THE ARTS & CULTURE CARDS OF CONQUEST OF PARADISE
Alan R. Arvold
In Conquest of Paradise there is a set of cards which greatly add to the depth and texture of the game. Of course I am talking about the Arts & Culture Cards. These cards serve two purposes in the game. One is that they, for the most part, provide Victory Points for the owning player when counting up towards victory during the Victory Step in a game turn. Of course not every card grants Victory Points, but this does not make them worthless. The other purpose is that most of them provide some special advantage the owning player’s cultural infrastructure or skill set. There are a few that do not, but they still provide Victory Points. These cards may be purchased during the Building Step of a game turn and cost two Build Points per card. A player may only purchase one card per turn.
Players should start purchasing Arts & Culture Cards early in the game, but how soon is early? Well beginning players usually wait until they can amass at least five or six Build Point in a turn. Expert players though will start when they have at least four Build Points and some will even start when they have three, skipping the Exploration Step in the next game turn in order to gain an extra Build Point. Once you get started, purchasing cards becomes a mandatory requirement in every turn there after if you do not want to fall behind the opposing players.
These cards may be revealed at any time, whether right away upon purchase, at any point during any player turn (both yours and your opponent’s), or at the end of the game. A player is not required to reveal any of his cards when the opportunity first presents itself and instead may keep them hidden face down. However, once revealed, the cards stay face up for the rest of the game. There is a point where all cards must be placed face up though, which is during the first turn that a player declares victory during the Victory Step. Here all players reveal their cards in order to apply the Victory Points generated by their cards to their respective point totals towards victory. If a player wins, then the game is over, but if the declaring player does not win, nor any other player as well, then the games continues with all cards exposed and only those cards purchased in future turns may stay hidden, at least until they are either revealed or victory is declared again.
The following are descriptions for each type of Arts & Culture Card. They are divided into sections based on the point value of the cards and include an explanation of the advantages each card gives as well as when it is best to reveal them during the game.
0 Point Cards: These six cards do not give you any victory points. Instead they give you some advantage in the game or in one case a disadvantage to your opponents. They are for the most part, revealed early on in order to maximize their advantages for most of the game.
Double-Hulled Canoes: This card gives your Transport and War Canoes an extended range of one hex for the rest of the game. These tend to be revealed early on in order to speed up the set up of a player’s Transport Canoe Chain and the colonization of a player’s recently discovered islands. However, the more combat oriented player will hold them back until he has set up their forces for a planned attack on a particularly desired island that an opponent controls and thinks is out of range of your War Canoes. Imagine the surprise on his face when the card is revealed and they find themselves in a battle that they were not expecting. Also gives a plus one die roll modifier on the Kumara Search Table is you are playing with that optional rule.
Poi: Like the Double-Hulled Canoes above, this card gives your Transport and War Canoes an extended range of one hex for the rest of the game. What was written for Double-Hulled Canoes applies to this card as well. If a player has both of these cards then the effects are cumulative, giving his canoes an extended range of two hexes. Thus his canoes can reach just about anywhere in any of his opponents territories. Also gives a plus one die roll modifier on the Kumara Search Table.
Cannibalism: This card will cause one enemy unit Panic result in a battle to become an enemy unit removed instead. This will occur once in a given battle but will be applicable to every one of the player’s battle for the rest of the game. This card tends to be revealed in the first battle that occurs after a player has gotten it.
Pa: These cards, of which there are two of them, gives a player a strong defensive advantage in battle. If the player is the defender in a battle, one card causes all of the attacker’s die rolls of four to be ignored and the other cause all of the attacker’s die rolls of five to be ignored. This stays in effect for every die roll, in every battle, for the rest of the game after the card is revealed. Further more, this card can trump the play of other cards in battle, making it the card that affects the die roll. Woe to the attacker who engages a player in battle who possesses both of these cards. He will need at least of 3-1 advantage in forces in order to have an even chance of success.
Severe Deforestation: This card allows a player to remove one Village from each of his opponents’ home islands one time in the game. It is almost always revealed when victory is first declared in the game. This can cause a player who is claiming victory to come up short in his Victory Points thus nullifying the claim of victory. On the other hand, if the player claiming victory reveals it, it can ruin an opposing player’s chances of claiming victory if he has the required number of Victory Points but was holding off in order to cause the first claimant suffer the wrath of the other players’ attempts to defeat his claim.
