Periorbis works brilliantly as a 2 player game, providing lots of challenges and a really close finish. Read on to hear about a game we’ve just finished playing and some of the scenarios we faced.
In an attempt to regain some dignity after my recent thrashing at Periorbis, I challenged Gareth to a rematch. Here’s the highlights of how it went. The set up guide here explains what the various area of the board are for, and the way the cards work. You can also read the full rules here.
Note: This is a summary of the main aspects of the game. It’s not a list of every play and action.
And they’re off
Gareth draws the Agent as his starting specialist, and I draw the Engineer. We’re both happy.
Gareth will be able to sign up to bigger contracts and earn larger bonuses, safe in the knowledge that it will be easier for him to supply the required amount of ore.
I on the other hand, will be able to get my mining bases set up and expand my HQ more cheaply, which is great because I prefer to get those extra employee slots opened up as soon as possible.
At this stage, we can only access 3 of the 9 asteroids; Ada, Bertha, and Capek, which are in the lowest orbit. Later, once we’ve upgraded our technology, we’ll be able to get to asteroids in the higher orbits.
Because Gareth has a starting specialist with a lower wage, he starts. He chooses to build a base on Bertha and sends out one of his cadets to start mining. He also makes use of his specialist Agent to sign a contract and grab that first big contract bonus.
I decide to go for a mining base on Ada over Capek. There’s less ore available on Ada, but it comes into range more often. I also do some research because there’s no real advantage to signing a contract at this stage. Gareth has already taken the one I wanted and I might get to recruit an agent next turn. The alternative would be to send a second cadet out to Ada to do some more mining and make full use of my shipping capacity.
Gareth hires the Scientist and I hire the Agent I was hoping for. The remaining un-hired employees, a Captain and an Engineer, receive a discount token and will be cheaper to hire next turn. Now Gareth has the biggest wage bill (7 vs my 6), so the payer order changes and I get to act first.
Doh! I forgot to take a photo
at the end of turn 2.
You’ll just have to use your imagination!
Main choice for me this turn is whether I move 1 or 2 ore to the transport ship. The 2 remaining contracts are for only 1 ore, so that’s the maximum number of victory points I can get from this sip. However, if I supply 2 ore, I’ll get more cash and I’ll also stop Gareth from supplying 2 ore to the level 2 contract he signed last turn.
I decide to supply 1 ore and move the other 1 to the storage area in my HQ so that I can get a victory point for it later. If Gareth does supply 2 ore on his turn, that will keep him in the lead and let me act first again next turn. I also use my Engineer to open up another employee slot in my HQ at a discount.
Gareth supplies 2 ore maximising his income. He also gets a boost to his research by using his new Scientist. However, he has to pay full price to open up a new employee slot.
Captains galore! as 2 level 4 captains enter the employee market. Still no sign of any specialist Miners and I’m starting to wish I’d sent that second cadet out to Ada on turn 1. Now I’m going to be wasting even more shipping capacity because I can only mine 1 ore this turn.
I go for the level 3 Captain because he’s got a discount and also because his wages are lower. It could be a while until I can upgrade to 4 shipping capacity anyway. Gareth takes the Engineer.
Now it’s my turn to make use of an Agent and sign the bigger contract on the new ship that’s arrived. I can only supply 1 ore, but the Agent bonus will cover the difference. I also open up the last employee slot in my HQ (in retrospect I’m not sure this was a great idea as it turns out I’ll need the money on a later turn to pay wages!). The rest of my actions go into research. I think about selling some of my research to make sure I have enough money to hire a big Miner (if they come out next turn), but I figure I should be fine as Gareth is bound to ship some ore so I’ll get cash when the ship leaves.
Bertha’s not in range this turn so Gareth can’t do any ore shipping! He signs a contract anyway, follows my lead and opens up his last employee slot (also a mistake!) and does some research.
Typical! There’s the big miner that I wanted but now I don’t have enough money to hire him. I go for the Scientist instead and Gareth hires the Miner (bah!).
