Tutorial 3 – Pellucid here we come!

Continued from => Getting Ready for Tutorial 3

NOTE: don’t worry too much about spoilers … this is a prototype, and the final will likely be very different! And will you actually remember this 5 months from now (or more)?

First … a quick recap of our lander, our crew and our supplies as we strap in for our descent to the planet Pellucid in the TOI-2 System.

Our lander is the Space Ranger with added Heavy Armor Plating as one of our three allowed modules. The full profile for the Space Ranger is:

We are limited to 6 supplies, 4 personal equipment, 2 mission equipment and we need to roll the danger die 3 times. Adding our Heavy Armor Plating reduces our supplies by 2 (down to 4). On our return we can bring back up to 6 discoveries with us!

We have two Mission Equipment (which fits) and five Personal Equipment (sad that we have to leave one behind due to our limit of 4) loaded into the lander as we prepare to leave on our mission:

Personal Equipment:

  1. Jetpack (Recon Section use only)
  2. Portable AI (Science Section use only)
  3. Two Medkits
    We had THREE of these but had to leave one of these behind to be within the maximum of 4 … and since Awaken Realms put the two special personal equipment into the prior tutorial, we thought we better bring them both along with us, so we chose to leave one of the three Medkits behind (it can be used on our next mission.)

Mission Equipment:

  1. Breaching Charge (Security Section use only)
  2. Mining Probe (Engineering Section use only)

We are taking crew from all four sections and have slotted each crewmember into their Section Tray along with their dice (with the added wild/bad die) and blue charge cubes (if applicable).

Engineering Section: Samarth Ramprakash (Pilot)

Science Section: Petra Sedlackova (Lucky)

Recon Section: Galit Yadin (Searcher)

Security Section: Theo Tsiakalos (Storyteller)

We were warned by the Facebook Vanguard community to expect our crew to DIE on this mission so that Awaken Realms could include a tutorial on what happens when the crew dies. We also knew that when landing the Space Ranger we had to roll the Danger Die twice, and each roll we risked losing supplies … and this mission supplies were going to be important! So, we chose Samarth to be part of our mission team because his special skill was being able to reroll the Danger Die during the landing!

And good thing we brought Samarth with us! We got a bad result on one of the Danger Die rolls… but he successfully did a reroll giving us a safe landing with nothing lost!

Before continuing … here is a photo of our card table as we start Tutorial 3:

OK … back to the game! We also brought Theo along because his special skill allowed us to need only 2 Success Tokens to meet that requirement for our team to rank up after the mission (instead of the usual 3). Unfortunately, I forgot to deal out a Rank Up card to each of the crew as we started the mission (must remember this next time!). I didn’t notice it till the mission was ending! And then when I gave out the Rank Up cards, three of the crew did not meet the other requirement of the rank up card (but might have if we had known about it from the beginning). Drat. However, our Science Section crewmember DID meet the requirement and the Success Tokens needed to rank up! (yes, we barely squeaked by with getting 2 success tokens). So, Petra is now Rank 2 … and the funny thing is that as the mission was ending it was looking like she’d be the only crewmember to NOT make it out alive! And then she not only does, but ranks up as well! Long Live Petra! Here is her Rank Up card:

We actually completed three “missions” on this MISSION. [Awaken Realms calls these “Objectives” but still refers to them as “missions” in the heading as well as card type] We had two of them going at the same time at one point. The early mission advised us we could learn about the crystal by traveling DOWN to sector 2 … or we could learn more about the people of this world by travelling UP to Sector 3. Here is the Mission and how it spells out the choice before us:

We talked about the two choices for a bit and then decided to SPLIT UP and have two crew go UP and two crew go DOWN. If playing the mission with only two Sections (such as just Recon and Engineering) you still could solve the dilemma the same, with one going up and one going down.

Both of our two crew teams were successful in opening up a Resupply Depot! Each team gained a Success Token by opening up the Depot.

Success Token

We now had our TWO Success Tokens needed to get Ranked Up at the end of the mission … but then we read the FINE PRINT at the Resupply Depot:

In order to ATTEMPT to gain 3 supplies we FIRST had to DISCARD 1 Success Token!

This was a hard decision! And so early in the game too! My daughter wanted to keep our Success Tokens because they would be needed to Rank Up when we completed the mission. I thought we should discard them and TRY for the supplies (even though it was NOT a sure thing!!!) … my reason was that if we died due to lack of supplies, we couldn’t rank up (you do not rank up when you are dead:) And every time we wanted to REST to refresh our dice we would have to spend ONE of our SUPPLIES!

Yeah, we could have had one of the teams TRY for the supplies and let the other team just travel to the next sector… but our discussion did end up realizing that we really really needed supplies, just to stay alive in this mission (we were thinking Awaken Realms was out to give us a tutorial on a dying crew). So … we had both teams TRY to get the supplies. And they only had ONE CHANCE (that was all the Success Tokens we had … 2 of them, one for each team … and since it cost one success token to TRY rolling for the supplies, there was just one chance per team).

