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Subject: Solo Variant rss

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Callan Finn
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...so, before the screams of 'why would you do this, this is a co-operative game and a major part of the game is the team work and co-operation!" (which I completely agree with) let me just say: I was BORED. And the game was just sitting there... all pretty... waiting to be played. The fat captain with the orange shirt, poised forward in his central chair, staring me in the eyes - whispering "play me..."

...but it was 12am! None of my gamer buddies were around... I mean, I could of called some of them over (they probably would of come), but my fiance would NOT have been impressed.

So, I did it. I played a solo version of this, by myself, at 12:00am in the morning. Someone was bound to do it. Why not immediately share my thoughts on a forum as soon as I was done? (its now 3am)

To be fair, I only got halfway through the first mission - so, this is not exactly 'tested' - but, I think its pretty simple, and can't see it really being that difficult.

I'd like to note, I haven't played with any of the advance system variants, nor do I know how they work - in fact, bar this solo game, I've only really played this game on easy once - and lost. So, really, this is just a sharing of uninformed, half completed thoughts.

Enjoy!

Warning: The Solo Variant described here for this game takes a LONG time. Each station must be completed individually, so a turn doesn't take a couple of 30 second phases, it takes 9 30 second phases... and then some. I played for 2 hours on the first mission on easy, and managed only to get to the second crystal - and that was with a couple of lucky 5 shots too!

Captains Log
The captains log stays pretty much the same - you ignore the initial discussion phase, no need to talk amongst yourself... I mean, you can if you want... but, come on, you're already playing a co-operative board game by yourself, lets not make this any worse then it already is.

The only real changes is the third phase (action phase) - each step is completed individually, in order. So, there's a 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e phase. Follow the order on the captains log from the 3-4 player game, taking 30 seconds for each phase in turn (so, it should go - sensors, weapons, engineering, helm, shields). It doesn't really mater which order you do it in, as long as helm is done BEFORE shields.

In the co-operative game, often helm and shields need to communicate, to best optimize the shield distribution. This gives the solo player a distinct advantage... which balances out some of the harder issues he may have later with core breaches.

Core Breaches:
Core breaches are handled fairly simply. While there is a core breach, during EACH AND EVERY action phase from 3a-3e (so, sensors, weapons, engineering, helm and shields), shuffle and deal the number of core breach cards face down. When the timer starts, turn 1 core breach card over. You may then search the deck for its respective repair card. When you have done so, you may flip the next card - doing this until you have repaired all the breach cards one at a time, or run out of time. This must be done before you can start working on your station. This must be done for each action phase mini-game, making it very difficult to repair core breaches (a simple core breach has to be fixed 5 times on each action phase station!) - after all, its hard to run a ship, and fix everything all by yourself!

Shift Changes:
When a shift change damage card comes out in phase 7, keep it aside until phase 4 (the resolution phase) of the following round. After the action phase of the subsequent round is complete, roll a die:
1 = Sensors
2 = Weapons
3 = Engineering
4 = Helm
5 = Shields
6 = Player's choice

You must immediately re-do the rolled station. Re-shuffle cards, tokens or tiles drawn and begin the phase again, with the same amount of energy that was allocated to it the first time you did it. If you have multiple shift changes from the previous turn, resolve them one at a time. You may end up having to do the same station more then once!



So, I think that about covers it. If there's anything I missed, or any suggestions, let me know. This variant may need to be balanced out (either by increasing or decreasing the time nemesis takes to arrive or something), I'm honestly not sure. There is a distinct advantage in being able to completely finish your helm control before moving to work on shields, but I think its adequately balanced by the core breach tediousness. So, let me know what you think!
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Callan Finn
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So, after some feedback from friends, the core breach rule is actually pretty difficult... it effectively takes the same amount of time away from each and every station, where as in the co-op version, a core breach will only take some amount of time from certain stations.

You can still play in the way I've presented above for a particularly difficult challenge, but on reflection, I don't recommend it.

Here's an updated version of how it probably should work. My only concern is, the game is now slightly easier then the base co-op game. A good way to balance this out may be for all solo games, have nemesis arrive a turn sooner.

Unfortunately, I don't really think there's any way to properly replicate the feeling of having to stop work on a station 15 seconds in to quickly fix a core breach once the deck gets around to you... I mean, you could put limitations on yourself, that for the second station, you can't start working on core breaches until 10 seconds, the third station until 15 seconds, etc... but, the logistics of that is quite difficult. Any suggestions people may have on how to replicate the 'mid-station-core-breach-fix' in a solo game would be great!

Anyway, here is some revised core breach rules.

Core Breach:

Core breaches work exactly the same as they do in the normal game - deal out core breaches to any station you like, in any order, as long as a station is not receiving a second core breach card until all the other stations have at least one (as it is presented in the rules).
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Brian
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You need a random timer that goes off between say, 7-21 seconds in to the 30 second action phase. As soon as the timer goes off, you need to stop doing your normal station and work on the core breach.

