Thursday, September 10, 2015

Solitaire Play: Nemo's War

I think I read Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in High School and found it tame compared to Heinlein and Pournelle and other up and coming sci fi writers. What I always liked though, was James Mason's performance of Captain Nemo in that 1950's movie. Later on in the 1980s, I recognized when I played GDW's Space:1889 role playing game, that the book had elements of what is now called steampunk.

He was perfectly cast I think, and his time on that pipe organ is still memorable. What fired my imagination though was the Atlantis ruins!!  Growing up with In Search Of and later Unsolved Mysteries, as well as countless books like those Charles Berlitz Bermuda Triangle books ...well.. I ate that stuff up with a spoon. Underwater Atlantis ruins!! I love it...

When I went on a road trip in the 1990s with an army buddy, we passed through Connecticut and visited the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), which is now a museum vessel. I couldn't believe how crowded the sub was, but I remember it had a 1st edition of Verne's book I believe in the Officer's dining area. 

You have to admit Verne picked a great name for his mysterious undersea vessel. Nautilus.. 

I played the solitaire game Nemo's War once before by Victory Point Games and decided to give it another whirl today, if you can excuse the pun. I hear they are coming out with a second edition soon. I might pick it up. I like a game less on mechanics than theme, and this solitaire gem of a game is dripping with Verne's theme.

I half forgotten their ridiculous size dize that came with the game, and quickly got much larger dice :-)

In the game, I have 52 weeks (turns) to gain as much victory points as possible, either by striking back at the forces of colonialism by sinking ships, or inciting native revolts, or even gaining scientific knowledge and exploration.

I chose the exploration starting committment but this could change as I, as Nemo, face off the "civilized" world.

In week 1, I start off in the North Atlantic and decide to stalk and attack a ship, a cargo vessel.

I sunk her easily enough as all I needed was a 7 on a 2d6 roll and rolled a 6 and 2. My first kill.

In week 2, I stayed in the North Atlantic and decided to stalk another ship, a passenger ship, but failed in sinking her, thus gaining 1 notoriety point as witnesses survive to spread the tales of my terror on the high seas. Cue dramatic over-the-top pipe music me hearties!!

In week 3, I encountered adventure!  A shark attacks my submarine.

I failed the test, and Nemo is hurt. I move him down the track by 1. He is still above determined though!

I decide to move into the South Atlantic.

In week 4, I decide to seek treasure in the South Atlantic, and find some, for 3 victory points!

In week 5, I stalk another ship, a Mail Ship and sink her but gain 2 notoriety points. As my notoriety points creep up, there is more and more chance the world's navies will come after me.

I haven't exerted Nemo nor my crew  if I wanted to to get test or attack modifiers yet. This failure in sinking this Mail Ship forces me to up my game. When you exert a resource, if you fail, you drop down by one, so there is some risk. Still, all in the name of anti-colonialism and all that.

In week 6, I move into the Indian Ocean.

In week 7, I decided to search for undersea treasure in the Indian Ocean but came up with nothing.

In week 8, an adventure card was activated.  I explored the "Underwater Forest" but failed to get any benefit of it.  Again, I didn't exert Nemo or the crew but should have.

For Nemo's action that turn, I stalk and salvage a passenger ship! I will use that ship to refit the Nautilus in the future.

Weeks 9. 10 and 11, I do some more searching and move to the Western Pacific. Week 12, I stalk another cargo ship, but failed to sink her. My notoriety is now climbing to 5.

In week 13, an adventure card was activated. I activate the.. wait for it... the "lightning bolts of Nemo."

However, I passed the test... and collect 1 treasure token, but this backfired on me as my treasure token turned out to be losing 1 resource!!

I lost 1 hull point out of this "treasure." The things I do in the name of science! :-)

Week 14, another adventure card was activated, and it's something I will retain for future use...  If I sink a warship in the North or South Atlantic, I will get 3 VPs (the number in the dolphin symbo) out of it. On my list to do I suppose but in the mean time, I head further east acros the globe.

As I reached week 16, there were some further ships to sink placed in the pool face down.

I stalked another mail ship, but this time I exert my crew for a +3 which means I needed to roll a 5 to reach the required 8. Guess what.. I rolled a 2 and 1, so I missed sinking her. Another notoriety point added for nothing.

