The rwinder
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---Astral Timemark 14959: While this commonly marks the so-called “end of the 15th era,” no one is quite sure why the civilization now known as the Onagerian Rise ultimately diminished. Some lay the blame at the whims of the enigmatic Xeno, who elevated those they deemed transcendent among the citizens of Onager leaving behind only a phantom of what made their empire great, hardly enough to hold their civilization together. Others say Onager’s demise stemmed from a self-fulfilling prophecy first computed by that civilization’s Sentient Obelisks. Regardless of the reason, history has always borne out the same truth: no golden age lasts and no civilization withstands time forever. Yet there is the converse truth as well: that another civilization will rise---

This is a session report for one solo round of a campaign of the “Deep Future” Make-as-You-Play game. “Deep Future” owes a lot to the Legacy family of games, but the emphasis is on spurring the player’s imagination to generate new content that becomes a permanent part of the game.

“Deep Future” is a card-driven board game about the rise and fall of powerful galaxy-spanning civilizations, most games focusing on your attempt to become one of those civilizations. You settle on planets, expand your influence across sectors, invent new techs, and face harsh challenges. The game uses very simple components (a paper map and index cards) and a few you can steal from other games (colored cubes). Because of the map, I would say the game fits into the print-and-play category, but honestly you spend a lot of the game writing and drawing too as you make new cards and modify the map. Cards are the meat of the game, representing worlds, technologies and the memory of former civilizations.

The game is broken into four phases: START (where players draw cards), ACTION (where the players commit up to two different cards to perform one of six actions), PAYMENT (where the players upkeep their homeworld and techs), and CHALLENGE (where the players face challenges that threaten to destroy their civilization). You will see those referred to here and there in the session report.

I am going to leave aside any rules explanation in this session report. You can find the game rules here: Deep Future Rules of Play. You can also find a fairly detailed explanation of how to play the game either at…

this geeklist: "Deep Future" -- A Make-as-You-Play Game
or
from the links in this thread: Deep Future: A bit of a tutorial

The game setup involves the selection of a homeworld by discarding cards from the top of the deck. I ended up with Flask (in the unnamed sector 63), one of the first worlds created in this galaxy (originally a homage to the Flask suit in Dizzy’s impressive variant on “Deep Future” which you can find here: Dizzy's Variant Rules for Deep Future). So I am delighted to give an original world a chance to become one of the great empires of all time. Most worlds never rise to such heights or even get an opportunity. Flask also starts with a Chemistry advancement, which is quite good to have from the beginning as it makes it a little easier to choose what future advancements you get.

Once the homeworld is picked, a set of rival worlds is selected, all of which are thankfully not on the doorstep of our homeworld. These worlds include 1) Pository, a History world in sector 36, 2) Domin, a Government world in the sector known as “The Bend,” and 3) Choniq, an Empire/Physics/Devices world in the “Chon” sector; as you might guess Choniq was the homeworld of a former civilization that has long since disappeared, although they did leave behind an impressive intergalactic wonder expressing their military might. You can see what the state of the galaxy is in this computer record I keep along with the handwritten one I play on. There have been fifteen eras so far and this marks the sixteenth.



At this point, because there are more than twelve named sectors, I place rival cubes on all unoccupied spaces containing a wonder and then twelve other random sectors. The resulting map is below, which also shows the initial settings for the different tracks that are possible avenues to victory. The basic goal of the game is to have one completed homeworld (with three advancements) and three completed techs (with three advancements) and also either sufficient territory, sufficient population, or be at the top of any of the tracks. Losing usually comes from either a loss of all planets controlled or reaching the bottom of any of the three different tracks.



Turn 1

---Astral Timemark 15040: The citizens of Flask had long contented themselves with the mysteries of chemical reactions, but in the past hundred years, as the Onagerian Rise centered in the heart of a neighboring galactic sector began to fall into disfavor with the mysterious Xeno who gradually stripped their power away, Flask took notice. Old ways that held for fifteen thousand years of galactic rule began to crumble there too, the up-and-coming generations turning more and more to revitalizing the languishing local interstellar economy. Historians generally point to this as the first crucial change in the fortunes of Flask, although the second was a timely alliance with the five thousand year old mainstay, the Archunion, which moved the headquarters of its insidious reach to this previously forgotten old world---

At the start of this turn, there are no worthwhile START advancements in any of the techs in my hand, so I proceed to take my two actions. Fortunately, I have a Skull card so I can ADVANCE my homeworld of Flask. This is a good idea to do as quickly as you can because the first upkeep (if mishandled) can lead to challenges powerful enough to kill you right away. In advancing, I randomly generate an Economy advancement, which is another really terrific opening advancement to get because it gives me the ability to pay for card draw by manipulating the victory tracks.

For my second action, I decide I need more cards to help ensure I can pass the opening challenges, so I play a Sun to take a POWER action. This lets me draw two cards, and I can further modify the action by discarding a tech from an earlier era, “The Archunion,” which has a Labor advancement that modifies POWER actions by increasing the Stability track.

