Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Chits and giggles: the "Conquest of Paradise" solitaire system

I have an interesting board game in the collection called Conquest of Paradise, a GMT title based on the theme of Polynesian settlement of the South Pacific. Having recently discovered that the second edition rules include a dedicated solitaire system, I decided to give the thing a whirl.

In my cups in the South Pacific.

The game itself revolves around exploration (sending out an explorer to look for island chains), movement (sending out transport canoes to create lines of supply, settlers to found colonies, and war canoes and warriors to menace your rivals), battle (possibly attacking enemy island chains), and building (new villages for your controlled territories and more units in pursuit of further expansion).

What the solitaire system does is provide instruction chits that direct the AI player against you. You do your own player turn then draw a chit to see what your robot rival will do. He may build, he may expand, he may attack, he may defend; and with actions printed on both sides of the chit, a strategy may well manifest itself. There are 15 AI chits in the cup. By the time 13 have been pulled, the human player (that's you) must have gathered a minimum of 30 victory points. If not, you, as that human player, lose ignominiously to a decorated cup.

It sounded like just my kind of game.

First time up, I'm ashamed to say that the decorative cup was victorious. I scored only 11 victory points after a series of 'nope, that's not an island chain!' exploration phases and a vicious and effective final-turn attack which took four island chains and 8 VP off me. I wasn't anywhere close, and saw that I needed to up my game to compete.

Mine are the kind of yellowy-green pieces emanating from the Tongan homeland. They are easy to miss - there aren't many left!

Second game around I had much better luck with my island searches while the decorative cup did not. A freakish run of poorly ordered chit draws for the cup also helped, and this time I was able to score 33 victory points. I think I'm very unlikely to get the advantages I got this time around again, so it might be time to retire and rest on my laurels for a little!

Note the prevalence of yellowy-green pieces this time around due to a very different and ridiculously lucky island chain draw.

Besides being a clever system, the solitaire game is a lot of fun. Note to self: I think it could be quite profitably ported to other environments. I doubt I'll ever get around to doing such ideas justice, but I wouldn't be a real wargamer if I didn't at least contemplate the idea in idle moments...

Anyway, Conquest of Paradise is a good little game already, but the solitaire system is a tidy addition and makes getting the game onto the table an attractive proposition if you have 90 minutes to spare for a bit of Civ-lite play but no buddies available.

Well done to the designer and playtesters.


  1. I'm not a board gamer, Aaron, but this one does sound interesting to me, as I was born and raised in Hawaii. They used to teach a lot of Hawaiiana (history) of the Islands in school, probably now even more, which sparked an interests early on. Heck, we even had a Hawaiiana requirement when I was in the Boy Scouts. We camped in a spooky valley on Molokai and the last day we ran around in loin cloth collecting required up stuff! :)

    1. Sounds like great fun, Dean! I used to love those kinds of activities as a kid. It's quite a good game, but if you're not really into boardgames, it's probably best to just keep doing what you already enjoy :)


  2. This one has been on my get list for awhile, but wasn’t willing to fork out the over priced ebay auctions for first edition. Then the 2nd Ed came out and I am still on fence over it. I wouldn’t get it for the solitaire play but you did make it sound interesting. One day, one day.


    1. It's not bad, but I think you have bigger fish to fry, Kevin!

  3. I've always wanted to try this - so next time we meet, then?


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