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Subject: Starting Small - my approach to playing Pocket Civ rss

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David
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DURHAM
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I tried out Pocket Civ a while back and, like most rookies, got pummeled into dust, with barely a point of Glory to my name. I almost just put it aside as just too hard. But something kept tickling the back of my brain. How to avoid those disasters that just wipe you out early on?

So the idea that came to me was contrary to the advice that is in the rules. Don't seek to populate every territory early on, but keep to a corner, one with a good amount of resources. Build that up, get some cities, then look to expand. My first attempt (well, my first attempt where I was following the rules at least approximately right!) was promising but doomed: I built up but then was knocked back down and spent several Eras surviving, but never able to get back to where I could actually score points. And eventually the event came that wiped me out (Bandits, Era VI, FYI).

My next attempt went a little better and an account of that follows:

The world:
I'm not quite at 'deluxe' here. I drew the map:

Then I used cubes to show where the forests, desert and mountains were. I used cubes from Glen More to show that (green=forest, gray=mountain, yellow=desert). Then I used the natives from Small World for my tribes. My cities were dice, with the face showing the current AV. Not fancy, but it worked.

Initial placement:
I put forests and mountains into Regions 2, 4 and 8, with region 7 a buffer zone (also a mountain). Region 6 was mountain, Regions 1 and 3 were Forested. Leaving the most remote, Region 5, as Desert.

This was all set to give me a good chance at a Start. I kept my initial regions inland so Floods did not turn to Tsunamis. The desert was far away, so an early sandstorm did not cause me too much damage. The buffer region 7 would keep most invaders away from me. That was the plan, anyway.
I will go into some detail for the first part, to demonstrate the approach. I will be more brief later on – this game went to all 8 Eras.

Era I:
1. Pop 6. No event. My tribes are in 2, 4 and 8, 2 in each.
2. Pop 9. Move tribes to region 2 (retaining 1 in each of the other 2). Event: Earthquake (region 1 - gets a fault line). Meanwhile, in region 2, I create a farm (decimating a forest, -2 pop) and create a city (AV1, -4 pop).
3. Pop 6. Move to region 2 again. Event: Epidemic (region 3, another miss). Advance: Masonry (-2 pop).
4. Pop 7. I concentrate in 2, but Event: Tribal War (region 2! kills off my neighbor tribes and I lose 3 in region 2. However, I still use my last 2 to gain +1AV.
5. Pop 3 (as long as you have a city, you get a min of 3 pop - I made use of this rule several times). Spread tribes to my core regions. Event: Volcano (region 7). That is next door. A worry if it goes off.
6. Pop 6. I put 2 in region 4 and 4 in region 2. No event. I take the Advance Agriculture (-4 pop), then create a farm in region 4 (no forest needs to be decimated, still -2 pop).
7. Get 3 tribes in region 2. Spread to 4 and 8. Event: Flood (region 6 - a Tsunami washes over the other half of the country).
8. Pop 6. All but 1 move to region 4. No event.
End of Era I: City check OK, 2 advances score me 8 Glory.

Era II:
Create city in region 4 (-4 pop). Research advance: Simple Tools (free). In upkeep, improve city in region 4 (+1AV, -1 pop - 1 less due to Simple Tools).
9. Pop 3 - spread to 8. Event: Sandstorm (region 2, -1 farm, create desert). Research advance Mining (-1 pop). In upkeep, I lack a farm in region 2, so lose 1AV in that city.
10. Pop 5, cities in 2 (AV1) and 4 (AV2). Move 1 to region 2. No event. Create farm (region 2, -2 pop). In upkeep, +1AV to region 2 city (-1 pop).
11. Pop 4, cities in 2 (AV2) and 4 (AV2). 2 tribes in region 8, others spread. Event: Visitation: Nordic (Trade, gain 1 gold). Sadly, not in a position to make use of that. Create farm (region 8, -2 pop).
12. Pop 4, same cities. Move all to region 8. Event: Bandits (region 5 - too far away to bother me). Create city (region 8, -4 pop).
13. Pop 3 cities in 2 (AV2), 4 (AV2), 8 (AV1). All move to 4. No event. Research advance: Metalworking (-3 pop).
14. Pop 3, same cities. 1 tribe in each. Event: Visitation: Nordic (attack region 4, 6 strength. Each tribe kills 2 strength due to metalworking. 4 strength attack on city is repelled - timely research there).
End of Era II: city check OK, gain 21 Glory (running total = 29).

