I love the Card Driven Game mechanic and how it pits players against each other. The mechanic is very well suited to any game where two ideologies are fighting for control and I found a really good implementation of the system in a game from Compass Games called Prelude to Rebellion: Mobilization & Unrest in Lower Canada, 1834-1837. This game depicts this conflict of ideas as a CDG using key events from 1834 to 1837 as the Patriotes and Loyalists fight for control of the electorate. The player will have many choices presented to them in how to use their cards and will be torn between using each for the card’s Activity Points or the Event while doing their best to fend off and undo your opponent’s cards. The overall focus of the game is that the player will fight to mobilize the people of the various counties of Lower Canada and rally them to their point of view. In addition to Montréal and Québec, 24 rural counties, with each having a bias towards a faction, are represented on the board. Every county has a number of Mobilization Boxes, each costing a number of Activity Points to place a cube in. Whoever has the most cubes in a County is said to control it.
In Action Point 1, we covered the Game Map and discussed the Mobilization Boxes, Scoring Tracks, Turn Track, Rebellious Spirit Track and took a look at the Opportunity Pool. In Action Point 2, we looked at the cards and discussed their use either as an Event or for the Activity Points. In Action Point 3, we dove into how you can spend your Activity Points and how they are used to battle for control of various regions and also discuss the Special Actions available to each player. In this Action Point, we will discuss the Scoring Tracks and how the Scoring Die works and also discuss the Scoring Sequence and how the game can be won.
Scoring Tracks & Scoring Dice
Every action that players take in the game is designed to set them up for opportunities to score and also to force scoring to happen. The point of the game is to control the Scoring Tracks so they are in your favor so that when the Tracks are scored you get your points. These Scoring Tracks are manipulated by the Scoring Die as each result will push the associated Tracks once space closer to scoring.
There are four different Scoring Tracks in the game including Rural Counties, Organizations, External Influence and Urban Counties. Each of the Tracks has an Advantage Marker that shows which of the players is currently favored as well as a Scoring Marker that has a chance to move one box to the right every time a card is played. When the Scoring Marker
reaches a Score Box at the end of a Track, it will trigger a specific sequence of activities that differs for each of the Scoring Tracks. Most importantly, the player favored on the track will be awarded the corresponding number of VP. Let’s go ahead and take a look at each of the Tracks.
Rural Counties Track
The Rural Counties Track measures the player that controls the most Rural
Counties on the board. Remember that Montréal and Québec are classified as Urban Counties and will not effect the Rural Counties Track. There are 24 Rural Counties and a majority of them are Patriote leaning at the start of the game. The Advantage Marker for the Rural Counties Track will start on the leftmost 4 box, favoring the Patriote player. That simply means that if the Track were to score now, the Patriote player would receive those Victory Points. The game is set up to make these Rural Counties hotly contested as they Patriote player has the advantage from the start and will most likely focus most of the efforts on manipulating this Scoring Track. Just because this is the case, doesn’t mean the Loyal player should resign themselves to finishing second in this important part of the struggle. The Loyal player will have to work harder and smarter to take key Rural Counties away from the Patriote player at the right time. Don’t misunderstand my concern though as I don’t believe that the Loyal player can ever really compete here but must make this control hard for the Patriote player.
When card play changes control of a County, the players will move the Advantage Marker to the Patriote side when the Patriote player takes control of an uncontrolled Rural County or when a Rural County controlled by the Loyal player becomes uncontrolled. This will require constant vigilance as this Marker will change nearly every play of a card and you want to make sure you understand the current situation as it will effect your decisions about how and when to play your cards to force certain Tracks to move toward scoring. Conversely, the Advantage Marker will move toward the Loyal side when the Loyal player takes control of an uncontrolled Rural County or when a Rural County controlled by the Patriote player becomes uncontrolled.
To give an example of how this works, lets take a look at the start of the game as the Loyal player plays a card that allows them to add Mobilization Cubes to both Rouville and Richelieu Counties. Because both of these Counties were originally controlled by the Patriote player and were reflected in the starting position of the Rural County Advantage Marker in the 4 box, this play would now change control of those two Counties away from the Patriote player to uncontrolled.
The players would then have to adjust the Advantage Marker by moving it 2 boxes to the right, which would lave it in the leftmost 3 box. This position still favors the Patriote player and will see them score 3 VP if the Rural Counties Track is scored soon. This subtle difference can be key as it appears that the individual Tracks are getting ready to score as you will find players trying to use their cards to change their fortunes on those Tracks to improve their final outcomes.
