Massive Chalice: children are the future and they’re vindictive little bastards

, | Game diaries

This is my second game of Massive Chalice. I’ll be writing an update every 50 years or so up until the year 300 finale. In my first game, I got to the finale easily enough. But because I didn’t know what to expect, and because I was figuring out the bloodlines as I went, I failed spectacularly in the end. I’m convinced that’s how you’re meant to experience Massive Chalice: once to discover it, a second time to actually try to win it. The third and successive times are either for fun or at harder difficulty levels.

My plan this time is science. Just science. Science, which is also how you build buildings, was such a precious commodity in my first game. By the time I reached the 300 year time limit, I had so much cool stuff left unresearched, so many buildings still unbuilt, so much territory unused. Science is even how you recruit new blood when your old blood gets tired. Science does all these things. So my plan this time around is science.

After the jump, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.

Science takes place in your capital, but you can boost it with a building called a Sagewright’s Guild. You can build this anywhere. It can house three sagewrights, who add their accumulated intuition stats as a bonus to research. My bold plan — are you ready to have your mind blown? — is to build two Sagewright’s Guilds. That will get me double the science bonus. Heck, I might even build three. I’m going to crack this game wide open by booming the dickens out of science.

So the first thing I build is a Sagewrights Guild in the Cinderlands, which gives it a research bonus. There. Done within the first decade. At which point I come to the unpleasant realization that, uh, I don’t really have enough people in my kingdom to actually put anyone to work in the Sagewright’s Guild. So it will have to go unused for a while, sitting on the Cinderlands, majestic but forlorn because no one works there, like a Wal Mart waiting to open at some indeterminate point in the future.

As time rolls on, when I have to choose between defending two attacked territories, I prioritize the territories with a building that’s currently serving some useful function. So the outer Cinderlands, home to the first of what may very well be three Sagewrights Guilds, accumulates a couple of points of corruption. But it’s no big deal, because I can just make sure to defend the Sagewrights Guild from that fatal third point of corruption when the time comes.

So time is rolling along, and I’m breeding up my population, marrying Waynes to Blackbanes, Gaffneys to Flinks, and Flinks to Wolventides. Along comes a random event about some schoolchildren visiting the capital and wanting a tour. Random events give you different options, like a multiple choice question.

Since the basic resource in Massive Chalice is population over time, a frequent option is to “bank” population, or remove characters from the pool for several years. They go off on journeys, or mediate disputes, or even just get thrown in prison for a while. Sometimes they get a positive trait as a result. Or maybe a negative trait. Sometimes random events kill them. It’s a die roll, so even if you’ve seen an event in a previous playthrough, you won’t always get the same result from the same choice.

You can choose not to “bank” population, to instead keep your heroes around for when you need them, but this will sometimes result in a negative effect. So when something comes up about schoolchildren and it’s early enough in the game that if I can’t very well spare the manpower to staff a Sagewrights Guild, I sure as heck can’t spare the manpower to coddle some dopey schoolchildren. I’ll take my licks. I ignore the schoolschildren. But nothing happens. This event apparently has a neutral option and I’ve picked it. Fine by me. I consider that a success.

So where was I? Oh, right, the Sagewrights Guild.

As my population is growing, I’m looking for people who can be designated as sagewrights. This takes them out of circulation for the rest of their lifespans, and it even strips them of their family names. You can still see them on the family trees, but the family banner is whited out and they only have first names. They’ve dedicated their lives to study and construction, adding their intuition stat as a percentage bonus to any project’s completion time.

When you’re designating a sagewright, the temptation is to put in place the character with the highest intuition. But this probably isn’t a good idea. The primary role for any character is either as one of the heroes who fights battles or one of the regents of a noble house who breeds the heroes who fight battles. A Sagewrights Guild is the place for spillover characters who aren’t good at either. If you have a clumsy hunter who will miss her target, or a slow caberjack who can’t close the distance to the enemy, or a dimwitted alchemists whose flasks don’t do much damage, these are perfect candidates for the Sagewright’s Guild. Furthermore, if you have someone who’s infertile, or with a damaging trait you wouldn’t dream of introducing into a bloodline, consider them for the Sagewrights Guild. Like the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones, the Sagewrights Guild isn’t the position of prestige you might think it is. It is instead a place for the remaindered.

And, really, when you think about it, each point of intuition is only a single percentage of reduced research time, measured in days and listed on the screen when you’re selecting who to assign to the Sagewrights Guild. The difference between a really great intuition of 15 and a middling intuition of 10 isn’t worth losing someone who would be valuable in battle or who would make a suitable spouse for one of your noble house’s regents.

So as time is rolling along and I’m watching the little baby symbols pop up from my regions, I’m about ready to start putting people into the Sagewright’s Guild in the Cinderlands to start booming my science. But oops! The Cinderlands have abruptly fallen into the sea and I no longer have a Sagewright’s Guild.

It turns out — as I read in a message that pops up on the screen — one of those school children at the capital many decades ago grew up and wrote a book about how she was disillusioned that day when no one would give her a tour of capital. The book was a big hit and the resulting loss of confidence in my leadership added a point of corruption to the Cinderlands. Which already had two points of corruption. Third strike, the Cinderlands are out. To sea. Along with my empty Sagewrights Guild.

It looks like I’ll have to build another one, which will take at least a decade, and I can only begin after my current research project is done. Does it count as booming science if you can’t get around to it for a century or so?

Up next: the fabulous Gaffney girls
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