Predicting Our Alien Overlords
Battling the Yugai in City of Remnants
City of Remnants has immediately rocketed to my top 5 favorite games. It's the most interesting, layered and yet streamlined territory-battle game I've played.
One special part of the alien-refugee-planet theme that comes through is the Yugai patrol phase of each game round. After the players each spend their actions for the round, the Yugai police force descends onto the board in random spots. If they show up on your territory, you've gotta fight or bribe them, and those that don't don't leave the board stick around to cause trouble until the end of the next round. If you bribe them, they just go away, while if you fight them, a random effect happens that could mildly help you or hurt you. You can read Isaac's description of that part of the game in one of his City of Remnants preview articles.
On the surface the Yugai phase of City of Remnants can seem random. But the effect from fighting them is pretty mild. The money and renown won/lost is too small to matter late in the game, and often players don't have any to lose the first or second round. Besides this, there are a few cards in the game that benefit you every time you win a battle. In that case, you actually WANT the Yugai to come looking for you since they tend to be easier than your opponents.
But for those trying to avoid the Yugai, something approximating mild complaints about randomness have appeared here and there. And any time I read comments about high randomness in a board game, I see an opportunity for victory.
Always remember, when your friends complain that you won "just due to luck," don't try to explain to them how your strategy was better than theirs and what looks like luck was really just you being better prepared. Just agree, nod, and beat them again. It's the only way they learn.
Ahh yes, there's no poorer learner of strategy than he who is convinced it's the game's fault, or up to lady luck. Me on the other hand, when "luck" strikes against me, I strike back... with a color-coded Excel spreadsheet!
The 2 and 4 Player Yugai Control Unit Distribution
This is the wonderfully symmetric map of the 2 and 4 player games. The number is how many YCU go there in the whole deck. The asterisks represent renown that the space gives you (1 renown for the '*' spaces, 3 for the '**' space). The number's color is the district type (red, blue and green).
- No Yugai ever come to your entry space. You can place your Thieves district or other 1-space Slums district there safely without ever getting hit by the Yugai. If you're not putting a district on your entry space, shame on you, the blood of your soldiers is on your own hands.
- Yugai are more likely to appear in the middle of the board. If you're creating green districts and trying to take victory points on the board, arm yourself for battle and even plan to benefit from it with some broadcast equipment or an Informer.
- There are four spaces whose Yugai attention is disproportionate to their in-game value. Why use those corner 2-token spaces unless you have no other choice?
- Most importantly, the set of 32 1-token spaces. These spaces maybe will get 1 token on them, and that's it. So for one thing, they're safer than the central spaces. But more importantly, when a YCU shows up there, no others ever will. That space is done for the rest of the game. If a Yugai beats you up on an outside space, on the next turn place a development there and bring some guys in and take it over! No Yugai is gonna be in that space ever again; it's safer than wherever else you are. Avoiding that space is only setting you up for another attack.
You can also avoid these "random" YCUs by just paying attention to where YCUs show up that nobody has to fight and planting your guys and developments there later. If you sharpen your memory, your oppoents will claim good luck when it's really preparation and observation.
The 3 Player Yugai Control Unit Distribution
The 3-player board is less symmetric but still gives insight. Your entry spaces are still Hampsterdam. Any space you can move to from your Gang Member Pool is a 1-token space, and if your entry space is G7, any space you can reach from your entry space is a 1-token space.
Otherwise, this map is more difficult to memorize but that memorization is much more important, as the blue district spaces are arbitrarily 1- or 2-token spaces; you definitely wanna place your guys on the 1-token spaces unless you're ready for a fight.
The other difference with the 3-player map is that all the green district spaces are REAL tough to hold, as they each have 3 or 5(!) YCU tokens in the deck. On the other end of the spectrum, the 1-renown spaces only get up to one token per game, making them safer to pursue (and once they've been patroled, they're extra safe).
Ultimately, though, just because a space 2 or 3 or 5 potential tokens in the deck, the entire deck won't be used during most games. That's why those 1-token spaces are so critical, as you KNOW when they're invaded that they're done. And of course, often fighting YCUs can benefit you, especially if you can get renown for winning battles. Leverage all this info into the game and you'll make sound strategy look like blind luck.
But don't argue that with your gaming friends. Just let them keep complaining that you get all the YCU luck as they bang their heads against the wall replaying the same losing strategies over and over as you rake in the renown.