Scythe: The Rise of Fenris — Episode One

— the new expansion/campaign for Scythe is out. Let’s get ready to rumble!

I picked up my order of Scythe: Rise of Fenris from Meeplesource at Gen Con 2018. My gang of friends was ready to get started right away, so we got a game in yesterday. I might give away a few spoilers, so you are forewarned! And remember to be forewarned is to have four arms! Wait…that’s not right. Oh well, you understand what I am trying to say.

The Premise: The Search for Tesla

The basic idea of the campaign is that the disastrous and inconclusive Great War is over. The city-sized Factory run by Nikola Tesla that supplied all the designs for the Mechs has gone silent. It’s 1921 and the Europa powers are back on their feet. They also are trying to get into Tesla’s Factory to see what is in the sealed inner vault. (As an aside, I hope Gerardo Rivera is not involved and that there is going to be more in Tesla’s vault than Al Capone’s Vault.)

Anyway, the set up for the first game is pretty much like a normal game of Scythe, except for three differences. First, an extra Objective Card is flipped over and placed near the objective track. Each player can try to complete this Objective in addition to their normal Objective requirements. Second, each player can pick a “perk” and add its bonus to their starting position. For example, there are +2 resources, +1 starting worker, +3 Power, etc. Third, an Influence Marker is placed on each of the 10 possible Achievements plus one marker on the revealed common Objective Card.

— a couple of the Influence markers

It wasn’t explained in the rules what the Influence tokens would be used for, but whomever was first to the achievement could grab the token.

The Game

There were four of us. Stew played the Rusviet Union and got to go first. Lee was next with the Togawa Shogunate, I was third with Saxony, and Bob last with Clan Albion. Lee got off to a quick start by upgrading his board to reduce the cost of more upgrades to a single resource. Stew was first to the Factory and looked to be catching up. I developed my mechs quicker than the others, allowing my Character to move quickly around the map looking for Exploration card bonuses. Bob focused on slow expansion and placing his flags.

As the game moved along, I slowly gained the most Influence tokens, mainly from being the first to complete an Objective, Build all my mechs, and place all my workers. I got to the Factory second but the cards there were not all that good. I retreated in the face of Lee and his Shogunate mechs, and he eventually got into the Factory.

As the end game approached, Stew, Lee and myself were getting close to the sixth Achievement, but each didn’t want to end the game from a losing position. Lee had a lot of hexes controlled, Stew had a lot of coins, Bob had top tier Popularity, and I was arguably in last. When it looked like my situation couldn’t get better, I stormed the Factory with two Mechs and knocked Lee’s Character out of it–but at a high cost! The Shogunate Trap was a -2 Popularity which sunk me down out of the second-tier and back to the first-tier, costing me roughly 15 coins!

Lee and his Shogunate ended up victorious with 81 coins, Stew’s Rusviet were second with 73, while Bob’s Clan Albion and my Saxons we’re tied at 53.

Each player now could mark on their Campaign Log the Achievements that they completed. For each Achievement, a player marks a spot on their Triumph Log. At the end of the campaign, completed rows and columns will give a coin bonus.

— Lee’s Campaign Log. Note that he got to mark his Episode One victory.

The Influence Vote: Peace or War?

After calculating victory, we learned what those Influence tokens were for. Each player was given 1 extra Influence token on top of what they earned. Each player then secretly allocated their Influence tokens into two hidden piles: any in the closed left hand was a vote for war, and any in the closed right hand was a vote for peace. We made our choices and then revealed simultaneously. Saxony and Rusviet had 7 votes for war and zero for peace, while Clan Albion and Togawa had 0 votes for war and 5 for peace. 7 to 5 for War!!!

The campaign has two separate sets of rules for the second episode: one for peace and one for war. This is pretty cool as different groups and/or second attempts at the campaign can have different episodes. Sweet!

Anyway, the first episode didn’t differ much from the base game, but given this war vs peace vote, we are expecting it to lead to some sort of big changes in the next episode. See you there!