This is an example of how this game (ISS Vanguard) seems a lot like Pandemic (the game… not COVID)! Lots of discussion going on and rarely a dull moment! Once we decided that we really really needed the added supplies, we next acknowledged that we would only get ONE chance to get them … so we had to figure out how to maximize our chance of success in our dice roll. We needed to roll either a COMPASS or a COMPUTER icon.

Engineering and Science were together in Sector 3. Scroll back up to see the dice that they brought with them:

  • Science: NONE (no compass or computer on any of the dice)
  • Engineering: NONE

But … remember their special “blank” converter ability! Engineering could convert a blue blank into a compass! If you don’t remember what a “blank” icon is, read => What is a blank die?

Hmmm. So, we think (and plan). Each blue dice has one “blank” side that Engineering could convert to the needed compass. Also each dice had a wild Vanguard logo on one side that would satisfy the compass requirement. And our wild/bad die had three wild sides and three bad sides. Plus each Section had one blue “blank” die that had FOUR blank sides (as well as the Wild side). We were getting into the DOABLE range now!  But then we also looked at our Science Section cards to see if there was any abilities on them that would help in our dice roll.  Cool, look at what we had:

One card would let us reroll one green die … the other would let us reroll ANY color die.

Next we looked at the OTHER Section in this two person team… Engineering:

That last card in the list … it looks like a lot to read and you may say “why bother” but it was the SAVING GRACE card! It would let us roll 3 dice, and if we didn’t succeed we could discard two of them into the spent pool (where they would have gone anyway) and change the OTHER one to whatever side we wanted on a either a WILD die (with brackets) or a BLANK die (with brackets)

We felt unstoppable as we chose our dice! And … we made it and got our supplies.

That was just ONE of our two teams … next we looked over the other pair of Sectors working together:

  • Recon had a green COMPASS!
  • Security (none)

Then, as before, both Sections had a WILD Vanguard logo on one side of every die … plus each Sector had one die with THREE Wild (and three bad) sides!  However, neither of these two sections had the special ability to convert a “blank” into a COMPASS or COMPUTER. It was not looking as good as we hoped … so we checked into our last resort for our plan … Section Cards!

  • Recon
  • Security

Recon had a good Section Card that would allow a reroll of one die. And if Recon were rolling the dice, Security could assist with as many dice as they wanted using the top card in their list of Section Cards. We thought that would be over-kill and just went with assisting with the 3 side WILD die!

Recon did the roll plus one reroll and SUCCESS! Both teams now had risked a Success Token and pulled out a win in their rolls (using Sections Cards and blank converters).

Then the game threw us a curve ball!

It added a mission for us to complete knowing full well that our supplies were dwindling. Once again conversations were non-stop as we tried to figure out how to accomplish the mission and not all die in the process! The game was excellent in presenting us with a mission that was clear and yet the process of accomplishing the clearly stated mission was, well, not so cut and dry.

Since this was a discovery oriented mission, we decided to send ONE crewmember to the landing site where it was not too difficult (for that crewmember… remember that the dice, the blank converter, special skill and converter cards all come into play when choosing the “right” crewmember for a task). So… we had Security go to the landing site to just repeatedly try to gain discoveries (straight forward to gain one, with some luck could gain 3). However… once we went down that path (several turns later) it dawned on us that the “straight forward” process to gain a discovery would take many dice rolls… and our supplies were dwindling and so choosing to REST for one action on your turn was a painful choice because when you rest you use one of the supplies … and you only get to refresh THREE DICE! The plan for Security to rake in the discoveries did NOT pan out.

Meanwhile … the other three crewmembers were trying to figure out how to accomplish this mission:

Now, before I explain why this was going to be much harder than we first anticipated I need to explain the event cards. Each crewmember must draw an event card at the end of their turn, even if they did “nothing” (which you can choose to do). This threw a monkey wrench in our plan to just have Security REST while the rest of the crew worked on the mission on the other side of the planet! It would cost too much to get Security back to those sectors to help them (in turns and in lost dice and possible injuries).

But … here is the deal with Events. At the end of your turn you draw an event card … here are five examples:

Notice that all events are not bad (though most are). Usually there are some icons across the top of the event card.  There are 13 of these symbols in the prototype (remember the FINAL game may have different ones and may have MORE of them as well). To see all thirteen of them read => Event Symbols

These same symbols appear in the top right corner of many of the POI cards as well as in the top right corner of the Sectors themselves! For example, here is one of the Sectors in the area where three of our crew were:

You can see two event symbols on the POI card that was placed in Sector 4… but you also can see two symbols that were actually PART of Sector 4.

