Freedom: The Underground Railroad Gameplay Runthrough
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Freedom: The Underground Railroad Gameplay Runthrough

August 14, 2019


hey everybody today righto runs through freedom the Underground Railroad which is a cooperative game all about the brave men and women who ran and operated the Underground Railroad in the 1800s which was devoted to helping fugitive runaway slaves escape from southern plantations you know and make it you know across the u.s. across the border into Canada where slavery was outlawed and they would be safe and this is a fairly heavy topic you know every subject matter but it’s also a very very good respectful solid cooperative game I’m going to try and demonstrate that today in this run-through and so let’s jump right into now the board is set up for a two-player game and in this game I will be the preacher and Jen will be the conductor there’s actually you can see where there are several different characters that players could play and me the preacher is an abolitionist preacher my special ability is I can basically buy abolitionist cards for $1 less than normal basically if it as a preacher it’s easier for me to recruit aha menu and help build the abolitionist cause I also have a special one-time ability that basically if there’s ever a really bad event card in the in the abolitionist queue like this one over here that is so bad it’s going to destroy us I can basically flip this card you see I it’s a one-time use and remove that card from the queue so I can preach about it and and get people to make it go away but I can only do that once Jen meanwhile is the conductor character and you can see very much inspired by a Harriet Tubman type and let’s see so basically Jenn’s special power is she can move two slaves one space each during the action phase and that’s above and beyond what you can normally do so Jen can really help you know push the slaves to freedom much much quicker as a conductor and then her special ability is one time in the game she can basically flip this to have used her power to have five movement points to move like one slave five spaces or five one space or however she wants that is hugely powerful although mine is really powerful too and I know we are in this game we’re the team trying to well basically well basically in this game in a two-player game we have to save ten slaves we have to get ten slaves freed to we’re playing on Normal difficulty by the way if we want to play on hard it would be 13 but we need to go 10 now and we have to do this before up 16 slaves or lost and that’s use of it the euphemism for died so if 16 slaves die we lose and and also the game has a has a timer built in this deck of the slave market is a timer and if we can’t finish the game before all the slave market cards have been played we lose as well so we have a timer we also have you know this you know a limit of how many slaves we can lose before we lose and what we have to do we have to do two things we have to 310 slaves and we have to sway public opinion to the abolitionist cause over the course of the 1803 this game starts in the year 1800 ends in the year 1865 and we cannot have consider ourself having won unless we have swayed public opinion enough against the act of slavery so that’s what we’re trying to do and enough talk let’s just actually try to do that okay so there’s a nice little order of play summary right here on the board actually everybody has one on their cards as well it’s a little more detailed but the first thing that happens every round is well first of all we have to roll the slave catcher dice and the movement dice and see what they are up to so we take this this is the die for which of the slave catchers may or may not move this round and this is how far they move so let’s see what happens alright the orange one is going to move two spaces east okay now we come up here on I should say by the way these wooden pawns representing the the five slave catchers those are a Kickstarter bonus if you buy the game you know in retail channel you’re just going to get these little cardboard tokens which are perfectly fine they work okay but uh I’m you use the actual pawns just did I figured they’d be easier to read on camera and so the orange one is moving two spaces easterly by coming here and zoom you can see at the beginning of the game the orange one is set is a little symbol for him in Chicago and because I’ve rolled he’s going to move to East and he follows his orange road so he goes one from Chicago to Cincinnati and – from Cincinnati to Ripley and that’s it so the first thing that happens is that one of these guys potentially moves it’s possible where is it it’s possible that we roll this symbol which means nobody moves and sometimes you are really desperate because they’re about to catch some slave you’re trying to get across the border and I’m your hope and oh please a one in six chance don’t let any of them move at cetera cetera but you know that really comes into play more later on but what’s interesting is now because this guy has moved over here he’s kind of left this whole corridor open so Jen and I might want to early on in the game try to you know direct the slaves through the Underground Railroad up here in this direction because it’s kind of wide open you know what I should say right up front just for maybe you know non Americans who aren’t as familiar with American history is Americans should be this is not an actual railroad that runs through a series of tunnels underground it’s not that at all the Underground Railroad is a euphemism for basically a network of roads and paths and safe houses throughout the southern and northern states that the