This is my second playthrough of the Voyage of the Beagle campaign. Last time I played it over a year ago, I had pretty good success with the Missionary and the Carpenter. So I decided on some new characters, and picked the Carpenter and the Explorer (What can I say.. I really like the Carpenter). While I usually do a random pick, I didn't want to get stuck with a bad set of characters who can't get along for 5+ scenarios. Like that sailor character is just creepy.
Gotta catch 'em all! (Scenario 1)
Random ally: Parrot
On my last playthrough I skipped the rare beasts altogether, but this time I started with the broken bottle, and found a pistol on a lucky exploration adventure, so I decided to build cages and hunt down a few beasts. On my second rare animal hunting action I stumbled upon the Sea Lion (strength 7, weapon -3), that ate my weapons, and left the Explorer pretty badly mauled. This effectively dissuaded me from hunting for more beasts. I also went for the rare sets pretty early (after building my shelter) and max carnivorous plants, that are pretty easy to get. Only on my last turn did Friday try to gather a few fossils, but failed to do so despite his re-roll ability.
I now had 2 rare beasts, 5 carnivorous plants (the 6:th plant was on the missing tile... should have used explorer's ability there) and 3 unique sets. I probably could have skipped the turn one shelter and would then have had enough wood to build set collection chests one turn earlier, in order to collect one more set.
With nothing much to do in the later turns, I built a lot of inventions, extra roof etc. with the hope that some of it can survive the coming storm. A late turn event also forced me to fight a beast, so this time I got mauled by gorilla, that thankfully provided a lot of food that I stored away in my cellar. I also had the fireplace early so I spent excess food on healing.
The parrot + max morale provided me with tons of determination tokens, so the explorer spent some by drawing exploration tokens from the bag when there was nothing else to use them on, or giving motivational speeches when needed.
The Explorer giving a motivational speech (costs 3 determination tokens for --> morale)
Mistakes: It appears that I shouldn't have been able to move camp and keep my shortcut in place, even though I moved to an adjacent tile. Would probably not have been that hard to build it again though.
After the Storm (Scenario 2)
I forgot to redraw my ally, so I still had the parrot. Luckily my sturdy cellar survived the storm, so I started with lots of food in storage, and everyone in full health. I was not sure if Friday heals, since the rules are very specific to point out that Friday is not a player, and that the doctor only heals players + Darwin. Eventually I decided on healing him, since I didn't want the doctor to be discriminating or anything. I also started the scenario with the "upgraded" Darwin.
Second turn of second scenario. The Explorer ate some strange berries and got a tummy ache
I vaguely remember the third scenario being challenging, so I tried to get max repairs for my ship. A few turns went just building barrels, rebuilding destroyed items and gathering resources. It seemed like I would not have enough time to get everything to max, especially with me failing to gather a large tree 2 times in a row, and I was missing quite a few hides among other things. In the end I got some lucky exploration adventures that provided me with the hides, and I finished repairing the ship with lots of time to spare. I then decided the end the scenario early to have my guys start with full (or close to full) health on the ship.
Adventure on the High Seas (Scenario 3)
Random ally: Parrot (yet again)
Friday: What is sailing like? Explorer: The open sea, sturdy ship, parrot at your shoulder, and the wind in your hair. Carpenter: Wrong! Have your hopes crushed. See your ship wrecked. Hear the lamentations of her crew.
With the ship fully repaired, and my characters in good health and high in spirit, what could possibly go wrong? You only need to move like five spaces. Well, for starters, I could have looked at what items carried over to this scenario before I decided to end the last one prematurely. Like the fact that I had 0 wood on board (apart from the wood you can gather from the hull). Also, I wasn't sure if I could bring the food with me. As I had the cellar at the end of last scenario, that should make my food eligible to bring with me, but in the end I decided to play it safe, and left it on the island as a sacrifice to the weather gods.