1 Point Cards: These cards comprise over 50% of the Arts & Culture Card Deck. Besides giving the owner 1 Victory Points when revealed, most also confer some advantage to the owner in the game, either as a one-time or as a continuous thing. Their time of revelation varies as to the card in question.
Marae: This card gives the player a once per game chance to order a die roll to be re-rolled and the new result applies to whatever the original was for. The die roll does not necessarily have to be one of his own, he can order another player to re-roll a die roll when the card is revealed. This card can even trump any other card played in battle, causing the previously played card to be of no effect for that die roll. The Marae card is usually saved until near the end of the game. Although it will most likely be revealed in a battle that the owner is involved in, there are times when it is revealed to attempt to stop another player from winning a battle, and by extension the game, against a third player.
Tattoo: There are two of these cards. These cause one enemy Panic Roll in each battle for the rest of the game to require two enemy Units to retreat instead of the usual one. These are usually revealed in the first battle the owning player engages in, or is engaged in, after he draws it. If a player possesses both of these cards, he may use both of them in the same battle but on different enemy Panic rolls. These cards can be used by both the attacker and the defender in a battle.
Haka: Like the previous Tattoo Cards, this card causes one enemy Panic Roll in each battle for the rest of the game to require two enemy units to retreat instead of one. Again, like the Tattoo Cards, this card tends to be revealed in the owning player’s first battle after drawing it and can be used by both the attacker and defender.
Navigation: This card allows a player to subtract one from the total number of Exploration Knots showing every turn. If drawn early in the game while the players are still exploring the unknown ocean hexes it will be quickly revealed. However if drawn after the all the exploring is done and the players have settled down to building their respective island empires, it will stay unrevealed until the game victory is first declared. Also gives a plus one die roll modifier on the Kumara Search Table.
Aquaculture: This card provides the owning player one free Improved Agriculture Marker when it is revealed. Usually revealed shortly after drawing it, providing that the player has an Island Group Tile with a brown box on it where the Improved Agriculture maker would go. Of course if the player does not have, and never does get, such an Island Tile, then the card will stay unrevealed until the first Victory Step where Victory is declared.
Jade Carving: This card does not give any advantage to the owning player, just one Victory Point, so it will remained unrevealed until Victory is first declared by any player.
Commerce: This card when revealed gives the owning player one free Transport Canoe that he can immediately place on the board. If the player controls the island of Tuamotu at the time of revelation, he gets a second free canoe. However the owing player can not get that second canoe if he acquires (or reacquires) Tuamotu later in the game, he must control it at the time the card is revealed. This card can be played at anytime during the game. Beginners usually play it during the Build Step of a turn in order to get a free transport canoe but the experts save it to immediately repair their Transport Canoe Chain when it is broken by an opposing player. Having Tuamotu can be an advantage here since with two free Transport Canoes a player can build a bypass around the break in his Transport Canoe Chain as the opposing player will usually leave an enemy unit in the hex in question in order to maintain the break.
Tapa: This card, like Jade Carving above, does not give any advantage to the owning player other than the one Victory Point. Usually stays unrevealed until Victory is first declared in the game.
Arioi: There are two of these cards. These cards when revealed immediately stop any combat from being resolved, thus they only benefit the defender in a battle. However this occurs once per card and can not be used again in the game after it has been played. These cards are usually not revealed until towards the end of the game in a critical battle where the attacker is trying the capture a big high point island tile in order to win in a turn or two, if not on the turn of capture. This means that a player may hold on to these cards through several battles during the course of the game because there will be time to recover from a defeat and the winner is not in a position to win so quickly.
Powhiri: This card when revealed allows the player to examine any stack of units of one opposing player. It is usually saved until towards the end of the game. It can be used to look at an opposing stack of units by the attacker when he is planning to attack it or by the defender when he is seeing an ominous stack of enemy units close by and he wants to prepare for a possible attack.
Ocean Chart: This card when revealed causes every “Lost” result incurred when searching during the Exploration Step of a turn or when rolling of the optional Kumara Search Table to become a “Return” result. This stays in effect for the rest of the game. It is usually revealed early in the game when exploration is the main concern of the players. Once all the exploring is done it will then usually remain unrevealed until the first Victory declaration of the game. The only exception to this is if the optional Kumara rule is being used in the game. If Kumara has not been found yet after all the exploring has been done, this card will still be of value to the revealing player.