Heart of Crown – The Tale of An Epic Game

Today I am going to recount the game of Heart of Crown that we had last night. You don’t know what Heart of Crown is? It’s a deck building game from Japanime Games. It has more streamlined rules than Tanto Cuore but basically plays the game: play cards from your hand for their effects and to purchase more cards. The difference is that at some point you “Back a Princess” (in other words, choose one princess from among the bunch of them) and then race to get 20 Succession Points so that you can Coronate your Princess and win the game.

The scenario: Crown of Sin

We had just finished a game of Tanto Cuore (where I used the online card randomizer to select the cards) where I smoked the only 3 guys. Having some time before dinner, we decided to get in a game of Heart of Crown. I have both expansions (Far East Territory and Northern Enchantress) so there are literally gazillions of possible card combinations for the Market. Okay, okay….maybe not a gazillion, but at least a billion, but I digress. One of the nice things about the game is that the rulebooks have scenarios (pre-selected card combinations for the market) so all you have to do is agree on a scenario and get started.

So, I handed the rulebooks to Lee and let him pick the scenario. He chose Crown of Sin from the Northern Enchantress Expansion.

— The Crown of Sin Scenario Cards

Why is it a sin? Strife in the Court and Infantry Battalion force opponents to discard cards; Battering Ram forces opponents to discard a territory that they played into their Princess’ domain. Only the Rampart protects against these effects–but there are 15 attack cards and only 5 Ramparts. There are very few cards that help a player trim a deck: only Regional Official and each can only be used once.

The Game: Bigger Decks than Normal

The game started out as normal, we bought up cards that gave us more card draws and servings, then tried to purchase Cities and Large Cities. Quickly we found out that the attack cards forced everyone into sub-optimal turns where each player had only 4 cards (instead of 5) and had not enough coins to buy those 6-cost Large Cities or get a 6-cost Princess.We found our decks growing large, which made getting combinations into our hands harder then normal. Before we knew it, we were running out of market cards without anyone having a Princess yet. We were now trying desperately to create card-drawing combos to get 6 coins played on a single turn.Bob started off the cascade of grabbing Princesses (okay, I didn’t mean that to sound like something out of a Harvey Weinstein news report, sorry #MeToo). He picked up Second Princess Laolily and scooped up those valuable Royal Maids. My turn was pure crap, letting Stew go next, grabbing Princess General Flammaria and avoiding having to put a Farming Village into his domain (thus avoiding the -2 Succession Point hit). Lee grabbed South Sea Princess Klam-Klam. When the round finally got back to me, I gambled on First Princess Lulunasaika and her 6 Succession Point bonus, technically putting me into first place in the race to 20 points.— The 4 chosen Princesses in clockwise order of choice from top left

The End Game

So the race was on to get to 20 points. Quickly Bob got into the lead by finding and playing those 5 Royal Maids for 10 points, but he had a Farming Village in play (-2) so he was only ahead of me by 2 points (his 8 to my 6). Lee used his Famed Horses to churn through his deck and start snatching up Dukes and their serious 6 Succession Points. Stew had more Regional Officials than anybody else and used their power to banish cards from his hand to get Dukes from the Market and trim his deck.

Surprisingly, we ran out all the Royal Maids but nobody had won yet and the game was super duper close. I had 18 points, Bob had 18, and the other two guys were within 3 points.

Then quicker than you can say “What the…” Bob played two, yes two not one but two, Dwarven Jewelers after playing 4 other, non-similarly titles cards.

— the key card that led to the Bob explosion of Succession Points!

Bob flew over 21 points and Coronated his Princess. Now every other player got a last turn to try and get their own Princess coronated: if no one could, Bob wins, but if someone else got to 20+ points, the game would go into Overtime!

My turn was next. I used card-drawing combos to churn through my deck in the hopes of getting my last remaining Duke. But I was not “top decking like a pro” (it’s a Magic the Gathering reference for those who never played that game–trust me it’s better that you didn’t, those who played it spent a fortune on those brightly colored pieces of flimsy cardboard, but I digress again), didn’t find my Duke, and was out of the game as a big loser.

Stew went next, and despite the success he had top-decking like a pro in MtG Pro qualifiers back in the day (I won’t tell you how long ago it was–the only hint is Queen Mary) he couldn’t find any Succession points and he lost too.

