Kurt's 2018 Solo Play Tracker
Kurt R
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I'm card-carrying (we don't have cards) shirt-wearing (we do have shirts but I didn't get one) member of BGG's burgeoning solo community, the 1 Player guild. I might, from time to time, report my solo plays on the monthly Solitaire Games on Your Table Geeklist but it's become so large that it's hard to follow. Like some others, I've moved to my own personal list. And so here we are.

But you knew that already.

Participation is more than welcome. While I enjoy solo gaming, solo conversations aren't nearly as fun.


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1. Board Game: The 7th Continent [Average Rating:8.72 Overall Rank:21]
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I started this back in, what, August?, and then continued with some friends. Finally, last week, another friend and I finished the first curse.

Holy hell that was long. Finally saw the victory card. I don't think there's any spoilery information on here, but just in case.

Spoiler (click to reveal)


My thoughts on this game have shifted a tad. I went from loving to liking it a lot. It's just that the mechanism of the game whereby you have to start all the way back at the beginning without any option for progress save points is ... not the choice I would have made. Imagine having to go back to the start of a video game when you're 80% finished and have to redo everything you'd already done. Who wants to do that?

Well, here, while you can save where you are in a session and pick back up next time, you can't necessarily save your progress. When the deck runs out, you're supposed to die and go back to the very beginning of the game and redo all the shit you'd already done. Excuse me?

Even if I know how to do it, I don't necessarily want to do it all over again. But this mechanism provides the ostensible tension in the game. Can you survive long enough to get things done while also finding the next hunting spot?

Well, I'm not ashamed to say that we just stopped playing that way and just reshuffled the deck when we died.

And that's a problem because then the game loses its tension completely if you're just going to cheat like we did. But after 50+ hours playing this game, I had no interest in redoes. Just... no.

So I know that came out kinda pissy so let me be clear and say I still like the game. A lot even. I'm hoping that what I heard (thought I heard) is true in that the Voracious Goddess is the longest curse (scenario) in the game and the others are shorter. I'm OK with the redo mechanism in a shorter game. How much, I don't exactly know, but I'll know it when I see it kinda thing.

It's still a wonderful adventure game with a ton of charm. But I would want to scour the forums for fan-made variants for progress save-points or make one of my own that somehow provides tension while solving the problem described above.

And that's what I have to say about that for now.
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2. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The Path to Carcosa [Average Rating:8.76 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.76 Unranked]
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Here's where I'll be reporting on my solo campaign with Daisy Walker and William Yorick, "A Flower on the Grave."

CURTAIN CALL
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We chose to warn the police. Fat lot of good that did us. Doesn't matter as the Stranger is on to us. We tried to catch him but he got away. Him and that strange, pallid mask of his. We did find an invitation to the cast part at 1452 Atlantic Avenue. Seems we need some get ahold of some Fine Clothes.


THE LAST KING
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We entered this strange house of horrors and pretended to mix with the guests. We even managed to interview Sebastien Moreau and Constance Dumaine before things went sideways. We got out of the house before the hideous abominations inside tore us to pieces. The duo discussed what to do. It was Daisy who told William that those monsters inside could not be allowed to live. They had to burn it down. William wasn't really on board with this idea but Daisy was hell bent on the idea.

She found a siphon tube in the trunk of the car and went about siphoning gas from cars in the driveway. She poured the gas all over the front porch and set it aflame. William stood back in horror as he heard the screams of those inside. He'll never forget those sounds. Daisy's expression never changed.


ECHOES OF THE PAST
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The pair found the curator of the Historical Society and he offered to show them a secret room from which they could escape. But again, Daisy was confirmed in her choice. She wanted to kill the monstrosity that had burst in the door.

She and William pounced on it together and made quick work of it actually. They had destroyed the Oathspeaker. William took the Tattered Cloak as it looked like it had magical power.


UNSPEAKABLE OATH
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The fools, er, heroes decided to interrogate Daniel Chesterfield at Arkham Asylum. They learned he was being held in a room in the basement and were able to convince a nurse to give them the keys. Daisy happened up Daniel and proceeded to ask him some questions only to watch him turn into a monstrosity. She made quick work of him -- he was in a straightjacket after all -- and headed back upstairs.

They had made enough diversions to distract the staff and make their escape. Except Daisy saw the Man in the Pallid Mask in the kitchen out of the corner of her eye. She went over to investigate him some more.