fugitive slaves use to stay hidden from the from the slave catchers and from the authorities trying to make their way to freedom so okay enough about that so we’ve done the first thing the slave catcher phase now we go on to the planning phase where each player gets to plan now I didn’t say at the beginning of the game everybody starts with eight bucks and we cannot pool our money because we know effectively we’re in different parts of the country and you know that there were no ATMs or you know easy bank transfers back then so I’ve got my eight bucks Jen’s got hurried bucks and now we are going to plan where we can spend our money to buy tokens now at the beginning the game we are in the years 1800 1839 so we can only buy these tokens because the game goes on we get more and more tokens we can buy so we can buy any of these and every player has the option to buy zero one or two and you end if you can you want buy as many as you can because they give you abilities support tokens you can see the row for support these are the most expensive ten bucks a pop on either gender I can afford one right now but we have to buy these to win the game we in a two-player game have to buy two plus three more plus two more we have to buy seven we have to pay we have to raise and pay seventy bucks because having bought all of these will represent us having swayed public opinion against slavery enough to consider a win so we have to put a lot of money into it so we’re always in addition to actually trying to move the slaves up north and avoid the slave catchers we’re also trying to raise funds now the other things I can buy I could pay two bucks to buy a conductor chip and the more of these I have the more slaves it represents you know my you know ability to tap into the Underground Railroad network and get more slaves moved through st. to safety each one of these cost me two bucks in the last kid I could get our fundraising shit’s now these are totally free and these are a way to raise more money and so I can’t afford these but I’m going to take two chips I think I’m just going to spend four bucks and take two railroad chips and start gaem some slaves on the move so that cost me four bucks there’s my five I get one change and my planning is done and now gin she’s going to do the same thing she’s got money I think she’s gonna do something slightly different she will get one which will cost her two bucks and she will get some fundraising so that she can try to raise some more cash so the fundraising is free the conductor only costs two and so she paid two bucks and she’s got six bucks left remember we’re trying to save up to ten so we can buy those support tokens and now this planning phase of course like I said people cannot pool their money but you do want to work together UN annual a lot of this is when you actually plan out what you’re going to do for your entire move you know which slaves were going to move how are we going to avoid the slave catchers which abolitionist cards are we going to try to buy based on how much money we’ve got left over etc etc and so I’m just kind of skimming through that I actually is kind of playing by gut but normally you know we would evaluate what’s up here which of these do we want to buy where are the slave catchers who’s going to go first who’s going to go second because I me I’ve got the first player marker so I will actually do all of my actions before Jen does but you know so there’s a lot of plan goes on and as the game goes on the situation becomes very complex very dire there’s a lot of pressure on you and you’ve spent a lot of time planning but in the early days you know things are kind of wide open it’s not too tough so we’re done with the planning phase now let’s move on to the action phase starting with the lead player I can use my the abilities of my role my preacher their role I can play up to two tokens and I just happen to have two tokens and I can buy an abolition card and I can do those things in any order I want there’s actually a little bit more detail about all this on you know the player card right but let’s see what I do well first of all remember one things I can do is I can use my roll special abilities one of those special abilities is every turn I get a dollar for free you know just kind of fundraising and in fact actually all the characters have this ability to get at least $1.00 some characters there’s like a rich guy and somebody else some richer characters they actually have the ability to raise more money they can actually raise $2 this turn but so I’m definitely to take my $1 and my other special ability is remember I get to buy one of these cards and I get to buy them for $1 cheaper than normal so this would normally cost me 3 but it really cost me 2 these ones which cost one I could get for free so that’s actually really really great so I’m going to do one of those and and then after I’m done with all that and plus I’m gonna play chat so I’ll probably go ahead and play both of these cheats and get some slaves on the move in fact well tech let’s start with that hmm right ok so I’m going to play the first of the two chips I want to play and this basically gets removed from the game what this is saying is I can move three slaves one space each and have to be three sub sites now of course these cubes these unpainted wooden cubes which I think is probably the most sensitive way to represent slaves and is some kind of physical object you know they’re not painted black or white they’re just you know natural nude wooden cubes and so I can move three of them from a plantation of my choice you know based on reaching out to the network I’m helping three of these slaves escape from plantations and start moving north