Not surprisingly, Stonemaier games and the Automa Factory have done it again! ExpeditionsAutoma not only provide varying difficulty levels to go up against as you explore the Siberian regions of the alternate 1920s Europe, but it's also incredibly easy to run.
I enjoyed it so much I played 2-games back to back today. The first game I took on the Level 2 Automa called MASZYNA. The Automa rulebook suggests starting with this level, so I gave it a shot. 🤔 The Automa ended up beating me 73-51 in that first game. 😕 I reset the table and decided to try the Level 1 Automa called MASZYNETTE and this time I was successful with a 68-57 win!!! Woo!!!!
Let me share how the Automa works...
There are two Automa mechs exploring the regions in the solo game. There is a bit of lore in the book as well as to why/how they got there so quickly (cool!). The top mech with the BLUE base wanders the Northern regions, while the other Automa mech (BLACK base) wanders the Central regions of the map. Like your mech, they can move 0-3 territories per move.
The Northern mech (in this game it was Odin's Wrath mech) travels to the right. When it gets to the rightmost Northern region on the map, it "teleports" back to the left most region. The Central mech (in this game is was Lumberjack mech) travels in the same way but to the left. The teleporting ability kind of reminded me of Scythe's Automa movement which was cool. However, this is easier big time. They move across their territory and teleport back. If you are on a territory, they don't count your territory in their movement. Simple.
The Automa deck is very straight forward. Shuffle the deck and remove two cards at random. When it's the Automa's turn you draw a card and do as the card says. In this example above, first their tracker token (shown by a square at the top of the card with the arrow) moves one space on their tracking card (shown below). Then you follow through with the North region mech actions (top half of the card). Each mech will do one of two things in their respective region each turn, which allows very quick management.
In this case, you first check their glory (stars) and if the Automa has two glory stars, the North mech would look to vanquish 1-corruption token (either on it's current location or within it's movement range (0-3 territories). If you can't do it due to no available corruption within it's range you move to the movement action which is straight forward. In this case, move this mech 3-territories to the right.
From here, move down to the central mech's section and repeat the same idea. That's it! That's all it is, allowing you lots of time to think about your exploration and adventures. 😀
Some cards will have a broom icon, which is a SWEEP action and it will be on the left section of the mech's card section. If that comes up you would take the faceup cards on the map adjacent to that mechs territory and place them in the sweep pile. Then you'd replace those cards with new ones from the draw deck (exactly as you do during a sweep action). This mimics the cards changing throughout a multiplayer game.
Here's the tracker card (left card showing 'Level 2' with the square token). When that square with an arrow is at the top of an Automa card (seen in the earlier pic) you simply move the square token over one space. Just like with Scythe's Automa, when that tracker token lands on a star, you take a star from the Automa's Glory card and place it onto the Basecamp section of the map. Simple. 😄
I really found similarities in the Automa from Scythe to the Automa in Expeditions, despite the Expeditions Automa being much simpler to learn and run. In both games, the Automa move quickly. In the case of Expeditions, that means they'll explore unknown territories quick. They (unlike you the player) will earn money (VPs) at the end of the game for their total number of map tokens. It forces you to be smart about your explorations early on. Then once territories have been discovered and as the game moves on, they'll vanquish corruption in these territories often as well (which, like you, will earn them money at the end of the game).
It makes you think (which I love). But you also can't take your mind off of what you're trying to do in regards to your quests, melding, upgrading and playing your cards. Plus, as much as they may block you for getting to a territory you were planning on going to, you can also block them from getting to where you want to be by getting into the area first!
SO MUCH FUN. SIMPLE TO RUN. And many difficulty levels to explore and challenge!!! Stonemaier games have done it again! 😎