Lee had more luck. His card churning engine got him a bundle of points and brought his total up to 24! Overtime was on baby! The first player to 30 would win automatically. Bob got a few more points but Lee got really close (I don’t remember exactly whether he had 27, 28, or 29 points) and it looked like he would win. But Bob once again pulled out a 2x Dwarven Jeweler combo for +4 points and got to 30 first, claiming victory!

One Heck of a Game

I have been playing board games for 4+ decades, starting with the old school Avalon Hill and SPI, and now pretty much everything that I can find. I have some strong opinions about which games I like. Heart of Crown is just plain excellent! It is fun, balanced, and quite competitive. This particular session was one of the most enjoyable that I have had in a long time. I recommend anyone who doesn’t know about Heart of Crown to get a copy and give it a try.

Tiny Epic Galaxies: The Good, The Bad,and the Very, Very Ugly

Tiny Epic Galaxies (TEG) from Gamelyn Games ( Tiny Epic series ) is the latest in their series of Tiny Epic games…games that come in a small box, but supposedly pack an epic gaming experience into it.

teg-sol-01

TEG promises to be both a multi-player game as well as a solitaire game.  It is for 1-5 players and the box says that it will take 30-45 minutes.  In this post, I review both ways to play the game.  And so that you are not left in any suspense: the solitaire game is solid but the multiplayer game has a really giant downside to it that can ruin the fun.  Read on for my reasoning and see if you agree with me!

Multiplayer Game Play

Basically, TEG is a more sophisticated game of Yahtzee.  You roll a set of dice (and a set that can increase over time as your galactic empire grows) and take actions based on the symbols that you roll.  There are six actions, one on each side of each and every die (as an aside, wouldn’t it be cool to have some non-uniform distributed dice so that you could bias your rolls toward a particular outcome?  How sweet would this game be if you could tailor your empire toward a particular strategy?  Anyway, I digress).  The six actions are: Move A Ship, Acquire Energy, Acquire Culture, Advance a Diplomatic colonization effort, Advance an Economic colonization effort, or Utilize your Galaxy Mat/Colonized planet actions.

The start of each player’s turn is quite easy:  1) Roll your dice.  But from there it gets more complicated.  2) You can activate a die.  If you do, any or all opponents may “follow” by paying 1 culture and taking a similar action.  3) At any time you can re-roll any/all of your dice by paying 1 energy.  This may occur before or during taking actions through #2.  When you are done, play passes clockwise.

What do you do with these dice?  You are trying to get to 21 victory points to trigger the end of the game.  There are only 3 ways to get victory points: advance your empire from level 1 to 6 (with a varying set of points along the way), colonize planets with your ships by using Advance actions, and achieving your single “secret objective” (always worth 2 to 3 points).

That’s it!  It is just like Yahtzee…roll and re-roll and hope to get more points than everyone else.  Okay…to be fair, it is much more complicated than Yahtzee, but the rolling mechanism is the same.  However, you do get a cool galaxy mat and some wooden figures to move around on it.

tegsol-03

The player mat with ships at home, my empire at Level 3 (hex with a star on it), my energy (lightning bolt) and culture (column) at zero.  I have 3 colonized planets worth a total of 5 victory points.

Which dice do I activate, in which order, when do I re-roll, how many do I re-roll, who will follow, and what will they gain when they follow?…and why these decisions in combination can be very, very ugly!

The crux of why the game is strategic and not just multiplayer solitaire (like that crappy Race for the Galaxy game) is the “follow” mechanism.  Because other players can mimic your actions for a very small price (=1 culture) they can do almost the same thing you do…but during your turn not during their turn.  For example, if you acquire energy they might acquire more…on your turn!  Thus, the game is all about opportunity costs.  You will not want to advance your empire if 1 or more enemies do it too, you won’t want to acquire energy if other players acquire more, etc.  You are going to want to take actions that might help you and be of little to no use to your opponents.

