Sometime back in April 2023, I started playing around with generating AI (artificial intelligence) art. In a nutshell, you provide a written prompt describing what you want the picture to look like, then the program creates four different takes on the prompt. The initial platform that I played around with was Microsoft’s Bing Create. At the time, Davison and Brock were in a musical theater production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. So, I started by creating some variations of pictures with a prompt something like “boastful young man wearing a long multicolored coat, standing on a hill with wheat bowing down to him, evening, ” and then some basic art styles (impressionism, abstract, anime, etc).
Bing Create has some limitations, the primary two of which are the image size and the ability to iterate on existing images. The image size is 1024 pixels by 1024 pixels. If you are printing on a laser printer, you are probably printing at 300 dpi. So these images would work out about 3.25 inches x 3.25 inches. The second limitation is that you cannot ask Bing to create a variation on one of the existing pictures; you just re-run the prompt or change it slightly. Bing also gives you a limited number of tokens to speed things up. On initial sign-up, this was 25 tokens. But it arose that Bing bumped your account up to 100 overnight each night, so that didn’t end up being a limitation for a dabbler like myself.
I ended up creating a large poster for the Joseph production to have out in the lobby, basically to provide something of interest for folks walking through. It was 6 rows of 4 pictures each, resulting in 23 different takes on Joseph in his multi-colored coat (plus one slide for the show title). Here are a number of the “Joseph” pictures.
I haven’t posted much here in the past couple of years (so time to get a little caught up). During the year and a bit the boys have been involved in a number of musical theater productions. The latest (which just wrapped up on May 1st) was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Davison had the lead male villain role – Baron Bomburst – along with various dance roles. Brock was one of the Vulgarian soldiers, along with a handful of other roles. I’ll post some pictures and hopefully video here shortly.
We won our second game in April, in a very productive game.
Smith (Davison) reconned Europe (out of London), immediately connecting Paris to the grid. The additional European cities made available were Frankfurt, Moscow, and St Petersburg.
Just for fun, here’s the Recon Report:
We found Europe struggling as much as the rest of the world, but, surprisingly, there are some old military bases with functioning aircraft. We can adjust our supply centers to include a landing strip and the havens already have old runways we could put back in use. This could be tremendous in our efforts to get around an ever-growing grid.
As part of the European recon, a new action “Shuttle Flight” was added: “Move from any haven or supply center to any other haven or supply center on the grid.” This is a very useful action, as now have a permanent supply in Sao Paulo, and an additional haven in Weatherstone. Additionally, when the temporary supply centers are built during a game, they also can facilitate the Shuttle Flight action.
During this game, we were able to build a supply center in Los Angeles, thereby starting it’s recovery (as it increased one population at the end of the game due to the supply center). We also expended a production point at game end to move it up to a population of 2, out of the danger zone.
This isn’t in my notes, but I think it was earlier (probably February or March) where we were given a number (3?) of these cards to add to the deck. They are a nice little boost when making supplies.
We (Ben, Daelynn, Mikaela, Davison) are playing through Pandemic Legacy Season 2, while being locked down during the CoronaVirus event. I’m chronicling our playthrough for friends and family to follow, in particular those who will never play the game and don’t mind spoilers. The artwork at the top of each post is from the game, added here to help set the post-apocalyptic mood of the game.
When we reconned South America in March, we gained a new objective card – access a lost haven.
We had no idea where the lost haven would be, but guessed that playing a search in Lima would be the key. Indeed, the “Search the Sea” action in Lima had us add the new map section in the Pacific Ocean.
One of the tasks was naming the lost haven (and building a sea route to it). We cast around for ideas, trying to come up with something interesting that had something to do with the area. Looking at a map indicated that it was sort of near the Galapagos Islands. This led to ideas such as “Galapagos” or something about Charles Darwin (i.e. “Beagle”, the name of his ship). Also off that coast of South America is Easter island – so “Easter” or “Maoi” also entered the discussion. The Incan empire had run through the far west backbone of South America – so we took a look at Incan mythology, but it was pretty depressing.
