This is one in a series of posts regarding the Legacy game SeaFall. You can access my other SeaFall posts Here.
This post is about preparation for the Prologue game of SeaFall, and things to keep in mind as you play. There will be no game Spoilers.
What’s in the Box
There’s a lot of fun to be had in breaking the plastic seal, and opening the box of a brand new game. The anticipation of exactly what might be inside builds right up to the moment you can pull all the components out and examine them for yourself. There is no doubt that part of the appeal of a Legacy game, is the way it keeps some of that anticipation building with its sealed boxes and envelopes, and the blank sections of the rule book, patiently awaiting stickers. But what we are allowed to see, when we open SeaFall, is very pretty.
Opening the box reveals a one sheet, 2 thick rule books, 3 sets of stickers, and multiple sheets of punchboard components. Underneath this is a quad-fold board so big, the box almost can’t contain it. And nestled in the bottom is 12 game Chests, packs of game cards in 2 sizes, and bags of dice, cubes & 2 different size ships in 5 colours. It exudes fun, potential and possibility.
The Game Board
The game board is half beautifully styled map for the beginning of the campaign, and half empty canvas to be filled out by the players exploration. From right to left (or East to West), the game board contains
- Glory Track – to log the players achievements each game
- Milestone Slots – special achievement cards that will be discovered during game play
- Provinces – 5 individual harbours, differentiated by colour and icon
- Card Deck Spaces – found above and below the Provinces
- Coastal Waters Space – 1 long communal space, so that all 5 Provinces can equally access any hex in the Open Sea
- Open Sea Spaces – the bulk of the board, and where most of the fun takes place
- Island Hexes – the first 4 columns have a known island in them
- Island Insets – found above and below the Open Sea spaces, they are a detailed map of the islands
- White Line – marking the boundary between what is known, and what is unchartered waters
- Stone Archway – “… large enough to sail a ship through, no-one knows its exact purpose.”
The Island Insets show the available sites on each Island, most of which are unknown at the beginning of the game, and designated by symbol, and a numbered shield. The numbers refer to the difficulty of Exploring or Raiding a site, and once a player has successfully done so, they choose an entry in the Captain’s Booke that has the matching symbol, and discover what that site holds. Early in the Campaign, this will mostly be the production of one of the 4 resources in the game, Iron, Wood, Spice or Linen, or a Mine where you can collect Gold. The symbol will be covered with a sticker, that will indicate what can be found there, like the “3” site with the red shield at the bottom of the Island, which produces Linen.
The Province Boards
There is a player board for each of the 5 Provinces, designated by the different colours and the Icon in the top right corner. The player board keeps track of your moving pieces in the game, other than your ships, of course, which are on the Game Board. It has a vault for your Gold, a warehouse for your resources, and the vital statistics for your two ships in play:
- How many spaces they can sail
- How well they can Raid and Explore and
- How many goods can be kept in their Holds
There are blank spaces for you to Upgrade your ships, and empty Build Sites to construct Buildings in your Province, both of which give you bonuses to help you out in the current game, and just as importantly, they are a way to earn Glory. You also have two fields that can be harvested every winter for the indicated Gold, to put your economy in motion.
The Side Board
The Side Board holds the purchasable resources in the game. The top part of the board holds Buildings and Ship upgrades, which are all tokens found in the included punch boards. They are thematically grouped by Resource colour (Wood, Linen, Spice & Iron) so Linen upgrades increase Sail, Iron upgrades increase Raid, etc. You can also exchange 1 good of the specific type, to decrease the cost by 8 Gold, so you can build the Port by returning one Spice and 2 Gold.
The bottom of the board holds 5 Advisors from the Advisor Deck, which can be hired during the first phase of a players turn. These are a range of adventurers that bring specific skills to aid you in Endeavours. Some of them have blank spaces, where they can be upgraded with more skills in the future, and they are all require a name, the first time they are hired.
There are 2 rows of 6 Chests in the bottom of the Box. One Row holds the 5 player Chests, marked by the familiar Icon and colour, and a Storage Chest, which holds the card decks between games. The other row is 6 “locked” Chests of Legacy components that are to be unlocked during the Campaign. They each have a different image on them, to help tell them apart.
