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Subject: The UN conquers the galaxy (CEO) rss

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Todd Pytel
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OK... just the solar system and not the galaxy, but the UN is nothing if not ambitious.

I'm new to HF with this edition, though not new to Phil's other excellent games. I've played a handful of FtF HF games against other new players and I've played about a dozen CEO solitaire games to various stages of failure or completion. I feel like I've got a strong, generally feasible CEO strategy at this point that netted me a 60+ point margin of victory in a cardboard game. Of course, I may be completely misunderstanding a rule or two, so I figured it would be instructive and fun to post a complete, detailed session for public review. Thus, I'll post summaries of each solar cycle in this CEO run, but I'll also post Vassal logfiles with significant commentary included so that interested parties (if any exist) can follow along turn by turn.

However, I wasn't quite happy with how the 0.3 Vassal module handles draws from the bottom of the deck - it manages this through reversing the patent decks, which unavoidably reveals the next-to-last card when you buy off the bottom. That's potentially important information in a CEO run. I did a little research and implemented a proper draw-from-the-bottom method that wouldn't reveal any extra information. So if you'd like to follow along turn-by-turn, you'll need my modified Vassal module from the link below - the saves and logs will not work with the regular 0.3 module. My module is tagged as version "0.3a" so that you'll be able to differentiate it from the standard module and install it alongside the regular 0.3 module. (I've also GM'd DrakeImmortalis to see if he'd like to incorporate these changes into his module.)

All of my Vassal files (including my modified module) are available here. Start by installing my tweaked module, then load the "CEO Start - Purple" save game, then load each cycle's log file (1_1, etc.) and step through the moves until you see the end-of-cycle message. Then load up the next cycle's log. If anything doesn't seem to work right, please let me know - I've only used Vassal a little bit and may be messing something up.

I chose Purple (UN) via a random die roll. I'll post a handful of images to show the board state from there, but the real thinking in HF isn't communicated well by images IMO. Again, there's quite a lot more commentary included in the Vassal log. But without further ado, let's get started...

** Cycle 1 **

The opening patent decks...

I grab the thruster and reactor before Inspriration hits, giving me a bunch of good choices...

The Islamic Refugees and the MET Steamer are both awesome for this strategy and would push me towards it even if I didn't already think it was generally the best way to go. Budget cuts hit me next (a recurring theme, as we'll see) before another Inspiration. And then yet another Inspiration hits, but not before I grab the Refugees. By the end of the first solar cycle, I've got a decent selection of parts but little progress towards actually flying a rocket...


More to come... I've played further, but I'm playing FtF tomorrow during the day and may not have time to write up more of the session for a day or two.
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John Buse
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Todd,

Are you playing with all Colonization modules? It looks like Supports, Colonists, Freighters, Bernals, and GW Thrusters, but is there any point in playing with the Combat or Endgame modules?

Reading further, it does look like it's necessary to play with futures from the Endgame module.
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Todd Pytel
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jbuse wrote:
Are you playing with all Colonization modules?

Yes, except for Combat of course. As you say, you need a Future to win and that's all the Endgame module is.
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Todd Pytel
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** Cycle 2 **

Cycle 2, Year 1 sees me promote my Bernal so that I have a safe place for colonists and shipbuilding. At this point, my goal is simple - industrialize the Martian glaciers before the next board meeting. But hopefully I can do it fast enough that I'll have extra time to get the Bernal moving to its new home before then. It's been a somewhat slow start, but we should be ready to roll now that we've got our promoted Bernal and the Islamic Refugees are working for us.

Unfortunately, budget cuts from shortsighted politicians in Brussels hit me twice over the next several years. Not wanting to lose potentially valuable patents that already fit into my plans, my agency scrambles to restore the projects' funding (i.e. spends operations researching off the bottom to get the cards back). The Islamic Refugees also lose a turn or two of productivity because the agency lost their luggage with their prayer mats and they refused to work until we found them (i.e. I forgot the refugees were there and didn't use them). By the time everything is sorted out, parts are boosted, and water is collected for fuel and engineer payments, it's already Cycle 2, Year 11! But we're finally ready to fly...

