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Subject: War Clouds brewing rss

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Travis Sonsalla
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This session report is from a playtest of the Wealth of Nations - War Clouds expansion using the version 2.0 rules. Experience the joys, pitfalls, and a-ha moments of this playtest!

Players: Travis, Brian, Mike, Peter, and Alex.

Industry Package selection: Travis took the two generators and $10. Brian took two labor tiles. Mike was the starting players and took the three farms. Peter took two ore tiles. Alex took two capital tiles.

No military activity occurred during the first round. Travis and Alex each placed two banking tiles. Mike placed four farms and connected these with his original farm tiles to maximize food production. Brian placed a farm near Peter’s tiles and ultimately faced limited growth there through flag placement by Peter.

In round two heavy borrowing began! Alex acquired a second military unit and moved one onto a central farm tile of Mike’s. Rather than conquer, Alex chose to disrupt Mike’s farm output during the production phase. With his other military unit Alex battled and removed Mike’s sole military unit. Travis built a third banking tile and received $90 during the production phase. Peter and Brian did some minor activities that I cannot recall, but nothing too serious as they refrained from heavy borrowing.

In round three the military action ramped up. During the trade phase binding agreements were negotiated. Alex spent the most time negotiating with (i.e. threatening) others. Travis and Alex negotiated a poorly worded agreement to not have Alex attack Travis.

Travis built two military units during the development phase of round three. His plan was to protect his banking interests. After initial placement Travis chose to try a play different from his style and activated his three military units. One went to Pete’s ore tile and battled his military unit as Alex had been trying to convince Peter to form an alliance with him to stop Travis’ banking machine. The other two went to Mike’s farm and conquered two central food tiles. (Alex had previously moved his military unit back to one of his capital tiles.)

Mike was not pleased with this and responded immediately by acquiring a military unit, expending his sole energy cube to do so. He next activated the unit and conquered one of Travis’ generators. Alex moved his military unit onto one of Travis’ banking tiles, stating that he only agreed to not attack Travis. No conquering or disrupting was done.

The downside in these actions was that Travis was unable to produce any food from the conquered farm tiles due to insufficient energy. Even worse for Mike since he was now unable to produce any food for round three. No products to sell or barter!

Heavy borrowing went to the extreme in round four. Promissory note acquisition happened rapidly for everyone except Peter. Brian was reluctantly taking notes due to more negotiating (threatening) from Alex. Travis and Alex negotiated a binding agreement where Alex would take no action to harm Travis in any manner in exchange for an energy cube at the start of the next round and another two rounds after that. Travis also negotiated a binding agreement with Peter to not have Peter attack Travis in any manner for $15 payable at the start of the following round.

With no production, Mike had no choice but to borrow and borrow and borrow. With Alex’s continual saber rattling all threatened by him had to contemplate paying for an arms race. If not they risked growing their production capabilities with the potential of losing industries to aggressive military units.

By the end of round four Mike had taken 22 promissory notes. As he approached taking the 21st note, the group reviewed the rules but could find no ruling regarding borrowing beyond twenty notes. In the interest of keeping the game going, it was decided that notes twenty and beyond would pay out one dollar.

Round five then began with Mike needing 22 notes to pay the interest on his previous 22 outstanding notes. From there, Mike simply modeled the Zimbabwe economy and had borrowed 381 total notes in an attempt to simply purchase military units that would take over everyone’s tiles, occupy all open hexes and end the game. Of course, this was not a winning strategy, but is there any winning strategy when faced with the effects of a broken economy? We all realized our choice of unlimited note taking was silly and chose to end the game as of the fourth round.

The results:

Mike: 44 notes, 7 tiles, no cash, score: negative 104
Alex: 24 notes, 5 tiles, $24, score: negative 50
Travis: 18 notes, 6 tiles, $75, score: negative 23
Brian: 11 notes, 5 tiles, $15, score: negative 12
Peter: 3 notes, 7 tiles, $20, score: positive 21


During the game we asked: Why does it cost only one food to activate and operate three military units (advance) but costs a much more expensive ore to activate one single unit (transport)? After re-reading the rules a couple of days later I think I see our mistake and some typos in the rules regarding Advance tripped us up. Our understanding was that Advance activated three units that could go onto any hex ANYWHERE, but the correct rule is that these units advance one adjacent hex. A military unit that is being transported can go to any hex anywhere there is not an opponent’s piece. This definitely would have changed our game!

We also believe that there needs to be some restriction on borrowing beyond the 20th note. Brian already asked on BGG and received the official opinion that: "If you cannot pay your interest because you already have 20 loans you are insolvent and kicked out of the game. Your Military Units are removed and your flags become neutral and take no further actions. Your tiles do not produce and your cubes, cash and debt are put back into supply."

I know I look forward to see the clouds of war return soon with these two major issues addressed. The rain of war shall batter any nation who stands between me and the wealth of my nation!

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Peter Hansell
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travbot wrote:

The downside in these actions was that Travis was unable to produce any food from the conquered farm tiles due to insufficient energy. Even worse for Mike since he was now unable to produce any food for round three. No products to sell or barter!

This is pretty interesting - expending your only energy cube to go to war and not produce. I think this gets a head smack - oof.

travbot wrote:

By the end of round four Mike had taken 22 promissory notes. As he approached taking the 21st note, the group reviewed the rules but could find no ruling regarding borrowing beyond twenty notes. In the interest of keeping the game going, it was decided that notes twenty and beyond would pay out one dollar.

Round five then began with Mike needing 22 notes to pay the interest on his previous 22 outstanding notes. From there, Mike simply modeled the Zimbabwe economy and had borrowed 381 total notes in an attempt to simply purchase military units that would take over everyone’s tiles, occupy all open hexes and end the game.


This seems to prove the point that only 20 notes should be allowed. Otherwise it will all go sideways.

travbot wrote:

During the game we asked: Why does it cost only one food to activate and operate three military units (advance) but costs a much more expensive ore to activate one single unit (transport)? After re-reading the rules a couple of days later I think I see our mistake and some typos in the rules regarding Advance tripped us up. Our understanding was that Advance activated three units that could go onto any hex ANYWHERE, but the correct rule is that these units advance one adjacent hex. A military unit that is being transported can go to any hex anywhere there is not an opponent’s piece. This definitely would have changed our game!

Good catch - I will have to make it more explicit that one food allows units to move only to an adjacent space.
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Travis Sonsalla
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Peteloaf wrote:
This is pretty interesting - expending your only energy cube to go to war and not produce. I think this gets a head smack - oof.

I'm certain ominous war clouds blocked out sunny thoughts of economic growth.
 
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