Kahuna Healing: This card when revealed causes one “Removed” result in a battle to be treated as a “Panic” result instead. This occurs only once in the game. It is usually played anytime during the game. However one must be careful about which combat unit to save with this card, with War Canoes being the better choice as they are not only more expensive to build, but also because in case of a lost battle they can freely retreat whereas a Warrior Band might be needlessly lost due to a lack of canoe transport because of the battle.
1+ Point Cards: These cards do not give any advantages to the owning player when revealed. Instead they give the mandatory one Victory Point plus an additional Victory Point is a certain condition is met. In all cases these entail the control of a certain Island Tile during the Victory Step of each turn. Thus in future turns after these cards are revealed the owning player may gain or lose the additional Victory Point if they gain or lose control of the Island Tile in question. As a result, these cards usually stay unrevealed until the first Victory Declaration of the game as players do not let on that they may have additional Victory Points beyond what can be easily surmised by the opposing players.
Hula Dancing: This card gives one additional Victory Point if the owning player controls the Rarotonga Island Tile.
Wood Carving: This card gives one additional Victory Point if the owning player controls one of the Mythical Island Tiles, either Hawaiki or Kuporu. Controlling both does not give another additional Victory Point, but can be considered a form of insurance against loss of the additional Victory Point if you lose control of one of them.
Rongo-rongo: This card gives one additional Victory Point if the owning player controls the Rapa Nui Island Tile.
Hui: This card gives one additional Victory Point if the owning player controls either Mythical Island Tile.
Luau: This card gives one additional Victory Point if the owning player controls either Mythical Island Tile.
2 Point Card: There is only one of these cards in the Arts & Culture Deck.
Surfing: This card when revealed gives no advantage to the owning player, just two Victory Points. It almost always stays unrevealed until the first Victory Declaration of the game.
2+ Point Card: There is only one of these cards in the Arts &Culture Deck. This card gives two Victory Points when revealed plus one additional Victory Point if a certain condition is met. Like the 1+ Point cards this additional Victory Point can come and go in future turns depending on the control or loss of control of a certain Island Tile during the Victory Step of a turn.
Moai: This card when revealed gives no advantage to the owning player. The additional Victory Point comes if the owning player controls the Rapa Nui Island Tile. However there is a catch. When the card is revealed the owning player must remove one Village from Rapa Nui., providing he controls it of course. Thus in effect the additional point is cancelled out by the loss of the Village. There is a way to get around this, namely revealing the card after turning over the Rapa Nui Island Tile before placing any Villages on it as the Village removal requirement only applies at the instant of revelation. Also the Village removal is not permanent as the owning player can rebuild the missing Village in the Build Steps of future turns. Usually this card remains unrevealed until the first Victory Declaration of the game especially if the owning player does not control Rapa Nui. However, it can be revealed earlier if the owning player controls Rapa Nui and wants to avoid the Village removal requirement or to rebuild the removed Village while there is still time. But this telegraphs his intentions to the other players and will inevitably make the Rapa Nui Island Tile a bone of contention for the rest of the game.
The Arts and Culture Cards in Battle
While the play of Arts & Culture Cards in the game is pretty straight forward in most situations, the play of them in battle can at times be confusing and deserves further explanation and clarification. To begin with, while several cards may be played in a particular battle, only one played card may affect each die roll in the battle. In general, the first player, be it the attacker or defender, to reveal or play a card on a die roll, has his card affect that die roll. This usually occurs when the die roll is made and the result is seen. However, as noted above, there are certain cards that the second player can use to trump the first player’s card play, namely the “Pa” and “Marae” Cards. So what happens to a card that has been trumped? It is considered to have been un-played and may be used in a later die roll in the same battle. Thus no cards are permanently lost, just delayed in their play or revelation.
There are ten cards, which include three sets of doubles, that can be used in battle and they are listed below, ranked in importance from best to worst. Players may find these rankings useful when deciding whether or not to play a card in a particular battle
Conquest of Paradise is not a card driven game. Rather it is a card assisted game and the Arts & Culture Cards are the cards that provide that assistance. Thus it behooves all players to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each card and I hope that this article provides the guide to do just that.