Right, well last turn Bruce sent a raiding party of Trappers in to attack Pemaquid, but I had the location card in my hand, so the raid was blocked. I did however lose the card, so I start this turn with only 4 cards in my hand.
Without any real overarching plan to follow, I stick with what I know best, by building up what I have. Developing a village into a town doubles the Victory Points gained, so it seems wise to turn all my high point villages into towns just to push my score up whilst shuffling my feet wondering what to do.
I take my Deerfield location and use the settler resource from the St. Mary’s card to develop Deerfield village into a fully fledged 8 Victory Point Town!
As you can see, the small village square counter is now replaced with much more substantial circle counter, indicating the progress made.
My discard pile is stacking up, so I decide to take a look-see. Six locations (when you settle a location, you automatically acquire that location card in your discards, so that it becomes part of your hand in the future), a boat, and a fortification. If I’m wanting to expand I’m going to need the settlement cards on the periphery of my area of control, to get the connections forward. Probably want the likes of Albany or Philadelphia to be able to push military equipment through Cumberland or Fort Stanwix.
One of your actions per turn can be the purchasing of Empire cards, which are really support cards for settling and defending your villages/towns or attacking (siege and raid) enemy emplacements. Here’s a Fortification card that is quite useful because it can block raids both in your hand, or when placed around a settlement – it’s military might can only be used in defensive situations however. For my second action, I decide to buy up a Fortification card for 3 gold.
From the bottom panel of this screenshot you can see the scoreboard that keeps you (and your opponent) up to date with your score and card situation. It details, the number Victory Points (33), Gold (8) and settlement counters you have (and ones you might capture from the enemy). It also details the status of your various card decks, Hand, (Draw) Deck, Discard Pile, Location Cards and Empire Cards available. As you play cards out of your hand, they are replenished from your Deck, and when that is empty, it is filled up by your Discard pile.
I re-fill my hand with 3 cards, a Fortification, New Haven and Norfolk. The amount of Military might I seem to have in my hand is exciting (3 crossed rifle icons, 2 with the Infantry, 1 with Boston), but I’m not sure I’m ready for a Siege – mainly because I just don’t know how to make one happen, and what it entails to keep it rolling! So essentially, the Infantry in my hand is currently a hindrance.
Turn 6 – Bruce
Bruce yet again, fills his purse with trade, and buys up a Fortification card.
There are three “common” Fortification cards available in the Empire deck. I want to grab at least one because they are a defense against Indian raids, and more importantly I don’t want Ian to have these available to him for that purpose. And as always for the French, if there isn’t a clear alternative, using the Trader card is almost always a good choice.
I know I should do something with the Infantry, but my attention is drawn to my lack of funds so instead, I decide to cash in New Haven for 2 Gold.
Just because I can, I develop Norfolk to double the Victory Points to 4.
I draw 3 more cards from the deck to re-fill my hand, I get a boat, Philadelphia and Deerfield.
Turn 7 – Bruce
Persistently Bruce has another go at the raid on Pemaquid, he’s trying to break through, or keep my cards tied up in defense. Subsequently my Fortification card is used up in repelling the raid.
Because of the superior British military situation, the French will find themselves in trouble if the British are able to fortify their perimeter. Constant raiding is the key to preventing this, as it will cost the British fortification and location discards, unless the British player has invested heavily in Native American cards.
Starting a turn with only 4 cards in my hand, yet again, I push my infantry into the Reserve stack, freeing up my hand a little, but having the two military points available if I need them.
I think managing the reserve is a key way to stack the cards in your favour. You can secure needed cards, and pull them out of reserve when you want. It’s a free action to take them out of the reserve, but each one removed costs money to make them active.
Once again, I figure if I’m at a loss to use the cards from my hand in any meaningful way, I decide to sell up what I can and store some Gold in my funds. I sell Deerfield to recoup 2 Gold.
I’m struggling a bit to come up with anything other than reacting to the draw. However, my current efforts has my Victory Points at 35, which are still ahead of Bruce’s score so far. There might be a glimmer of hope.
I draw three cards to end my turn, and get New York, Pemaquid, Albany.
Turn 8 – Bruce
Bruce manages to settle Fort St. John, and discards the Fort Beausejour card – presumably trying to make room in his hand for other cards.
I thought I’d be able to divine by his previous actions a strategy he might be employing, but from the fragments of play you get to hear about, I’m not really getting anything. I guess, if you don’t know the game well enough, you probably won’t be able to detect any coherent plays from your opponent.
Moving down to Fort St. John threatens Albany and Deerfield. Because the “updated” rules allow raiding from a two-space distance, I only need to get as far as Ticonderoga to cause a lot of annoyance with raiding.
I take the Pemaquid card and the Bateaux and use them to settle into Fort Halifax. There are no Victory Point benefits to this action, but it gets me closer to Kennebec, one of Bruce’s settlements – and I’ll be able to launch raids upon him from here. It’s taken this long in the game for me to consider some form of offensive action.
For my second action, I use the Albany card along with the settler icon on Philadelphia to develop Albany into a Town and double the Victory Points to 8.
Since I’ve used four cards this turn, I get to draw four others, hopefully refreshing (and invigorating) my hand from the draw deck. I draw a Bateaux, Norfolk, St. Mary’s and a Fortification card.
It’s slowly dawning on me, that you can dip into the Draw Deck and the Discard Pile to peek into the future on the cards that are likely to come into your hand. If you can build some sort of future strategy from the cards in your draw pile, when they land you should be able to coax the cards into something more effective than I’m currently managing.
I still haven’t much of a clue as how to play this revelation. It’s just a nagging feeling that I should be forward planning from these decks, rather than just reacting to what flops out into your hand, turn after turn.
Turn 9 – Bruce
Bruce turns to the trader card once again, and uses it to get another 2 Gold. He also drafts in some Native Americans, to presumably throw more raids my way.
I need to cycle the Trader card out of my hand again, but only get two gold for it this time. I’m also loading up for more raiding, raiding, raiding …
I want to increase the Victory Point gap between me and Bruce, so that I can attempt to put myself slightly ahead, when he starts settling a lot of his rear settlements.
I use the Norfolk card for the connection to Richmond, the bateaux for transport and the St. Mary’s card for the Settler icon to place a village on Richmond.
Here we have Richmond village secured, so apart from Baltimore we have the majority of the settlements within British grasp in our control.
I begin to recruit Native Americans to our cause. Time to gather the cards to do a little raiding of our own.
I draw three more cards, and they are Philadelphia, Fort Halifax and another Fortification card.
Expansion wise, I feel as if I’m doing ok. The further up (geographically westwards) I settle the more difficult its going to be to make the draw and keep expanding. Part of this is because every settlement we take, fills our draw deck (via the discard pile) with settlement cards taken. Effectively swamping our draw deck with our own villages and towns. It may be important to try and discard these cards, to maximise the frontier cards. Although I’m not sure of the mechanisms to do this yet. I’m a little worried at this point, because I fear my expansion will come to an end, and I’ll just stagnate.
Turn 10 – Bruce
Bruce develops Montreal, and sells up for some money. You can see he’s got a lot in the bank (26) compared to my measly purse. I can only assume he wants that much cash to buy the costlier empire cards and to be able to pull cards from the reserve without worrying about the price.
The French only have one card with the “settler” symbol in their deck. That means cycling through the whole deck any time I need to develop a location. However, I don’t want to clog my hand with a Settler card from the Empire deck right now, because it’s expensive and unnecessary, I think. I can get a lot of points out of settling Detroit and points southwest, but I have to get there, first. Then I can worry about settlers.
Join me in the next part to see how the game develops further.