Things started nicely with people hunting for more food, gathering supplies from the hull and building some items. Although my first sea encounter token brought a new token in the same space, which meant I didn't get to move that turn. And the event card after that brought yet another token in my sea space. Thing escalated pretty quickly, with all locations damaged, Darwin was constantly sick, my ship spinning randomly in the wind with the rudder destroyed and from running into some magical vortexes, weapons deteriorated, no food, no wood, moral at rock bottom, and a constant stream of added encounter tokens to deal with, preventing me from moving. At one point, with my ship once again heading the opposite direction of where I was going, I was just about to give up, since I didn't think there was any chance of me making it anymore. But I preserved for some masochistic reason, more as a last act of defiance towards the game, than any genuine belief of making it though.
There were so many fires to put out, that I could only afford one pawn doing single actions for most of the reminder of the game. Things like food became luxury items, not worth spending time on, unless absolutely necessary. A typical turn would then be 3 guys making 3 separate attempts at turning the ship around, one guy dealing with the sea encounter, Darwin sick and only one guy left to do something else. Like repairing the most damaged part of the ship, or trying to flip one of those four or five purple cards. Without my parrot constantly handing out determination tokens, I would have been dead long ago, with morale at -3 or -2 during most of the mission.
Here I had a slight change of luck, as I succeeded all my critical rolls, the sea encounters didn't tie me up anymore, and I then rolled positive exploration events for a few turns, which meant that I would only roll one die during the weather phase. Then for a few turns I even managed to move in the direction I wanted. And at the final shoal next to the exit tile, Darwin even managed to take a measurement! Could this be? On my final turn I still had to resolve the events, which meant that Darwin, being starting player, would have to fight... giving him 2 wounds, and he could only afford to take one. And I was so close.
It ain't over 'til it's over
As I was starting to reset the scenario I discovered the starting item: Bottle of Rum buried under the rule book... with one token on it! So Darwin could sip some rum, and would still be in the game with one wound left. Only I had to survive the weather phase first, that could easily sink my ship, with one location in the critical zone, and almost every other location one step above it. After some of the most tense rolling I've experienced for quite some time, I was still alive, everyone with just one or two hit points left, and my ship just about to fall apart. Inconceivable!
The Natives Are Restless (Scenario 4)
Random Ally: Surgeon
I wasn't very happy with the surgeon as my ally, since healing one wound every other turn, seemed weak, compared to some of the other allies. The natives didn't trust me at all in the beginning, and I constantly drew book icons on both event cards and mystery cards, and rolled crappily during the weather phase, alienating the natives even further. So I had to struggle to keep them in the neutral zone. However I was lucky to locate both tribes adjacent to camp, and they never wandered off to the far side of the island; the relevant tribe always staying one explored tile away from camp. I then tackled one tribe at a time, going all in getting food for the first tribe, and then wood for the second one, pretty much ignoring everything else, apart from building the occasional trade item. It was quite tight, but nowhere as bad as the previous scenario. I ended with 2 extra Darwin tokens for the final scenario.
This is how the island looked during most of the game. The natives were kind enough to stay within these boundaries.
Bringing it All Back Home (Scenario 5)
Random Ally: Horse
The last scenario starts on a bad note, with negative morale and everyone wounded and seemingly lots of things to do in a short time. However after getting a shelter, and morale stabilized, I had very few problems, compared to the previous two scenarios. The two extra Darwin tokens helped, as did the sack in gathering herbs and other resources. I left the beach to the last, and after restoring the animals, rare sets and the plants, I had everyone exploring the beach, for a nice extra 8 points.
I should get one of those badges. Although my luck didn't hold up last night with the Volcano Island scenario. Got hosed by mystery cards, multiple failures to explore and 3 rain clouds in one turn. For some reason I always seem to lose that one.
Thanks a lot! Got the badge now. I've been scared of the Cannibal Island, and I think that it's the only one that I haven't tried yet. I guess I'm mentally preparing myself for failing it 10 times in a row or something. But one day I'll be ready for it.
I really like the Livingstone scenario with multiple outcomes. So far it's been pretty easy though.