Mound Builders from Victory Point Games is a solitaire States of Siege game where you represent the two largest pre-Columbian Indian “mound builder” cultures that dominated eastern North America from before the time of Christ until the coming of the European colonists in the 17th century. Your empire represents the earlier Hopewell culture and the later Mississippian culture that derived from it.
Until the arrival of the Spanish late in the game, you will expand your control across the map of North America, running into the various chiefdoms encountered and incorporating them into your economic and religious sphere. Your domain will grow and shrink with the passage of time and this doesn’t necessarily just represent invasion and war but is more representative of the rise and decline of culture, religious ideology, and an economic way of life, from the outside influence of other cultures.
Your goal is to extend Mound Builder culture and amass as many chiefdoms as possible before rival native powers (and the smallpox-ridden Spanish!) rise up to drive you back to your Mississippi River heartland and extinguish your vast capital city at Cahokia, Illinois near modern day St. Louis.
In the above picture, you can see the extent of my culture at the end of the Hopewell Era and the beginning of the Mississippian Era. At the beginning of the game, your goal is to expand down each of the 5 tracks as you attempt to add to your power and culture and consolidate the various chiefdoms in the land into your empire. The various tracks represent the cultures and peoples of that time including the Cadoo, Natchez, Cherokee, Shawnee and Ho-Chunk. These chiefdoms each create a certain type of resource and your goal is to gain as many different types as you can in order to have the ability to take various actions later in the game.
For example, in the picture, you can see that I have gained access to Feathers, Mica, Obsidian, Chert, Pipestone, Chalcedony, Hides and Copper. In order for these resources to count toward creating Action Points in the Mississippian Era, you must either have control of 2 of each type of good or have built a mound of that type. So back to the picture, I have the ability to create Feathers (I have 2 chiefdoms of each type and have a mound built that creates Feathers), Mica (I have 2 chiefdoms of each type and have a mound built that creates Mica), Chert (I have a mound), Chalcedony (I have a mound), Copper (I have a mound), Obsidian (I have a mound) and Hides (I have a mound) for a total of 7 different goods for my economy. This is something that is good to continue developing as well as I could potentially build a mound that will create Pipestone (although its cost to do so would be expensive at 4 Action Points).
You will also notice from the picture that several of my chiefdoms have been “invaded” by the opposing cultures. This it the crux of the game. Each turn, a card will be drawn that tells you which of the 5 cultures will move into your lands. Sometimes only 1 will move but up to 3 can all move at once, and some can be moved more than once each turn. If you do not attack those cultures when they occupy one of your chiefdoms by the end of your turn and chase them off, your resource will be taken from you and you will no longer be able to produce or trade for that type of good, thereby weakening your economy. Sometimes this isn’t a concern, as you may have that type of good in a mound and you will not lose the ability to use it for Action Points, but sometimes you will be unable to stop the opposing culture and will lose some of your power.
In the end, you must defend your culture for over 1,000 years from not only the other invading tribes but also from the Spanish who will come at the end of the game to drive you out and take your goods, culture and land from you. You must always be aware of their eventual coming and prepare by improving your palisades that protect your home capital of Cahokia.