So the first thing that one does in a game of Pax Transhumanity is very important, but I’m going to gloss over it.
Because I’m almighty and powerful and stuff.
You have to choose your “Hidden Sphere.”
Basically you get to choose which color you could possibly score bonus points for having problems solved or factories built in. There’s a lot of things that could possibly go into this choice, like availability of icons in those spheres, what you think your opponents will be doing, the cards you’re dealt, etc.
But I just went with First World (Yellow), and I’m not going to get into why, let’s just get to the good stuff.
In the solitaire game, you play against a number of bots depending on the difficulty you desire. I’m going with Easy because I like to cry a little less than I normally do. Take my man card, I don’t care. So I’ll be playing against 3 bots. I’ll be playing the Blue Blogger (sounds like the world’s worst professional wrestler) against the Black Colonel, Pink Citizen and Red Doctor. In solo, the human always goes first.
You get two actions per turn from the following list:
- Fundraise: Get your money back
- Syndicate: Get started on some ideas
- Commercialize: Get rewarded for working on those ideas
- Hire: Get people to work on those ideas, or at least think about them
- Research: Get Ideas in your Think Tank, or get some Patents to pay for other ideas
- Placate Heat: Get your cubes back from all those white and black squares I talked about yesterday
- Import: The most boring yet most powerful move in the game
Each action is, well, a bit complicated, so I’ll explain them as I do them. Don’t worry, you’ll see them all. So let’s look at the board again:
To start with, the “Dominant Sphere” is Globalization. The Dominant Sphere is a rule structure that changes based on the three colors that are at the end of the Human Progress splay. Since there’s only one color there at the moment, Globalization will be dominant until we have three there. Globalization is triggered whenever those three cards are all different colors (or not there at all, I guess). The rules this changes are: All Work in the Developing World is Subsidized. And, should the game end in a Tipping Point, the only points gained would be Problems or Companies in your Hidden Sphere, 1 a piece.
That being the case, working in the Developing World is a bit more feasible, because while there are 6 barriers showing, they won’t be DOUBLED if you end up working there, unlike working anywhere else (and also remember, you’ll be covering one of those barriers with a worker, so odds are it’ll cost you 5 to do any work). Even in the First World with one of your workers covering a barrier, it will cost you 2 x 2 or 4 to do work there. So still cheaper, but not by much. So those first two columns of Ideas are the places to be.
Of course, there’s only one idea in the Space and Cloud columns anyway, which is by design. Those are virgin territory, and you’ll have to spend the funds to research there and open it all up. Which I ain’t gonna do right now.
The game (usually) begins with the players thinking about Viability, so let’s talk about that now.
In order to Commercialize an Idea, the Idea needs to be Viable. The Idea can be Viable in one of three ways.
1- The two colors of the Idea is reflected in the Splay of Human Progress(tm). So if you look at the Splay and see a Blue and Red card together, then all Ideas that are Blue/Red (or Red/Blue) are Viable. Of course, if there’s any cubes on those cards in the splay, from Heat for example, then they are only viable FOR THAT PLAYER. They are effectively black for everyone else. It’s TERRIBLE if you’re in a game with a lot of heat squares, because it becomes really difficult to commercialize ideas, and when you only play with about a third of the cards each game, this can happen.
2- When you commercialize, you can send two of your patents back to your money board to make an Idea viable. The patents have to be of the same color as the idea you’re commercializing, but this is another way of doing it. This can be a very expensive way of doing it, but later on in the game, you can be earning patents left and right, so it might not be so bad.
3- When doing a Research action, you can choose to take a card into what’s called your Think Tank. This card’s colors (and if you have multiple cards in your Think Tank, then each of these cards) are now viable to you. When you commercialize an idea using a Think Tank card to make an Idea viable, however, that card gets replaced with your Think Tank card, so it’s kind of a one shot thing. This is often how the first cards get added to the Splay.
So as I look at the board, I’m really looking to see what I can Research to get into my Think Tank that can result in me Commercializing a good card. Research lets you earn the bottom card on the row, so I see a Blue/Blue, a Blue/Red and two Yellow/Yellows.
The Yellow/Yellows look ideal because Yellow happens to be my hidden Sphere and there are many more Yellow/Yellow ideas in the market than Blue/Red or Blue/Blue. HOWEVER, those ideas are in the Cloud and Space Spheres, meaning it’ll cost at LEAST 5 to Research there, and that’s using the Tech Giants Utility to do the work.