This allowed some of the lunatics to find them and block their escape path in the garden. Fortunately, William was able to kill them all while yelling for Daisy to hurry up. She came running over to the garden where William fended off the last lunatic while she escaped. He tripped and should be dead but ... [insert miracle here] ... and turns out he didn't trip after all. He followed Daisy out through the garden path.


2/26/08
A PHANTOM OF TRUTH
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Holy hell they got creamed. Need to replay this one!

Update: OK, I played another two times and finally won this one. With equal or more doubt, you have a much shorter game length. We stayed in one place (Notre Dame, maybe?) and used the -1 fight effect to make the Organist easier to strike. I had William continue to engage him while Daisy ran off to get more clues.

This strategy worked but made the scenario a little flat. I didn't use other locations other than to grab some clues and just stayed in that bottom right corner the entire game until we placed 6 clues on the Organist.


THE PALLID MASK
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I love this scenario. The way you build the catacombs is simply brilliant and renders the feel of searching around underground without knowing where you're going.

William and Daisy had to split up to cover more ground which made for some hairy moments. Daisy was able to evade some monsters at the right time, and she was lucky to get all the poltergeists (as William could not effect them at all).

The Big Bad came out just as they were running back to the exit. Daisy made it easily but William was running out of time. He had to get out NOW so he suffered two attacks of opportunity on his way out. Thankfully, these took the brunt for him and he exited with some monster hanging on him but undefeated:



My only concern is that I have not been earning much XP with this campaign. Not getting many new cards at all. Only got 2XP this time. William had to re=purchase his exiled Fire Extinguisher and Flare. Wish Daisy had more to spend.


3/11/08
BLACK STARS RISE
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Daisy and William ventured to the idyllic Mt. St. Michel to find a way to intervene with the ritual that would bring Hastur into this world. They had a hunch where to focus their efforts only to realize they were headed down the wrong path! Would they have enough time to correct their course?!

They fought their way through and made it up into the chapel where they saw a rift and entered into it with time to spare. Dim Carcosa awaits them.

I made good use of the Disc of Itzamna and Hiding Place (which I used twice by pulling out of the discard pile thanks to William's elder sign skill test bonus) to avoid some combats or at least take them on my terms. We were actually going the wrong way and had to change courses. I'm still not clear on whether or not there are clues here for which way to go or if you just guess and, if you're wrong like I was tonight, you just have to double back the other way. Oh well, Daisy and William were able to get where they needed to go thanks to Daisy's clue gathering efficiency.

Funny though, her Necronomicon was out which turns elder signs into auto-fails. She pulled five(!) elder signs that were negated. Ouch.


4/16/18
DIM CARCOSA
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Daisy and William concluded their adventure by defeating The Lord of Carcosa. Daisy did 8 damage herself with I've Got a Plan! and William did another 3 with the Flare. That was 11 of Hastur's damage right there and then they finished him off while sitting there taking horror.

Then I remembered you had to "know the secret" so Daisy had to get the last clues and flip the location to make it legal. They both survived the Encounter phase thanks to Ward of Protection and A Test of Will. Good stuff, that.


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3. Board Game: Black Orchestra [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:919]
Kurt R
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Figure coop games are appropriate for this list. Played a 3P game last night as I had thrown the game on a CSI order just before it was about to ship last week.

First off, kudos to the graphic design and rules presentations in the game. Everything you need is either on a card or the board such that I only had to pick up the rules a couple of times. Just loved how easy it was to get into and play the game; something that seems rarer and rarer these days.

The decisions were quite good with the Conspire action being a great mechanism to tempt players into pushing their luck. You get 3 actions on your turn, but instead of doing certain things, you can use those actions (some or all) to pick up the dice and roll them to see what you get. You might get, say, 7 actions as one guy did or you might get some good and bad symbols with no actions at all as I did.

Giving players the choice to push their luck vs do certain actions is quite brilliant and is integrated perfectly with the game in that you need to roll dice to get symbols to lower Hitler's military support level. It's the main mechanism for reducing that - and you need a low MSL to increase your odds of winning the game.

I also liked the way the event decks enforce the historicity and how you know as the game goes on, Hitler's MSL is going to come down as the war hits the turning point. But do you want to wait that long at making an attempt? What if you fail? Will there be enough time to load up for another? Fun stuff.

