SUMMARY In all, I think both of the solo Automa work great and provide a very tough competitor at even the "normal" level. I cannot imagine playing them on the hard challenge (but will someday!).
I do believe that these options DO make Great Western Trail a must buy, even if only for solo play. The Automa run smooth and with little management and allow you to concentrate on playing the game. And the game is that good. One of the best worker placement games there is. Alexander Pfister has created a masterpiece.
But unfortunately, it was only designed for 2-4 players.
I tried my first game simply running two boards to learn the mechanics, etc... and even in that mode it was fun. And you're so inclined you could do that and consider the average of the two scores to be your final score. Simple solo solve!
But the solo community across BGG is quick to fill the vacuum of missing solo modes (in games of course where the mechanics don't prevent such) and with Great Western Trail, there are two solo Automa that have been designed by members of the site.
I created a demonstration video showing "Brisco" at work to explain the mechanics of each card and the final results of the game.
The second Automa is the "son" of Brisco called "Garth" and makes the AI more focused in the strategy it takes (varying between Cowboys, Craftsmen, and Engineers). My next video will demonstrate that Automa in action as well. Subscribe on BGG or on YouTube to be alerted when that video is live.
Last night I received notification that YouTube is tightening up on who can and cannot be "monetized" on their service. Not sure why this matters, content is content, but the bottom line is that if I want to continue to earn the pittance for my videos on YouTube, I need more subscribers to my channel. I already meet the minimum requirement for viewing time, just not actual subscriptions (1000 is the new threshold).
That said, if you like my videos, would you consider visiting the link below and subscribe? I certainly don't want folks to just pad up the numbers for my sake, but perhaps you've forgotten to and meant to, or simply didn't understand how those subscriptions can affect content producers.
(NOTE: Watch my unboxing videos for Target for Today [link] and Wing and a Prayer [link])
I've been playing with A Wing and a Prayer lately and finding that I'm really enjoying its procedural and thematic take on the genre. However, as good as the new productions and printings have been from Lock 'n Load, sometimes bigger is not better. While I appreciate their desire to provide materials with larger print for those with weaker eyesight, the resulting charts and tables can be a bit unwieldy to be functional.
The game provided Squadron Briefing and Formation Cards
To that end I present a few modified game elements to hopefully make your experience a little more enjoyable.
First the Squadron Card I've created is the same size (8.5x11") as the one provided in the game. But I laid it out to be landscape in format and this has two definite advantages. First there is more room for the Ready/Not Ready plane sections (you can easily fit 12 or more planes in each box). Secondly the VP trackers are in a single line of 10 boxes vs two columns of five each.
The bigger reduction of game footprint comes from my reduced size Formation Card. The original is an 11x17 beast that wastes a lot of space and with the map already large and impressive, keeping your planes in flight closer at hand is a huge plus. I made this one 8.5x11" as well and provided all the same spots as the game provided board, only more compact.
My reduced and revised versions of the cards. The Formation Card has been improved since this photo for more room for Interceptors
These two boards fit easily on the same side of the board (on the right as I show in the photo, but left is fine too).
Another inconvenience is the use of oversized tables and charts throughout the game. Wing and a Prayer does a great job of keeping chart lookups to a minimum, but those charts can certainly get in the way. I've scanned all the reference charts for single player, including the rule summaries for Air Combat and resized them to fit on letter sized paper or cardstock.
Reduced and reorganized charts and reference cards.
I chose to print pairs of charts double sided, trimmed, then laminated them, so now I have three normal sized reference cards to use rather than a mixture of sizes and shapes.
Publisher David Heath has graciously granted me permission to share these files with the gaming community and I hope you find them of value as you are "Bombing the Reich"!!!