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Subject: The Perfect Game: 14+ VPs for 3 Solo Factions rss

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A Swagman
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The designer is keeping a very close eye on this game. I submitted a Play log from my VASSAL game where I said that I had managed to get 14+ victory points with three of the four solo-player Factions, produced nine weapons and won the game in 1943. He geekmailed me asking how I did it and if I had saved the game. I almost never save the end of games, but on a whim for once I had. He confirmed that I had done everything legally, declared that it was the 'perfect game' and then noted that I had in fact not won, due to how ties are determined. (The irony of dominating but not winning made me laugh.)

This is a Session Report of that game. It is a somewhat bare account of what the four Factions did as it is based on my notes from a game now a week old. I haven't gone back to check the proper names of the Projects so one or two are probably misspelled and others are referred to by their content.

The Green Faction started with the V-2 Project and the Death Ray, and I gave him the Orbital Solar Gun when it appeared early. The Tech card spread allowed me to Complete the V-2 in 1940 and have it start Producing rockets in 1941. I gave Green the top two recruitment spots at the start of the game, so he had a lot of cubes and cylinders right off. In 1942 this Faction received the Leading Faction marker and did not lose it in 1943. It had taken me until 1942 to find all the necessary components in the matching green colour to transfer back to the Tech Tree. In 1943 I got them all together, completed the Death Ray, and Green ended the Turn on 14+ points, ending the game.

The Yellow Faction started with whatever the lvl-1 Flying Saucer is and the Cargo U-boats Project. Then I gave him the V-1 Rockets. He was able to get through the Flying Saucer early and then the V-1, then the plane turned up and I gave that to him. All these Projects had similar requirements. He was able to Complete the U-boat Project in 1942, I think. He produced a Weapon for the plane project in 1943 and reached 14 points.

The Orange Faction started with the Expedition to Tibet and the Electroboote U-boat Project. The turn he finished the U-boat, or after that, the Moon Base turned up with the Haneubu Project sitting on top of the Tech deck. I gave him the Moon Base and then next turn Haneubu. He was able to start the Moon Base when he got a Bombardment that allowed him to cooperate with Yellow's Flying Saucer, then Finished the Base when I played something to allow him to cooperate with Purple's Flying Saucer. He Completed Haneubu in the last turn but did not have time to Produce a Weapon. Haneubu collected three Weapons on Tech cards. Several of the improved components on Haneubu came from other Projects.

The Purple Faction started with the Antarctica Base and the Vril Project. I assigned it the German Nuclear Plan but never did anything with that except collect Tech. The Antarctica Base was Completed after Yellow Completed the second U-boat Project. The Vril was Completed quite easily this time around.

In my first game the Event Cards went my way. In this second game several great cards ended up in the Draft. Other than that I had almost no problems with the Bombardments and I ended the game before most of the occupation of territory could take place. The main difficulty I found was sorting through all the generator/transformer tech cards and finding which one could be improved to work with the Death Ray, while balancing that with completing the Haneubu Project.

Why did I not 'win'? The designer pointed out to me the rule that ties are decided by how many Projects a player/faction has completed. Both the Yellow and Orange Factions had completed 4 to the Green Faction's 2. That still leaves the fact that I had three of the four Factions at 14+ points in 1943 in my second game. How did I do that? A little of it was lucky starting Project distribution, but there is no opposition worth the name in solitaire mode. Getting eight Weapons Produced by 1943, or nine by 1945 (because the German Counter-offensive card costs one) is a test of your planning skills, but not a test of how you react when your plans are interfered with from outside. I didn't find this game challenging or very enjoyable. I might play it again after, as a non-random example, watching Raiders of the Lost Ark and then Hellboy and having Nazi occultism on my mind, but I wouldn't play it again for its own sake.
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Luca Cammisa
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Hi, your session report is welcome, and also your criticism, of course.

I believe your 'victory' is due, as you pointed out, mainly to an excellent initial distribution of project cards to factions (I assumed you followed the rules of solitaire play, that say the cards must be assigned drawing randomly from the deck, so big luck!) and to your outstanding planning ability.
I assume also that you correctly applied the rules of determining the targets of bombardments in solitaire play mode. So I guess you've been lucky also on this aspect of the game ... or better cannot say how much luck and how much good abilities in managing/moving your plants in order to protect your most precious projects from enemy bombings and advances. However, as you wrote, the final result is there with no doubt: three projects with 14 VPs...

I understand the tie-breaking rule for victory determination can look weird in your example. I designed Secret Weapons of the Third Reich primarly as a multiplayer game, so the primary purpose of this rule is for the multiplayer play-mode. Then, for sake of the solitaire play, let me say that the purpose of this rule, like many others as you probably noticed, is to induce the player to always plan carefully every single move.

That said, the play experience of solitaire mode is considerably different from multilayer. Whilst the interaction between players plays a vital role in multiplayer game, the game works instead like a 'puzzle' in solitaire mode, probably a puzzle not so enjoyabe or challenging as you wish it be, but that hopefully makes you struggle your mind to achieve the victory (or survival) conditions under the threat of bombings and enemy advances.

So, if you wish to try again the game in solitaire mode, you could play using the 'Expert Logistician' variant. This should increase the game difficulty and prove your planning skills, making perhaps the game a bit more enjoyable and challenging.

Finally, my opinion is that a multiplayer game will surely give you a totally different play experience, creating that 'opposition' that you feel actually not (enough?) present in the solitaire game.

Thanks,
Luca.
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