The core breach deck should be shuffled between stations.

In addition, after all of the stations are done, you may want to consider doing the core breach again with just doing the core breach because in addition to robbing some time from the various stations, the core breach itself must be resolved in 30 seconds. Another consideration is that since you have seen the core breach repair cards, you might want to do a quick overhand shuffle to mix them up a little before flipping the next core breach card as to not give yourself an advantage from remembering where the corresponding core breach repair card is. The time for the quick overhand shuffle could also help offset the hand-off time which isn't present.
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Jim Hansen
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You could separate out the core breach from all the other phases and have a phase 3f of 30 seconds where you have to do all the breach repair. I think you should also have to shuffle the deck once in between each card to simulate passing the deck and prevent you from memorizing where the cards are located.

The other phases wouldn't have quite the same feel of trying to multitask, but you could shorten the timer by 1 or 2 seconds per core breach level to increase the difficulty. So at breach level 5, each of the 3a-3e phases would only have 20 or 25 seconds and you'd have a 30 second breach repair phase 3f.

This wouldn't really satisfy your goal of 'mid-station-core-breach-fix', but it would come close to recreating the difficulty of the co-op game.
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Callan Finn
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lankyb wrote:
You need a random timer that goes off between say, 7-21 seconds in to the 30 second action phase. As soon as the timer goes off, you need to stop doing your normal station and work on the core breach.



I was thinking of something like that initially, but that seems way too hard to implement practically - but, it is a good solution for the problem, if there was a way to pull it off effectively.

Quote:

The core breach deck should be shuffled between stations.


Yeah, it should - you're absolutely right. But, should you be timed to shuffle it? If so, you certainly aren't going to shuffle it very well.

Quote:

In addition, after all of the stations are done, you may want to consider doing the core breach again with just doing the core breach because in addition to robbing some time from the various stations, the core breach itself must be resolved in 30 seconds. Another consideration is that since you have seen the core breach repair cards, you might want to do a quick overhand shuffle to mix them up a little before flipping the next core breach card as to not give yourself an advantage from remembering where the corresponding core breach repair card is. The time for the quick overhand shuffle could also help offset the hand-off time which isn't present.


My only concern is that this would add an unnecessary extra station to complete in an already lengthy variant.

Quote:
The other phases wouldn't have quite the same feel of trying to multitask, but you could shorten the timer by 1 or 2 seconds per core breach level to increase the difficulty. So at breach level 5, each of the 3a-3e phases would only have 20 or 25 seconds and you'd have a 30 second breach repair phase 3f.


...hmm, that's an efficient solution (not counting the issue of shuffling cards on 3f), and I think would get the job done in regards to balance if we can figure out a way to shuffle the cards properly during that 30 second phase... shame it doesn't give the same multitasking feel, but it certainly makes each station more difficult, which is the point of the core breaches, so, this could work!

Thanks for the feedback guys. Any thoughts on how to properly get players to shuffle core breach cards after each core breach is repaired?

...maybe it could turn into a pure speed game of card dealing? You're only allowed to draw one card a time from the core repair deck, face up, but once you've got it, you're allowed to match it, flip the next core breach, and then put the discarded cards on the bottom of your pile of cards and start drawing one card a time again. You might know where the card is, but you've got to draw each card individually to get to it - its a linear progression, so, its about speed - you can't just look through the whole deck, you've got to deal out each card till you get to it - but you've still got to be able to spot the card you need as you draw the card, so you can't go too fast either.

For added difficulty, if you draw a new card and put it over the card you wanted and then realize it was the card you wanted, you have to cycle through the whole deck individually before you can go for it again - you can't go backwards!

...the only problem with this, is its probably not great on the cards, heh.
 
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Brian
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If you can program, the random timer isn't hard.
Instead of the random timer, you count to 10 out loud and when you get to 10 you need to stop what you're doing.

As far as the shuffling goes, I mean one pass of an overhand shuffle. It shouldn't take more than literally 2 seconds.

When repairing a core breach, you don't have to look at the cards one at a time. You can flip the deck and fan them out.
http://boardgamegeek.com/article/10858474#10858474
 
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Callan Finn
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lankyb wrote:


When repairing a core breach, you don't have to look at the cards one at a time. You can flip the deck and fan them out.
http://boardgamegeek.com/article/10858474#10858474


I know. One way to make it harder though would be to not be able to do that though for a hypothetical 3f. And, while I can program, its not exactly an accessible solution for everyone - and counting allowed to 10, while trying to do a station, is not a very elegant solution.
 
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Brian
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I think it's far better than just subtracting 3-5 seconds from the station time. Getting the core breach deck in the middle of your attempts to orient yourself in help or while reaching in a sensor bag is far more disrupting and losing time to do the station is far more disrupting than only losing the time.
 