When it reaches the challenge phase, I have paid for an upkeep cube on my homeworld, but the single challenge is a Heart, which sadly is one of the suits I do not have available to pay for the challenge. So I have to face an effect from the challenge table, which ends up being the emergence of yet another rival civilization, the Labor and Society focused world of Compo in sector 42. Fortunately, like most rival civilizations in this particular game, it is far away from me, so it is unlikely I will be troubled by it, but the sector does receive a maximum of five rival units putting it in a position to expand.

Turn 2
---Astral Timemark 15102: By this time, Flask had asserted itself beyond the reaches of its own homeworld. Through a mix of genetically engineered diplomats and shows of force, they had stretched their influence as far as the sector long known as “The Heel”---

In this turn, I start out by invoking my economy and reducing the Stability track by one to get more cards. Lacking cards to advance, I decide instead to expand into one of the neighboring sectors that likely has many planets to settle on. So my first action is to BATTLE (which I modify by discarding a “Negotiator Breeding Program” from my hand to increase my Culture track by 2) and then to EXPAND into the territory. The challenge is merely a Skull, which I pay for with an upkeep cube, avoiding another nasty effect.

Turn 3
---Astral Timemark 15148: Flask was already well on its way to greatness, establishing a secondary world in its newly controlled sector. Flask remained in constant contact with this daughter world of Logital throughout the entirety of their rise, although the relationship was clear. Ever subservient to the homeworld, Logital could be drained dry of its resources should the need arise. It would only be much later that Logital would shake off this yoke, although it might have happened sooner had Flask, a world fast growing obsessed with esoterica such as Agrarian Chic, completely succumbed to the utter decadence that threatened to destroy it---

I once again pay for the Economy, this time using my Culture track. Since I have a Skull, I am able to advance Flask to completion, giving it the Society advancement. This is yet another lucky advancement. Flask has three strong ones, so it is likely to be quite successful. With this new advancement I am able to take a SETTLE action and settle on a new world: Logital (a Communication planet). I make sure to settle in the new sector; if a challenge suddenly destroys my hold on my homeworld’s sector I would lose all my planets there, but this new planet is effectively a backup when placed elsewhere.

When it comes time to perform the challenges, I am able to apply a tech created in an earlier era (“Agrarian Chic”) to boost my Culture track further. This tech actually has an advancement from one of the scenario variants; most advancements do not take effect during upkeep. Furthermore, this is actually a goof on my part and I should only be able to use this tech if I had maxed out upkeep on the world, but I seldom remember every rule perfectly when playing.

Unfortunately, I fail a challenge this time and face the effect of “Utter Decadence” which lowers my Stability and my Culture, which I was working to build up. Luckily, I do not fall to the bottom on the Stability track so the game continues. The current state of the world is shown below. Also the game managed to undo my mistake on boosting Culture. Good for you, “Deep Future” system!



Turn 4
---Astral Timemark 15212: It was about this period when Flask declared itself the heir to the former glory of the Pacific Unity, a civilization that had controlled “The Heel” for a millennium many eras before. It was an age old trick; a new civilization trying to legitimize its destiny by hearkening back to those who had come before, those who had done hearkening of their own---

In this era, I luckily start with a former civilization card for one of my sectors: “Pacific Unity” which ruled in era 9. So I spend one action to evoke that old civilization and get its card’s effects: increase Stability by 2 and the ability to advance immediately into a brand new tech. I then take a second ADVANCE action and add another advancement to that tech. This leaves me with an incomplete tech that has Defense and Machinery advancements, both of which get used during a BATTLE action.

The upkeep and challenges here balance one another out, and from here on, I only discuss these phases when something relevant occurs.

Turn 5
---Astral Timemark 15217: With the aid of extensive microthought modification, the scientists of Flask achieved their first breakthrough on a technology that would change history: collapsable mechsuits, indestructible body armor that can attach to the skin in a flash while also being able to detach and enter a lightweight and compact storage form. This would revolutionize warfare and also become a mainstay with civilians eventually as the technology became more and more commonly applied---

In this turn I first ADVANCE (discarding “Microthought Modifiers” to use the physics to allow me to choose a second advancement) the first tech card and I choose Devices, which will let me boost my Culture track when I power, which I do as my second action. By this time I decide I will try for a Culture victory if I can reach it. The tech being completed with Defense/Machinery/Devices, I come up with a name for it: “Collapsable Mechsuits.” [And, yeah, I am well aware that Collapsable is misspelled, thank you; one of the dangers of using a pen and not a dictionary when making cards (as you can see below). I just imagine they spell it that way in the deep future…]



Turns 6-10
---Astral Timemark 15543: There were three hundred years of steady growth under the rule of Flask, their influence expanding to new sectors, even reaching so far as to conquer the sector of their fallen neighbor, Onager. The citizens of Flask even went so far as to assert they were the true descendants of the Onager Rise, as they proceeded to revolutionize through the development of interplanetary hybridization, a method for crossbreeding species from different worlds to make new cultivars for previously uninhabitable planets---