Era III:
Upkeep: +1AV, -1 pop
15. Pop 3, 3 cities (2,4,8, all AV2). Event: Visitation: Floren (attack, region 5).
16. Pop 6, 3 cities all AV2, concentrate in region 4. Event: Visitation: Atlantea (trade: 1 gold). Research advance: Simple Tools (-4 pop).
17. Pop 4 3 cities all AV2. 2 in region 4. Event: Flood (region 7). Upkeep region 4 AV+1=3 (-1 pop, due to both Tools).
18. Pop 6, 3 cities. Spread to region 7 (2 in 4 and 8) No event. Research advance: Cartage (-1 pop). Upkeep region 8 AV+1=3 (-1 pop).
19. Pop 8. 3 cities. No event. Research advance: Roadbuilding (free). Upkeep 2 AV+1=3 (-1 pop).
20. Pop 11, 3 cities all AV3. Move into region 6. Event: Earthquake (region 5 – add faultline). Research advance: Engineering (-2 pop). Create farm (region 6, -2 pop).
21. Pop 11, 3 cities all AV3. No event.
End of Era III: City check OK, all advances give 38 Glory. Total now at 67 Glory. The civilization is at least established and I'll become a little more abbreviated from here on out.

Era IV:
Pop growth enough to support a new city in region 6 (which is upgraded to AV2 for free). A successful Mining pull nets 3 gold, enough to research Coinage (and retain any gold gained from visitations). However, the next Visitation is from unfriendly Gilda, who attack my region 4 at 15 strength. They kill the tribes there and bring down 2 AVs from the city there.

I establish another new city in region 3 and research Music. Another attack from the Gilda n region 5 - by now I am spreading as far as possible so invaders have something to fight wherever they look. The 12 strength band kill5 tribes before meeting the walls of my city. I am able to research Storytelling next, to help with the costs of the next advances. I am keen on getting to Philosophy so to avoid the often disasterous Visitation events, which will only get stronger in later Eras. A Flood in region 4 and an Epidemic in region 2 hit me, but I get Literacy before the end of the era. The epidemic reduces my population though, so I don’t gain as much glory as I might have.
End of Era IV: city check OK, pop 5 gain 28 Glory. Total 95 Glory.

Era V:
Era V opens quietly as I get no events for two turns in a row (a minor miracle for this game). With me spread, I prioritize Philosophy to help me avoid attacks. So I get Mythology, then after a little bit of Anarchy, Meditation. I added another city as well. So I am poised to get the advance I want, I have the ‘research space’. So what happens? Nordic Attack, 18 strength. It hits region 5 (not too bad) and moves into 1 and 3, knocking down some walls and killing some guys. Then I draw a Flood, which becomes a Tsunami in region 1. Both cities on the sea front are destroyed.

In rebuilding mode now, I re-establish a city in region 6 even as there is trouble in region 8 with an uprising. With the Era nearly up, I see Atlantea visit, but fortunately they come to trade (1 gold, which is certainly better than a 18 strength rampage around my little country).

End of Era V: city check - 5 cities (just), pop 13, so I only get 13 of my advances. Gain 52, now at 147 Glory.

Era VI:
My priorities are getting a 6th city and rebuilding enough to gain more advances. No event early on, so I can create a farm in region 1 and a city in region 3. Anarchy hits for a loss of some tribes, but the city rebuilding continues. My pop gets over 20 for the first time, just in time for an Epidemic (15 strength). Despite that loss, I create a 7th city for some buffer: you can never expect to retain all your cities in this game. Sure enough, Civil War breaks out in region 6 and the rebuilding restarts. Meditation at least helped out with the population damage.

