This game is getting hard. October was weird because we were now able to use the satellite towers to communicate with the Hollow Men. We had to move the Hollow Men into 3 different havens to win October. The objective of building 3 supply centers was also still there. We thought that by moving the Hollow Men into the havens we could get them on our side and it would also help us move around the world more freely.
We were able to complete October with a win on the first try and to be honest I didn’t keep many notes about the game so I’m not going to say much.
November was a different story. In November we were told to destroy the objectives of building 3 new supply centers and get hollow men to defect. Now we had only one new objective to complete: complete the plan. The plan was we had to recon in Shanghai with 4 different recon missions. The nice thing about this was we didn’t need a supply center in Shanghai to recon. We had to Locate Hidden Entrance with 5 different red cards, Decode Access Key with 4 different black cards, Devise Distraction with 3 different yellow cards, and Prepare Containment Units with 3 different blue cards.
We knew this objective would be impossible because we didn’t have 5 different red cards yet. So we worked hard and completed 3 out of 4 recons and we accessed new red cities like crazy. With our game end upgrades we made sure to upgrade city cards to make them red cards. Even though we lost it still felt like a win and productive.
The second half of November was pretty hard. We are struggling now with keeping supply cubes on cities to avoid plague cubes. Things were not feeling great but all of the sudden the cards fell into place. We had one of the cards that could be any color and another card that could either be it’s original yellow or red. We even got lucky and on our way to complete the plan we drew another red card and was able to recon Jarkarta. Luckily Claire has the ability to recon without a supply center. With the recon we found another lost haven. We were told the haven was in ruins and we named it Assie (because all of our havens begin with A and this is in Australia). We are able to recon here if we get the opportunity. It felt good to win this game.
By completing the plan we accessed Utopia. Things seemed to get crazy when we did this though, we now have 8 Utopia infections cards and 4 more Hollow Men cards.
So in May when we reconned the Middle East we got some terrible news that the Hollow Men were there. We got 4 Hollow Men Gather cards and a bunch of little Hollow Men figurines. This was not looking good, so what did it mean? Well now at the beginning of the game the 4 Hollow Men Gather Cards are to be placed in the infection discard pile, meaning they won’t go into play until after the first epidemic. These cards do not count as an infection card draw, what happens is when you draw one the next city card you draw from the infection pile gets a Hollow Man added to it. Hollow Men in a city are terrible because if your character leaves a location with them there they gain an exposure. Hollow Men also decrease the population of a city by 1 at the end of the game. They can also decrease the population of a city in the middle of the game if a city already has 3 Hollow Men and the card is drawn again, instead of adding a 4th the population is decreased by 1.
We started June with the same characters (Aofie-Administrator, Claire-Laborer, Goods-Farmer, & Newt-Radio Operator). Our journal entry for June talked about Utopia again. It said our leaders went there and it’s a place that’s secure enough to resist the plague and Hollow Men. There’s suggestion that there might be a cure there, but we also don’t know where it is. The journal entry made it sound like it might be in the far east. It also tells us if we get there it is believed we would be helped but others also believe we would be killed on sight.
Going into this game we had a problem, how do we get out of cities that have Hollow Men without being exposed? According to the rule book if you try to leave a city with Hollow Men you are “cornered” and you cannot leave by the drive/ferry, sail, charter boat, or shuttle flight action without being exposed. So we decided that other means of leaving the city like being airlifted out of there or being transported by Aofie the Administrator would be ok.
This game was extremely difficult. We were not getting the cards we needed to make supply centers and Hollow Men were popping up everywhere. Plague cubes were also a problem. It was becoming clear that we would probably not win this game but we should try to recon Africa because Newt had the cards to get it. Before reconning Africa we were able to build a road to Frankfurt. We also thought about taking cards out of the game by using the free action of inoculation. We decided that if a city has a permanent supply center we could basically make it into a haven if we took this city card out of the infection discard. We are still hesitant to use this action because we are unsure if it will come back to haunt us later, but we did end up taking out 2 Washington and 2 Lagos.
Newt was able to recon Africa and the board was looking pretty ugly but we did get good news out of doing this. We found the ability to broadcast information to each other by building broadcast towers. We could build a broadcast tower in our city by using 2 supply cubes. Now while at the broadcast tower we could give another player a city card that matched the color of the city the tower was in. This player could be anywhere in the world, so it’s huge for moving cards around. With the use of the broadcast tower we were able to come up with a plan to be able to win the game, but this meant we would have to go a round a half to win. There was hope in sight but we were also 2 plague cubes away from losing.
During the recon we also connected Kinshasa to the grid and we got the Topaz Experimental Vaccine Unrationed Event Card. This card will allow us to discard 1 epidemic card without any effect. Shortly after coming up with our extraordinary plan to win this game that we had no hope earlier of winning we had to place our final plague cube and the game ended in a loss.
Even though we lost the first game in June some good things came out of it like reconning Africa, but also a few bad things happened. Goods gained an exposure while leaving a city with Hollow Men in it, luckily it was just an exposure and no scar. We also had population problems. We had to postpone Newt’s character upgrade of the Helmsman again to use all of our 5 game end upgrades on controlling populations. We used the upgrades to keep Chicago, NY, Moscow, Baghdad and Buenos Aires at a population of 2.
While reading the legacy deck at the end of the game we did obtain 2 new characters: Rock a 30 year old Sanitation Officer from Albatross and Sparrow a 47 year old Captain from Albatross. The captain can discard a city card from any port location to move to any other port location on the grid if a sea route can be traced. This is a free action. The sanitation officer can discard 2 player cards to take a city or produce supplies card from the discard pile as a free action. This was the first time we had received new characters so that was cool; we were told they were volunteers from the Havens.
Going into our second game in June we had no more areas on the map to recon so all we had to focus on was building the 3 supply stations, connecting 2 news cities to the grid with roads, and performing 2 search actions. We decided to use the same characters as previously. Since we lost the last game we gained 2 rationed events. We used the One Quiet Night and Drastic Measures. From the beginning Goods had Drastic Measures so this was good because it allowed us to remove 2 plague cubes from the grid.
Luckily this game went pretty smoothly. There were tense moments when 3 of us (Claire, Aofie, & Newt) ended up in New York and we struggled with should we remove the New York infection cards or let it ride. Of course we got an epidemic at this point and this meant we could all be exposed if Hollow Men showed up or if we lost all the cubes. Luckily neither happened. Fortunately, Claire obtained the Paris companion card which made it super easy for her to build 2 supply centers due to her being the Laborer and Architect. Goods was able to build the 3rd supply center. Newt built a road to Atlanta and Claire searched Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires we found the OPAL lab. OPAL lab is one of the four labs that are looking for a cure. Here another person joined us, a new character from Buenos Aires who was an immunologist. Paulo the immunologist can take the supply cubes from the reserve instead of the stockpile.
In finding the OPAL lab we learned that we would get a special ability when finding labs. OPAL allows us to take an additional supply cube if we make supplies in a haven or supply center. We were also able to put Lake Baikal on the map. This is Northeast of Delhi but there is no way to connect to it yet. We are told this is where the primary lab was located and if there was a cure it would come from here. Of course no one has heard from Lake Baikal for decades. Finding the lab was really cool and we were excited. It was even more exciting when Aofie was able to end the game on her turn by searching Baghdad and building a road to Riyadh. When searching Baghdad she gained 2 extra actions so she built another road to Moscow to make an easier way to access everything. The game ended here and Goods used her Drastic Measures card to remove the only plague cube from the map that would effect the population. For our game end upgrades, Newt finally received his Helmsman ability and we increased the population in Frankfurt and Kinshasa.