But this same mechanism is why the game is very, very ugly in multiplayer.  For example, in a recent game I found myself on the last turn (another player had triggered the end of the game by achieving at least 21 victory points).  I knew that I could win if I could get the dice to precisely be utilized in a specific order that would 1) get me enough energy (at least two dice of energy) to advance my empire, 2) roll a Utilize your Galaxy Mat action (to actually do the advancing of the empire), 3) because of actions available on my colonized planets and the open planets, I could roll another Galaxy Mat action to help out by using a planet power, 4) perhaps if I roll two ship movements I could land on a specific open planet and use its power to get some of these other actions done, 5) get me two diplomacy to colonize a planet and VERY IMPORTANTLY, 6) because of the follow mechanism these had to be done in a particular order so that my opponent with 21+ victory points wouldn’t get more points.  Also, I thought it a priority to colonize a particular planet to get my secret objective just in case he had met his secret objective (note: at the end of the game he revealed that he had indeed achieved it).

Guess what happened next?  Well, I started with 5 energy and used a bunch of it to re-roll, get more energy, and re-roll, and get more energy and re-roll.  In between each of my actions was many, many minutes of agonizing calculations of probabilities (if I re-roll 3 dice versus holding that one ship and two dice, which would be better?  What if the other guy follows any of these actions?  What if I have to re-roll after this re-roll?  How can I manipulate my ships and energy to maximize this process for the most re-rolls?).   That last turn TOOK FOREVER! Okay, okay, it was more like 20 minutes, but it seemed like an hour!  It was just plain awful.  And what do you think my opponent was doing the whole time?  Telling me to get on with it…but I couldn’t because I knew a solution was possible.  I was frustrated, the game wasn’t fun, he was quite angry and I am surprised that we didn’t just sweep the game off the table and forget about finishing it.

And what was the end result?  After gaining energy so that I could seemingly endlessly re-roll anywhere from 1 to 3 dice, it eventually came down to a last re-roll of a single die, where I had a 50% chance of winning and a 50% chance of losing–and I lost by rolling one of the wrong 3 symbols.  All of that agonizing for a coin flip to decide it!  Yep…truly the very, very ugly!

Verdict on Multiplayer:

To use a common term (and one that has been used in another review of TEG), this game suffers from a dramatic and debilitating case of Analysis Paralysis.  The game easily can take 2+ hours.  Each activation of a die or a re-roll can be an agonizing and exhausting effort in multi-variate calculus!  As the game progresses, the number of dice rolled expands, the number of colonized planets with possible actions expands, the possible number of re-rolls and follows expands…and all of this leads to a massive headache when trying to take actions!

Why does this happen?  First, the cost of following is too cheap.  Only 1 culture is needed, and it is possible if the active player is acquiring culture to actually gain culture on his turn (he uses his dice, you gain more than him!).  This is a basic flaw in the game.  Other games with a lead/follow mechanism make following either quite expensive, or make leading more profitable (for example, check out the mechanism in the excellent game Eminent Domain ( Eminent Domain on BGG  ) by which the “leader” gets an extra benefit that followers do not get).  Second, because there are 4 to 7 dice to be activated, one by one in a sequence, there are 4 to 7 separate lead actions and much more possible follow actions (in a 4 player game, if I roll 5 dice my opponents have a potential 3×5=15 follow opportunities).  Just thinking about the order in which 4 to 7 dice can be sequentially utilized produces many, many combinations (you guys can do the factorial math on your own).

As a multi-player game, the exceptionally long agonizing over activations/follows, especially during the last turn, ruins the fun of the earlier turns in the game.  Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this game to any gaming group in which even a single highly-calculating, serious, strategic player is involved.  The last few turns play much like Chess…one guy sits and sits, calculates and calculates for minutes, and then makes a single move…except that in TEG this is multiplied by the number of dice that one guy just rolled and multiplied by the possible number of re-rolls!

Solitaire play = Quite Fun and Fast

In the solitaire version, you play against a programmed opponent.  These “Rogue” galaxies can be found on the backs of the player mats and have increasing difficulty from Beginner to Epic (duh!).

teg-sol-04

The Beginner Rogue Galaxy!  Note the pre-programmed actions (the red bubbles).

In short, the programmed opponent never follows and you can force it to re-roll a die by spending 1 culture and 1 energy.  Its ships always colonize and never land on planets to use that planet’s action.  Its ships also colonize faster, as all of the rogue’s ships move when he rolls diplomacy or economy.  It has pre-programmed attacks that occur whenever it rolls a utilize a colony die face.  And quite importantly, when the rogue galaxy maximizes its energy it upgrades its empire automatically; and when it maximizes its culture it takes an extra turn.