None of these were chosen. For the name of the new haven, we settled on “Weatherstone”, a name that has some family history. I will point out that I don’t think using it in this context was my idea (this comment will make more sense to non-family members in a later post).
Part of what has been added to the game is additional player actions, always added in at the time when that action becomes possible. – Establish Supply Line – introduced when we did the first recon of North America. Allows for the connection of cities via land routes. Search – also introduced with the N.A. recon, this introduces the action of scratching a box on a city card (if you are in the city in question and have the card in hand). Chart Sea Lane – allows for the connection of ports and/or havens, but you are only allowed to cross one red line on the map. Inoculate – allows for the retirement of infection and city cards from the game. We are trying to inoculate cities that are hard to get to (i.e. Chicago, Atlanta) by pulling their infection cards when possible. However in March, there was also a new mechanism introduced where the more city cards present in the player deck, the more Epidemics were added to it. Consequently, we are trying to also keep the number of city cards below 45, which allows six epidemic cards. We’ve had a couple of games where we had seven epidemic cards and it makes it that much tougher.
By the post title of “Early April”, you will have likely surmised that we lost this game. Indeed, once again we lost due to a quick proliferation of plagues. The one plague that really hurt was the one that hit Los Angeles, as it only had a population of one at the time. At the end of this game, L.A. dropped to a Forsaken status. I think that we had more than one supply cube in Los Angeles, but it was hit with an Epidemic (draw the bottom card from the infection deck and remove all supply cubes from the city), and then immediately with a plague.
You haven’t met all of the initial players yet, so we’d like to introduce you to Plinth, the character that Mikaela has been playing each game.
Plinth started off with just the Farmer action, which Mikaela has made good use of, in essence allowing the production of an extra cube while making supplies and dropping them off. We’ve since purchased the Runner capability as well.
Game Mechanics: End of Game Adjustments
At the end of each gaming session, there are a number of game end steps to work through. The two key ones are “Adjust Population” and “Spend Production Units”.
At the end of a game, if a location/city has one or more plague cubes on it, it’s population decreases by 1. The initial cities in the game all started with a population of 3. Based on current experience, cities that are added by reconnaissance have values from 1 to 3. There is a sheet of number stickers that are used to change the population numbers of a city. If a city has a supply center in it, the population increases by 1. If a city has a supply center and plague cubes, it’s population stays the same.
Spend Production Units
The number of production units available for spending is based on how many cities are connected to the grid and whether the game was won (giving at +1 bonus). There are a number of options on spending production points (and more which get added to the game)
game end spending. Additional character abilities – each character started with an ability, but there are additional ones (costing 1 to 3 pp) that have come available during the gameplay. Here is the Smith character with some extra capabilities that we purchased for him; both of which are most helpful in reconning new areas of the map. Additions to infection cards – these are stickers which you can purchase to add to individual cards.
-Well-stocked – if there are two supply cubes in a city, none are consumed. We had two of these stickers available, and they reside on a Cairo and a London card. Where they provide a real bonus is when they are drawn as the site of an epidimic. This usually wipes out all supply cubes in a city, but with a well-stocked cards those cubes remain in play.
-Broken Link – another of the Infection card upgrades that we purchased for 1 production point: Additions to city cards – we have used some additions to city cards – primarily ones which allow an individual card to count as two or three cards in the building of supply centers, which usually require 5 cards. Population changes – you can spend 1 production point to increase the population of a city by 1. We’ve used this quite a bit, primarily in stabilizing the population of cities that have been hit by a plague. If a city’s population is reduced to zero, it is considered Forsaken, and increasing it’s population by one costs two production points. Permanent Supply Centers – in one of the packages opened, we were given a card which allowed us to build up to 3 permanent supply centers (at a cost of 3 production units each). The caveat being that you could only build a permanent supply center in a city in which you had built a supply center in the previous game. In the late February game, we built a permanent supply center in Sao Paulo, which allowed us an easier recon of South America.
I mentioned Forsaken Cities above. Here is the ruleset that was added to the game regarding Forsaken Cities:
We won the month of March on the first attempt. During the month we reconned South Africa.