and I think for starters what the heck I will just go on ahead and move this one here I’ll move this one here and I’ll move this one you know this is where it started I can go up here I’ll move over here to Charleston okay so now is my first action and now I’m going to get to play another one so I’m going to be able now I could move these three one more space or I could move other ones of the plantations and to new spaces as well like for instance I could well I think now one thing you can’t do is I cannot move slave there can only be one there’s only one safe house here and there’s not enough it’d be too dangerous to try on your house multiple fugitive slaves here so I cannot move another one into this space and that’s a big big part of this game this game is really kind of like managing traffic as you try to maneuver people around and trying to get stuck up watching out for the blockers you know these uh the slave catchers and all that I see but I have another one I might as well play it so hmm I think I will move this guy up here that’s my first of three moves and now because we no no actually no I’m going to do instead I will move this guy over here I’m moving from there from whatever safe house is into st. Louis now two things happen when I move this because this is a this is the others there’s an active community because there’s a there’s a slave now hiding out here the abolitionist movement was able to generate $2 income so I get two more bucks for having movement that’s my first of three but something else happens because this spot is on the purple roads that means the purple slave catcher moves one space in that direction so because he moved into purple this guy moves one step closer you get he hears a rumor that there’s a slave over in in st. Louis and starts moving in that direction alright so I was my first of three and now I mean now I cannot move him again I cannot move the same guy multiple times with my one so he’s moved um I am going to have this guy who I moved out I’m going to pay a dollar and send him on a ship that’s my second you can see this is he’s out at sea and he can he can land in Philadelphia New York he can’t land in New York because he’d get caught immediately by the slave catcher or Boston so I’ve got that guy on the move and now I get to move one more and uh I will move another guy out of VL so he can star so we can start maybe trying to push some guys up in this direction so now those are my two cheats I’ve done one of my special abilities I also get to buy one of these cards if I want it I could use my special one-time action and but I’m not going to do that I’m going to save that for when I really need it messy but let’s go ahead and buy one these cards remember my special ability is I buy them for cheaper now in a 3 or 4 player game this card will always if nobody buys this card it will get removed from the game and you know and then other cards will slide down a new cards will come out in a two-player game both of these cards are going to get removed and so I think it’s really important I mean these are both good cards here that would help us a lot so chances are I’m going to buy one and Jen’s gonna buy one and of course this would be something that we would be planning well should be bottle.these or should we buy one of these because they’d be more powerful it’s tough or whatever or me a better for our certainty for the timing the moment but since both these cards are going to go away and they’re both good I’m gonna buy one right now I’m gonna buy Theodore weld who was an architect of the abolitionist movement weld also co-authored the American slavery as it is testimony over thousand witnesses okay so I am basically going to recruit this guy it would cost me one but because I’m the preacher it costs me nothing and I now get to no this is an instant most of these cards there’s three types of cards that can appear in the line instance that um you recruit them and then you immediately use their ability and then the card is removed from the game and then these ones which are called reserved cards these uh silver ones when you buy them they don’t activate immediately instead you hold them in reserve and can use them at a later date when the timing is right and then there’s these red ones these are the bad things and right now the first and there have to be one in our first draw the Fugitive Slave Act which is the law of the land that actually allows you know basically bounty hunters like these you know these slave catchers or if you’ve seen the movie 12 years of slave I mean you kind of know about some of this already you know this is the Fugitive Slave Act that you know makes it illegal for slaves to seek their freedom and illegal for people to help them and it’s why we all have to be underground and now this is a bad event what’s going to happen is now this is a this is a time bomb for us this will result when this card is removed from the board up to three slaves in spaces next to slave catcher will immediately be captured so when this explodes basically not only will the slave catchers um no well what you know not only to be able to capture where they are but they where reach will extend to all the neighboring areas and we know this is coming because what’s going to happen is over the course of the next couple of rounds this is going to slide down and eventually get removed from the game and then that’s when this happens so we have to be very very careful about our timing we have to make sure that when this is going to happen we don’t have any slaves in areas adjacent to these slated slave catchers and that is going to be hard because of course every time you move into these colored roads they move towards us in fact