The Rogue galaxy automatically wins if it reaches 21 victory points or if its empire gets to the final hex (the skull and crossbones).  You win instantly if you get to 21 victory points before the Rogue galaxy.  Pretty simple, huh?

Solitaire game play

The solitaire game is much quicker because 1) the player can follow the Rogue’s actions but the rogue cannot follow back, and 2) the Rogue is programmed so it never wastes time in calculation.  In short, each turn takes precisely as long as the player wishes to take on it.  If you want to calculate exactly the best way to follow the rogue and/or make it re-roll, go ahead and do it; if you don’t want to do the mental gymnastics, go ahead and do that instead!  Either way, there are not other players to sit around and steam while you take your time figuring out those probabilities in your head.

teg-sol-05

The whole TEG experience! 

The solitaire game preserves all the fun of rolling the dice, deciding which dice to accept, in which order, and when to re-roll, as well as, deciding whether to spend that 1 culture on following.  You do have to work to beat the Rogue and you feel like it will race ahead of you toward victory if you make mistakes.  At the same time, the solitaire game jettisons the downtime waiting for other players and dramatically reduces the calculus needed for the active player (in this instance, the only player) to decide on a clear path on their own turn.

Solitaire Verdict:

I highly recommend TEG as a solitaire game.  It doesn’t cost much, it has an opponent who scales in difficulty, it meets the 30-45 time limit advertised on the box, it has minimal set up, minimal clean up, and is a fun time (well, as much fun as you can possibly have in a solitaire game).

Overall Verdict:

You are going to want to play TEG as a solitaire game…because if you play it multiplayer, you and your friends might get so mad at each other that you will prefer to be by yourself anyway!

 

 

Pandemic Legacy December — The Final Chapter

 

After purposely throwing our fourth loss in a row, the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was ready to finish off the long campaign of Pandemic Legacy in December.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE DECEMBER EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first eleven months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events and in our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  In our second July attempt we managed to triumph despite long odds.  In August, we had an unlikely victory and found the Immunologist. In September we found the Paranoid Solider and learned that we had been duped!  A mysterious organization known as Zodiac instigated the COdA virus in order to control the world.  Now we would have to dismantle the oppressive military state that we helped to build up.  We wiped out in both attempts in October, but we did find Patient Zero and a possible vaccine.  In our first game in November we started vaccinating Faded cities and in our second November game we vaccinated ALL the Faded cities while losing our fourth game in a row.

We purposely lost in November in order to make December much easier (Funded Event total of 8, 3 bonus cards from Box 8, all Faded cities Vaccinated, etc.).  Let’s see if it paid off!

December Setup

The Mission Briefing asked us to tear up all our old objectives and replace them with new ones.  We now had to destroy the secret stockpile of COdA and Vaccinate every Faded city.  Good thing we already completed that 2nd objective in November, isn’t it?

pan-leg-dec-01

The two new mandatory objectives

The find and destroy the secret stockpile objective came with a search card.  Unlike others in the past, this search would require us to discard player cards of specific colors in order to advance the search.

pan-leg-dec-02

The search for the stockpile

We drew the 9 infection cards and then selected our 8 Funded events: Local Initiative, One Quiet Night, Remote Treatment, Airlift, Borrowed Time, Forecast, Flexible Aid Package, and Resilient Population.  We also inserted the 3 Experimental Vaccine cards that we gained in November.  We picked our characters (listed below) and started in Atlanta.  By random draw, Stew was going to go first.

Given that we had already completed the Vaccinate all Faded cities objective, we were going to concentrate on staying in or near Atlanta and finding that stockpile!  We would mop up cubes and Quarantine cities as necessary to stop Outbreaks from chaining.

Characters and Turn Order

  • Stew – Dispatcher
  • Bob – Researcher
  • Neal – Scientist

No surprise here folks!  This tried and true three-way combo of characters should be able to trade cards quickly enough to get the search done.

Gameplay

Turn One

Dispatcher — Searched with a Red card (search=1), Treated 1/1 cubes, moved to Washington D.C. and Treated 1/1 cubes.

