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Subject: A valiant effort with Saturn Systems. rss

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Arthur Williams
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In view of the existing high scores, I will go for an achievable goal - Saturn Systems (since I just played PhobLog in the real game, else I'd be eager to try it). Neutral cities are Peroxide Power (east of Tharsis Tholus) and Corporate Stronghold (on Ritchey); their adjacent forests are Permafrost Extraction (due east) and Lichen (since this is an edge city, I'm a little unclear how to count, but I'm assuming I skip over the non-hexes, while counting the blue hexes as long as I don't stop on them; the result is that it lands on Lassel). Opening hand: Io Mining, Sponsors, Nitrophilic Moss, Subterranean Reservoir, Great Dam, GHG Factories, Research, Ore Processor, Black Polar Dust, and Wave Power. I discard Wave Power, Great Dam, Nitrophilic Moss, and reluctantly Research. Paying 18 to keep the other cards (I thought about giving up GHGF and BPD, but both seem strong enough to justify the cost), I am left with 24.

Generation 1: Put corporation into play and immediately MC to +1. Play Sponsors (MC to +3) and Subterranean Reservoir (ocean on Argyre Planitia, gain 2 titanium, TR to 15). They cost 17, so I have 7 left. Produce 18 more MC for a total of 25.

Generation 2: Research Greenhouses, Rad-Chem Factory, Immigrant City and Geothermal Power. Discard only the Greenhouses, paying 9 and having 16 left. Play Geothermal Power (Energy production +2). 5 MC left; produce 18 more for 23, plus 2 Energy.

Generation 3: Research Solar Wind Power, Giant Space Mirror, Protected Habitats and Toll Station. I'm assuming I don't have to specify what I chose. 17 money remains, and that's exactly enough for the Mirror, but instead I play Rad-Chem Factory (Energy production to +1, TR to 17), then play Solar Wind Power (spending and regaining the 2 Titanium, so effectively just paying 5 to get back my 2nd point of energy production. The net effect of the round was effectively to buy 2 TR for 13 MC, while trading out one card in my hand and gaining one new one; 6 MC remain, and my 2 Energy becomes 2 Heat. I produce 2 new energy and 20 MC.

Generation 4: Research Farming, Power Infrastructure, Earth Office, and Trans-Neptune Probe, throwing them all away. My leftover Titanium gets me a Giant Space Mirror for 11 (left with 15 MC, Energy Production to +5); I then play Immigrant City (left with 2 MC, Energy Production to +4, MC to +2), placing the city at the northeast end of Bosporos Rupes, and gaining 2 MC for being next to an ocean. I convert 2 energy into my 3rd and 4th points of heat, replace them twice over, and gain 19 MC.

Generation 5: I draw Insulation, Symbiotic Fungus, and then I pick up three cards by accident and see them all, so I shuffle them back in and resume drawing, getting Lava Flows and Building Industries. The first and the last are thrown away; Symbiotic Fungus might not do anything for me, but I can't stand to throw it away. Left with 17 MC, I drop my Ore Processor, feed my energy to it, raise oxygen to 1, raise TR to 18, and gain a point of titanium. I have enough MC to play the Symbiotic Fungus, but it's neither hot enough, nor do I have any actual use for them left, so I end the round. I produce 20 MC again; I won't mention the energy hereafter, since it's going to be fed to the Ore Processor until further notice.

Generation 6: Research Moss (one of the cards I shuffled into the middle of the deck, having somehow found its way back to the top), Local Heat Trapping, Miranda Resort, and Predators. One of these things is not like the others, and 3 MC later, it is mine. I process some ore to get 2 total titanium (incidentally doubling the oxygen and rising to 19 TR), spend that to halve the cost of Miranda, and lose 6 MC (15 remaining). Only one Earth tag is in play, but I also have a Jovian tag, so that's +2 MC production (total +4) - twice the cost of Sponsors for the same effect, but what the heck, I paid the same amount of actual MC, and the titanium is a byproduct of something I was going to do anyway. Plus it's a VP, and I might actually care about that here, as well as I'm doing. I could do Black Polar Dust this round, but I think I can do better if I wait and keep my high MC production (a total of 23 to be specific, giving me a total of 38).

