Solitaire Play of Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea – Greeks vs Persians: An AAR (Part 2)

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To see Part 1 of the Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea: Greeks vs Persians AAR, follow this link.


E2/T-2 Card Play

Greece, looking ahead, has to fend off three attacks on its treasure cities.  Given that L-P has a Talent and good Competition cards; using Millennial Earthquakes in Greece might be a good idea.  But first, the P-L Power must play a card.

P-L plays Sub Saharan Salt Trade.  This gives them three Gold Talents.  No one else has a Tile on the southern edge of the map, so neither P-S nor Gr get a Talent.

Gr plays Millennial Earthquakes on Mycenae.  This removes only one Greek Tile from Laconia, Mycenae and Thessaly (3) but also removes one P-S tile from Laconia and Mycenae and one P-L from Thessaly and one Black tile from Macedonia.  Greece then plays Healer card that replaces back one Blue Tile in Mycenae.

P-S plays Religious Fervor on Mycenae adding one Red P-S Tile back to Mycenae and Laconia.

P-L plays Storms at Sea removing one Gr Tile from Gulf of Taranto and one Gr and one P-S Tile from Sea of Sicily and two Gr and two P-S Tiles from Ionian Sea.  This solitaire system can be merciless to its own, eh?

Gr plays Heroic Saga by turning the card face-up and placing four Blue Tiles on it from supply.  This beneficial card will take effect next turn.

P-S invites everyone to a chariot race by playing the Hippodrome card.  Each pulls a card from the deck and the highest card number wins.  The Greek chariot driver displays his elan by winning the laurel and card 82 Silk Road Opens.  The P-S player gets to place two Tiles:  these go in Phrygia.

P-L passes.

The Silk Road

Greece plays the Silk Road giving one Gold Talent to P-L, who has a Tile (and then some) on the eastern edge of the map, but deriving two Gold Talents for itself.

P-S has no more cards and passes.

Gr plays Captive Queen but L-P cancels it with the Negate Bribery Card. Both cards go into the discard pile.

End card play phase.

E2/T-2 Competitions  (Which, you may have noticed, I like to refer to as “Battles”.)

Battle of Thessaly: Greece cannot spare any help to the Ionian rebels.  Alas, there is no way to save Thessaly from being crushed by mighty Persia.

Battle of Mycenae starts with four P-S Tiles attacking three Gr Tiles.  The Greeks add one of their two White Tiles (the other must now be placed as well and goes to Laconia).  Greece expends a Talent while L-S loses a Red Tile in the first round.  In the second round, another Red Tile dies taking with it the Gr White Tile.  Then a Red Tile takes a Blue. Round four sees the final Red Tile eliminated as it faces two Gr Blue Tiles.  Mycenae has thrown back the Persian landing at Marathon!  Because there were at least three L-S Tiles present at the start of Competition, a city equivalent (in my imagination, I consider it Darius’ vast camp with all its wealth), the Greeks get a Gold Talent for sacking the L-S city and the Mycenaean bonus of a second Gold Talent.  These, however, cannot be used during this Competition Phase and are put aside for now.

The Battle of Laconia sees four L-S Red Tiles besiege three Gr Blue Tiles and one White Greek Tile.  Again, the Greeks spend a Talent in lieu of losing a Tile; but L-S must lose a Red Tile.  At the end of the battle, no Red Tiles remain and two Blue Tiles hold the gold treasure city intact.  Because another L-S city is destroyed, the Greeks earn another Gold Talent of loot, but it is set aside for this phase (3 Loot Talents for next turn!).

Now for the bad news:  The Battle of Thessaly.  By rule, L-P must commit Competition cards first.  P-L plays Unreliable Mercenaries: removing a Gr Tile and adding an P-L Tile as its replacement.  Greece counters with Armored Infantry which allows the Greeks to go two rounds without losing a Tile.  There are now five Green P-L tiles facing one Gr Blue Tile.  Two P-L tiles die due to Armored Infantry and then the Gr Tile dies.  Thessaly’s treasure city falls.  P-L gets four VPs and gains two Gold Talents.  My people lament to the heavens.