That also GREATLY speeds up the game, as it adds six cards to the market, when there are only 28 in the deck. Controlling time is important in the solo game, so it might be risky to get that crazy early on, so let me think about this.
I could, if I was patient, solve this with Import actions. I said they were powerful earlier, but didn’t say what they could do, so what are Import actions? Well, they’re simple. If there’s an idea that doesn’t have an opponent’s cube on them, just move it to a different spot in the market. Simple as that. Of course, changing which Sphere it is in affects which worker can choose it. Changing which row it is in will affect how much it costs to Syndicate it. Getting it out of the bottom of a row will no longer allow it to be Researched. Oh, the damage you can do just by moving a card!
Of course, it would cost me two Imports to move a card out of the first row of First World, then replace it with the one I want. Hmmmm….
Studying what the first bot is going to do, I think I’m going to do that.
What’s that you say? I already know what it’s going to do? Oh yeah, in Easy mode, the deck is showing, so you know what’s coming. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make the game super easy, and it adds a nice head scratching strategy to it all. So I move Nouvelle Swarm Intelligence and stick it in the Cloud and replace it with Genetic Augmentation, letting the Market look like this:
I put the Nouvelle Swarm Intelligence in the ‘0’ slot because the bots don’t have to pay for anything, but I do, so let’s make everything cheap, shall we?
Now the bots go. First, we found out which one goes. We count up all the cubes on the market, including the splay…..0….0….0. Okay, then if there are ties. Yup. All tied. Then we just go in player order, so that would be the Black Colonel. Then we look at our card from the bot deck.
Okay, step 1, Syndication. If there are any Green/Red cards, it would Syndicate it. Nope. Then we activate the icons on the left side of the card. Some of them operate exactly as if it was triggered by a Commercialization, but most operate a little differently. Oh, and because bots are evil, we treat all “ors” as “and.” So, problems get magically solved by our Colonel, so he gets awarded the Mental Health and Slums chit. Then the Growth Impact would mean it would Commercialize wherever it had Syndicated, but it wasn’t able to Syndicate anywhere, so that’s the end of that. Bot turn done! Now back to my turn!
Looking at the next bot card, it looks like the same thing is going to happen. Nuts. It’s good for the bots to Syndicate, especially cards with Heat on them. That way they spread the damage around. But I can’t do much about that now. So now I have to get moving on Researching to get that Genetic Augmentation into my Think Tank. Unfortunately I need money before I do much, so I’m going to fundraise to move all the money I have in Wealth, and move it into Capital. Then I’ll spend 3 of those cubes (move 3 from Capital back down to Wealth) to Hire a cube (taken from Capital) to Western Universities so they can work on Researching Genetic Augmentation for me. So this is what I end up with.
Things are expensive at first. It’s just how the game goes. Don’t worry, it’ll pick up steam. Then the bot goes and grabs the Artificial Consciousness Problem and does nothing else. At least next turn it’ll place a cube and then Pink Citizen will go.
Okay, now I am able to actually Research. Research costs the Barrier cost of that Sphere, which is 3. Since I’m using a Utility, that Subsidizes that work, so I don’t have to multiply it by 2, so it’ll just be 3 bucks. I slide that worker down to Unemployment, and slide 2 cubes from Capital to Wealth, and one from Wealth to Debt. Then I remove the bottom card from that row. Normally I could choose to either earn 2 Patents from that card or put it in my Think Tank, but Utilities don’t allow you to earn Patents, so I have to put it in my Think Tank. No problem, that was my plan anyway.
It’s going to cost me some more money to Commercialize with this new information, and rather than try to set the board up in my favor, only to have the bots blow it up, I’m just going to do a fundraising as my action (I’ll even take my Unemployed cube back) so I can deal with what’s coming up.
On the bot’s turn, the Colonel places a Syndication cube on the Electrodynamic Tethers in the first row, and then builds a Factory in the Miniturization section of the Space Sphere.
And that’s usually the first step towards victory. Bots tend to get Tycoon victories because they can poop them out faster than most people can…well…poop. If I’m lucky, Citizen Pink will be taking quite a few more turns before the Colonel goes again, but I can never rest on my laurels.
That would crush my laurels.
I like my laurels.
Get off my laurels.
