Thematic Solitaires for the Spare Time Challenged

A blog about solitaire games and how to design them. I'm your host, Morten, co-designer of solo modes for games such as Scythe, Gaia Project and Viticulture.
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My Reviews

Morten Monrad Pedersen
Denmark
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Microbadge: Fan of Stonemaier GamesMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner KniziaMicrobadge: Level 17 BGG posterMicrobadge: Automa Factory fan
In this blog post, I’ll explain how I review games and when that is done I’ll stop boring you with minutiae and get on with the reviews themselves.

Since this blog is for the spare time challenged I’ll start each review with an Executive Summary where a few bullet points will quickly tell you about the game and my opinion of it, so that you won’t have to read the full review, though you might also want to read the short “Verdict” section at the end of each review.

The meat of the review will be in three sections: “Gameplay”, “What’s in the box?” and “Discussion”.

• In the Gameplay section I’ll explain how the game works, and will most of the time hold back my opinion.
• In the What’s in the box? section I’ll of course talk about the components and their quality related to the price but also my opinion on the rulebook together with information about playing time and setup plus tear down time.
• In Discussion I’ll tell what I think about the game, what works and what doesn’t. I’ll also go through four subsections where I discuss four questions that to me are central to a good thematic solitaire:
o Interesting decisions? A game must provide interesting decisions to me as a player. Much of the fun I have with board games is the agonizing dilemmas, where I must choose between two or more options each with their own advantages and costs.
o Replayability: How long does the game stay fun?
o Difficulty: I like my games to feel like a struggle where I either lose or just manage to hang on by the skin of my teeth. I want it to feel like an accomplishment, when I win the game.
o Theme and sense of adventure: This goes to the core of this blog. How strong is the theme? Is it supported by the game mechanics and the components? Does playing it feel like going on an adventure?


Finally there’s a Verdict section where I sum up my opinion of the game and give the game two ratings. One for how much I liked the game and one for how well it’s theme and sense of adventure worked.

For the ratings I try to use the BGG rating guideline, though it seems to be constructed for multiplayer games, not solitaires. On this scale a rating of 5 for example is not a bad rating, as it is in some reviews, instead it means an average game. On the other hand you’ll mostly see me hand out ratings above 5. This is not because I think most games are above average, but because I research a game before buying it, and am thus much more likely to buy games I consider above average. It’s also because I only review games that I’ve played many times, and I’m not so masochistic that I’ll play a game I don’t like ten times just to review it – this is a hobby, not a job for me .

As a last note related to ratings I need to make it clear that I review from a solitaire perspective, so even if a game I review is also designed for multiple players, I’ll disregard that in my reviews and when I give my rating – I will of course mention if a game is multiplayer playable, it just won’t affect my evaluation.

Finally it’s important for me to state that I don’t review a game after having played one or two times, I think much more than that is needed and I’ll always state (at least roughly) how many times I played a game before reviewing it. Sometimes I might do “first impressions” posts, but these will be clearly marked as such.
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