Battle of Macedonia:  Three P-L Tiles face 2 Black Tiles.  This is a Barbarian settlement, not a city.  P-L spends a Talent to avoid a Tile loss in the first round when a Black Tile dies.  In the second round the remaining Black Tile is eliminated first and the battle ends.  There is a Gold Tile there, so the P-L Power gets another Talent.

The Ionia Suppression: Lydia has two Blue Gr Tiles facing three Purple P-L Tiles.  P-L spends a Talent to avoid a Tile loss and ends the battle with three P-L Tiles remaining.  Lydia falls.  It was not a city, so no loot to Persia.

The Battle of Phrygia: both sides start with two Tiles and at the end both sides have one Tile each coexisting.

Naval Battle in the Ionian Sea: one P-S and two P-L Tiles face one Black pirate Tile.  By special rule in competition at sea, any P-L tiles become Red P-S Tiles.  Eventually, two P-S Tiles remain alone in this Sea Area.

Naval Battle of the Aegean Sea: the Greeks commit Triremes which means no loss for the Greeks for the first two rounds.  P-L loses a Talent and a Tile in the first two Competition rounds.  Eventually two Purple P-L tiles remain alone in this Sea Area, sweeping those Athenian Triremes from the sea, at least this in this location.

Naval Battle of the Myrtoan Sea: is a draw, leaving one Gr Tile and one Persian Tile.

Same result in the Naval Battle of the Minoan Sea.

End E2/T-2 Competition.

During the Sea Domination Phase if any player/Power exclusively controls all Land Areas touching a Sea Area which has at least one Tile of that player/Power in the Sea Area, all OTHER color Tiles are removed.  This is the case for the Myrtoan Sea. The Greeks have domination and one Red P-S tile is wrecked on a rocky shore with no port for a haven.

E2/T-2 Victory Point Phase

P-L has eight cities for eight points and four more VP for taking Thessaly which earns 12 this turn.  Their running total is now 17.

P-S has three cities for three points and therefore adds 3VP for a running total of 6 VPs.

Greece has only one full city remaining, on the Greek half of Sicily (representing Syracuse), thus garnering only one single paltry point for a running total of 5VP.

The overall game score is 11.5VP for Persia so the invaders lead by a disheartening 6.5VP margin.

Situation at the End of E2/T-2 after the card draw for the upcoming turn.

Due to the scenario rules there is no sudden end of Epoch possible at this time.

Epoch II, Turn 3 (E2/T-3)

E2/T-3 Order of play for the upcoming turn, determined by city count, it will be P-L, P-S, Greece (it’s often good to have “last licks”… I’ll at least know what my opposition does before needing to place my own Tiles).

E2/T-3 Card Draw Phase:

P-L gets two plus 2 city bonus cards, plus two for Talents for a total of six cards, the allowable maximum hand size.  First card is a MUST PLAY: Atlantis Rises!  Two Black Tiles are placed in each Deep Sea Area and a Talent is awarded to L-S and Gr.

As that was a Must Play card, P-L now draws six more without another Must Play card appearing.  These are:  (43) Black Death, (94) Warrior Queen, (87) Command of the Sea, (80) Iron Mine, (74) Ramming Speed, (97) Treasury Hoard.

P-S gets two cards plus one for a Talent:  (88) Barbarian Trade, (79) Obsidian Quarry, and (26) Metal Forge Armor, a very powerful Competition card for land combat.

Greece gets three cards.  It uses one to pull Triremes back into its hand and spends Two talents for two more:  (9) Great Person: Spy, (42) Biblical Flood, (76) Great Person: Navigator, (37) Great Person: Poet.  It now uses the Academy of Sciences by removing its second Blue Tile and drawing three cards.  It keeps (85) Blockade, which should help save its one remaining Gold treasure city.

E2/T-3 There is no voluntary resettlement.

E2/T-3 Growth

P-L has eight two-tile Land Area for 8 Tiles, along with two occupied Sea Areas for one more, two extra Tiles for the Nile and two more for trade and along with Egypt’s Civilization bonus of one Talent.  13 Purple Tiles for placement on the map. The Greeks brace themselves.  P-L hits Mycenae with four Tiles, hits Laconia with four Tiles, and places one Tile in the Ionian Sea, Gulf of Taranto, and Sea of Sicily and two in Calabria.

