"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking."
This was my second game of this scenario. The session report ended up a bit wordy, so apologies!
When news reached the People of new settlers who had arrived from a far distant land the People were happy to greet the new arrivals with peace. But soon these others, who called themselves Spanish, began constructing unusual buildings on the land of the People which forced the People to attack and destroy these blemishes on their land. The Elders informed the People that the Spanish had upset many of the other peoples, and they were likely to rise up against the new settlers. The Elders advised that the People should use this time to make themselves stronger because they foresaw a time when the Spanish would make more demands forcing the People to defend their land.
My starting Culture was Horsemanship 1.
I decided to start with an ambivalent attitude to the Spanish and open the game with some planning actions to build up APs and get population in the Passage of Time box. However, it wasn't long before the Spanish built a Mission at Shiprock which I promptly destroyed. My only real long term plan in the game was to fiercely respond to all Missions. A fortunately timely Planning Minor Event revealed that Pueblo Revolt was coming up so I was able to use my first actions to destroy the Mission and get a Family into Zuni Mountains for a decent VP check. I ended the first VP check with 5 Military and purchased Cunning 1.
The People heeded the advice of their Elders and grew stronger while the Spanish fought the other peoples. However, with their horses and guns the Spanish soon defeated the other peoples and secured a large area of land for themselves. This land bordered the land of the People and the time foretold by the Elders began. But the People were confident: they knew they could use their ancient wisdom to foil the Spanish plans.
With the Spanish focused on subjugating New Mexico I did some more planning and in the turn that New Mexico was finally subjugated I did my first Passage of Time to bring my 4th Family into play. Unfortunately I lost two Elders and was only able to add one. With the Raid 11 now at the top of the Active actions I started raiding NW more frequently to try and maintain cubes in the Raided Box and slow down the time before the big raid occurred. I was generally performing long range raids with Families a good distance away from Santa Fe. I knew I would able to skip the Raid 11 with the Cunning 1 culture. The Families closer to Santa Fe had high Evasion modifiers so would hopefully be able to get out of the way of any smaller raids that wouldn't have enough Raid counters to penetrate the higher numbered Areas. I'd managed to keep a Ceremony with a 6 Blessing Way so felt that I had a reliable backup plan for getting out of the way of Raids. When the Spanish had built up enough APs for the Raid 11 I skipped it and instead they performed a Raid 3, Raid 5 and Build. My two Families close to Santa Fe were able to Evade during the two raids. These two failed raids hurt the Enemy Morale and when the Franciscan Faction Ascendant card came up I had another decent VP check, with 7 Military and I purchased Cunning 2.
The failed hostile incursions into the People's land demoralised the Spanish and they fell quiet for time. The People used this time to grow stronger and to acquire horses and guns to turn their enemy's advantages against them. The Spanish changed their tactics and tried to convert the People to their beliefs. However they soon grew impatient with this and new Spanish men arrived who wish to resume their aggression.
In the end I only had 5 turns between the Franciscan Faction and De Galvez turning up. I had a couple of Ceremony cards turn up which filled up the Passage of Time box nicely after some previous planning so I did another Passage of Time to bring my 5th Family into play. This time I was able to add 2 Elders and only lost 1. By keeping on top of the Missions any Subvert actions were Build actions instead so I was generally able to turn Culture to Military on most planning actions. A Build then Expand action on the turn I was performing my Passage of Time left a Mission in the 2 Area of Shiprock but I wasn't overly worried about that because Spanish Morale was still low and I was in reasonable shape for the VP check. This also allowed me to refresh Cunning 1. When Viceroy De Galvez came up I was again able to get Military 7. I purchased Cunning 3.
The Spanish resumed their hostile incursions into the land of the People after the failure of their priests to spread their beliefs to the People. But where the People had learned and grown stronger the Spanish were overconfident and repeated their mistakes. With the foresight and guidance of their Elders the People were able to predict and plan for the movements of the Spanish, and to safely avoid their incursions. When the Spanish entered the lands of the People they found only ghosts. This enabled to People to prosper but this did not stop many more Spanish prospering in the lands they had taken from the other peoples.
A small Raid 3 caught me out because of the high Ferocity of two of my Families. I had a Blessing Way 5 which enabled me to fight a battle with one Family and get a nice FV result, and the second Family reached by the Raid had a high Evasion modifiers. Another failed Raid didn't help the Enemy Morale! By now the big Raid 11 loomed large again, and with NM subjugated I wasn't going to be able to hold it off for long. Fortunately I would be able to skip it with Cunning 1, but I was concerned that doing so could leave the enemy with a lot of APs to potential perform Subvert actions. I ended up performing a few of actions before the Raid 11 in order to keep cubes in the Raided Box as I had a Reset Cubes Minor Event, and to destroy Missions in order to try and turn at least one of the Subvert actions lurking lower down into a Build and minimise the effect of the others. Most of the other Families were used to find water holes and plant/harvest corn as I was gearing up for another Passage of Time and new Family - lots of mouths to feed! When the Spanish APs built up enough for the Raid 11 I skipped it and instead a couple of Missions were placed on the map. I was able to destroy these and get the Passage of Time done (placing the 6th Family) just before the Settlers Colonise New Mexico came up. I was even luckier that an Apache War Minor Event removed 1 of the red cubes just before I did my Passage of Time so Spanish Morale was pretty low at this point. Again I was a tMilitary 7. I purchased Horsemanship 2.
The People were strong and the Spanish had failed time and again to repress the People. They soon turned to fighting amongst themselves and the People felt confident and safe.
I was confident that barring a disaster I could spend the final turns of the game preparing for the Passage of Time called for on the Mexican Independence card. I kept one Family close to Area 1 of Shiprock who were at maximum Ferocity to deal with any Missions while the rest were furiously planting and harvesting corn. I got extremely lucky during this last part of the game in that I didn't have any Drought Minor Events and that red cube in the Raid Bag did not get drawn so the Spanish were generally only able to perform one action a turn. Because of the Cunning 3 abilities the few planning actions I took allowed me to build up a lot APs. So when a Raid 5 turned up I was able to lure it towards a Family in San Juan with a high Evasion modifier. By the time the Raid fought through the two Harass and reached the Family hidden in the corn they were easily able to evade and the Raid was spent. More hurt to the Spanish Morale! When Mexican Independence game up I was easily able to feed the Families with corn and sheep. The Spanish Morale was 2 and my Military was 7, giving me a Major Victory. Hurrah!
Having played through this scenario before and lost with a Minor Defeat the conclusions I drew from that game seemed to be the right ones. I will keep those to myself as I would hate to spoil anyone's enjoyment. Learning the dynamics and subtitles of this superb game is a huge part of its appeal. I will say that Cunning is awesome - all 3 levels are fantastically helpful! I have to acknowledge that I did get lucky in this game in that the other big Raids were sat in the Standby Column and never got swapped, or if they did they ended up getting swapped back before they could be acted on. This allowed me to skip both instances of the Raid 11, which definitely would have hurt me. This scenario really helped me understand the game, and I'm really looking forward to trying the harder scenarios.
Great session report! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was instructive too. Thanks for sharing.