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Mara Dyne
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Not that I've tested this method at all, but what about using the Captain's board for 5 or more players, and just having one Action Phase lasting somewhere between 2 and 3 minutes? Perhaps the rule could be that you have to physically move seats in order to work on different stations during that time period, and the Comm Breakdown aft damage card could simply reduce the length of the Action Phase by one third instead.

This way, you could put the Core Breach into the very same phase, and play like you would if you had a crew of 5, but instead of people having to pass the deck around and complete the Core Breach in 30 seconds, you have to start at one station, flip over the Core Breach card, find a match, then move to another station while giving the Core Repair deck a quick overhand shuffle, and when you sit down there, you can flip over that Core Breach card and continue that process.

Assuming it takes an average of 4 seconds to find a matching Core Repair card at a given station, and 3 seconds to get up, move to the next chair, and flip over the Core Breach card there, it will take 7X-3 seconds to successfully repair a level X core breach, on average. I imagine that I did the math correctly in calculating that it would take 4X + 3(X-1) seconds, given the assumed average time spans above. Does that sound accurate?

If accurate, we have a Level 3 breach taking an average of 18 s to complete, with each higher level increasing the average time to completion by 7 s, culminating in an average time of 74 s to complete a Level 11 breach. With a 2-minute Action Phase, this leaves 46 s to complete 5 stations' tasks, and with a 3-minute Action Phase, this leaves 106 s to complete 5 stations' tasks after successfully repairing a Level 11 breach.

None of this is optimal in duplicating the experience of a multiplayer game, however, where even in playtesting solely the Core Breach minigame, the designers were unable to beat anything higher than Level 9. However, it might be similarly problematic, in that with less than 50 seconds to complete 5 minigames, it's not likely that the ship will survive that long afterwards, anyway. Perhaps add the rule where if the Core Breach marker is at 11 and the ship would suffer another core breach, it simply explodes irreparably, ending the mission.

A way to make this slightly more difficult would be to roll a die when the Action Phase begins, and be forced to travel to that station to fix the Core Breach there, and then when that is fixed, roll a die again and then have to fix a breach in possibly the same or another station. The mechanics of this would need to be fine-tuned, but the idea is for it to simulate a single officer running a focused internal scan to determine where a core breach is occurring, and then rushing off to fix it.

My last core breach idea is to have the Core Breach cards dealt out face down to each station as normal, and they can only be flipped one at a time, when sitting at that station. In addition, Core Repair cards will be dealt out evenly among all stations, and those can also be manipulated only when physically present at the stations in question. The beleaguered officer must successfully expose all Core Breach cards and carry all the matching Core Repair cards to each of those stations, except that only one Core Repair card may be revealed at any given time, and only one Core Repair card may be carried between stations at any given time. When a card is being carried, it is considered revealed, and no other Core Repair cards may be face up. (While Core Breach cards may only be flipped one at a time, they may always remain face up once initially flipped.) To reveal another Core Repair card, the officer must turn the revealed Core Repair card face down. If a Core Repair card is brought to the station where its matching Core Breach card can be found, it is placed with that card face up and is no longer considered revealed. (It is now "matched".)

This way, when the Action Phase starts, the officer can run around to the various stations and flip over each Core Breach card one at a time to see what she is aiming for, and then run around flipping Core Repair cards one at a time to see if they match. If necessary, perhaps a restriction could be that only the core six stations are used (Captain, Engineering, Helm, Sensors, Weapons, Shields), and Core Breach and Core Repair cards are dealt out only to those stations. In addition, each station can support a maximum of 2 Core Repair cards, matched or otherwise. This would mean that the officer can carry a Core Repair card to a station that already has two there in order to match a Core Breach card, but then immediately needs to pick up one of the two Core Repair cards at that station. This adds a bit of the Tractor Beam memory matching aspect to the frantic searching of the existing Core Breach minigame.

Another general idea might be to have just 30 seconds for Step 1, during which time the Engineering Officer must allocate all the energy to the various stations on the Engineering Display. This will provide some time pressure, and leave not too much time for strategic thinking before energy is irreversibly allocated.

As for shift changes, would it be too much of a departure simply to replace them with system damage cards when creating the initial damage decks? From my understanding, the Shift Change cards are meant to recreate the moment in many a sci-fi starship battle where the console explodes, sending the helm officer flying across the room, forcing some random other bridge officer to take up that station to try to save the ship. If it's just one person operating the ship, such a situation wouldn't seem to apply, but having more things break seems very much in keeping with the theme.

Doing these things would allow this variant to work for two players as well, possibly, where the two players simply change stations on the fly, doing what needs to be done, having no pre-assigned stations. Perhaps with two players, the length of the Action Phase would need to be shortened, but it's possibly a workable idea.
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