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Author: The Wargaming Scribe

The Seven Cities of Gold – Second Voyage

Colombus Before the Queen, Gottlieb Leutze, 1843

Spurred by the successes of the first voyage, my preparations for a second expedition commenced under the generous auspices of the Catholic Sovereigns. Their pleasure with my previous discoveries had been tempered only by my failure to establish contact with the illustrious civilization of Cipango or to reach the banks of the Ganges. Nevertheless, I convinced them that one more voyage would suffice to bring them the results they craved for. I just need one more I swear!

According to the manual, the “men” don’t include the sailors, that’s why the number seems low.

In January of 1496, my fleet – comprising twelve ships manned by 260 stalwart Spaniards – set sail. It carried with it an abundance of goods designed to buy gold and food. The strategy was as before: to skirt the southern coastlines, probing the rivers one after the other.

By March, I had made landfall on the continent once more, albeit further south than previously charted, though still in a region we know.

The in-game map is only useful to know whether you already were in the general area

My progress led my fleet to a short river slithering through a vast canyon. Alas, we found no sign of human habitation.

I don’t like mountains and canyons, because some villages are “camouflaged” as mountains and they don’t stand out

I sailed further to the West, but as I followed the contour of the coast, I soon veered North-West. Am I in a giant gulf?

Navigating further, I eventually discovered another river leading inland:

Native bearers never embark, so the first step every time I explore a river is to find a village and get their bearers

Here, we encountered villages inhabited by the same primitive civilization we met during the first voyage. Our interactions were peaceful; we traded our goods for food and fully charted the river.

Once I have found bearers, I can carry several weeks of food and explore at leisure.

As I resumed our coastal navigation, the route veered North-East, making me suspect that I was not on Cipango’s mainland but on one of its dependent and less civilized islands.

Far to the north, another river was found.

I still don’t know whether snow has any impact on gameplay.

Expecting to engage in trade, I approached a native village with my men. However, the encounter turned sour as the chief fled and his warriors attacked. The skirmish was fierce; we emerged victorious but not without the loss of forty brave Spaniards.

You can move at 3 different speeds (Cautious/Moderate/Reckless), but I did not know that approaching the cacique at reckless speed made him flee!
Once the cacique is gone, the only way to exit a village is to win a pointless and long battle.

Since the place has been conquered, I established our first mission in the New World, securing it with supplies sufficient for nearly half a year.

Missions apparently make you popular back home. If they have enough food to survive initially, they start generating their own food and become self-sufficient.

The journey came full circle back to a river North of the one I had used for my first foray in these lands.

I found some natives, who assisted us with bearers and trade. Upstream, I found no one else, until a miraculous discovery:

I did not expect this at all. I knew they existed, but did not know they could be anywhere.

I had stumbled upon one of the mythical cities of gold! The locals, in an unprecedented gesture, bestowed upon us all their treasures. I immediately returned to my ship to offload the gold, but when I went back to fetch more, the city had vanished as if it were a dream, leaving no trace except for the gold in the holds of my ships.

With our circumnavigation complete, I was rich in gold but low on provisions. I embarked for the return journey, and was comforted in the wisdom of this decision when I realized that half of our food had spoiled.

The wise move would have been to buy food from the villages I knew, but it was late at night.

I reached Spain just as our last rations were consumed and we were pondering what’s the best way to cook a cabin boy.

There is one frame between this message and the return to Spain.

I rushed to the Palace. I was eager to share tales of everything: the gold, the map, the Lost City – certainly the Queen and King would love it…

I was pretty proud of my expedition but it looks like gold matters a lot more and I did not bring that much.

… but well, they had expected more – the Road to the Indias that I may have or have not promised to them.

Returning home, I knew I could take solace in the knowledge that I had explored a New World. Rumors about traders from beyond the southern ocean stirred my curiosity – that’s where Cipango must be, and that’s where my next expedition will aim.

I have a mine-gap!

Well, that’s it for the second part of the AAR. No unexpected death this time, and honestly I feel that once you have 250 men you need to make a series of huge mistakes for an expedition to end.

This is the map generated with Kroah’s tool:

In yellow, the location of the Lost City that I cannot visit anymore. There is only one in the default map of the game, but there can be more in a generated world.

– the island is huge, but relatively poor. I know there must be at least one other island with Aztecs and/or Incas to find, so that will be the third voyage. I am not sure there will be a fourth one, as the gameplay is starting to get repetitive, and it’s not a wargame in the first place.

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