Researcher — Shared Knowledge to give the Scientist a Yellow card. Flew to Baghdad, moved to Istanbul and Treated 1/1 then moved to Algiers.  Drew Epidemic #1–but it got cancelled with the Experimental Vaccine.  Thank you box #8!  We then used One Quiet Night to skip the Infection Step.

Scientist — Searched (search=2) and Quarantined Atlanta, then moved to D.C. and Quarantined it too.

Turn 2

Dispatcher — Moved to Atlanta, Searched (search=5), then Dispatched himself to Algiers and Treated 1/2.

Researcher — Treated Algiers 1/1, moved to Madrid, Treated 1/2 and then Treated 1/1.

Scientist — Moved to Atlanta, Searched (search=8) and then forfeited his two remaining actions.  He didn’t want to move out of Atlanta so that the Dispatcher and Researcher could return there.

Turn 3

Dispatcher — Dispatched himself and the Researcher to Atlanta.  Shared Knowledge to get a Blue card from the Researcher and then forfeited his final action.

Researcher — Shared Knowledge to give a Black card to the Dispatcher.  Moved to D.C. and then Montreal, Treated 1/1, and Quarantined Montreal.

Scientist — Searched (search=9), moved to Miami, Treated 1/1, then Quarantined Miami.

Turn 4

Dispatcher — Searched (search=10), dispatched the Scientist and Researcher to Atlanta, then Shared Knowledge to give a Blue Card to the Researcher.  Drew the 2nd Epidemic Card (which is now our 1st Epidemic) in Vaccinated Sydney.  The Search target moved from 12 to 13.

Researcher — Shared Knowledge three times: Yellow card to Scientist, Blue card from the Dispatcher and a Red Card from the Dispatcher.  Searched (search=12) and forfeited his 5th action.

Scientist — Flew to Baghdad and Treated 1/1 and then Quarantined it.  Then flew back to Atlanta.  Drew Epidemic #2 (third Epidemic card drawn) in Chicago.  We used Resilient Population to discard the Chicago Infection card.  Then we used Remote Treatment in St. Petersburg (2/2).  Then we moved the Search target from 13 to 14.

Turn 5

Dispatcher — Moved to Chicago, Treated 1/3, then 1/2 and then Moved to Atlanta.

Researcher — Shared Knowledge to get a Red card from the Dispatcher.  Searched for the win! (search=14=search target).  We found the Stockpile, completed the 2nd Objective and scratched off “The Stockpile” card.

pan-leg-dec-03

Finding the Stockpile of COdA

What?!?  We didn’t have to use the C4 that we were hoarding in our hands to blow up the stockpile?  That was a complete let down.  We were looking forward to actually “blowing” it up.

Anyway, we completed both objectives and had now won the game.  We flipped over the winning card and read this…

pan-leg-dec-04

The end of Pandemic Legacy: one of the biggest let downs in gaming history!

That’s it?!?  “Congratulations. At long last…it’s over.”  What a crock!  Huge let down. That was really awful.

But wait, there were still a couple cards in the Legacy deck.  Maybe something cool still awaited us.

pan-leg-dec-05

Ranking your success

Nope.  It was a card that allowed us to rank our success.  We won…and now the game was going to tell us that we didn’t win well enough?!?  What a double-crock.  It just felt really wrong and misguided.  I expect success/fail ranking in two-player games that can be played multiple times (think Avalon Hill, GMT, Decision Games, etc).  But in a multiplayer cooperative game it fell flat.  After all, in cooperative games the goal is to win.  Failure is normal, so winning really counts for something.  This ranking  nonsense kind of cheapened it.

The back side of the card had the score sheet.

pan-leg-dec-06

Score sheet side of the card

We tallied it all up and we earned a 637=recovery and progress.  Who cares?  We didn’t.

Evaluation

After 12 months of playing Pandemic Legacy, the gang at the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club agreed on the following:

  1. It started out pretty fun.
  2. The Faded popping up was cool.
  3. The game waned badly in the last few months.
  4. The ending was awful.
  5. It ate up about 18 weeks of meeting for games–which pushed out other games that we could have played.
  6. We are NOT going to play another season of this game.
  7. And that I, your faithful narrator, needed to get on www.boardgamegeek.com and lower my rating of the game.