Each time you draw an event card (at the end of every turn), you compare the event symbols on the event card with the event symbols in the Sector where you are … if none of the symbols match you get the result at the very top of the Event card. Typically this has you advance all the “Time Tokens” (see below for an example). But if one (or more) of the symbols match, then you get the result shown in the center of the Event card! And if you look through the five example event cards above you will notice that the results are putting a time crunch on the mission (or even just staying alive):

  1. Spend 1 die AND discard one Supply
  2. Gain a “Suit Damage” injury
  3. Sacrifice one die but gain 3 mineral leads
  4. Roll the Danger Die
  5. The choice to Roll the Danger Die to try to get 2 leads
  6. The choice to sacrifice one die to move to a Sector of your choice
  7. The choice to roll the Danger Die to move to a Sector of your choice

Remember that Sacrificing a die means that it no longer will be available to you during THIS mission (it goes into the Sector storage bin). Spending a die merely moves a die from your Available Dice Pool into your Spent Dice Pool. However … this “merely” can be really bad if there are NO dice in your Available Dice Pool because the penalty for not being able to spend a die is to sacrifice one! And also remember that rolling the Danger Die is, well … DANGEROUS!

Before continuing … here is the example of a “time track” where you advance a “Time Token” along the track till you get to the end. This example is using the Global Conditions card and when the time token gets to the end, the card is replaced with a new Global Conditions card that will have different rules for travel (might be better, might be worse):

So … now maybe you will understand our dilemma.

Well … maybe just one more piece of information about the game! Once our three crewmembers accomplished the mission (or rather “if” they did), we were looking at a long journey back to the landing site! The rules of the game state that to successfully end a mission your lander has to LIFT-OFF … and any crewmember that is NOT in the same sector as the lander DIES. The rules also state that if you did not accomplish your mission you go ADRIFT (also really bad). So… we were trying to piece together how these three crewmembers could accomplish the mission AND get back to the lander sector. And that travel involved moving through 3 or 4 sectors … and each time a crewmember travels from one sector to another sector they either spend 1 or 2 dice or roll the Danger Die or follow the Global Conditions rules … so we were facing possible injuries and guaranteed loss of dice as we plotted the return journey to the Lander site for each of the three crewmembers. Here are the travel requirements that each of these three crewmembers were facing in order to get back to the Lander sector:

Spend 2 Die to Travel
Spend 2 Die to Travel
Roll a Danger Die with category 1 results
Travel using Global Conditions rules

As if all that was not enough … we were not sure if we needed to accomplish the DECIPHER ALIEN SYMBOLS task (on the POI card in another Sector) first before trying to OPEN THE SPHERE.  This involved a bit of discussion! (Once again reminding me of discussions while playing Pandemic). We decided to try to OPEN THE SPHERE and if it needed us to first Decipher the Alien Systems, we’d have to go about that task next (and that would be difficult considering our supply situation).

However … with luck on dice rolls we thought we could do it! We had a couple good blank converters plus some good Section Cards to help us. And we even could “spend” some of our Discovery Cards (some, not all, of the discovery cards let you choose to return with it at the mission end or to “use it” during the planetary exploration mission). But this was a hard choice too … because we wanted to bring back the maximum discoveries allowed in our Space Ranger lander (6) and we had only 7. We did decide to use two of them because accomplishing the mission was more important than bringing back extra discoveries. Plus, some of the discoveries did not have the “planet phase” option! Here are some of the things that you can use a Discovery Card for DURING your mission (referred to as “planet phase”):

That said … we did it! We were successful with the OPEN THE SPHERE task and it didn’t make us Decipher anything first! Yay!

We accomplished the mission with only two injuries and still had one supply left. However, we thought that only two of the three crewmembers would be able to make it back to the Sector where the lander was. Poor Petra would have to die on the planet as the other three Lifted Off at the end!

But wait … there’s more!

When we accomplished that mission card it directed us to Log 240, which first had some dialog (the FINAL game would have the App nicely congratulate us with sound effects and more)… but here is part of the log from the prototype:

Awaken Realms really took us by surprise … in a good way this time! We thought for sure the logbook would walk us through what to do as Petra died … but NO … Our instructions were as follows:

  • On many planets, you must return to your Lander after fulfilling your objective. Here, simply place all your Crewmember models [or standees] back in the Lander Sector (Sector 1).

Petra Lives! (Long Live Petra).

To end the planetary mission, the logbook tells us what to do … mostly collecting all our discoveries etc and putting them in the AWAITING pouch/pocket and removing the POI and other cards from the board and actually removing them from the game! A lot of the cards are unique to each mission, so when the mission is over, the cards are filed away along with a PLANET SAVE CARD where you write down the name of the planet, and log what POI card was in each Sector when the mission ended. It looks like Awaken Realms has plans on allowing us to revisit the planets and wants to be realistic about it … when we revisit them, they should be the way we left them, not the way they were at the start of the planetary exploration mission! Good Job Awaken Realms!

Tutorial #3 was FANTASTIC … stay tuned … we plan on playing EVERYTHING available in this prototype (and likely multiple times… next time maybe with just two Sections taking part in the mission instead of all four).

Click => Full 3 Column Site

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