out of. This is a bit different as I’m unable to use a digital edition in order to do my very wordy teaching game. Because of that, it might not be as wordy as the other editions. Why? I’m not able to simply alt-tab from this screen to the “game table” and type my thoughts as I’m having them. Instead I’m writing down my actions and/or taking pictures of the table state and, well, darnit, I’d rather be playing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to try my best and blather on in my usual way that you know and (presumably) love, but it’s a bit more difficult for me. Also, it’s a whole lot slower as I’m scribbling notes inbetween each move so I remember what I did. While this is all happening on a desk behind the one I am typing on now, I am still expected to, you know, work here, so I’ll be interrupted many-a-time, so details may get lost, and I may screw up even more than normal because of that. So keep your eyes peeled for errors.
Also, some things may have changed on the living rules after I learned the game. I usually don’t keep ridiculously up to date once I find the rules work fine for me, so if there’s a subtle change, I probably won’t be using that rule.
Blah, blah, blah, get to the game! Fine.
I set up with my three tribes. The only weird thing in this picture is that I have the 5 Tunit hunters that are supposed to be in the New World just kinda sitting there beside all the green cards. I moved them soon after the picture. One of the great things about Ecklund small box games is that printed on the side of the box is the setup for the game, so I didn’t really have to remember anything. I just looked at the pretty colorful picture and followed that. Bam. Game set up.
Oh, and the one choice I had to make, the beginning Domesticated Animal for the Norse, I went for the Settlement Goat. Low cost is what you usually need to survive the solo game, so that’s what I was hoping. So I have my 12 Event cards (multiplayer has you just going through 10) at the ready, and three tribes set to survive.
So, for those of you who have no idea what they’re looking at, let me ‘splain. The three large cards are three tribes who live on the island called Greenland. The Tunit (green), the Thule (yellow) and the Norse (red). While they are similar, they aren’t the same as you see the Tunit start with five hunters on Markland (in the New World) while the Norse start with a Domesticated animal and the Thule, well, the Thule have pretty powerful daughters, so I guess that’s their “power.” And it’s not just starting powers as the various elders can do subtly different things depending on which tribe that elder is in.
Elders? That’s the cubes that are sitting on the cube. These are the smartypantses who grant you all sorts of bonuses like the Chieftain who prevents you from succumbing to Decimation (ie. killing each other) to a Shaman that may give you a hunting or fishing bonus as well as allow you to play Invention cards. There’s also Mariner elders that allow you to play hunters to the New World or to the other half of the Island (Thule and Tunit are restricted to the North, Norse to the South). Yup, it’s already a lot to keep track of, huh?
Luckily this is all written out on your tribe card, so you don’t have to remember everything they do, it’s right there in front of you.
The other thing elders do is die. A LOT. We’ll get to that later, I’m sure.
Above those are the daughter cards. Each tribe has a collection of smart women that grant some bonuses to hunting, allow the playing of tech or domestication without paying, increased hand size or less cost for elders. They’re varied and all useful. The tribe gains their benefit, and another tribe can get it if they survive wooing the girl and marrying her. In the solo game, marriage is automatic, but it comes down to a die roll that can be made harder if you add jealous husbands or some hunters who really don’t want “your kind” coming in and marrying “their” daughters.
Prehistoric racism. Ain’t it grand?
And above all of this is the hunting grounds. There are six in the north, and six in the south. They have the pictures of what you’re going for, usually animals, but sometimes it’s an invention. On each animal it’ll list what you need to roll in order to be successful. Most show a die or two (or three or four) with a star on it. That means a die showing a 1 or 2 if it’s on the “Warm side” or just a 1 if it’s on the “Cold side.” All cards start on the Warm Side, but they won’t stay there.
Success will get you more hunters (the 2001: A Space Oddessy looking babies in cubes) and more fuel (orange disks), ivory (white disks) or whatever black discs are that I’ve completely forgotten just now. It’s iron or something. Maybe. Don’t quote me on that. I could look it up, but this stream of consciousness is much funnier.
So the goal of the game is to survive the 12 events with all 3 tribes intact. In a multiplayer game, survival isn’t as important as is gaining points and it’s a much more social and, quite frankly, mean at times. It’s awesome.
However, you’ll see the subtle changes that make the game meaner so the players (or player, in this case) have no need to be mean to each other, as the game is mean enough for everyone.
So let’s look at the first event card and start the first turn and see if you can follow along with what I’m doing.
Awww, Halley’s Comet. How nice.
Except for the DOOM part. First is the two symbols on the top of the card, which I don’t have to worry about, but just so ya’ll know. The one on the left with the ! in it? That means the red player (Norse) goes first. Then it’s the Tunit,then it’s whoever isn’t on the card (the Thule). Okay, now we go down the column of events and resolve them in order.
The first is Decimation if you have 9 or more hunters. Luckily we start with 5 hunters and your alpha hunter, so no Decimation there. Decimation means you lose half your hunters (rounding up, because the world hates you) and one elder. Not good. So let’s move on. What the heck are those two symbols? If you look closely it’s a 6 sided die on top of a skull with a ridiculously large collar. If you look right below them, you see a cartoony old guy with a ridiculously large collar, so that’s the symbol for elder. So a 6 sided die on top of a skull with a ridiculously large collar must mean elder death. Two of them mean you’ll be rolling two dice and killing the elders that correspond to those numbers (1 is chieftain, 2 is shaman, etc, as shown on the Tribe card). So I roll two dice for each tribe:
Tunit loses Chieftain and Mariner
Thule loses Shaman & Mariner
Norse loses Tracker & Mariner
Oh great, I now have no access to boating. That means I can’t let any hunters go from one half of the island to the other, or to go to the New World (where both fuel and violence is plentiful). Finally the last symbol in the event is either pay as many fuel as you have elders, or kill those elders (or any combination thereof).
Yes, this is a harsh event to draw first. Actually, it’s a harsh event to draw at any time, but I’m behind the eight ball, it would seem.
So I have the Tunit spend 3 fuel (their daughter Saila lets you spend 1 less during this event), I have the Thule and Norse kill their War chief and spend 3 fuel. That elder isn’t as useful in solo games since I won’t be whacking other players, though they do give other bonuses. I don’t want to only have 1 fuel, though. It’s a bit cold to be running that low on fuel in turn one.
So, um, something interesting happened.
Apparently the paper I wrote all my notes on went into a shredding bin at some point.
If it makes you feel any better, so did the Tunits, because they died at about turn 8. Sadly I’ll have to let you know what happened through memory, which won’t be very wordy.
So the Thule were the only tribe to really do well even though they were the first to get smacked around. They got a crossbow from the vikings and then were able to get a chief which miraculously stayed alive sparing them from the myriad of decimations you receive when playing in the Survivalist mode (which you must do in the solo game). The Norse relied on their goat to remain with their head above water, relying on easy seal hunting to stay alive. The Tunit simply couldn’t get enough hunters to justify my playing an elder, and I was having trouble getting any success at hunting, so resources were dropping quickly. Any trade was lousy for hunting, and the world was cooling quickly, so I made a (now seeming poor) choice to get a tracker instead of a chieftain so I could hunt on the cool side. Of course then a series of decimations finally wiped the tribe off the board.
I’ll have to get a more specific game out later, as that is to broad and no one will learn how to play based on that paragraph alone.