it might make sense as crazy it is for me to buy this right now because you know my special abilities I could get these for free and if I don’t buy one of them it’ll be removed from the game but if I buy this right now instead of costing three it’ll cost two but at this moment Oh actually not quite at this moment one slave is within range but you know I could have bought that card before I moved him and then that that Fugitive Slave Act wouldn’t affect us all if I bought it right now when there are no slaves next to you know that this guy he could’ve moved over here which made this yellow guy move there are no slaves at all they’re in a space adjacent oh wait that’s not true this guy who’s on the water is adjacent to the brown guy Aaron shoot alright well you know what um I think I’ll just be careful I’ll move this over here like I originally did so yellow didn’t move and we’ll just have to bear this in mind that in a couple of rounds this is going to trigger because we’re not going to spend our money to make a trigger early okay so instead I’m going to buy one of these I will just go on ahead and with that I will buy this one the southern Church correspondence the churches were often one of the few places slaves were allowed to congregate allowing mail to be passed along and this special that he’s having bought this which I got for free each player receives two dollars from the bank okay so each player gets two bucks and it didn’t cost us anything so there’s definitely a good purchase for me right now I have used my two chips I have bought a abolitionist card and I have a seat I played my two chips I bought abolitionist card I’ve gave the benefit of my roll and I’m not going to use my one-time ability now if I want it if I didn’t want to do anything this turn instead I could just pass not do anything and instead take three bucks later in the game four bucks and late in the game five bucks sometimes you want to do that because you’re desperate for cash to buy the support but this is right now I’m pretty happy with that you know I made the 2 bucks by getting in st. Louis I made two boar bucks because of that southern church correspondence and now my turn is over and now it is Jen’s turn okay and so let’s see first of all she’ll use one of her two cheats and move three more slaves three spaces I see so she will move one and now this moved into the brown so Brown says hey what’s going on down there and starts getting closer one two and three and now this hit purple so purple gets moving closer and closer now Jen’s got another chip but this is a fundraising one the way this works is whenever you play this for every slave that is in a southern location you know the green dot Jen will make one dollar in fundraising because the more slaves that are on the run the more money she can raise for the cause and right now so she did right now she’d get one two three four five bucks now this one doesn’t count cause it’s out C so it’s not in US in a green spot so I’d be five bucks you get but you know I think before she’s gonna play this determine she can do this stuff in any order she wants first of all don’t forget she gets one dollar income for her action she can move every round she gets to move two slaves one space each as a free special ability she’s got so she’ll move this guy here and she will move the this one over here and now that brings yellow arm closer so she used her special ability there are now more slaves you know out out and about out so we can do more she’s just basically made it so she can raise two more funds but before she’s going to do the fundraising she’ll spend one dollar and by Theodore Velde or Theodore weld which is an ability move one slave from any plantation to us to a southern space with no effect Oh but look at this all the spaces out of the southern plantations are full gen should have done this inside before I see let’s uh rewind a bit you know gen special ability she moved these two right so before she used her special ability to move to she she bought you know she recruited Theodore well this lets her move one slate from any plantation to a southern space and so she will move this one to a southern space this was for Theodore well and now the interesting thing is you’ll notice it says with no effect and that means when we moved into this space it did not draw yellow any closer because no effect meant we could ignore the fact that normally yellow would move closer so Jen bought Theodore weld then she’s going to use her special ability which let’s remove two more so she will move this guy here and she will move um hmm I see well see now again all the spaces are blocked so she can’t move anybody else out of a plantation so she’s got to move somebody forward she doesn’t want to move anybody out of the southern states though because she wants to maximize her fundraising but she can’t anymore so what’s she going to do now like if she moved this guy over here yellow would be blocking the way but now this guy can move up to rip you know so a lot of the thinking of this game a lot of logistics is trying to move in such a way that you manipulate these guys so they’ll get out of the way um I guess it’s not going to terribly painful if Jen moves this guy here now that means yellow is going to move over to Cleveland again okay and so now is she’s dealt her movement because she can’t play anymore but there’s now space open so another slave could come out of this plantation in in Alabama I guess okay so Jen is played one of her two chips she’s used her special ability moving to and getting a buck she’s higher you know she’s recruited somebody and now she’s got one more chip she’s gonna play it her fundraising chip she gets one dollar for every