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Subject: bobsledai's "The Way of the Sheep" Solo Game rss

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I've recently been introduced to Terra Mystica, and it has been a nice foil for A Feast for Odin, helping me to think about what I like about it. In TM, I cannot (at least not without many more playthroughs) play a game in my head in order to analyze a particular setup.

With AFfO, I can, and have. The post that mentioned how good Old Faroe made me glad I kept the board instead of throwing it away. I began to look for an ideal playthrough to see just how good a score I could imagine. I eventually ended up with a particular plan for years one and two, knowing exactly how I can have Old Faroe filled by the end of years three.

As I played TM, I wondered if it a superior game to AFfO since the latter seems susceptible to being "solved" for a given setup. The funny thing is that with all my planning and analysis, I still walked into year three of this scenario with no idea of how to best proceed. I think this is what I like so much about AFfO: it draws me in with the promise of being able to figure out the best play only to lead me lost in the maze of possible alternatives. For me, then, I love the game on two fronts. It gives my analytic mind a workout, but it also involves a good amount of open-endedness.

Enough talk. Down to business . . .

Round 1: Fortune Favors Those Who Plan Ahead

I've seen some other openings for Old Faroe, but I haven't seen my opening played elsewhere. I'm not sure if my plan is the best, since I miss out on a first round cabbage bonus. I stick with what I know, though, especially since I'm fortunate to have drawn a second spear.

1 viking: 2 resources - 2 wood
1 viking: 1 wood --> whaling boat
1 viking: Faroe
3 viking: whaling (pay 2 spears)

Phew, I was worried that I might fail whaling, derailing my plans. One more roll next round is critical, so I'm still apprehensive.

My goal here isn't to ensure I get any bonuses, but to make sure things fit well on Faroe. Skin gives good home income, and oil is my beginning on Faroe.

[Note: I have dedicated areas of my table to payments made for actions (etc.) and for feasting. Also, I put resources that have come off in phase 11 next to their respective strips just to help keep track.]

Round 2: Lady Luck

This round is fairly straightforward, but it depends on what I roll for hunting, even with drawing a bow.

1 viking: hunting (roll 1, pay 1 bow)

Lady luck is with me tonight. That was a lot easier than it could have been. This means I have some freedom in my next actions.

2 viking: 3 resources (1 wood, 2 stone) and 1 upgrade (whale meat to robe)
3 viking: 2 runes, 2 chests

I still need to feed my vikings, and I want to upgrade a flax to do this. I could have done the 1 viking spot for two upgrades and turned my game meat into skin and bones, but I don't have anywhere to put skin with my plan right now. I can't remember my reasoning, but I opt for an extra resource.

1 viking: 1 resource (1 stone) and 1 upgrade (flax to fish)

I just barely fill in Faroe for an income of 4, and this gives me just enough total income to get a bunch of bonuses.

Round 3: Lost in the Maze

With the bonuses I earned last round and the income I'll earn this round, I'm guaranteed to be able to fill up Faroe (minus the inconsequential upper right negative). The big dilemma is whether or not to go for Iceland this round. Trouble is, I don't have the money to buy a knarr outright and getting it with wood takes up too many actions to be able to begin filling Iceland. With cabbages starting to come in, I figure a stone house is a good choice, only needing the one stone I have and giving me a way to get another nice bonus. I also see some easy money.

2 viking: stone house
1 viking: 2 resources (ore, 2 silver)

Okay, now what? I can't see a way to get a significant income increase on the home board, and Faroe is full. Also, I'm struggling to find a way to actually get that hide bonus on my stone house and still have enough silver for getting a knarr at the beginning of next round. I stumble my way through the rest of my actions this round and end up just having things lying around.

2 viking: laying a snare (fail)
1 viking: flax to cloth
1 viking: 2 upgrades (game meat to skin and bones; cloth to silk)
2 viking: wood to chest and silver

Whatever. At least I'll have stuff for Iceland next round.

Round 4: Same Old, Same Old

I'm a sucker for 2runes/2chests. I don't know if I hunted this round because I wanted to succeed or because I wanted to get a wood from failing so I wouldn't need to use any actions next round in preparation of the knarr/longhouse action.

[5 silver for a knarr]
2 viking: 3 resources (2 wood, 1 stone) and 1 upgrade (flax to fish)
1 viking: 1 resource (1 stone) and 1 upgrade (milk to wool)
3 viking: 2 runes, 2 chests
2 viking: Iceland (4 silver)
1 viking: hunting (fail)

Leftovers from last round pay off, and I'm able to get new income and bonuses on home and Iceland, and also get that hide on the stone house. Food tiles are building up, just waiting for the longhouse next round.