As I mentioned before you can very easily lose track of where the Advantage Marker should be located as you play but if you do there is a simple trick to take care of this easily. Simply subtract the number of Rural Counties controlled by the player which controls the least from the number of Rural Counties controlled by the player which controls the most. This means starting from the 0 space, move the Advantage Marker a number of boxes equal to the difference in the direction of the dominant player.
To give an example, at the start of the game, the Patriote player controls
ten Rural Counties while the Loyal player controls two. 10-2 = 8 and means that you will move the Advantage Marker 8 boxes toward the Patriote players side of the Track from the 0 space. This coincides with the starting position of the Advantage Marker during setup in the leftmost 4 box.
When the Rural Counties Track is scored, the players need to follow the following steps in order. First the Loyal player will roll a die, and apply the die roll modifier listed beside the Rebellious Spirit track and then reference the final number on the Fear of Reprisal Table which is located on the board. The player will then remove Patriote Cubes from Rural Counties based on the indicated result. You might be asking why this happens? Well, it is a historical situation where the more moderate or peaceful inhabitants of the Counties would withdraw their support for the Patriote cause over fear of the Loyal Government taking action against them in the form of damage to property, livelihood or even violent acts. The player which is favored on the Track is then awarded a corresponding number of Victory Points. Finally, the players will place the Scoring Marker back on the Start Box of the Rural Counties Scoring Track.
The Organizations Track measures the player with the most Organizations on the board. Organizations are differentiated into two categories, Urban and Rural. The Patriote player can create only one Urban Organization, which must be in Montréal. The Loyal player can create two Urban Organizations, one in Québec and one in Montréal. The creation of an Urban Organization allows a player to move the Advantage Marker 2 boxes on the Scoring Track in their favor.
Once a player has created an Urban Organization, they can then begin to create Rural Organizations in Rural Counties. The creation of a Rural
Organization allows a player to move the Advantage Marker 1 box in their favor. Think of the Urban Organizations as the lead groups that then coordinate with and give direction to all of the smaller Rural Organizations as they organize to fight for their ideology.
When the Organizations Track is scored, the process that needs to be followed by the players is much simpler and less involved than the Rural Counties Scoring Track. The player that is currently favored on the Organizations Track is then awarded a number of Victory Points and then the Scoring Marker is placed back on the Start Box of the Organizations Scoring Track.
This is a track that will generally see the Loyal player taking control as they can create Urban Organizations a bit easier and therefore begin to spread their influence into the Rural Counties. Just like I said about the Rural Counties, if the Patriote player is focused too much on this aspect of the game they will find that they are not gaining enough advantage in the Rural Counties. The Loyal player should establish their lead in this area fairly quickly and then devote the appropriate time to maintaining their advantage here to gain their needed VP.
The External Influence Track measures the support each player receives from external powers such as Britain, France, the United States and Upper
Canada. I have played a lot of wargames where this is a point of concern and like that they added this one in here to provide additional opportunities for both players to score. The Advantage Marker starts on the 2 box favoring the Loyal player, representing Britain’s natural support for its colonial administration. This track though can only be influenced by Events which will specify to move the Advantage Marker a number of boxes towards a faction. No actions can be taken to gain an increase or decrease in the track so this one becomes a game of hunting for and appropriately using the Event Cards that are associated with its scoring.
When the External Influence Track is scored, the process that is followed is very simple and includes the same steps as the Organizations Track with the player who is favored on the track being awarded a corresponding number of Victory Points and then the Scoring Marker is placed back on the Start Box of the External Influence Scoring Track.
The Urban Counties Track represents the partisan activity from the conflict involved in the two Urban Counties of Montréal and Québec. When a player takes control of an uncontrolled Urban County, the Advantage Marker will be moved to the Patriote side when the Patriote player takes control of an uncontrolled Urban County or when an Urban County controlled by the Loyal player becomes uncontrolled. Also, the Advantage Marker will be moved to the Loyal side when the Loyal player takes control of an uncontrolled Urban County or when an Urban County controlled by the Patriote player becomes uncontrolled. At the beginning of the game, the Patriote player controls Montréal with 3 to 2 Moblization Cube advantage while the Loyal player controls Québec with a 4 to 1 Mobilization Cube advantage and the Advantage Marker will be placed into the 0 box. If the Loyal player adds 1 Cube in Montréal, it will then become uncontrolled and the Advantage Marker would be moved to the 2 box, which is representative of favoring the Loyal player. If the Loyal player then adds another Mobilization Cube in Montréal, they will now control the County and the Advantage Marker will be moved to the 4 box. Each Urban County counts as 2 VP on the track for scoring purposes.