P-S has a growth of 8 Tiles:  These are placed – one in Sea of Sicily, four in Syracuse, one to Minoan Sea, one to Phrygia, and one into the Myrtoan Sea.

Greece has 8 Blue Tiles of growth plus two Tiles are removed from the Heroic Saga card for a total of ten.  Placements: Two to Mycenae, two to Laconia, one to Syracuse, one to Minoan Sea, one to Myrtoan Sea, two to Phrygia and one to Aegean Sea.

E2/T-3 Card Play

P-L By rule must play cards to increase their wealth first.  Therefore, this Persian Power plays Treasure Hoard:  it adds one VP, gets one Talent of Gold and places two Tiles in Troy.

P-S plays Barbarian Trade, garnering three Talents, but also giving one to Greece and one to P-L, both of whom border the map’s northern edge with at least one Tile each.

Gr plays SPY.  Draws from the P-S hand and luckily steals the Metal Forge card, which should surely help in coming battles.

P-L plays Black Death, a powerful disaster card, which allows them to remove five Tiles from at least three Land Areas, one of which must be adjacent to at least one other.  But remember, only one Tile can be eliminated from Gold treasure cities due to card play: the Greeks must remove one Tile each from Laconia, Mycenae, an Illyrian Black Tile, a Dalmatian Black Tile and Noricum Black Tile. Two Blue and three Black Tiles die from the Black Death.

P-S passes.

Gr plays BLOCKADE on Mycenae as a protective measure to prevent the Persians adding anything during Competition.

P-L plays Command of the Seas on the Aegean Sea. That, as did Blockade, will affect Competition as well.

Gr plays Great Person: Poet which replaces one Persian Tile with a Greek Tile in Laconia, Mycenae, and Syracuse.  Ah, there are times when the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

P-L passes.  It has only Competition cards remaining in hand.

Gr plays Great Person: Navigator placing a Greek Blue Tile in each Deep Sea Area as well as one in the Ionian Sea and one in the Gulf of Taranto.

Gr then plays Biblical Floods in Anatolia killing one Persian Tile each in Lydia, Phrygia, Troy and Gallicia.

End Card Play.

E2/T-3 Competition

Battle of Mycenae:  P-L cannot play any Competition card due to the Blockade, which is indicated by a White wooden cylinder piece.  The Greeks need to use their Competition resources elsewhere so stand pat.  Three P-L Purple Tiles vs four Blue Greek leave two Blue Tiles and the Gold remaining.  Mycenae survives another turn.  Because Greece destroyed the P-L city (think of it as a vast camp) they get one Gold Talent plus the Mycenaean bonus of a second Talent of loot.  But those two Talents cannot be used during this Competition phase.

Battle of Laconia:  P-L must play cards first and uses Iron Mine which adds two P-L Tiles and eliminates one Gr Tile.  Greece adds one of its two White Tiles to the fray and the other is placed at Syracuse.  Greece also plays Metal Forge, that fortuitously Spy-acquired Competition card, which adds an additional White Tile each to Laconia, Syracuse, Calabria, Phrygia and Troy.  During the Battle, five P-L Tiles face three Gr and their two White tiles.  Both sides engage in a potlach spend of five Gold Talents each during the first five Competition rounds.  The battle ends with one Gr and one P-L Tile coexisting, but that means the Greek’s precious Gold piece remains in its Land Area.  Laconia, behind its pitted and battered walls, holds.

Battle of Syracuse:  P-S plays Obsidian Quarry, which removes a Greek Tile.  So four Blue and one White Greek Tile face three P-S Red Tiles.  The P-S spends two of their Gold Talents while the Greeks eliminate one White and one Blue Tile.  Greece must do something to save Syracuse, so it sacrifices the Triremes card in lieu of another Tile loss.  The battle ends with one Gr and one P-S Tile, but the Syracuse Gold piece survives.

Battle of Phrygia:  A Red P-S Tile dies.  Three Greek Blue Tiles, a valuable city, remain.

At Troy, after battle resolution, two Greek Blue Tiles occupy the Land Area.

At Calabria, The P-L uses the Warrior Queen Competition card and three Purple P-L Tiles survive to form a Persian city.

