David Arlington
United States
Spanish Fort
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This is actually the first time I've played Freedom solo. And one of the few times I've gotten to play it, period. Actually, the first game I've played of it, solo or otherwise, that I finished. Long overdue!

I packed the game away before I realized again I had not taken a picture. If I play it again this month, I will get a screenshot.

I played the standard solo game with one role card, picked randomly. The win conditions for the one role solo game is: Buy one Support token from each of the three periods, free five slaves to Canada before the end of Round 8, and don't lose 12 slaves or more. Although you only have to buy one Support token in each era, all the other available tokens are limited as well, and you are the one doing ALL the movement of trying rescue slaves and raise money for abolitionist efforts. It's a tough game as many have noted. And while I didn't win on my first attempt either, I had a little bit of a surprise at the end anyway. More on that later.

My random role was the Station Master. Not really a great character for solo play, I think, because her one-time ability only works on other player's turns and there were no other players. I have a question in on the Freedom page, but last night, I ruled she could play that ability even if it had no effect in order to flip her card to the side that drew $2 an Action Phase rather than the front side $1. Her regular ability doesn't change from side to side and I needed all the money I could get. Her regular ability is to slow down one Slave Catcher movement by one space during the Action Phase. You only get to slow up one of them, so you have to be judicious when you use it.

TURN 1: Dealing out the cards, I had one Opposition Card, Gag Rules that limited my Planning Phase purchases to just one token instead of two. Luckily, it came up in the first slot, so I only had the one turn to bear its effect.

The Orange Slave Catcher moved away up to northern Minnesota. I bought one 3-->1 Conductor Token for $2 in the Planning Phase. I took $1 in the Action Phase from my role card. I used the Conductor Token and bought and resolved Lane Theological Society to do a 2-->1 move. Slave movement got me $2 to bring my total money to $9. Six slaves were delivered and I had 3 spaces free on the plantations at the end of the turn.

Got rid of the Gag Rules card and dealt out new cards, got Opposition Card Elijah P. Lovejoy which allows fund raising ONLY in large Northern Cities. In between turns 1 and 2, I "used" my special one-time ability and flipped the Station Master to the $2 side.

TURN 2: The Orange slave catcher stayed up in norther Minnesota. I bought the last two 3-->1 Conductor tokens in Period 1 for $4 during the Planning Phase. I got $2 during the Action Phase, then used both Conductor Tokens, putting the single grey one back on the board for next turn. I had to use my ability here once to keep a slave catcher at bay. I had to buy the Lovejoy card for $2 to get rid of its effect for next turn. Five slaves were delivered and I only had two spaces left over at the end of this turn. No new Opposition cards turned up when the Abolitionist cards were refreshed.

TURN 3: The Square slave catcher (Purple?) moved back away east from DC to NYC. So far, the slave catcher movement has all been in my favor. During the planning phase, I buy the grey 3-->1 Conductor token and the single Fund Raising token in the first period. I collect my $2 during the Action phase. I buy Ripley, OH (2-->1 move, no slave catcher reaction) and resolve it. I play the 3-->1 Conductor Token. I play the Fund Raising token and collect $9. Four slaves are delivered and now I have no empty spaces left now in the plantations as the South is clogged with slaves heading north... five more on the way next turn... No new Opposition cards are revealed during card refresh.

TURN 4: My luck with Slave Catcher movement ends as the Purple/Square one captures a slave on the Virginia/North Carolina border. During the Planning Phase, I buy the Support Token for $10 and use my last $2 to buy the grey 3-->1 Conductor token from the Period One column even though the Period Two column has just opened up. I collect $2 during the Action Phase and collect another $4 during Slave movement using the 3-->1 token. I buy the card Personal Liberty Laws for $1 to my Reserve to cancel the next Slave Catcher Movement phase. Now, since I only had one movement token, when the six slaves are delivered (five from the card plus the one captured), they are ALL lost! Ugh! I am halfway to defeat and still have no place to put the new slaves that will be arriving next turn. My first draw from the Second Period deck to refresh at end of turn does not deliver any new Opposition thankfully.

TURN 5: I cancel the Slave Catcher movement phase with Personal Liberty Laws. During planning, I buy a 4-->1 Conductor Token for $3 and a Fund Raising token. I need some more money and unfortunately (blocking slaves getting off the plantations)/fortunately (can raise money), slaves are still scattered all over the South. During the Action Phase, I collect my $2, use the 4-->1 Conductor token and my ability to move some slaves out of the way. Then I buy Liberty Hill for $1 to get a 2-->1 move and to buy a token (I buy a 2-->2 for $3). I play my Fund Raising token instead of the 2-->2 as my second token play and collect $8. I still have managed to clear enough room in my plantations to take on 3 of the four slaves delivered, losing 1 and taking my losses to 7 of 12. Then things really go bad when NJ Abolishes Slavey which will keep me from moving any of my slaves into or through large Notherrn Cities. Ugh ugh.

TURN 6: The Orange Slave Catcher passes right by the slave sitting in Ripley, OH to catch up with his Purple buddy in VA/NC border territory. During the Planning Phase, I buy the 4-->1 grey Conductor token and the Fund Raising token. (I still have the 2-->2 token from last turn left over.) The Action Phase sees me getting my $2 and then collecting $9 more from the Fund Raising token which I use BEFORE I move any slaves. I buy John Price Rescue for $2 and get my first slave freed to Canada. I play the 4-->1 Conductor token. It's not enough. Six more slaves are delivered and I have room for two, but four are lost and now I've lost 11 of 12 slaves that will lose the game for me. No new Opposition Cards are turned up in the card refresh.

EPIPHANY: I've lost. I realize that now. And then something interesting happens. I could have just started packing the game up (without taking a picture! LOL), but then I decided, well, if I am going to lose anyway, I am going to try to free as many slaves to Canada and at LEAST try to meet that part of my victory condition. That seemed very important to me and I finally realized why so many people had commented on this game being worth playing just not for being a game's sake but for the feelings it could invoke. I might lose but dammit, I was going to do my best to at least see as many people to freedom as I could!

TURN 7: Slave Catchers must realize I am in a lost position, they finally take a day off. During the Planning Phase, I first buy the Period 2 Support token. Not only does this marginally get me closer to fulfilling the victory conditions, but also frees up the Period 3 Conductor tokens and the Period 3 deck. I buy a 3-->2 token from Period 2 for $3 (and I still have the 2-->2 one from previous turns).

I get $2 during the Action Phase. I take a big gamble and buy the card, John Browne which lets me buy the 5-->1 token from Period 3 AND I draw and resolve an Abolitionist card. And it's ABRAHAM LINCOLN! How cool was that? Good 'Ol Honest Abe lets me do a 3-->1 move. That lets me play the 3-->2 token to get three more slaves to Canada. I finally play the 2-->2 token and get the fifth and final slave free to Canada! Then the slaves are delivered and I lose the game.

FINAL THOUGHTS: OK, I DID lose. I had one more Support token to buy and I let too many slaves be lost. BUT I DID free five slaves to Canada, and even in losing, that gave me a good feeling. Pushing those little tan cubes north of the border invoked something other games don't, silly as that may seem. Good stuff.
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