This post has spoilers for one way to beat this map.
I finally found a way (not necessarily the best or fastest way) to solve Snowflake13 (set 02, page 03, map 13). I had tried ~5 times a long time ago before giving up, and finally found a solution after another ~5 attempts.
You start with four bases, which I will call north, west, east, and central. You can easily grow the non-central territories to be 4 hexes each, then you get stuck waiting for funds to either buy a castle or upgrade your L1 grunt to an L2 spearman. The key for these 3 territories is to make sure your defensive troop or castle is not stationed on the front lines where the AI might be tempted to destroy it.
The central base has more opportunities and playing it correctly was key for me. In most of my failed games, I lost the central base relatively early and then eventually lost the entire map. In this successful game, I also lost the central base, but much later than usual. More importantly, I used the central base to assist the growth of my north and east bases before the central base got overrun. I believe with optimal play, I could have saved the central base too. (Specifically, on turn 11, I believe taking the hex SW of the central base’s castle instead might have made a large difference in manipulating the yellow AI.)
In my successful run, I grew my west base to 4 hexes and eventually placed a castle on the center hex, retiring my L1 grunt to the rear hex, then just waited, collecting taxes and waiting until the center base could join to this western base. Late in the run, I made a mistake here, thinking I had enough saved funds to upgrade to an L3 knight and break out of the west base, accelerating when my territories could merge, but I wasn’t paying attention and this L3 knight ended up starving 1 turn before I merged.
In both my north and east bases, I grew to 4 hexes, and upgraded to an L2 spearman ASAP even though I was at negative cash flow. You have to carefully pick your target each turn as you expand out of your snowflake branch, both to avoid a counter starvation attack and to avoid letting your neighbors put down castles or L2 spearmen of their own. But both bases can grow safely this way, if assisted by the central base.
I tried many strategies with the central base before finding one that worked. I used this base to perform a key starvation attack against dark brown on turn 3, saving the east base, and another key indirect starvation attack against light brown on turn 5, saving the north base. On turn 5, I sacrificed an L1 grunt to help lure light brown into overextending southward out of the north snowflake branch but without letting him destroy the cash stored in my central town hall. Then light green couldn’t resist starving light brown on light green’s turn 5.
I’m sure I made other mistakes in there as well, but I have no interest in minimizing my score further, at least not at this time. Right now I’m more interested in finding solutions to as many maps as possible.
Conquer the island
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