I wear my Halloween costume all year round!
It’s always a bad sign when you have an epidemic on the first turn. We’d had high hopes at the beginning when our initial card distribution seemed favorable, but it quickly started to go downhill.
We were playing with the Farmer (Johnny Lee), the Instructor (Ma‘arifah), the Laborer (Samson) and the Administrator (Sara Swift). Both Ma‘arifah and Sara Swift suffered from exposure over the course of the game; Ma‘arifah's first exposure did nothing, but Sara immediately gained a scar. Demoralized seemed like it would be the least problematic for us.
Despite the spreading plague, we built our three supply stations, and we were set up to win on the next turn by exploring North America. We drew our three infection cards. The first two were fine, but the third added another plague cube, and it was our eighth one. We had lost at the last possible moment.
Several cities suffered declines in population: London, Cairo, Tripoli, Lagos. Only Istanbul increased. We seemed to be losing ground here. The one consolation was that we got three Production Units to spend, so we gave the Architect ability to Samson the Laborer. He could now build Supply Centers with one fewer card, which in combination with his Laborer ability meant that he only needed three cards. This would be helpful going forward.
Setting up the board between Early and Late January. It was only at the start of our February game that we realized we might want to start with some cubes in the Havens, where they could easily be picked up and moved to wherever they were needed.
Our luck was much better this time—or maybe it was Samson’s new Architect ability that made the difference. Either we, we finally managed to turn things around. No one suffered from exposure, we built our three research stations, and we completed a recon mission in North America. We even managed to connect Atlanta to the grid as well, boosting us over the threshold for another Production Unit at the end of the game.
So we had five Production Units to spend, including the one that we got for winning. We gave the Courier ability to Johnny Lee the farmer, allowing him to deliver supplies to an adjacent location, and we used the other two points to increase population. We brought Atlanta up from 1 to 2 because leaving a city at 1 seemed risky, and we brought Kokomo, our southernmost Haven, from 3 to 4. The reasoning there was that we wanted to be able to produce more supplies for distribution to the cities.
So we actually had a net gain in population at the end of this game. We added Chicago (2) and Atlanta (1) to the grid, we increased the populations of Atlanta and Kokomo with Production Units, and we increased the populations of three other cities via Supply Centers: Washington, Jacksonville, and Cairo. So there’s still some hope for the world.
I’m really enjoying the game so far, but I have to admit that I don’t entirely understand the narrative; it’s not quite as clear and compelling as in PL 1. The introduction said that distant cities were falling off the grid and we didn’t know what had happened to them. But then we connected some of them back to the grid—and we *still* have no idea why they fell off in the first place. Did we not gain any information at all from our recon mission, or while establishing supply lines?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the excitement of revealing new parts of the board. But I don’t think the gameplay and the storyline mesh quite as well as I’d like. I get the impression that there’s supposed to be some big mystery here: what’s happening to these disconnected cities? But then I can just casually travel in and out of them again without gaining any information. Hopefully more will be revealed in our future searches and as the game progresses.
That critique notwithstanding, I’m really happy with the game so far. I may have woken my husband at 8:30 this (Saturday) morning so that we can get on with February….