This immediately added the city of Buenos Aires as connected to the grid. Other cities available for connection are now Bogota, Lima, and Santiago. As part of the recon, we had an objective card added which was to “Find a Lost Haven.”, along with some wording that strongly suggested it would be found in the Pacific Ocean. We determined that building a supply route to Lima and searching there would be a top priority.
Due to a mix-up in thinking, we thought that we won the second game in February, but technically didn’t. We completed the mandatory objective, which was establishing three new supply centers. However, we did not also complete one of the optional objectives. In February, the requirement was completing two objectives. Starting in March, that number bumps up to 3 and stays there for the rest of the season. By the time that we figured this out, things were mostly put away, so there was no point in going back to try to reconstruct. We just moved on. Since we didn’t technically win, we left the number of rationed cards (see below) the same.
Here’s the chart which shows the number of objectives required to win each month. Also on this chart is the number of supply cubes available in the stockpile for deployment to cities at the start of the game.
At this point in the game, we had the following optional objectives in play.
Going back to game mechanics, there are a couple of additional card types that make up the Player Deck. Rationed Event cards are event cards that can be played, usually without requiring an action. They are all beneficial to one degree or another and can provide respite when things look bleak. Like all things with this game, there is a catch. When you start the game in January, you get to choose 4 rationed cards to include in the player deck. The game started with around 8 rationed cards, so there was some discussion and choice required. If you win a game, you are able to use 2 less rationed cards the next game. If you lose a game, your rationed card count increases by 2 in the following game. Writing this from a number of games in the future – the most rationed cards that we’ve had in a game is 4, while the least is zero.
Rationed Event cards that we have used a number of times includes:
Hidden Stockpile – allows you to place 6 supply cubes from the reserve on a location where a player is at.
Drastic Measures – allows you to remove two plague cubes from the board (but the marker doesn’t move backwards)
Team Bravo – allows you to place two supply cubes into cities on the board. Very useful when there are some vulnerable cities without supply cubes.
At the beginning of the game, there were no Unrationed Event cards. During the introduction of additional elements in the game, there have been some unrationed cards added. The catch with the Unrationed cards is that they are a one-use card. After you use them, they are destroyed and out of the game. Here’s an example of an Unrationed Card that we did use (although in a later month).
Another of the five characters created at the beginning of the game was Angel, the character that is being played by Daelynn.
Her initial role was the Administrator, able to spend an action to move one character to the same location as another. This ability is useful given the constraints of exchanging cards, where both parties to the exchange need to be in the same city as the card being exchanged. If one of the characters is in the right city, the Administrator can get the other party there quickly.
I haven’t talked about this yet, but at the end of each gaming session, there are a number of production points that can be allocated to make things a little easier going forward. We spent 1 production point to add the Record Keeper ability to Angel, allowing her to have eight cards in hand rather than the normal limit of 7.
February 73 started off with a quick failure. In short succession, we had a number of plague cubes around the world, soon totaling the 8 plagues cubes needed to end the game. We did not achieve building the 3 supply centers, nor any of the additional objectives.
If you lose in the first game in a month, you get a chance to retry it. If you lose again, you still move on to the next month. So, without further bemoaning of our loss, I’ll move on to explain more of the game mechanics.
There are two types of actions – free actions and actions that cost an action. Each player gets four actions on their turn. Following are the initial actions that are available to players at the beginning of the game.
Drive/Ferry – Moving between locations. This is the standard, but also the slowest way to get around. Sail – Discarding a city card to sail to the city via a sea route. Charter – Discarding a city card of the city that you are in to sail to another city via a sea route. At the start of the game, all 12 of the cities were connected by sea routes. As we recon the continents and build supply routes, many of these are over land, so the usefulness of these two actions lessens. Share Knowledge – Transferring cards between players are difficult as both players need to be in the same city as the card in question. Build Supply Center – Collecting five cards of the same color takes some work, particularly with the difficult of transferring cards and the hand limit of 8 cards. Recon – The recon action requires a set of cards, but also that a supply center be built in the city in question, so for most recons this requires two collections of cards of the same color. Make Supplies – The make supplies option is a slow way to acquire supplies, however sometimes it is the only way to do so. Deliver Supplies – It also costs an action to deliver supplies to a location. This means that moving to an adjacent city, making a supply cube, delivering it, and then leaving (preferable if there is a plague cube in the city) and then leaving takes up an entire turn.