All right, there it is.  I hope everyone reading along enjoyed the ride!

 

Pandemic Legacy November Playthrough Part Two

 

After a rough loss in both games in October (see Pandemic Legacy October Playthrough and Pandemic Legacy October Playthrough Part Two) and the first game in November (Pandemic Legacy November Playthrough)the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was ready to try a second time in November.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE NOVEMBER EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first ten months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events and in our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  In our second July attempt we managed to triumph despite long odds.  In August, we had an unlikely victory and found the Immunologist. In September we found the Paranoid Solider and learned that we had been duped!  A mysterious organization known as Zodiac instigated the COdA virus in order to control the world.  Now we would have to dismantle the oppressive military state that we helped to build up.  We wiped out in both attempts in October, but we did find Patient Zero and a possible vaccine.  In our first game in November we started vaccinating Faded cities.

November Setup

We had no permanent military base stickers left, so we did not have to add any new military bases to the board.  We drew the 9 infection cards and then selected our 6 Funded events: Local Initiative, One Quiet Night, Remote Treatment, Airlift, Borrowed Time, and Resilient Population.  We picked our characters (listed below) and started in Kolkata.  By random draw, Stew was going to go first.

As we mentioned in the 1st November game, we were suspicious that the previous mission objective was to only vaccinate 6 Faded cities.  It looked like a set-up to us (much like the earlier military base set up).  So, we decided that it was best to concentrate on vaccinating every Faded city this time.  Why?  Two reasons: 1) the more vaccinated cities the fewer Faded cities and thus the greater number of infection cards that would do nothing when drawn and 2) because we are guessing that in December the game will want us to vaccinate all the Faded cities.  We also were going to Sabotage the remaining military bases.

Characters and Turn Order

  • Stew – Soldier
  • Bob – Immunologist
  • Neal – Dispatcher

Gameplay

Turn One

Soldier — Moved to Delhi, Karachi, and then Riyadh.  Then treated 1/3 cubes.

Immunologist — Picked up 1 dose, moved to Hong Kong and then Taiwan.  Then remotely vaccinated Osaka.  Drew Epidemic #1 (Kinshasa).  The team used Tactical Centers Online to put up 3 roadblocks in Asia.  Then we used the Experimental Program to reduce Kinshasa from 3 to 2 cubes.  This turned out to be a good move because the Immunologist drew Kinshasa during the Infection step.

Dispatcher — Flew to Atlanta, then moved to San Francisco via Chicago.  Used Shady Background to Sabotage the military base in San Francisco.  During infection step drew Seoul, which is roadblocked completely, so it didn’t have an Outbreak, but its Panic Level went up from 2 to 3.

Turn 2

Soldier — Moved to Baghdad, then flew to Atlanta.  Moved to Washington D.C. and then New York.  Used Borrowed Time to get 2 more actions.  Sabotaged the military base with C4 and then picked up the card again.  Objective #1 (Sabotage 2 military bases) is complete!

Immunologist — Moved to Bangkok via Hong Kong.  Picked up 4 doses and then moved back to Hong Kong.  The team used Resilient Population to removed Santiago from the Infection discards.  Used Local Initiative to Quarantine Kinshasa and Riyadh.

Dispatcher — Dispatched self to Hong Kong, moved to Kolkata, picked up 4 doses and moved to Hong Kong.

Turn 3

Soldier — Moved to London and used C4 to Sabotage the military base there.  Moved to Essen and put up a Vaccination Center and Quarantined Essen.  Objective #2 met (if the Vaccination centers stay on the board until the end of the game).

Immunologist — Moved to Shanghai and remotely Vaccinated Seoul (3/3).  Then moved to Tokyo and Vaccinated 1/1. The team played One Quiet Night to skip the Infection step.

Dispatcher — Parachuted into Seoul and Vaccinated it.  Moved to Tokyo (by discarding Jakarta card) and Vaccinated it.  Then moved to Shanghai.  Drew Epidemic #2 (Osaka–but it is Vaccinated so no effect).  Drew Khartoum for Outbreak #1.

Turn 4

Soldier — Picked up 3 doses, grabbed the Parachute and Parachuted into Manila.  Vaccinated it with the Aerosol and then grabbed the Parachute back.