Naval Battle of the Minoan Sea:  one Gr and one P-S Tile survive to coexist.

Naval Battle of Aegean Sea:  The one Tile Gr fleet is sunk leaving two P-L Tiles.

Naval Battle of the Myrtoan Sea:  two Gr Tiles survive.

Naval Battle of the Ioanian Sea:  P-L plays Ramming Speed, but the Greeks win that card resolution (it’s possible for the “rammer” to be sunk with the “rammee”… if you get my “drift”) so one Gr and one P-L dies leaving one surviving Blue Greek Tile.

E2/T-3 Victory Points

P-L has seven cities for 7VP plus 1VP from the Treasure Hoard card equaling 8 for a running total 25VP.

P-S has three cities for 3VP for a running total of 9VP.

That’s a combined 34VP for both Persian Powers which must be divided by two for 17VP.

Greece has one city remaining for 1VP and a running total of a mere 6VP.  This seems a tough invader lead to overcome.

E2/T-3 End of Epoch Resolution?

Because it is the end of the Epoch’s third turn, there is a chance the Epoch may come to a sudden end.  And so it does.  We now add end of Epoch VPs.

As an aside, here’s the Rule Book extract of how an Epoch can end early.

End of Epoch/Game Victory Point Calculations 

P-L gets 1VP more as a bonus for having the most cities.

P-S gets 1VP for Sea Domination in at least three Sea Areas, but having less than six.

Greece gets no bonus points.

Revised VP count:  P-L 26; P-S 10; for 18VP, Greece has 6VP.

Beginning in Epoch III

The each Persian Power’s card draw goes up to three.  The Greeks remain at three, but get the Armored Infantry Competition card back as a possible card to draw automatically.

Things seem pretty grim for Greece, so here’s a summary of Epoch III’s next two turns (E3/T-1 and E3/T-2).

The P-L, due to successes thus far, exhausts its Tile supply, which is an absolute ACIS limit.  Being out of Tiles curtails offensive capabilities; but not enough… not by a long shot.

Due to the relentless solitaire game system program (it’s like facing a kind of “Terminator” robot when things start a kind of death spiral), during E3/T-2 both Syracuse and Mycenae fall leaving only Syracuse, sitting all alone in Sicily, a weak and all too vulnerable remaining Greek city not long to survive in my opinion.

The Victory points by that time were substantially in favor of Persia; so overwhelming I’ll not bother chronicling them here.

Playtest Thoughts:

Clearly allowing the Persians to upgrade many one-Tile occupied Land Areas on the first turn into two Tile settlements gives them a juggernaut of power that seems too much to overcome.  So, in the next playtest, I’ll limit each Persian Power to upgrading one single Tile Land Area into a two Tile settlement each turn.

Furthermore, I am going to replace the Greek reserved Competition card of Armored Infantry for Metal Forge.  Greeks can play it once per Epoch and then lay it aside until the next Epoch when they can choose when to draw it into their hand.

This also prevents the Persians from acquiring it.  The Greeks will continue to get Triremes as a possible card in their hand each turn.  There will be no Tiles allowed in the Deep Sea Areas.  This will funnel the P-S along the same coast as their P-L counterpart.  I will also NOT allow P-L and P-S to chain expand during growth or card to play off each other’s colors.  The two Persian Powers will, however, be allowed to combine for Sea Domination.

With these changes, we shall see if Western Civilization can survive the Persian onslaught during my next playtest solitaire game of ACIS’ Greeks and Persians. I might have lost this time, but it sure is fun trying to achieve victory!

A Post Script: Changes to the Greeks and Persians Scenario – “The Rest of the Story: THIS IS SPARTA!” by Mark G. McLaughlin

After numerous solitaire playings of this scenario; following up on this article’s “Playtest Thoughts” notes, Chris and I realized that while the Greeks could do all right in the first half of the game (defending against Darius), they were consistently being overwhelmed during the game’s second half (Xerxes invasion).

To both recreate the massive and monumental scale of that second invasion; we made the two Persian Powers spend Tiles to slowly build up their growth potential – so they would have a true juggernaut for the scenario’s second half.  At the same time, however, we cut back their card hand size, keeping it one fewer than they would originally have been allowed to draw (and reducing their minimum hand from three to two).