Hitler and his officers are essentially negative effects that move around the board and mess with you. The bulk of your actions are spent collecting items that match the plots you have and keeping your suspicion level low while your motivation high. All pretty basic push-and-pull type stuff to keep you occupied from turn to turn.

That said, my two friends each said the same thing at the end: "That was fun! But I don't need to play it again." They felt that it was a fun ride -- and I did make the winning roll on a Poison Food plot -- but they had seen what the game had to offer. They felt the game would always be errand running with a make-or-break die roll at the end. They wanted more of an arc -- some type of intermediate goals to hit at different stages or something instead of just doing the errands and then going to the final stage.

I do feel - as I have with all DuBarry's games - that it could have been developed just a touch more. The game does get a bit repetitive and we hit a point where we all had maxed our inventory with the right items and cards, so it was a matter of getting the right conditions to execute our plots. One guy had 6 actions and nothing much to do with them. That's when, as a friend said, the game feels like the board could somehow be working more against you. Maybe stuff to clear off a la Pandemic. I don't know, but even though we were on stage 5 of 7, the game kinda dried up at that point.

Not a major complaint for me. But I'll be very curious to see how I react after my second play.


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4. Board Game: Gloomhaven [Average Rating:9.02 Overall Rank:1]
Kurt R
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Well, I set the game up one day. Then another day I made a list of the cards that have been removed/put on the bottom of the deck in my other, 4P campaign so I can reset them as well as getting my solo team records in order. I chose the Brute and Spellweaver since they're not being used in my 4P campaign.

Then another day I finally sat down to play. I died on turn 2 or 3, heh. Clearly, I need to learn how to use the characters better. There's such a learning curve for playing the cards (which is a good thing to me).

But I don't think I'm going back. In fact, I'm really surprised this has rated as highly as it does for solo players. That's not a judgement or criticism, I just found the overhead more taxing than I expected. You have to set up a TON of stuff and then figure out all the card effects yourself. And it's not a game I'd want to set up and tear down. I'd prefer to leave it out for a year like I did with Enemy Action: Ardennes.

Maybe it's more a reflection of where I am at this point (with a job that is much more demanding than it used to be). I mean, I set up a video channel called "heavy lifting by myself" but I just don't have that kind of energy anymore, heh.

So I'm going to clean the game back up. It occurs to me that a better plan may be to play my 4P campaign for the next year or whatever, and then when we finish up, I'll be so ingrained in the rules, I could then start a solo campaign. Plus, I won't have to deal with resetting from one campaign to another. Meanwhile, play some Mage Knight or somethin'!
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5. Board Game: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition – Streets of Arkham [Average Rating:8.67 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.67 Unranked]
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Nah, not playing but spent the better part of the day painting the figures from this expansion set. I was supposed to be playing 7th Continent and AH LCG: Black Stars Rise and then perhaps MoM Streets of Arkham but my friend came down sick.

So I took the day off anyway and had a Me day. I took a great nap (instead of catching a matinee), caught up on BGG subscriptions, and painted the day away.

The four new investigators.


New enemies: Hired Guns and Skeletons.


The Star Vampire on the left has fed and is full of blood. The one on the right is metabolizing the blood and starting to fade away (as they do). At least, that's what I was going for.


A Lloigor. Was not familiar with this monster. I looked it up online and decided to go for an aquatic type creature.


I'm pretty happy in that I had a breakthrough with my painting. I found a way to paint clothing better than I had been. If you look at the coat of the Man In Black, you'll see I was able to make some nice highlights that look natural. Seriously, clothing has been by far the hardest damn thing to paint. Now I'm not scared of it anymore.

See, you can paint it a single color and then wash it, but you won't have much contrast. It'll look pretty monochrome and boring. But finding a way to add layers -- especially to blacks, whites, and reds -- has not been easy.

I had some trouble with the other guy in the grey coat in that I used Nuln Oil on it and that stuff looks terrible on clothing. I tried to clean it up a bit so it didn't look so damn greasy.
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6. Board Game: Outlive [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:669]
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So after working till 9:00 on a Friday, I went right to bed. Woke up bright and early feeling refreshed, largely in part to my new Tuft and Needle mattress and decided to play this game since I'd set it up several days ago.

I apparently need a lot more practice at the game as I just never got much of anything going. Now, some of that is intrinsic to the theme of trying to survive in this post-apocalyptic world but still. I do like how you can bring new powers "online" via building rooms and equipment.