[Note: I forgot to get my bonus from the stone house before I took the picture, but corrected this afterward.]

Round 5: Settling In

This round I start to get going with the basic strategy for Faroe, getting a longhouse and emigrating for points and for saving food for houses.

4 viking: knarr and longhouse (3 point occ)
2 viking: emigrate (knarr)
3 viking: whaling (roll 3, pay 2 spear)
1 viking: 2 upagrades (2 oil to 2 rune)

Again I have something leftover: whale meat. I wanted to find a way to put it on Iceland after upgrading, but I gave up trying to find a way and settled for the effective but disheartening oil to runes. (I think I wanted to save silver for getting a longship next round.) I also decided to use an oil on the longhouse to get the oil bonus started, but I think might have been a bad move, since I could have put a red tile there next round and saved the oil.

[Note: I for reason forgot to take the ore/stone bonus from Iceland, but corrected it after the picture.]

Round 6: A Critical Mistake?

It seemed like a great round. I was able to do so much, but when I get to round seven, I wonder what might have been.

1 viking: hunting (roll 3, pay 3 bows)
1 viking: 2 resources (4 silver)
1 viking: 1 resource (2 silver) and 1 upgrade (whale to robe)
2 vikings: 3 upgrades (sheep to fur, game to skin, fruit to whale)
[8 silver for a longship]
3 viking: Newfoundland
2 viking: pillaging (add 2 ore; roll 10, pay 1 stone: Shield)
1 viking: overseas trading (oil to rune, hide to silverware, skin to spices, fur to jewelry, robe to treasure)

I was able to fill Iceland, get all the bonuses on Newfoundland, and increase my home income by 2. But did I really need to put anything on home? Did I really need overseas trading to fill Iceland? I think I should have been able to put more tiles on Newfoundland and more silver on Iceland. I could have gambled and gone raiding, possibly getting the drinking horn or some other special tile.

[Note: I forgot to take my bonuses from Newfoundland, correcting this after the picture. What was wrong with me this game?]

Round 7: A Harvest of Sheep

Time to put Shepherd to good use, and to get another house for all the bonuses from Faroe. Time to also fill my home with sheep.

4 viking: knarr and longhouse (Shepherd: 2 wool, 1 milk)
3 viking: 4 upgrades (4 sheep to 4 fur)
1 viking: 2 upgrades (whale to robe, milk to wool)

Okay, time to go overseas trading and then to put down four occupations for 12 po . . . wait, what? I used the 1 viking overseas trading last round? Argghhh! I NEED to do overseas trading. There goes six points.

2 viking: overseas trading (oil to rune, hide to silverware, wool to chest, skin to spices, fur to jewelry, robe to treasure)
2 viking: 2 occs (6 points)

Positive Score

Ships: 21
Emigrations: 18
Explorations: 58
Sheds and Houses: 54
Animals: 0
Occupations: 9
Silver: 9
Final Income: 31
English Crown: 0

Subtotal: 200

Negative Score

Home: 0
Explorations: -15
Sheds and Houses: -12
Thing Penalty: 0

Subtotal: -27

Total Score


I'm not disappointed with my score, but I feel that there were various places I could have done things better. I suppose that just goes to show how good Old Faroe is: I did almost as good as my highest score ever and I feel like I could have done better.

This also shows me how weak the nerfed Faroe is. It took me two full rounds getting the rolls I needed to fill it soon enough to really be worthwhile. Without the cabbage, I can't see myself getting enough bonuses fast enough.

In sum, a good scenario that gave me much to think about and more reason to appreciate the game.
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Ryan Feathers
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Awesome session report, thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed your titles on each of the rounds, I may start doing that too...

As is I agree that you probably could have done a bit better. Seems like you needed to time the Overseas trading out just a bit better and right there would be a few more points. Then again I always think there are probably a few more things once can do better in almost any play of this game, because as you mention it's very hard to actually figure out the optimal moves.

I too have recently fallen in love with Terra Mystica, but also love this game. I don't give 10's out for many games, but for me both of them are well deserving of such a rating.

Finally, I'm not convinced holding 4 sheep for the end just to take advantage of Shepherd is the right play, but I don't know for sure. But in general I think just getting those sheep on your board earlier will more than make up for the lost wool in terms of extra silver and bonus goods you can be unlocking. (At best a wool is like 4 VP on that final turn, I think it's pretty easy to see how an earlier upgraded sheep could have enabled you to get 4 more total income throughout the game by moving up on Iceland faster or something else.)

I really did like your opening here though. Rounds 1 and 2 seemed quite strong in terms of getting everything set up.
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