I figure I’m going to have to do something to keep up on the mining front, so I build a new base on Datura and send out a couple of Cadets. I’d love to set up on Capek instead because there’s more ore there, but it’s not available on Turn 6 and I’ll probably need to get my people back around then. And Ada’s not available to me this turn so I make use of that ore I’ve got in storage to fill out my contract.
Gareth’s got issues of his own. After spending 20 credits to hire that Miner, he doesn’t have enough credits left to pay all his employees this turn, and he does’t want to sell his research to do so. He get’s his Cadet back from Bertha along with some ore and upgrades his technology. Now he can access asteroids in medium orbit.
There’s another miner available for hire, but now all my Cadets are out on the asteroids which means that if I hire him I’ll need to replace one of my other employees and I want to keep them all.
I hire one of the better Captain’s because he’s now got a double discount and it’s my last opportunity to get him. Gareth does the same.
Ada’s out of ore so it’s time to get my first Cadet back to the HQ. I also upgrade my technology so I can access Datura which is in medium orbit and ship some more ore back.
Gareth uses his research to increase his shipping capacity to 4 and uses 2 of his employees as captains to ship out his specialist Miner and then ship the ore back.
It’s neck and neck on 5 victory points each, but I’m starting to fall behind on technology. I’m mining just as much ore, but using 2 employees instead of one so not being as efficient. I still have the advantage of getting to act first though because Garth’s got the higher wage bill. Those miners are expensive!
Big thing for me this turn is to hire that miner (at least I get a discount), and get him out there. I also ship my 2 Cadet’s back to the HQ (I think I should only have sent 1 in the first place).
Also need to watch my cash as that big transport ship is going to take a couple of turns to fill, meaning that we won’t get any income this turn. I sell some research to tide me over.
Gareth decides not to hire anyone to save cash and ploughs on with research and upgrading his shipping capacity which now stands at 5. Capek never goes above a medium orbit so he doesn’t need level 3 technology at the moment.
Interesting! Another Miner enters the employee market and I snap him up. Once again Gareth decides not to hire anyone and hangs on to his cash. Look at that pile of money! The first half of the employee deck has run out. From now on, we’ll be able to hire even better employees.
Asteroid orbits are a problem for me again – Datura is not available, and I choose Eros over Capek again, settling for less ore so that I’ll have an asteroid available on Turn 10 (forward planning is easy with the orbit map in the middle of the board). Now I just need to manage my mining and shipping to maximise the amount of ore I can get back.
I’ve had a bit of luck in that the Miner I’ve just hired is better at mining black ore and there’s more black than grey ore on Eros.
Gareth’s spooked into setting up a new base and sending out one of his Cadets. He goes for Capek and all that lovely ore. He’s able to ship more ore than me because of his higher shipping capacity, so I’m now 2 victory points down. I’ve got 4 ore mined and sitting on Datura though, which puts me 2 points ahead if I can get it onto a transport ship.
Only Datura is available to me this turn, so I bring back 4 ore from there. I’m also thinking ahead to next turn when Eros is in a high orbit, so I upgrade my technology.
Gareth gets his good miner onto Capek with all that lovely ore and continues to increase his shipping capacity – now all he needs is another Miner to make use of it all.
The credits are flowing in nicely, the ore is stacking up and I’ve managed to claw back a victory point. Shame I’m so far behind on research, but you can never have it all in this game.
Another Miner enters the market. This time it’s one of the really good ones. Expensive at 30 credits, but if I don’t buy him, Gareth definitely will. One of the things that makes the 2 player game a bit different to a 3+ player game is that it’s a zero sum game – Gareth’s loss is my gain. Gareth needs a miner, so if I buy him he can’t have him. Gareth get’s a really good Agent instead.
So now I need an asteroid with white ore to make the best use of my new miner. It’s a choice between Hektor and Justus, neither of which are around on turn 10.
So I do a bit of what I think’s clever shuffling of employees, to get my good miner out to Justus and also some of the ore back from there on the same turn. Not the most efficient use of my employees (not many made use of their specialist skills this turn), but by saving up the ore on Datura and Eros I should be able to make full use of my shipping capacity on turns 10 and 11.