In week 17, a card was activated, and this was the discovery of the "pearl worth 10 million" in the Indian Ocean. 
 I decide this turn to move westward back one to the Indian Ocean.

In week 18, this time I take the pearl test and exert the crew for a +3 modifier. I rolled a 6 and 2, for an 8.. plus 3, makes 11 and I get 3 treasures. Initially, I got a 5 treasure token, and then a "draw 2 treasure" token, and a wonder, the Deep Sea Vents (wonders help in the final scoring of the game). I exchanged the "draw 2 treasure" for a 5 treasure and another wonder, the Mariana's Trench. Not bad..

In week 19, I stalked a cargo vessel and exert Nemo and make the roll. I decided to salvage this vessel as well, which means I now have 2 salvage points.

Week 20, I decide to refit the Nautilus.. I rolled a d3 and this refit cost me 3 weeks. I am now in week 23. However, I pick the periscope refit, which allows me to see one unseen ship before attacking. Might come in handy when the warships are after me.

In the now week 23, an adventure card got activated. I got the "lost time"  card, which means I lose another 2 weeks. I went from week 20 to week 25 thanks to this card and the refit.  5 turns lost.
In week 25, I am in the Indian Ocean still.. There is a passenger ship flipped from a previous turn, so I use my periscope to flip the other hidden ship and it's a cargo ship. I decide to stalk her and exert my crew. I sink her easily enough.

At week 26, an adventure card is drawn as the Nautilus passes through... the Coral Realm..
I exerted my crew for a +3, and make the required 10 test.

In week 27, I attack blindly. If my attack succeeds, I get to attack another ship. I went for the passenger ship, exerted my crew again, but failed to sink her. My notoriety went up by 1. No second attack on another ship.

Week 28 saw more reinforcements. 

I call them, more targets. 

Week 29 saw me encounter the "lost continent." I passed the test and got quite a bit of treasure.

I drew "Draw 2 treasures", a wonder (Yamashita) and 4 victory points. I drew another 5 vps after that. 

Week 31, I searched for an discovered a treasure of 2 victory points. 

Week 32, in the South Atlantic, I peeked with my new periscope and spotted an Ironclad. My first warship.

I sink her and cashed in one of the cards I retained previously, "At Full Steam" for victory points at the end. 

My Sunken Ship track was piling up in the middle. I get extra VPs if I can fill entire columns.


 Next turn I moved to the North Atlantic and failed to sink a ship.

My notoriety is now 13 and creeping up.

Over the next couple of turns, I encounter and pass most of the adventure tests. 

Seems though I am alarming the public when I draw the "Public Opinion " card and more ships are pouring in to go after me. 

I tried my hand at liberation, spending some treasure, but it was a failure. The liberation track remained unchanged.

 My resources (Nemo, Crew and Hull) are still fairly high. I can easily exert Nemo for a +2 modifier and the crew for a +3 at this point.

I rack up some more ships over the next couple of turns and place them in the Salvage point track, as I want to refit and get a strengthened prow.

I eventually draw the Hollow Explosion and Capital Encounter cards and I find myself fighting  Capital ships.

I lose some Hull points but manage to sink a Frigate by turn 50. I place them on the salvage track, and had 3 and then 4 salvage points.

 I refit on turn 51 for a strengthened prow, but by then, the game would be over in the next turn, so it was a bit pointless. The refit took only 1 week (rolled a 2 on a d3), but that is it, turn 52, game over.

I was still on the Exploration committment and realized my attacks on ships were not going to win me the game.  I never got to switch my committment to Anti-Imperialism or War.

and I never filled out the columns to get extra VP.

Final VPs.

Warship sunk points                          5 x 1/2 (exploration committment) =2
Other ships sunk points                    10 x  1/2 (exploration committment) = 5
Adventure cards passed points           5 x 2 (exploration committment) =10
Liberation  pts                                    0 x 1 (exploration committment) =0
Science pts                                         3  x 5 (exploration committment) =15
Wonders                                             4 x 10 (exploration committment) =40
 Resources in green                            Just the crew                                   = 3
Passengers unused                                                                                    =0
                                                                                                                  75 VPs.

 75 VPs are a failure! As a result of my exploration failure, I disappear into the icy depths and is never seen again. You won't have me to kick around anymore. :-)

I should have kept a better eye on the science and wonders search instead of attacking ships. Oh well. Still, an enjoyable session.

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