The next few turns were relatively straightforward mixes of standard actions one performs in the game to ensure you have sufficient territory to survive some bad draws on the challenges and are making progress toward the total required three techs. The turns had no significant challenges, and their action breakdowns are:

Turn 6 (I spend 1 on my Culture (C) track to get cards with my Economy advancement)
- ADVANCE – added Society to a new tech (sadly this random advancement was useless; Society does not stack)
- BATTLE – in sector 62
Turn 7
- POWER – drew 2 cards and added 4 to C (2 from “Collapsable Mechsuits” and 2 from discarding “Galactic Positioning System” from my hand which also has a Devices advancement
- GROW – in sector 63 (making sure I have enough cubes there if I lose some)
Turn 8
- ADVANCE – added Agriculture to the tech
- POWER – draw 2 cards again (mostly this successive powering helps me pay for the upkeep or challenges, so the civilization thrives and avoids disaster)
Turn 9 (at the start of this turn, I draw the “Onagerian Rise” civilization card, and I am currently right next door to that sector)
- EXPAND – into sector 65
- EVOKE – “Onagerian Rise” which increases the Xeno Relations (X) track by 2 and lets me draw 3 cards
Turn 10
- ADVANCE – added Education to the tech and named it “Interplanetary Hybridization”
- GROW – in sector 65 which increases my X and Stability (S) track by 1 because of the advancements on “Interplanetary Hybridization”

By the end of these turns, the game has advanced to looking like the following:



Turns 11-13
---Astral Timemark 15667: Having revolutionized the way humanity lived twice before, the scientists of Flask set about accomplishing one final grand gesture, the invention of artificial planetoids each with custom-made environments conducive accomplishing a variety of tasks, increasing efficiency on a level never before witnessed. These impressive planetoids were their final lasting legacy, known today simply as Flaskian workbiomes---

At this point play is really going my way in this game, and I am racing to get my final tech accomplished, which happens in a matter of three turns.

Turn 11
- ADVANCE – added Empire to a new tech
- EXPAND – into sector 14
Turn 12
- ADVANCE – added Ecology to the tech
- GROW – in sector 63 (again increasing my presence in my home sector), which increases my S and X tracks as before
Turn 13
- ADVANCE – added Labor to the tech and named it “Flaskian Workbiomes”
- POWER – draw 2 cards again and also add 2 to C, 1 to Might (M), and 1 to S



I now have half the criteria for winning accomplished, but I still need to reach the top of a track or get enough territory or population and I am not even close to those. So a track victory seems most likely.

Turns 14-15
---Astral Timemark 15700: By this time, Flask was the undisputed power of an entire quadrant of the galaxy, formally called the Flaskian Construct, and there was no doubt it was one of the great civilizations compared to any of its forebears, achieving a peace and erudition that were unmatched in the galaxy. Even still, cracks were beginning to form---

The final turns were quite straightforward, with challenges easily put aside through upkeep and card discards. One of the advantages of the techs I ended up with (helped in part by Chemistry) is that there was a good distribution of suits on them, which is a good strategy for surviving if you can pull it off. It does mean however, it is harder to create a wonder, which I did not manage to accomplish here. The turns are listed below:

Turn 14
- POWER – draw 2 cards, add 2 to C, 1 to M, and 1 to S
- no second action – instead I wanted to keep all my cards to discard for upkeep to keep the number of challenges down
Turn 15
- POWER – draw 2 cards, add 2 to C, 1 to M, and 1 to S

At this point we reach the top of both the Stability and the Culture track. The Culture victory seems more appealing to me, so I take that and I create the civilization card, naming their civilization the “Flaskian Construct” and giving it the powers of increasing C by 3, adding 1 to any track, and removing an adjacent rival cube. The rules have tables that specify how to build these civilization cards given how you won. I also get to name the sector of the homeworld since it is unnamed, so I choose to name it “Struct.” Now I will have to live with that terrible decision—and my bad penmanship—forever.

You can see the final state of the civilization and the card below:



This is one of the most successful games of “Deep Future” I have ever played. The challenges can be quite brutal, but sometimes luck goes your way too. Careful play and judicious choice of advancements when you can choose them is crucial. At some point in the future, I will try to log another game, one that expresses some of the challenges a bit better than this playthrough did.

I am also considering some variants to make the solo game more challenging. You can see my musings on this here: Imagining a "Deeper Future" ... or at least a "Harder Future"

As for what the future holds, well, we know that the Flaskian Construct cannot hold together forever, and about the time the new millennium begins they will have faded into obscurity and a new civilization will be ready to surge to greatness.
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Bruce Bacher
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This is very cool! I imagine games get easier as you go through more eras, since you're adding more old civilization cards to the deck.
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The rwinder
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Adding techs and civs do make the game easier, at least solo games. I am still considering options for making later games tougher other than just adding more challenges.
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