With exactly 3 net thrust from the robonaut and plenty of money to buy Mountain Dew for the programmers, I fly to Mars before year's end.

Between my crew operation and the refugees, I prospect and industrialize the glaciers immediately and also establish a space colony. Mission accomplished! It would have been nice to get it done a turn or two faster, as it will be a few turns of work to get my Bernal to its shiny new dirtside. However, an Inspiration at the end of year 11 sends the Rubbia Thin Film Fission reactor to the bottom of the deck, and I think I can make very good use of that. I authorize the research order en route to the board meeting while polishing up my powerpoint on our new Martian colony...

1 claim, 1 factory, 1 colony = 4 VP's + 10(C) = 14 VP's vs 10 required. The directors are thrilled and assure me that a few fancy dinners paid for by our lobbyists in Brussels will keep the taxpayer money flowing and our project fully funded.
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Doug DeMoss
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I believe the promoted Bernal also counts as a VP.

What generator did you use to promote? Is it the Photon Rectenna? I'm not sure whether that's attached or just a pile, having not used the Vassal module. I guess as long as you don't have much in the Bernal, you might be able to make it to Mars with that as your thruster, but -1 thrust is pretty harsh on a 3.3 big stack.

Definitely looking forward to seeing how this plays out.
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Todd Pytel
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demoss1 wrote:
I believe the promoted Bernal also counts as a VP.

Only if it's at a dirtside.
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Doug DeMoss
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tppytel wrote:
demoss1 wrote:
I believe the promoted Bernal also counts as a VP.

Only if it's at a dirtside.


Ah, right. The ersatz Bernal counts in home orbit but the base one doesn't.

Also, what powered the MET Steamer?
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Todd Pytel
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demoss1 wrote:
Also, what powered the MET Steamer?

The solar generator. Base thrust 5 - 1 thrust modifier on the generator - 1 transport, but no solar power modifier since I was starting in the Earth zone.
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Todd Pytel
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Sorry, I didn't see your edit earlier.

demoss1 wrote:
What generator did you use to promote? Is it the Photon Rectenna?

No, it's another crappy C solar generator. It's in the Bernal stack, but the stack is collapsed so you can't see it in the pics.

Quote:
I guess as long as you don't have much in the Bernal, you might be able to make it to Mars with that as your thruster, but -1 thrust is pretty harsh on a 3.3 big stack.

Indeed. I have a plan.
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Todd Pytel
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** Cycle 3 **

After the board meeting, I invite the senior staff out for a "retreat" (i.e. we all get plastered). At some point in the evening, my research director apparently talks me into authorizing a "future future tech" division of the agency. I can't remember the details the next morning, but the research authorization for something called an "Amat-catalyzed Fission Fusion Thruster" is making the rounds, apparently with my signature on it. The feasibility analysis section seems to have been used as a coaster at the bar the previous evening. It doesn't look to me like we can actually build this thing, but the details are obscured by what could be the remnants of a pina colada. I tell the refugees to keep doing whatever they do to make us money, tell my secretary to cancel the rest of my meetings for the day, and then go home and curl up in a little ball under the covers.

When I come to, I remember that I have a large, heavy problem to solve. My engineers are busy sketching out sleek, sexy new rocket designs when I call to ask... "Hey guys... can we strap that Rubbia Thin Film reactor onto our Bernal along with the Cermet Nerva?" They huddle in hushed conversation, fiddle with their slide rules for a while, and check section Q8 of their engineering textbook. They object to the proposal on aesthetic grounds but believe it's feasible. One year and a few million euros later and our Bernal is in Lower Martian Orbit.