I’m starting to think this game is going to be mine (pun intended!). I’ve got miners in the right place and ore sitting ready to go. All I’m missing now is shipping capacity to get the stuff home – I’m sure I sold some research earlier to pay wages that I should have found some way to hang on to and I’ve sacrificed even more this turn to do the shuffling I mentioned.
Gareth’s mining less but still keeping up because I’m doing so much messing about with my employees. He’s also got a big stack of cash sitting there – I wonder how much….?
There’s a better Engineer available now which would help with my upgrades, but my wage bill is getting high with all those Miners so I’m not sure I can afford him. I press on with the employees I have, upgrading my shipping capacity and shipping maximum ore from Eros (the only asteroid I can access this Turn). I also go for a big, 10 ore, contract to get a bigger bonus, but I’m worried that the ship might leave so I only put 3 ore in this turn. The rest of what I can ship goes in storage at my HQ.
Gareth gets a big miner this turn and sets up a base of Gotz, which also has a fair bit of white ore. He’s got 4 ore into the contract but I figure I’m 1 ahead overall now because I’ll be able to find a way to sell the 2 I have in storage before the end of the game.
It’s time to make a break for it! I don’t have any choice anyway. I’ve signed up to a big contract and now I need to make good, so it’s maximum shipping from Datura and Eros. The question this turn is, what do I do with employee 2, my miner on Eros? I could bring him home to give me more actions in my HQ (e.g. research!!! I’m still short), but that would use up shipping capacity which I need for ore. I could mine (which I do) or I could do nothing and avoid paying his wages.
Gotz isn’t available for Gareth this turn, but Capek is still churning out 2 ore a turn, so he’s got plenty available for shipping from there.
I’m 2 points ahead with 2 in storage. Gareth has 3 in storage and more shipping capacity. So, it’s all about the last turn and it’s going to be close!
There’s a change of player order here for the first time this game (which is highly unusual) because I’ve now got more victory points. So Gareth will act first in the last turn.
The best Gareth can do this turn is ship 6 ore back from the asteroids. He’s finally run out of ore on Capek so needs to use one of his shipping capacity to move his miner over to Gotz. He also manages to sell the 3 ore that he has in storage, giving him a total of 38 victory points.
The best I can do this turn is ship 5 ore back from the asteroids. I don’t have quite enough actions to upgrade my shipping capacity to get the 6th I had been hoping for. I can sell the 2 I have in storage as well, which also gives me 30 victory points!
We’re tied, so it’s down to credits as the tie breaker and Gareth’s sitting on 82 against my 70.
Interestingly, if I’d been able to act first, I could have got a bigger signing bonus from the contract which would have added 6 credits to my total and reduced Gareth’s by 6 to leave us on 76 credits each. It doesn’t get much closer than that!
All in all, it was a great game, just the wrong result! Who designed this thing anyway???
Some parting thoughts
As always, I’m left thinking that there’s things I would do differently to get a better score next time. I’m already looking forward to the next game! The problem is, it will all be subtly different next time. It always is!
I still can’t decide if it’s better to send 1 cadet or 2 out to mine on turn 1 to make better use of shipping capacity. With more players in the game and more ore on the asteroids, I think it’s an even closer call. I look forward to your thoughts on that once you’ve had a chance to play the game.
The employee market seemed to be a bit unusual this time around with the miners not coming out until a bit later in the game. It’s also unusual that it took so long for a mine to be built on Capek, but the timing just didn’t seem to be right any earlier.
It’s really pleasing to me that the score is always so close despite different players doing different things and having different employees at different times in the game.
It’s also pleasing that the challenge of playing Periorbis remains after we’ve played it so many time. You’d think it would be second nature by now, and that I’d have an advantage since I designed the blasted game, but there’s just enough uncertainty about what the other guy will do and what cards will come out, to keep it fresh.
I also really like the situations which arise where everything would be fine if you had 1 more action or a few more credits, and you have to compromise and do something which you know isn’t perfect and needs you to make a judgement call about what everyone else is going to do. Or maybe I’m just a masochist when it comes to thinking games.
I hope you enjoyed reading this play through and that it’s given you a better idea of what to expect from Periorbis. Now I’m going to see if I can talk Jase into doing one for a game with more players.