There are free actions that can be taken, given the presence of the necessary supply cubes. Pickup Supplies – This is often done after the Create Supplies card action, shown below. Once in a while we’ve used it to pickup cubes at one city that hasn’t had any infections to drop off elsewhere. Transfer Supplies – handing supplies to another player can be useful, but being in the same location is sometimes difficult. As seen previously, the player Smith is able to use his Radio Operator ability to move cubes around quickly, so this action has not been used much.
Produce Supply cards
The Produce Supplies cards allow for the quick creation of (usually) three cubes at haven or supply center as an action. However, with the nature of the legacy game, a conundrum is introduced for the players. Rather than producing cards at just one haven or supply center, you can produce supplies at all current supply centers and havens. However, this requires checking off one of the boxes on the card being used – and once all boxes have been checked off the card is destroyed.
I also want to introduce another of the player characters. Wren was only played once, by Davison in the first month , January. After the game ended, he felt that he wasn’t able to really use her special ability so moved on to play Smith thereafter.
Having played the introduction game “Prologue” (which did not require any changes to the game), we embarked on the month of January. We had two set objectives for the month – build 3 new supply centers and recon North America. Supply centers cost five City cards (I’ll talk more about this later) of the same color and can only be built in one of the cities of that color. The Recon (reconnaisance) of North America required us to build a supply center in Washington DC, then accumulate four additional blue city cards to do the recon. We’ll talk more about how our month went later after I describe some of the other aspects of the game.
First, I’d like to talk about more of the games components. Supply Cubes
Included with the game were 36 gray supply cubes. At the start of each gaming session, there is a set number of these available (declining over time) to deploy to the cities on the map. The first game there were 9 cities, so this worked out to 4 cubes per city. Supply cubes are removed from cities when infection cards for that city are drawn. Additional supply cubes are delivered to cities by our team as actions allow. Infection cards
At the start of the game there are 3 infection cards for each of the 9 cities, so the infection card deck is 36 cards. After the supply cubes are allocated, nine infection cards are drawn and discarded with a supply cube removed from each city in question. At the end of each player’s turn, additional infection cards are drawn. The number of cards drawn starts at 2, but builds up to 4 (and possibly 5) during the game. For each card drawn a supply cube is removed from the city in question. Plague Cubes
If an infection card is drawn and there are no supplies in a city, one of these lovely green plague cubes is put on the city instead. Additionally, the incident tracker (shown below) is moved forward one place. If there are three plague cubes in a city (and no supply cubes – they can be added after a plague has happened in a city to prevent future infections), an infection occurs on all adjacent cities possibly resulting in more plague cubes (and incidents). One of the ways to lose the game is if the incident tracker makes it to the skull icon, requiring 8 plague cubes.
Jumping back to the game, I wanted to introduce another of the player cards.
Anton is an instructor (more on that capability in a future post) and for the first number of games is played by Dad(Ben). The character “Smith” from the first post is played by Davison, starting with the February game.
An objective for January was to recon North America. We fulfilled this objective and one of the additions to the game was a large sticker to place on the map board. This sticker provided a number of additional cities: Chicago (with a supply route in place to Washington, DC), Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Mexico City.
The additions to the game come in a number of different components:
There are 8 sealed boxes (numbered 1 through 8) in the game box. After Davison reconned North America, we were instructed to open Box number 5. This provided a list of “doors” to open.
These included the aforementioned map sticker, but also some new rules for the game. I haven’t gotten into available player actions during a turn yet (hoping to do that next post), but with the introduction of new cities to the map (including ones that were not connected) a couple of additional rules were needed. One of the new rules was a new action possibility for each player. “Establish Supply Line” cost 2 supply cubes and allowed you to establish a supply line to a disconnected city. On the map this entails getting out the sharpie marker and drawing a straight line between the centers of the new city and then adding the new city cards into the discard decks so that the city would be in play during the next gaming session. The second new rule was one that allowed you to perform a search in a new city. This had no cost (other than using an action), but you had to be in the city and have the pertinent city card in your hand.