So I want to get another worker in the First World (or Developing World…maybe) to Commercialize my first idea, but I don’t want it in a Utility. I want that sweet, sweet Patent money. Because of that, working in the First World is cheapest, so hiring in the First World is the thing to do…BUT
That first icon there? That’s Social Resilience. Normally that would cause you to remove a cube off of a Heat square anywhere in the market or on the splay (and awesome move, really). However, when the bot activates it, they remove the lowest most card in the Sphere with the most Employees+Factories. If there’s a tie, it goes to the Sphere farthest on the left (of those tied). So if I hire someone in the First World, they’ll discard the card at the bottom of the First World column….which is the card that is currently housing Colonel Black’s cube! Which would make it his turn again next, which would give it more turns, which would make it much more likely for it to win.
If I don’t hire anyone, it will discard from the Space Sphere…which has Telomere Life Extension in it…which, sadly, is the card I really want to Commercialize.
Hiring does give me control over what gets discarded, but I don’t think I’m going to discard anything. I’m going to Import the card I’m planning on Commercializing into the First World Sphere, and then I’ll Syndicate it for free (Since I moved it to Row Zero).
And now Citizen Pink goes. It Syndicates the first Blue/Green card it finds, which is Open Access Research in the First World Sphere. It also places White Heat, giving it 2 cubes on the board, which will slow down its turns. Then it discards the lowest card in the Space Sphere…which is nothing ’cause there aren’t any cards there any more. It doesn’t get the Slums problem as Colonel Black already got that, but then it does the next icon which Commercializes any Idea it has Syndicated. There’s only one, so Open Access Research goes into the Splay. It doesn’t activate those Impacts or anything, it just forces that idea into the splay.
So now we have Green/Blue in the Splay. However, since there’s a big pink cube on the Blue, it might as well be a Green/Nil in the Splay, so there’s still nothing viable for me in it. Unless I use a Social Resilience Impact and remove that cube, I can’t use that blue for viability purposes. The jerk.
After this, pink will be building a factory, but then will be done with turns for a while, so I can rest for a bit, but it’s back to my turn. Time to Commercialize!
First, I hire a worker. 3 bucks to cover a barrier.
And since I chose not to have the Defense Contractors do the work, the cost is Barriers x2, so it’s 4 to Commercialize and GASP! I only have 3 cubes in wealth, whatever shall I do?
Remember that Patent I started the game with? Looks like I should spend that now, huh? So that Patent is worth the number of blue cards in the Splay, which is now 1 thanks to Citizen Pink. So by merely taking that cube and putting it into my wealth, I am now 1 dollar richer, and then I can move 3 more cubes into Debt to get the 4 I need to pay for my Commercialization. That leaves me only 1 in Wealth, but you have to spend money to make money.
So first Impact is an Industry Disruption, turns out significantly increasing people’s lifespan throws the health industry into an uproar. Who knew healthcare was this complicated?
So anyone with Yellow Patents would lose them. And I could discard one Yellow card from the Human Progress splay. Neither of those things matter right now, but at the right time, that can be devastating. I grab the Aging problem, and then I get two Growth Impacts. Those mean I get to take 2 cubes from the Pool (ie. from out of the game), and add them to my wealth. Turns out you make more money when you live really stinking long. Now I know how vampires get to live in such swanky castles. The Aging chit is nice for VP, but getting two bonus cubes is awfully nice this early in the game. That should keep me in pace with the bots.
So now this card gets added to the Splay with Yellow showing giving us a Green/Blue/Yellow splay. Since all three of these are different, that still leaves us in a Globalization Regime, though the Regime could have changed if I would have added another Green or Blue card. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll see it change before the game is over.
Finally Citizen Pink does its thing by Syndicating Beamed Power Transport and the Death Ray Heat on that card. Then it builds a factory on the Thinking side of Space and finishes its turn. I LOVE a game where the bots turn takes 1% of the time it takes me to do a turn!
And we’ll finish there for today. You’ve seen me Commercialize an idea (we’re all living longer now!) and you’ve seen the bots get closer and closer to victory in a Terminator like march. Doctor Red is going to flex his muscles next turn, and I’m going to have to think hard because he could knock out my employee, but stay tuned to see how that goes.
I hope you’re enjoying this and learning something. If you think this deserves it, check out my kofi page and buy me a cup of joe as a way of saying thanks. If not, that’s okay too. Thanks for reading!