slave in a southern location that’s one two three because you see st. Louis has a green background it’s all Ripley over here replayed Ohio I think this is yeah has no color background so it does not count as a northern or southern state Washington DC also doesn’t have a color background so that’s important but anyway Jen gets one two three four five six seven dollars from that fundraising so that anyway no this is the kind of thing that Jen and I would have coordinated we say I would have said up front hey I’m going first I’ll just get a bunch you know it you know into play you can move some more and then you can do fundraising you’ll have a lot of money so the next turn you can buy some support you know that’s the kind of coordination that we do as a cooperative game so like jen has finished with her turn she’s played her two chicks she’s used her special abilities she’s recruited somebody and so now we’re done with the action phase it’s time for the slave market phase deliver slaves to the plantations I haven’t talked about this daga said this is the timer this is the current mark the slave market you can see there’s little picture of young male artwork from the time these are slaves for sale and now these six are going to get bought by the plantations and in fact we just now we get to choose which of the which translations these six cubes go into these six slaves and I guess I’ll have two of them go here because I’ve opened up a spot with ologist I’ll just um distribute them evenly and I you can see there’s one two three four five six one two three four five six six more spaces and what’s going to happen is at the end of the next ride into this card goes away at the end of the next round we’re going to need to have seven spaces free because there’s going to be seven slaves on the auction the next round and so if we don’t have seven spaces if we haven’t emptied out seven spaces in these plantations for them instead of them going to the plantation they will go up to the slaves lost and we will start to basically lose lives and you’ll get closer to losing so this is another bit of huge amount of pressure we always have to keep these plantations constantly drained so there’s room so these slaves who are basically on their way over won’t you know be lost which is just like a nice way to put it okay so anyway we’ve done the slave market phase and now we want to line phase trigger discard the last abolitionist cards slide and fill cards passively player marker and the last night market has been delivered the game is over so if these cards are still here they’d be a root from the game these ones all slide down new ones come out we’re not drawing from these Dex’s we’re still in the early and oh lovely a nother we have two bad events Elijah Lovejoy and another good event let’s see what’s Elijah writing this was Lovejoy editor of the anti-slavery paper the Alton Observer was shot by by a pro-slavery mob as they attempted to burn down his warehouse fundraising tokens only draw funds from large cities that makes thematic sense after I can imagine after that happened it was going to be tougher to actually do fundraising operations because everybody be afraid of being killed so that’s that’s kind of heavy um now interesting Lee if you know if I draw on this and I had drawn another bad event only one bad event will ever get added on to the queue so if I draw on another bad event it would’ve been held off to the side I would have drawn till there was another bad event and then it would’ve gotten shuffle back in but it is we’ve got these two things and now this is going to be in effect until removed from the queue now so it’s actually a good thing that Jen did some fundraising last term because now fundraising is not going to be very good for us until either this goes away and people you know lose their fear over the assassination of alive Elijah Lovejoy or we can buy this card to remove it from the queue earlier and then its effect will go away and maybe that’s something we’ll do but anyway so we’ve refilled that all the you know the slave markets come down hey there’s a new one one two one two three and Jen will become the first player and we start again with slave catcher phase I see what the slave catchers are going to do and orange again is gonna dice roll this twice in a row okay now okay orange what is going to go east again so orange he’s going to go two spaces east one two he’s got all these Russian over here he’s definitely blocking this guy this guy is in danger if he moves over here orange will come over and capture them so that done and now we go back to planning and now Jen will be the first to buy and she’s got a bunch of money so you better bet she’s going to spend some of that on getting some public support for our cost but if you’d like to watch a little more of that go on ahead hit the button that’s for extended play and I’ll play through at least two or three more rounds I’ll try to play at least long enough to where we can get into the middle phase of the game we’ll see how it goes we’re going to the other button for final thoughts your choice in five four three two one

4 Comments

  • Reply neosurrealist August 9, 2014 at 8:12 am

    "Nude" coloured cubes?

    ಠ_ಠ

  • Reply Ashley Kristine Scott March 10, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    This is amazing and Creative!

  • Reply Aaron Dovauo April 18, 2017 at 5:33 am

    My firstplay as a solo effort ended poorly, forgot about clearing the Support tokens … thx for the reminder. 😉

  • Reply Leed Clinton December 18, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Stop cheating…once you move you can't take it back

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