|The board at the start of Season 2.|
Red Expands to Militari-3 in the lower right hex for 1 Gold and 1 Influence. Blue starts a Coup from the Religio-2 holding against the Government of the center top hex. Blue pays 3 Gold and 1 Influence, then spends 1 Influence to boost the d6 roll. Blue rolls a 5 for a total of 7 against the Government's rolled 6.
|Blue's Coup starts off well...|
Red Expands and makes a Religio-1 holding in the lower right hex for 1 Gold and 1 Influence. Blue tries a second Coup against the Government of the top center hex for 4 Gold. Blue spends 1 Influence to modify the roll. This time, Red spends 1 Influence to modify the Government's roll. Blue rolls a 2 for a total of 4, and the Government rolls another 6 for a total of 7. Even if Blue maxes out Influence spending on the roll, that will only bring the total to 6 - not enough to win.
Note: Does the attacker lose 1 from the holding with a failed Coup against the Government? I think so. Blue loses 1 on a failed Coup, bringing that Religio holding down to 1 cube.
|...but ends so very badly.|
Red spends 1 Gold for a Move action. A Move targets one hex and all hexes adjacent, which encompasses almost the entire map on a board this small. For 1 Gold, 3 cubes of a specific type get to move around. He takes 3 Militari cubes and moves them to bring the top center hex's Militari up to a 4, the maximum holding size in a Forest hex. Blue Expands for 1 Gold and 1 Influence to bring the top center hex's Religio holding back up to 2.
|A relatively docile Month 3, though Red's sudden Militari-4 means war.|
Houses are holding-3s, which should cut down on the cube clutter.
Red has 2 hexes for 4 Gold and Influence, a Militari-4 worth 2 Gold and Influence, 2 Religio-1 holdings for 2 bonus Influence, and 4 Economia-1 holdings for 4 bonus Gold. Total income: 10 Gold, 8 Influence.
Blue has 3 hexes for 6 Gold and Influence, 3 Religio-2 holdings worth 3 Gold and Influence, and 1 additional Religio-1 holding for a total of 4 bonus Influence. Total income: 9 Gold, 13 Influence.
Red has earned the least Influence, and decides to keep the First Player token.
|Season 3 income.|
Red starts a Coup action from the top center hex's Militari-4 holding against the Government for 4 Gold. Red rolls a d10 now, but decides to spend 1 Influence before the roll. Blue has so much Influence on hand that spending 1 on this roll is a no-brainer. Red rolls a 7 for a total of 9, and the Government rolls a 2 for a total of 3. Blue can't change the outcome with more Influence, so Red wins the first Coup attempt.
|Red''s Coup attempt starts out well...|
Season 3, Month 2
Red Tries to finish the Coup in the top center hex by spending 4 Gold. Both Blue and Red spend 1 Influence prior to the roll. Red rolls a 5 for a total of 7, and the Government rolls a 4 for a total of 5. Blue maxes out the Influence (limit is half die size, or 4 in this case) and pushes the Government's total to 8. Red spends 2 more Influence to win with a total of 9. Red gets control of the hex.
|...and ends up with Red controlling the hex.|
|Blue sees the power of a large holding and expands to a Religio-3.|
Red decides to Expand and set up a Militari-1 holding in the top left hex. There's no Militari holding to contest it, but Blue uses Government Intercession to oppose the Expansion with the Government's d6. This can be used once per season per player, and it lasts the rest of the season, so if anything else attempts to act against Militari holdings in that hex, Blue has the option of opposing with the Government's d6. Note: Expand Government Intercession rules to cover contesting a roll with no holding instead of just bolstering a holding-1 as written. Also add a cost of 2 resources (Gold or Influence) to activate this ability.
Blue spends 2 Gold to Intercede. Both sides spend 1 Influence before the rolls. Red rolls a d10 and gets a 6 for a total of 8. Blue rolls the Government's d6 and gets a 6 for a total of 7. Blue spends another 2 Influence to deplete Red's Influence, and feels foolish for not spending 1 more Influence on a Curse Holding spell instead of a Bolster back in Month 1.
|Government Intercession fails, and Red makes a push into a Blue-only hex.|
With a Move in Month 3, Red could Coup the heck out of Blue in those Hill hexes.
Season 4 Income
Red owns 3 hexes for 6 Gold and Influence, a Militari-4 holding for 2 Gold and Influence, 4 Economia-1 holdings for 4 bonus Gold, and 2 Religio-1 holdings for 2 bonus Influence. Total income: 12 Gold, 10 Influence.
Blue owns 3 hexes for 6 Gold and Influence, a Religio-4 holding worth 2 Gold and Influence, 2 Religio-2 holdings worth 2 Gold and Influence, and 1 additional Religio-1 holding for a total of 4 bonus Influence. Total income: 10 Gold, 14 Influence.
Red has earned the least Influence, and decides to keep the First Player token. There's an advantage to going first where Coups are concerned.
|Season 4 income. Red is still lagging, but is closing the gap rapidly.|
Blue may be playing defense for a while with Red going first.
Both sides are amassing resources. At the start of Season 4, Blue has 20 Gold and 26 Influence, and Red has 29 Gold and 14 Influence. Influence spends like water when modifying rolls, but Gold is harder to get rid of. One possible fix: Expansion should be more expensive when growing larger holdings. The 1 Gold and 1 Influence price tag is fine for creating a holding-1 or upgrading to a holding-2, but I think I need make it 1 of each resource per current level of holding. So Expanding a holding-3 will cost 3 Gold and 3 Influence.
The downside of that approach? Move becomes insanely cost-effective. Just crank out holding-2s in the heartland and Move those cubes to the front lines for 1 or 2 Gold. Or maybe I increase the Gold price on every action across the board based on the holding rating involved? Or lower income to 1 Gold and Influence per owned hex? All of the above? Hrm. More resource balancing is needed here, but I need to keep it simple so I don't drown in rules.
Also: Yay, the hexes aren't too small! I thought it might be cramped with several holdings, but so far it's all good. Picking up cubes works without my fingers bumping and destroying everything.
Between playing, pictures, and writing things up, it took me about an hour to play 2 seasons. With all the picture captioning and analysis, it's taken me 2 hours from start of play to posting this article. I'm going to play through tomorrow without the blogging overhead. Maybe I'll have an epiphany on what to do about resource accumulation.
Today's Final Thoughts
Yes, there's plenty to absorb here so far as play goes. It's basically a lightweight intrigue/wargame in this incarnation, but I think a little resource balancing is in order. And the cool thing? Every action in the game can become instantly relevant to an RPG setting just by naming the leaders, holdings, and hexes. Plus, it's genre-neutral, though renaming Arcanum to something more research-like might be in order.
Thanks for reading!