Meanwhile, our lobbyists couldn't seem to comp enough lobster dinners to keep the politicians from cutting our funding again. But we were going to cut our generator development anyway, so we feign indignance, move the engineers to new projects, and pay them from a budget line labeled "Space-based Countermeasures to PRC Election Hacking", which is swiftly approved. The ensuing hubbub in the scientific community leads a fringe group dubbing themselves Microgravity Pantrophists to reach out to us, claiming they can provide us advanced research facilities far ahead of the schedules we had drawn up. I'm skeptical, but as long as they don't mess with the refugees' prayer mats I suppose they can't hurt. They seem to have a thing for blue tie-dye and sandals, and the refugees aren't keen on that, but they get along well enough to launch an Ersatz-Bernal a few years later.

While enjoying lobster dinners and mediating disputes between the refugees and pantrophists, my secretary reminds me that my contract is up in a couple of years and suggests that I might want to... you know... fly a rocket somewhere. I copy-paste last cycle's mission plan, change the dates in the file, and send it off between bites of lobster. I get word of our successful colonization of the Arsia Mons Caves on Mars on the way to the board meeting. I make a mental note that my secretary probably deserves a raise, or at least some flowers or something. While mingling ahead of the meeting, I'm introduced to a new director named Malcolm, toting along what appears to be a mouse with a cybernetic implant. He claims his "smart pets" offer a unique, synergistic business opportunity for his enterprises and our agency. Sounds to me like he's off his chump, but he went to the same prep school as all the other directors, so it appears that I'm stuck with him.

3 claims, 2 factories, 2 colonies, 1 bernal + 2x 8(C) = 26 VP vs 20 required

edit: 2 bernals. Forgot the ersatz counts. 27 VP.

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Todd Pytel
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(The following cycle has three logs - 4_1, 4_2, and 4_3 - due to backtracking to fix a rules error and a rest break. If you want to follow along, load the first one, run it until you get the message that the log is over, then load the next, etc.)

** Cycle 4 **

Space industrialization is now officially the new hotness back on Earth, where the 11th edition of a once-obscure pre-millenial board game named High Frontier is being played by millions worldwide. A bullet point or two for the next investor reports will be sufficient to keep the suckers enthusiasts supporting my increasingly lavish lifestyle. I decide a Space Elevator would be a shiny object big enough for the politicians to point to, and simple enough for me to produce that I can devote my time to more difficult projects in the future. A mere 5 years later, I claim Minerva and the Space Elevator is completed soon thereafter:



The next stage of UN space domination will require us to locate a source of specific metal ores. Over the last 36 years, our PR department has systematically questioned the practicality of metal-based components in public journals, ensuring that their patent holders could be quietly bought off later for much less than full market price. As a result, we now hold rights to 6 different major patents that we stand to profit from handsomely. The nearest likely source of these metals appears to be Hertha, so we set off to claim it. Unfortunately, the initial spectrographic analysis of the site turns out to have been largely fabricated decades ago in a high school science project and our buggynaut finds nothing for its troubles. I decide we'll do our own analysis this time around and send our men to Lutetia, where our team strikes metal and celebrates.

It's a few years out from the next board meeting and our project has met with such wild success and public acclaim back on Earth that a Kickstarter for a 12th edition of High Frontier with tiddlywinks made from real space rocks is launched. Of course, we'll get a healthy cut from every game sold for delivering said space rocks along with permission to include a facsimile of my signature in the rulebook. Good thing too, because the next phase of our project is going to require a lot of money.



5 claims, 3 factories, 3 colonies, 2 bernals = 16 VP's
2x C8, M10 = 26 VP's
Space Elevator = 3 VP's

Total = 45 VP's vs 30 VP's required

** End of Cycle 4 **
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Fabian
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Wait, what, you're allowed to research from the bottom of a deck?
 
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Doug DeMoss
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Zlarp wrote:
Wait, what, you're allowed to research from the bottom of a deck?


It's in the general solo rules, I believe. You're just not allowed to look - though presumably you'll usually remember what's there, having seen it before.
 
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