I guess this is all water under the bridge now that you've moved on but...
Andy Kent wrote:
1) I bought the Port. This has a coin in the bottom right corner - the production corner. NOWHERE IN THE RULES IS THIS EXPLAINED. The bottom right corner has the wood, stone and wheat you need to a) build buildings and b) feed your people in the supply round. So where do coins come in? I had to come to BGG to find the answer in a thread about Thebes' extras luxury good icon. Why is this not in the rules????
It is in the rules. I'm surprised no one has picked you up on this but on page 19 (where it lists the special buildings) it says: "The port provides a coin card as income and protects against decline."
Now this catastrophe mechanic may work well if you have a lot of cards to play with, but with just a handful, a catastrophe will likely cripple you, making you unable to recover to protect yourself from the next. That might be realistic, but come on - that's just not fun.
Now, I've only had one full (solo) game and on the easiest level but I didn't find it nearly as punishing. By the end only three catastrophes had occurred, two of which I was immune to by the time they did occur so was only effected by the Earthquake. At the time I had two buildings so lost one of them. I was able to cover it with a coin card so didn't lose its symbol at the top which still contributed towards my protection from other catastrophes. I finished on 21 points.
So I figure I wasn't unlucky at all - just a standard game.
I've only had one game myself so I can't really judge how typical either of our experiences were but I think it is a real shame if you've given up on the game after only one proper play through and what, it certainly seems to me, was very unlucky.
I wonder also whether you definitely had all the rules correct? On the easiest level (of the solo rules), you get three resource cards as part of your starting tableau as well as the ability to buy two cards (once per epoch). This really helps to get your engine going and getting catastrophe protection.