The catch is being able to staff those rooms with people because you have to spend precious actions each turn getting more food and, well, I haven't figure that out yet. How are you supposed to make that happen? Perhaps I need to prioritize building equipment that helps with hunting over other bonus powers.

The solo mode Horde has powers that break the game rules which isn't my favorite way of playing against an AI. I think I'm going to cut their scoring from 2 points per survivor to 1 point per (as the player scores). Had I done that, the final score would have been 25-23 them instead of the 36-23. That felt more fair especially considering they only pay half food costs.

Outside of the cheaty scoring system, I do quite like the turn mechanism. You have a deck of 8 cards and draw one each turn to see where the Horde will move on of its pieces and which item(s) it's going to want to collect this turn. That creates nice uncertainty as to where I should move. You go through 4 cards a turn so after two turns you reshuffle.
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7. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2540]
Kurt R
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Got to the end (I presume) of GoW Ultimate Edition PC video game and the General Raam boss fight. Sigh. This is when I'm reminded how I hate video games sometimes. I must have tried -- and I'm not exaggerating here -- 80-100 times and I could not kill him.

Looks, it's not rocket science, you have to use an explosive to drive the krill away and then hit him when he's vulnerable. But I read forums and watched videos and I just ... could not... do it. At least one time I smashed my keyboard out of frustration. WTF is the point of that in a design? Ooooh, that's so challenging to make me try 100 times; so f*cking cool Mr Game Designer.

I may very well restart the game and play it again because it's my kind of tactical shooter game. And when I get to the end, I'll give it another try again (or 40), I'm sure. But that's the part of video gaming I hate. I just can't abide getting stuck on something for this long with no control.

In another popular (and more recent) game, I made it to Megaton City where I loaded up on some quests. Now I think I have to venture out into the wasteland and find out where the hell I fulfill them, I guess. I really enjoyed the intro of being in the vault and growing up from a baby into young man. I found the style and interface charming, in fact.

I'm four trades in on the Lazarus graphic novels series. If you're into dystopian literature, I highly recommend this series. I LOVE it! The world has survived some sort of apocalypse and reverted to a feudal system. Twelve families control territories on earth, some are allied and some are warring. They employ serfs who serve as their militia and servants and otherwise keep the lights on and the technology advancing. The rest of humanity is known as waste.

Each family has a bio-engineered offspring who is able to regenerate health, even death. Their Lazarus.

I finished "Night of the Gun", an auto-biography by NY Times reporter, David Carr. He was as hardcore a drug and alcohol addict as I can imagine and yet he managed to turn his life around and lived to tell the tale (literally, heh).

The angle he took was, as an investigative reporter all his life, to investigate his own past and check his memories of events against other involved parties. In some cases, his memory was way off (including the "night of the gun") and people were more or less charitable than he expected. He makes the illuminating point that memory is always in service of the present. That is, we remember things through the filter of who we are now and what we understand now to the point of bending our memories to fit the present narrative.

Fascinating read in that regard as well as a harrowing tale of addiction. As a recovering addict myself, it was a good reminder of, well, what you'd expect. I'm reminded how lucky I am to have gaming as an obsession to keep my monkey mind occupied in so many different ways.

Edit: Oh, and I was gut-punched after finishing the book to go look him up on the web only to learn he died in 2015 of cancer. He fought the good fight and lived a good life, but I guess he had too much wear and tear on him.
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8. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2540]
Kurt R
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I'm so sick right now. One of my Thursday night gaming buddies had a stroke last night and fell down the stairs. He's on life support and ... not expected to make it through the day. They're preparing to harvest his organs.

He's 40some years old and in decent shape. I know it sounds trite, but Dan is really one of the nicest and most sincere people I know. I love being around him. He Kickstarts a lot of games and loves to bring his new stuff to game night and teach us. He has such an enthusiasm for gaming and is always one of the sharpest people at the table. He skipped our last game night to go to an Unpub event for a game he's playtesting. He frequently gives me a ride home after game night and I love chatting with him.

He's just one of those Really Great Guys whom everyone loves. This is so tragic. I'm posting here to somehow help process my grief.



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9. Board Game: Sentinels of the Multiverse [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:269] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
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So, I've been playing this one solo on Steam. I'd never want to play this on the table and have to track all the effects. No thank you.