When the Urban Counties Track is scored, the process that must be followed contains a bit more complexity as there is an end scoring effect that must be followed through. When the Urban Counties Track scores the player favored on the track is awarded a corresponding number of VP and there is also a penalty for both players as if the Mobilization Value of a player in Montréal or Québec is as follows they will have to pay the penalty by removing the number of identified Mobilization Cubes of their choice from any combination of :
o 1-5: Remove 1 Cube of the player’s choice
o 6-10: Remove 2 Cubes of the player’s choice
o 11+: Remove 3 Cubes of the player’s choice
This attrition represents the loss of steam and energy of the various participants, organizations and groups that have been battling for their ideology. Some of the participants have fallen through the cracks, changed their mind about their side or simply lost interest. It happens in these type of struggles and the process of the struggle, with its continual ups and downs, forces you to commit to the fight or shrink and give up.
For example, if a player has 7 cubes in Montréal and 4 cubes in
Québec, they will lose 2 Cubes in Montréal and 1 Cube in Québec. After this attrition of their forces in the Urban Counties, each player scores 2 VP for each Urban County in which his opponent has a Mobilization Value of 0. Finally, the Scoring Marker will be placed back on the Start Box of the Urban Counties Scoring Track.
This penalty is to warn players from simply abandoning the effort in the Urban Counties. As the Patriote player, you will find the Urban Counties to be a very tough pickle as you are very far behind in Québec and actually start the game leading in Montréal. I have found that the Patriote player has to strike fast and hard in Montréal in order to get an Urban Organization created so that they can attempt to create Organizations in the Rural Counties but that after that any Cube they place here is not as well spent as other actions they could be taking. But, be careful as losing 2-4 VP because your opponent has run you out of the city can hurt your efforts just as badly as overspending here. This is a balancing act for sure and may take a few plays to get the nuance of the strategy with the Urban Counties.
Now that we have covered the Scoring Tracks, let’s take a quick look at the Scoring Dice as they are the key to making sure that your desired areas score for you.
Before we look at the dice and their makeup, let’s remind you about how cards effect the dice. If you remember from our 2nd entry in this series, each card has one of four Scoring Tracks printed on them and each has their own specific dice including Rural Counties (RC) Organizations (O), External Influence (EI) or Urban Counties (UC). When cards are played, the players carry out whatever Event or actions they use from the text of the card and then are are expected to roll the associated die at the end before the card is discarded or placed into the Opportunity Pool.
The die rolled will advance the Scoring Marker of the track rolled by one box. If that brings the Scoring Marker to the end of the Track to the Score Box, players should then go through the proper Scoring Sequence detailed above for each of the Scoring Tracks that are triggered this turn.
So let’s take a closer look at these dice as they are definitely unique. A Scoring Die is a custom 6-sided die. Three faces of the die bear the die’s associated Scoring Track while the other three faces bear the abbreviations corresponding to the three other tracks. What I mean by that is that each die associated with one of the Scoring Tracks is weighted to obtain a result of that type. For example, the Rural Counties Scoring Die has three Rural
Counties faces, one Organizations face, one External Influence
face and one Urban Counties face. This means that 3 of the 6 faces on the Rural Counties Scoring Die means that when that die is rolled you will generally get an RC result more often than any of the other three (O, EI or UC) results. But as you know, the dice can be fickle and rolling them never guarantees the result that you wish for the dice.
Also because the Scoring Dice are rolled each time a card is played, by both players, sometimes your opponent will play a card that is what you want as you might be leading on a certain Scoring Track. They play the card because they want to use the Event or the high Activity Points and they are willing to risk rolling the die you want rolled as they believe it will not do greater harm than the card did good for them. This part of the game was interesting and frankly fairly exciting. I found myself sometimes pushing for certain Scoring Die cards to be played while holding on others. It created another dynamic that spiced up the card play and required the players to think about additional aspects of strategy.
In Action Point 5, which is the conclusion to this series, we will discuss some points of strategy and how each player should go about waging this conflict.