This past Monday after dinner, I took on Blackout Hong Kong for a second time officially playing solo. I attempted this on Saturday (July 1st - Canada Day! Yay! 🇨🇦) and really began to understand how the game works. Monday night, I took on the mission of restoring power and order to Hong Kong, in Chapter 1 of the campaign.
Here's a solo setup. As I've watched on some reviews, this game really doesn't have much player interaction and the theme isn't overly present. I agree 100% with both statements. That said, it doesn't mean it's a bad game at all. I've really gotten into it - the mechanics are great!
It's a very puzzley feel throughout. Trying to ensure you deploy the right volunteers to gather the right resources (for now or later), while working to get objectives/plans accomplished and sending out scouting parties for more resources and points. Trust me, you get caught often (especially as you learn) saying to yourself "Crap! I can't do what I wanted to do".
I really began to understand how to gain VPs and get things done as this game went on. In chapter 1 of the campaign, you need to get as many points as you can, but also complete the Emergency Plan A objectives. Saturday's round I completed 1/3, whereas Monday, as seen above, I got them all done!! But you can also see, it wasn't without sacrifice as I had 5-people (volunteers and specialists) in the hospital. My doctor was really dragging his ass I gotta say! 🤣
Securing districts (the house type tokens above) help you gain 'checkmark actions'. This is essentially an engine building mechanic (which is incredibly helpful as always) to allow you to do more in the game. I really like the refresh mechanic in this game though. The 8th turn of your round is the "refresh". Here you have the ability to bring some cards back to your hand from your deployed volunteers and specialists you played earlier. BUT you can only do so if you have between 0-4 cards in hand. So you have to be diligent to plan ahead for this. You can get a bonus to allow you to have 0-6 cards in hand for a refresh (but I haven't activated that yet).
When you DO refresh your hand, you can only bring the cards back from your largest row of deployed people - once again ensuring you've planned ahead to know what you want. I like that thinky aspect. 🙂 Following this refresh (only if you did it) you can take 'checkmark actions' that you've unlocked / completed via your player board or completed objectives, which again delivers that engine building side of things. Very cool.
I finished the game with enough points to gain 1-star (lowest level of completion for the chapter) but I was happy with that. I understood the game and really enjoyed it. It's not overly thematic, it's not the most asthetically pleasing game at the table... but it IS a good game!