Generation 7: The mines of Io are calling to me; I will have exactly what I need to make that happen, if only I can resist purchasing any new cards. My choices are Rover Construction, Regolith Eaters (normally a card I'd care very much about, but redundant with Ore Processor), Mining Rights (handy for getting titanium, but a bit late for me to bother), and Kelp Farming (plants? who needs 'em - that should be Saturn's official motto), so I'm able to avoid the temptation, and the ultimate card arrives, after Oxygen is raised to 3 and TR to 20. Saturn raises MC by 1 for a Jovian tag, and Io raises it 2 more (total +7), plus giving me 2 titanium production. That was well worth an entire turn and most of the previous one! I produce 27 new MC (that's also my total, in case you missed the fact that I spent every penny buying the game's most expensive card), my shiny 2 titanium, and various other invisible sundries.

Generation 8: Search For Life, Windmills, Restricted Area, and Great Escarpment Consortium are drawn. I can afford a bit of extravagance in the name of getting 3 VP, so I keep the first card as well as the third, leaving me 21 to buy them both, and 7 after I've done so. I drop the Restricted Area on Solis Planum East, drawing Ants, and in the process I accidentally pick up Breathing Filters, so I pay 2 MC to draw that legally as well, even though I probably wouldn't have wanted it. I then process ore, gaining a third titanium (Oxygen 4%, TR 21). Though worried about losing a potential Jovian or Space card, I try the Search for Life - and indeed I lose Phobos Space Haven, which would have been rather handy for me. 4 MC left and Symbiotic Fungus still being too cold to come out of its spores, I end my turn by producing my 4th and 5th Titanium and 28 MC (total 32).

Generation 9: I felt good about the game so far, but I'm realizing that I have a lot of work to do in just 5 rounds; time to stop screwing around. I draw Power Grid, Lake Marineris, Bushes and Satellites, and decide only the latter can be justified (29 MC left), since it costs only titanium - and indeed I am so extravagant as to spend the full 4 Titanium instead of wasting a dollar to save one. +5 MC (total +12) is worth this, but only just, given the time constraints. I process ore (Oxygen 5%, 2 total Titanium left, TR to 22), then I release the hou...er, the Lava Flows (Temperature to -26, TR to 24, volcano on Ascraeus Mons, draw Tundra Farming). Nothing else appears worth doing, so I spend 2 MC to draw Nitrogen-Rich Asteroid, pause for quick math, confirm that I can spare an MC, and Search for Life, finding Insects and being satisfied. This leaves me with 8 MC, 2 Titanium, and the 4 heat that have just been floating around forever; I produce 4 energy as always, 2 more Titanium, and a finally-impressive 36 MC.

Generation 10: Security Fleet, Fueled Generators, Mineral Deposit and Callisto Penal Mines are all available; the mines don't quite seem waiting for, but I'm Saturn, so I grudgingly keep them. The Mineral Deposit is a 2-MC profit if you have a Building, and I do technically have one, but I'm reluctant to play it, so I ditch that as well as the generators (38 MC left). Ore is processed (5 titanium, 6% oxygen, TR to 25), then Security Fleet is played and activated (1 Titanium remaining). 2 MC draws me Gene Repair, which I play [24 MC left, MC production to +14), I decide with some reluctance that it's Black Polar Dust time (9 MC left), dropping an ocean on Viking Site (TR to 26), drawing Space Mirrors and Development Center, and dropping back to +12 MC in order to go up to 3 heat production. Now I wish I'd kept the Mineral Deposit. My last Titanium turns into Space Mirrors, and after activating it, I have 2 MC left, giving me some excess energy production. I then produce - 3 heat (for the infuriating total of 7), 5 energy, 2 Titanium, and 38 MC (total 40).

Generation 11: I don't care about Lightning Harvest, Industrial Center, or of course the Virus; Ecological Zone concludes the failure of my research phase, but that's okay, I have plenty to do. I pay 2 to draw Arctic Algae, then pay 11 to play Development Center (27 MC left), then pay 1 energy to draw Convoy from Europa, then process ore (oxygen 7%, TR 27, 3 Titanium), and then decide to ignore the Security Fleet and play my new Convoy for 6 MC (21 remaining). Fesenkov fills up with refreshing Europan artesian water (TR to 28), and I draw Archaebacteria. Spending the resulting 2 Steel and a total of 14 MC [7 left] to play GHG Factories while counteracting the downside with Space Mirrors. Heat production rises to +7, and I'm left with nothing else to do. I am distinctly questioning my ability to make 6 more oceans and shoot the temperature up 17 times in the remaining 3 full rounds. Still, for my attempt I get to collect 40 more MC.