All the rest of the included components are small and in bags, or are small tokens in the various punchboards, including a lot of money tokens, in the denominations of 1, 5 & 10. Some organisation is definitely required to prepare for the game, and help with set-up. The Player Chests and the Storage Chest are empty, so a good place to start is by sorting the required components and cards into each of these.
The Player Chests
Opening up the main deck of cards, you will find 5 Player Reference Cards. One side explains what happens during Winter, and what each player can do on their turn. The other side shows the 4 Guilds that you can be hired during your turn, and and what these Guilds will allow you to do. This is the only card that can be put in a Players Chest before the Campaign, and I recommend placing this in the bottom of the Chest, as it will help stop some of the tokens from sliding through the openings. The punch boards will contain 1 square Glory Marker (for tracking Glory) and 8 round Enmity/Province tokens, for each of the 5 Provinces. Finally each Province has a large and small ship, and all these pieces can be stored in the appropriate Player Chests.
The remaining cards from the large deck are Leader Cards, Title Cards, Advisor Cards and Event Cards (including 4 in individual sealed bags). These can all be placed in the Storage Chest. You can also take the two round pieces of the Astrolabe from the punch boards (make sure you also punch out the window) and it can be assembled with the two black pieces of the plastic rivet. This will also be kept in the Storage Chest between games.
I got rid of the middle insert, and replaced it with various sized plastic containers. First up I have a couple of small flat containers I found at a fishing store, that stack neatly on top of each other in the game box. These contain the 10 coloured cubes of each resource, Reputation (purple) and Fortune (green) tokens, the 15 game dice, the game Glory Marker and a large amount (though not all) of the currency. The rest of the currency can be stored in a bag, in the Storage Chest, or an unused player chest, if playing with less than 5.
I have two rectangular boxes which are the same height as the Chests. One holds the Building and Upgrade tokens from the punchboard. The other holds the smaller cards of the Treasure deck, the Damage deck, the Milestones and the Retired Adventurer stickers. The only other thing you need for the Prologue Game is at least one pen to start writing names on the boards and cards, as this is not included.
This has all the components sorted and ready, and the only other thing to do before playing is to familiarise yourself with the rules.
SeaFall has a lot of variation in game play, even during the Prologue game which leaves quite a few rules inactive. Besides the normal actions that you do every turn, there are also 4 Guilds you can choose from, that each have 2 different abilities.
- The Builders Guild – Upgrade/Repair Ships and Build Structures in your Province
- The Merchants Guild – Buy Goods (for 3 Gold) and Sell Goods (for 6 Gold)
- The Explorers Guild – Explore new island sites and Research (which is not available in the Prologue)
- The Soldiers Guild – Raid known island sites and Tax (for 3 Gold)
I’m not going to spell out exactly how all these things work, as the Rule Book does a decent job of explaining them. I recommend that at least one of the players watch the tremendous Watch it Played video by Rodney Smith. He walks through the set-up and how a turn works, in a Spoiler free, and easy to follow way.
I have created a Player Aid for the Prologue game. This is a 2 page document, that should be printed double sided, and a copy can be given to all players, to allow quick look up for the actions in the game. It is not a replacement for reading the Rule Book, but should be able to prompt your memory. The game has been out for 2 years now, so if you come across something you’re unsure of, a Google search, including the name SeaFall, should get you an answer. The Rules Forum at BGG has a lot of questions already answered Here, and Becq at that Forum has created the The Captain’s Log, which holds a lot of rule clarifications, as posted by the game designers Rob Daviau and J.R. Honeycutt.
Whilst the Island Explorations, and anything you name will be permanent, nothing you do in the Prologue Game can affect your future play. So my suggestion is to do a bit of everything in the game, to get a feel for how it works. Hopefully everything listed above will prepare you for the game play, but here are a few things that might be confusing, the first time you play SeaFall.
- You do not have to activate an Advisor, and certainly not the one you just hired.
- You do not have to perform the Guild actions in a set order. Sail can be the last action you take.