I get back the city n region 6, only for a Tribal War to erupt between regions 2 and 4. Minor casualties though and my population is rebounding. I get another city rebuilt, but the end of Era (a Corruption event) comes too soon.

End of Era VI: city check fails, no glory gained.

Era VII:
My population is back to 20 and cities are getting built, so I try an Expedition. I don’t have an advance that really helps, I send out 10 tribes and get 2 gold back. Not great. But the next event is only Bandits in a non desert region, so I have some breathing room. I try out Mining: first go (-3 pop) gives me nothing. But my next attempt gets me 1 and I hold it. 3 Gold is good for some useful advances.

You can see what is going to happen: the Florens attack (17 strenth) and I lose my gold. This is why I wanted Philosophy, but I am not back to the level I need to get another advance. I only lose one city though and the final card of the Era may be a Famine, but the end of era interrupts.

End of Era VII: city check OK, pop 22, gain 55. Total 203 Glory.

Era VIII:
Final era and no worry about cities, except that I need enough research room. I have been at the level only for an attack to come twice at least. The famine left over from era VII knocks me back a bit but I am almost there again when some Bandits come out of the desert and hit another city. With the number of attacks, Metalworking has been invaluable: the extra defences of Architecture (* strength lost for each AV) would have been nice, but the gold keeps slipping away.

More rebuilding. A Nordic visit, but this time I net 5 gold. I am (re)(re)(re)building cities every turn. I am hit by some anarchy but again I get back to the point where I can buy an advance. At at long last, I get a No Event, I get Philosophy (way too late to matter much but nice points). Not much time, I mine to regain some gold and maybe grab one of those nice advances before the end, but it misses. Was it a good idea? Perhaps, as the final card is a Flood…but the game ends without it resolving.

End of Game. No city check, pop 25, so all advances score: gain 67.
Total: 270 Glory!

Thanks to anyone still reading. I hope you got something out of this. It is rather a masochistic pleasure to play Pocket Civ, but I hope that this might be seen as a way to get a start so you are not just scratching around in the dirt.
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Bleicher
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loofish wrote:
So the idea that came to me was contrary to the advice that is in the rules.


That's interesting. I always use the "spread and multiply" approach to great success. I need to check out the rates of available "disasters", but I am under the impression that it's less common to get those that will spread less if you have fewer people near the active region. I always do my best to always have tribes in *all* regions (or at least most of them).

Stacking tribes may also be awful when we get those nasty disasters that kill everyone in a region, so when I need to accumulate a lot of tribes in a single region (for expeditions, for example), I choose the most connected region, try to accumulate tribes in all neighbours, and them throw everybody in when I want to do the action. There's still the possibility of having a disaster exactly in that central region and exactly after you do this (it's a cruel game, sometimes), but it is probably the least risky approach, I guess.
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David
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I didn't do any stats check or anything. My idea is based on avoiding the most destructive events: Bandits, Attack, Tsunami. I hid behind the buffer region (region 7 in my map) and got a start.

Nothing in this game is a guarantee, so if an attack comes in near enough to find my people, then I get wiped out. But so far it feels like I can at least get going, get a couple of cities in play and begin to build something. Or they get wiped out quickly and I start over.

Once established, I can spread and grow and deal with the attacks and other events. Maybe I'll develop an improved approach to dealing with what sort of problems they throw at you.

 
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Bleicher
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Hm, or perhaps try to independently evolve two "settlements", one on each side of your buffer region, so that if you are unlucky enough to see all folks wiped out in one side, you'll still have the guys in the other
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David Dawson
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Quote:
Then I used cubes to show where the forests, desert and mountains were. I used cubes from Glen More to show that (green=forest, gray=mountain, yellow=desert). Then I used the natives from Small World for my tribes. My cities were dice, with the face showing the current AV. Not fancy, but it worked.


Great session report, and also a good idea to use some components to other games, I'll have to try that when I try my copy.
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