I came across a fan-made campaign: The Liberation, a SotM Campaign. I'm two games in so far. It's a pretty neat idea -- you play against Baron Blade with three heroes.

Then these three heroes become team captains -- Team A, B, and C -- with five heroes per team. From there, each team has to do a specific fight using three of the five heroes (so you have some choices).

Captains
Unity
Legacy
Expatriot

A Team
Ra
Bunker
Absolute Zero
Omnitron X
Unity

B Team
Tachyon
Sky Scraper
Haka
Expatriot
Guise

C Team
Legacy
Scholar
Fanatic
Captain cosmic
Cowboy

Battle A1: “Death in the Jungle”
Team A fight Alt Baron Blade in Insula Primalis

Baron Blade flees to the jungles of Insula Primalis. The heroes track him down, only to find him a more dangerous foe than ever.

--> Took me three games with Unity, Omnitron X, and Ra to win this. Kinda embarrassed to say that, but took me a while to learn the Unity and Omnitron decks plus it seems to me that Unity needs a strong start or else she can be tough to be effective. I had one game where I had a hard time finding and getting her damn mechanical golems out. Or once I did, they got attacked and killed. In my last game, she got some out early and often and that was a big difference.

Battle B1: “Day of the Hunter”
Team B fight Ambuscade in Megalopolis
Team B race to the heart of the city, where a masked gunman seems intent upon causing as much destruction as possible.

If you succeed you learn that Ambuscade is simply a mercenary, paid to cause a distraction. Under interrogation he reveals that whoever hired him had bigger plans. There is in an imminent threat of some sort of nationwide disease outbreak, and the Pike Industrial Complex is the source.

--> Expat, Haka, and Sky Scraper had an easy go of this one. I know their decks pretty well and was able to anticipate things pretty well.

Commentary So Far
This game is an odd duck for me. On one hand, I really, really like how intricate the card play is here. It's much more subtle and sophisticated than one might expect considering the comic-y artwork.

On the other hand, I often call this game, Attrition: The Game, because you often have very small turns where you don't do much and you're waiting until you get your cards out in such a way that your character can do his/her/its thing. Sometimes I wish I could fast forward to the endgame.

Of course, all that prep work is the game, it's just that sometimes it can feel like drudge. When your team is in sync and doing its thing, well then that's a lot of fun.

Lastly, this game can be pretty humbling. I think I'm pretty good at complex card games as they're my favorite genre but ... I can get my ass kicked in this game pretty hard and it can be frustrating. I think I stopped playing for a while for this reason but I'm determined to learn the decks better and even mulligan a play if it starts off terribly.
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10. Board Game: Tesla vs. Edison: Powering Up! [Average Rating:7.86 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.86 Unranked]
Kurt R
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All life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other.
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I've been in a game playing funk lately. Just haven't had much enthusiasm for solo gaming. Been reading and playing video games for the most part.

But tonight I found myself curious about finding a scoring variant for Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents (or deciding to give up on the game). I happened upon a thread from 2016 that had some great ideas so I mixed them with some of mine and took the game for a spin.

I let Siri pick who I was playing against. She chose Edison and then Tesla. Gee, thanks, Siri. Then I asked her what level each should be on and she chose the easier (Babbage) level for both. Whew.

Here they are...


... and here's the game about to start.


I'm not ready to post in the variants forum quite yet, but here are the ideas I borrowed and came up with. My biggest gripe of the game is that the stock scoring is so overpowered that you simply can't make up ground in other areas to the point that they shouldn't even bother to have other scoring categories.

I'm not math whiz like Jack, but I came up with the idea of taking the final stock price and dividing by 10. Normally each piece of stock scores 6-5-4-3-2-1 depending on its position.

Examples of how the game usually goes:
5 shares x 1st place (6VP) = 30VP

5 shares x 5th place (2VP) = 10VP
==>no way you can make up that 20 point difference in the RAW

Examples of my idea:
5 shares x 5.3 ($53 final stock price) = 26.5

5 shares x 3.3 ($33 final stock price) = 16.5
==> That's a smaller delta to cover and the other added scoring categories give you plenty of ways to score other points


Anyone stumbling upon this post and interested, please feel free to comment. As I said, I'm no math guy so I may be way off. I will say that the game ended with the 3 of us within 10-15 points of each other and it felt balanced.

Edit:
New scoring system as per update below.

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