That gave Xerxes the power of Tiles – but not the power of cards, which is where the true power of the game often lies.  So while the Persians appear to be an unstoppable juggernaut, it is a behemoth with flaws, flaws which can be exploited to allow a possible solitaire player victory.

As for the Greeks, we kept the cards Triremes and Academy of Sciences, but added Great Person: Strategos – which can add four (4) White Tiles, one each, to land and/or sea competitions.

Furthermore, Triremes and Strategos are never discarded, but merely set aside if used (or if the Persians Negate, steal or force a discard of them).  In the draw phase, the Greeks can elect to use the first one or two of their draws to bring these set-aside cards back into their hand, and take the remaining draws from the deck.

Furthermore, we awarded these cards automatically for the game’s second Epoch, IN ADDITION to whatever they were dealt at the start of that second Epoch, as well as letting the Greeks have a free refresh of the Academy of Sciences card. That ensures them an extra card a turn, as they draw three from the deck and get to keep one – although we tied it to the Greeks having the Mycenae Land Area, making it a little less of a sure thing.

Finally, we gave the Greeks the “Spartans”, as represented by the Armored Infantry Competition card.  That card, which prevents any Greek Tile loss during the first two rounds of a land battle, is placed beneath the Civilization Display, and can be used ONLY in Mycenae or Laconia (the only places on the map the Spartan Army historically ever went).   That card, moreover, does NOT count against the Greek card hand size and after being played it goes back under the Civilization display, and can be used again during the next turn’s Competition Phase.  That card, effectively, is Leonidas saying “THIS IS SPARTA!”

The result is that the Greeks can survive and even win this scenario – but it is not easy, as the Persians keep on coming and coming and coming, and between them, the two Persian Powers combined will, by the second half of the scenario, usually have as many or more cards than the Greeks.

A few key card draws, moreover, and the Greeks will tumble and tumble precipitously into defeat. For those who want even more of a challenge, however, we also added an option to boost the Persian Powers by a card each — which makes the Persians an even scarier, more lethal, solitaire game opponent.

Concluding Remarks by Fred Schachter, Game Developer:

So there you have it; a hopefully entertaining and informative article about a game, Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea, whose Design/Development Team is having a grand time making every effort to provide those who play it an easy-to-learn, exciting, fun, and challenging game with more than a touch of historicity and period flavor.

Reader feedback is welcomed and encouraged (as well as the P-500 orders needed to get ACIS onto GMT’s production schedule). Thank you!


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5 thoughts on “Solitaire Play of Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea – Greeks vs Persians: An AAR (Part 2)

  1. Hello again, and some questions again 😉

    When reading these AAR, I understand/think that the cards from the powers are face up so you know what they have in their hands, but In a non-solo game, every card will be kept face down, except for the “must-play” cards of course, right?

    So, asserting my previous comment is right, when Gr (you) plays Captive Queen do you know that L-P will cancel it with the Negate Bribery Card? or is there an uncertainty and you take your chance? or you decide to “sacrifice” this Captive queen card in order to get rid of the Negate card, and protect some future cards you might draw and you think will be more useful?

    • in a solo game you see all of the cards…with players you keep your hands secret. The Non-Player will play a Negate Card IF you have only one card it can Negate…if you have two or more, when you play one the Non-Player draws a card from the deck…even number and it plays its Negate, odd and it holds on to it. That way you can’t always “trick” or “bait” the Non-Player to play its Negate card on a minor annoyance and then drop the hammer. This way it is a 50-50 if that trick will work….which is about the same when you play people….you lead with a card that will hurt them a little, and they have to decide if this is your best play, or a feint to draw you out…..like playing Bridge….

  2. By the way it seems that you should use only P-L and P-S to shorten long words, but you sometimes use L-P and even L-S. Is it normal?

    Regarding E2/T2 Battle of Thessaly, you know Gr will lose that competition, so your “Armored Infantry” play is there only to inflict some loses to P-L and let P-L with 3 tiles instead of 5?

    • next time we will not use abbreviations but will instead spell things out. mea culpa. as for your other comment, yes – you got that right. good observation. Chris knew he would lose the battle but wanted to make the Persians pay for it….