Immunologist — Moved to Shanghai, then Hong Kong, then Bangkok and grabbed 5 doses.  Drew 2 Yellow cards and cured BSNL-419.  Quarantines in Essen and Shanghai got removed via Infection card draw.

Dispatcher — Moved to Kolkata via Hong Kong.  Then shuttled to Essen and Quarantined it.

Turn 5

Soldier — Used Remote Treatment on Chicago (1/3) and Khartoum (1/3) and Parachuted into Beijing.  Vaccinated it and grabbed back the Parachute.  Parachuted into D.C. and Quarantined it before moving to Montreal.  Drew Epidemic #3 (Chennai–but vaccinated).

Immunologist — Parachuted to Khartoum and treated (2/2) before moving to Kinshasa and treating 3/3. Then moved to Johannesburg. Drew Riyadh for Outbreak #2 and drew Essen (quarantined).

Dispatcher — Quarantined Essen (again!) and took a Direct Flight to Santiago.  Treated 3/3 and Dispatched the Soldier to Johannesburg.  Drew San Francisco for Outbreak #3 which led to a chain reaction Outbreak in Chicago (#4).

Turn 6

Soldier — Treated Johannesburg (1/1) then moved to Khartoum and Treated 1/1.  Moved to Cairo.

Immunologist — Moved to Kinshasa and treated 1/1.  Moved to Lagos and Treated 1/1.

Dispatcher — Moved to Lima and then Mexico City.  Treated 1/1.  Then Cured Sprague (Black).

We now had cured 2 of the 3 diseases.  We began to debate whether to cure Fischer-Titus (Blue) or to lose on purpose in order to open Box #8 and increase our Funded Event total for December.

Turn 7 (how did we survive this long?!?)

Soldier — Treated a yellow cube in Cairo (1/1) and Eradicated BSNL-419.  Moved to Riyadh and Treated 3/3.  Grabbed a Parachute.

Immunologist — Took a Direct Flight to Cairo and Treated 1/1 Black cubes.  Moved to Baghdad and Treated 1/1.  Drew Epidemic #4 (Karachi).  Then during Infection step drew D.C. for Outbreak #5.

Dispatcher — Moved to Chicago, Treated 1/3 and then moved to San Francisco and Treated 1/3.

Turn 8 (Surely the end is near, no one survives this long without losing)

Soldier — Parachuted into D.C., Treated 1/3, moved to Atlanta and Treated 1/3 before ending in Chicago.  Drew Karachi for Outbreak #6–and Karachi became a Fallen City!

Immunologist — Airlift to Karachi and Treated 3/3.  Then moved to Mumbai and Treated 2/2 before ending in Delhi.

Dispatcher — Moved to Chicago and Shared Knowledge with the Soldier to get a Blue card.  Then moved to Montreal and Dispatched the Soldier there too.  Drew 2 Blue cards.

*** And here is where we had to make a choice!  The Dispatcher now had enough Blue cards to cure Fischer-Titus (don’t need to be in a Research Station and did not need to use an Action) at any time.  We chose instead to keep playing in order to lose.  It became clear that with over 1/4 of all cities Vaccinated and 1/4 of the cities Eradicated that this is how we wanted the board to look in December if possible.  We decided to lose in order to make December easier.

Turn 9 (How did we made it this far!)

Soldier — Quarantined Montreal and took a Direct Flight to St. Petersberg before moving to Essen and Quarantining it.  Drew Epidemic #5 (Miami- Eradicated).  No player cards were left at this point.

Immunologist — Forfeited turn.  Games ends because no more player cards can be drawn.

Here is the board at the end of the game:

pan-leg-nov-2nd-01

Panoramic View of the End of the Game.  Note the 5 Blue cards in the hands of the Dispatcher (far left).

We lost 4 games in a row and now could open Box #8.  Inside we found the following cards:

pan-leg-nov-2nd-02

The contents of Box #8

The Experimental Vaccine cards should make it really easy to win in December.

 

Endgame Upgrades

We put a permanent Vaccination Center in Essen and added the Supressed Upgrade to BSNL-419 (Treating removes all cubes).  We increased our Funded Event total to 8 and left with very positive thoughts about defeating the game in December.