I have tried a few game-starts today that I have had to end for lack of minerals, even one game in the Idyllic Valley. I found that it did not perform as stated – there were definitely not more resources in the Idyllic Valley than in other scenarios. My Lowland Lakes consistently had more resources overall than the Idyllic Valley.
But that’s beside the point. I get hawthorne coming out my ears, though the game itself says it’s a resource of desperation. I usually have enough greens and nuts and other things not to need to resort to hawthorne.
But I have consistently had games where I have had all sorts of clay but very little or no sand, very little or no iron, and absolutely no gold or coal, even in areas uncovered by exploration. It is a bit difficult to build buildings or perform manufacturing processes that require certain minerals or products made with them when you ain’t got 'em.
Is this a standard thing, or a bug? Oh, yes, we can buy these things from the traders. Sometimes. Once in a blue moon, it seems to be. And that’s not easy to do early on, when gold is not easy to come by and one has not had the chance to build any factories that turn out luxury or at least non-necessity products.