Generation 12: Mine is not mine, nor is Mohole Area, nor Nuclear Power, and even Aerobraked Ammonia Asteroid fails to impress me. Processing ore raises the oxygen to 8%, which raises the temperature to -24, which raises my TR to 30 and my heat production to +8. I use Development Center to draw Micro-Mills, but they're too slow to be a priority, so I go in for the big solution: Nitrogen-Rich Asteroid. Again ignoring the Security Fleet, I play it for 22 bucks (25 left), raising temperature to -22 and TR to 33 in total, while giving me a plant production which I don't especially care about. Spending 8 heat (6 left), I raise the temp again (-20, TR to 34) and go up to 9 production. Left with the choice of activating existing cards or playing Callisto Mines, which would be +4 MC but would never have time to pay for itself, I use Development Center and Space Mirrors, rising to 6 energy production and drawing Hackers. I finally use the Asteroid standard project to go to -18 and 35, and with nothing else to use my last 2 bucks for, I sell the Hackers for 1 more, then play the Micro-Mills (10 heat production). Producing every resource except steel, I take in 47 money and end the round.

Generation 13: Urbanized Area, Tropical Resort, Nuclear Zone and Energy Saving are drawn; the second and fourth are discarded, and then I do math on whether the Urbanized Area is worth anything. It would cost effectively 11, is worth a victory point, gives me a titanium, and has exactly one round in which to pay me back 2 MC - pretty clearly not a good trade. But of course Nuclear Zone is always worth playing in solitaire, so I pay 3 bucks to keep it (44 left). Ore is processed to get to 9% oxygen, and all 16 of my heat sends the temp up to -14 degrees. Archaebacteria is now unplayable, so I sell it for a buck. Nuclear Zone heats us up to -10, covers the spot that might otherwise have been an Urbanized Area, gives me a fourth titanium and a 2-MC ocean refund, and raises my TR to 39. Arctic Algae is now unplayable, so I sell that for 1 as well. I use Development Center to draw Magnetic Field Generators; it won't do me any good, so I sell that as well (39 MC left). At this point I officially accept my mistake in keeping Symbiotic Fungus, give up on any hope of making the Ants successful, and sell both of them plus Tundra Farming to get 3 more bucks, allowing me to purchase three more Asteroids (temp to -4, TR to 42). In all of that I completely lost track of my Titanium pile, so since I have little else to do with it, I make a Fighter resource and end my turn. I get a little hit of nostalgia as my energy point turns into heat, for the first time since very early in the game. It is now clear I've failed, and won't even fill up the oxygen despite my promising start, but I'm still going to play out the final round, producing 54 MC.

Generation 14: Industrial Microbes, Advanced Ecosystems, Mars University, and Indentured Workers all fail to help. I sell my last two cards, deeply saddened that Callisto Penal Mines is among them, and go up to 56 MC. Cartel is drawn by Development Center and then sold for a dollar; ore is processed (6 titanium, 10% oxygen, 43 TR), and a security fleet fighter is made. A 14-MC Asteroid and all but three of my heat get the temp up to 0, placing an ocean in Kasei Vallis and drawing me Adaptation Technology, which I sell. Needing a hail mary shot, I use Restricted Area to draw Adapted Lichen, wasting 1 dollar to no profit as I sell the result of my fruitless research. (I tend to overvalue card draw in this game, but there's no question that it did pay off this game at least once or twice; it simply hasn't been enough.) For an effective 14 MC, I drop another ocean in between two existing ones, leaving me with 25, and I spend all but 2 of it on a greenery for Solis Planum, simply so I can see one more card. Miraculously, it's Methane from Titan; had I not activated the Security Fleet, I'd have enough titanium to get its cost down to 10, which means that if I'd rejected the Symbiotic Fungus back when I drew it, I'd have easily been able to play this now, not that it would suffice. With 4 oceans, 4 temperature steps, and 3 oxygen steps left to go, my failure is complete.
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