- You do not have to sail. You can Hire the Builders Guild, repair a ship and build a structure.
- You can not repair and upgrade your ships on the same turn. You choose to do one of those things when you choose that action, and you cannot do an action twice.
Rolling the Dice
I’m going to end this post by giving my own explanation for creating the Dice Pool for the Exploration and the Raid endeavours, as this is the most complex part of the game.
The game contains 15 identical, custom, 6 sided dice. 2 faces are blank/fail, 2 faces have Standard Success, 1 face has Strong Success and 1 face has Weak Success. Generally speaking, all the Success faces are worth the same. Occasionally the Strong or the Weak will perform another function, but most of the time, each dice has a 2 in 3 chance of rolling a Success.
Whenever you roll your dice pool to see if you succeed in an endeavour, the first thing you need to do is roll at least one success. If all the dice come up blank, then you fail the endeavour. At sites that have a black shield, you can spend Fortune tokens. For each Fortune you spend, you can turn one blank dice to a Standard Success. A red shield indicates a dangerous site, and you cannot spend Fortune there.
If you have rolled at least one success, you can then compare the number of successes to the defense of the site, as shown in the Shield underneath it. If you have fewer successes than the defense of the site, then your Flagship takes damage equal to the difference. So, if you have 2 successes, whilst exploring a site with a defense of 4, you can still be successful, but your Flagship will take 2 damage.
You take damage by either exhausting a Ship Upgrade (turning it face down) or by taking a Damage Card from the deck. If you are ever forced to take a third damage card, then your ship sinks and is returned to your Province, you fail the endeavour and your turn ends immediately. You lose any goods in the Hold of the ship, and any Upgrades that you had built on the ship. (The loss of an Upgrade also means you lose a Glory.)
Before you attempt an Endeavour, you need to weigh up the amount of dice you have to roll, the chance of rolling the required number of successes, and how comfortable you are with taking some damage. A Dice Chart has been created by Temelin at BGG, which cross references number of dice (column) and number of successes required (row) to show the percentage of making each roll.
The only thing left, is to work out how many dice you have in your Dice Pool.
Your two ships have individual statistics for Exploring (sites with a symbol) and Raiding (sites with a resource). Your Dice Pool starts with the number of dice equal to the appropriate statistic on your Flagship, which is the lead ship in the Endeavour. This is the ship that will take damage if you don’t roll successes at least equal to the sites defense. Both ships have 2 dice for Exploring, but your large ship is better at Raiding, and it will give 3 dice to your dice pool when it is the Flagship.
If your other ship is at the same island, then it can offer Support, in the form of another dice, which would bring the total to 4.
And there are Advisors to be hired, which can add 1 or 2 dice to a specific endeavour, which could bring your total up to 6.
The other thing to keep in mind, is that the “peaceful” Explore endeavour never loses dice from the Dice Pool, but a Raid does, for a couple of reasons.
- Each site has a Garrison number, found in a round black shield. This is the number of dice you remove from your Dice Pool when Raiding any site at the island.
- When you successfully Raid, an Enmity token is left on that island site. Whilst no-one can Raid a site with an Enmity token on it, if you raid more than one site on an island, you lose a dice from your Dice Pool for each of your Enmity tokens, anywhere on that Island.
The upshot of Enmity means, that Raiding is harder than Exploring, and it gets harder each time you do it at an island. A final recap …
- Explore a site with a symbol, or Raid a site with a resource
- Take dice equal to the the appropriate stat of your Flagship
- Add dice for Support ship and Advisors
- If Raiding, remove dice for Garrison and Enmity
- Roll Dice Pool and count successes
- If site defence is in a black shield, you may spend Fortune to change blank faces to standard successes
- The Flagship takes damage equal to the difference between successes rolled and site defence
- If 0 successes rolled, Endeavour fails
- If the Flagship takes a third damage card, it sinks, and Endeavour fails
- If the Endeavour succeeds, take 1 Glory, and complete the Explore or Raid action
Once you’re ready to play the Prologue game, read through the one sheet and follow the instructions. Good luck, and enjoy.