To illustrate, these are the city cards for the newly discovered (but not yet supply-lined) city of San Francisco. When we build a supply line to San Francisco, for the next game the two infection cards will get added to the infection deck and the City cards to the player deck. One of the San Francisco city cards has two scratchable areas that are searchable.
After the recon of North America was completed, we built the 3rd supply center, thus completing the two objectives for the month and winning the game session. January was completed on the first attempt.
We’re currently in the middle (likely pretty close to the beginning still) of the CoronaVirus event. Schools have been shutdown, I (Ben) have worked from home for the past week along with the rest of my coworkers, it’s hard to find toilet paper in the stores, and it’s all a little weird. So, we have a little bit more time for boardgames.
Last Friday we cracked open the game “Pandemic Legacy Season 2″and began the season. I’m planning to publish a series of posts on hubcrate.com that chronicle our adventure through the game. I technically had started playing the game with a grade 6 student that I mentor (meeting for 30 minutes once a week), but decided to co-opt it to play at home – as there won’t be any mentoring happening for a while with the schools shut down.
Pandemic is a line of cooperative games that has been out for several years. The general gameplay is that a group of players is trying to find cures for four diseases while the world crumbles around them. Infections and outbreaks occur and the players spend time collecting cards (to create cures), shore up defenses in cities, and try and find the cures before a variety of defeat conditions occurs.
Legacy games are games which change over time. These changes can include changes to the board (usually additions), introduction of new elements (cards, playing pieces, new rules, etc), and possibly destruction of current game elements (i.e. “destroy this card”). Often these changes take place over a number of playings of the game, each playing picking up where the last one left off (to some degree) and carrying on in this changed environment.
So, back to Pandemic Legacy Season 2. First a word of caution – there will be a lot of “spoilers” during this season of posts. I would recommend that if you ever plan on playing the game that you not read any of the posts. Save your curiosity for the experience. For those of you who are interested in following along but will never play the game, welcome.
Pandemic Legacy Season 2 (maybe I’ll just call it PLS2 going forward – and use there is a Season 1) is set in an apocalyptic world 71 years after the plague has struck and has decimated the world. When the game starts, there are three Sea Havens which have survived and been producing and delivering supplies to some of the coastal cities trying to keep them going. The game takes place over 12 months, with the possibility of 2 games per month. If you win the first game session of a given month (i.e. January), you move onto the next month. If you lose the first game, you replay the month before moving on to the next month (win or lose). The entire campaign therefore will be somewhere between 12 and 24 months. We are currently (as I start writing this initial post) in April and have won 3 times and lost twice, so I’m expecting there to be somewhere around 18 sessions.
The beginning game map has three havens which we had to name. The chosen haven names are “Ragnarok” (the haven in the North Atlantic), “Xandria” (the haven in the Mediterranean), and Sargasso (the haven in the South/Central Atlantic). Given the legacy nature of the game, the city names were written on the board with indelible felt pen. Thee nine cities (all connected by sea routes) on the board come in three colors. The blue cities are London, New York, and Washington. The yellow cities are Jacksonville, Sao Paulo, and Lagos. The black cities are Istanbul, Tripoli and Cairo.
We also had to create the initial five character cards. This is the card for one of the characters, “Smith”:
To create the cards, there was a page of about 15 face stickers, five initial roles, and other boxes to be filled out. Smith was born at the Xandria Haven, is currently 28 years old yet, is still alive (but may die during the game so there is a place of death to fill out), and has the role of Radio Operator which allows him to allocate supply cubes to and from other players. At the bottom of the card are 7 scratch off areas labelled “Exposures”. If a player starts a turn in a city with a plague cube, one block gets scratched off. These can be blank (no impact), a scar (which requires the addition of a scar, something that limits the player’s future abilities, to the card), or a skull. There are a total of 10 character cards in the box, and we only created five to start with so it is probable that we will find additional characters during the game play.
So, if you don’t mind the spoilers and are interested in following us, um, keep following us.