Victor Caminha
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For the last months it has been very difficult for me to find players for a game of Colonization, so I decided to create a variant for a solo game that allowed to get my fix of transnetunian exploration. The goal of this variant is to have fun with most aspects of the game, even though it sacrifices the politics & negotiation veteran players love so much.


Meet Expectations or Bust! - A High Frontier: Colonization variant Solo Game

Starting WT: 10 (but no idea turns).

Research and Free Market Operation: Cards can be researched by a fixed price of 3 WT (supports come along) and hand cards are always sold at 4 WT.

Busted sites: Mars, Luna, Callisto Subsurface Ocean.

No inspiration: Ignore triangles on burn spaces.

No hostile recruit, activism, anti-trust operations: Ignore these OP since there are no other factions in play. Individual cards that involve such operations are discussed below.

No exoglobal politics: Ignore elections and the exoglobal politics disk. No faction, not even UN, is awarded VP for exoglobal politics. No faction is considered to be “in power” (individual cards that state this need are discussed below). No felonies are allowed unless you are red player or have a card (i.e. botany bay convicts) stating it so. Change the blue special event to “World Science Symposium” – player choose three decks and put the top card of each deck at its bottom and the new card represents the hottest topics at the symposium.

Suffrage: Instead of the “in power” requirement, in order to execute this operation the player must have at least one promoted robot and pay 10 WT to attempt the emancipation roll (1d6, needs to be lower than the total of purple cards in play). Thematically, the WT means the expenditure of money to lobby for robotic emancipation. A failed roll may be attempted again with a new suffrage operation, but the cost of 10 WT must be paid every time.

No epic hazard roll without TNO: All futures which require an epic hazard roll may only be attempted if a factory on a TNO site has been built. The roll is successful on 1-5 in 1d6.

Directory Meeting Round:: At the end of the round which is marked with the “senility” sign on the solar cycle, there is a high-level executive meeting, concerning whether the space program of the faction should continue or not. This evaluation is measured by how many victory points the player has (i.e. the progress of the space program so far) and what was the minimum of victory points expected by the board, set at a previous meeting. This demand will grow after each meeting and eventually the space program will be cancelled, unless the player successfully creates a future, which immediately ends the game with victory and silences the most skeptical members of the board.

When the solar cycle marker passes through the senility sign for the first time at the end of the 12th round, the first directory meeting takes session. This first meeting demands no minimum VP requirement (but see “Loss of Crew” below) and sets the standard for the next directory meeting, twelve rounds later, according to the table below:


In order to track the current need for VP, put a cube from an unused faction near the "0" spot on the second column and move it down after each meeting. This will help you remember how many VP will be needed before the end of the solar cycle. After directory meeting #8, simply move the cube to the right column, indicating the game ended with failure, after nearly a century of space exploration.

Example: The solar cycle has already crossed the "senility" sign twice and the second directory meeting has set its standards. Before the end of the 36th round, when the third directory meeting will be held, the player's faction needs at least 25 victory points or its space program will be terminated. If this requirement is fulfilled, the demand will be raised to 35 VP and it will be checked at the 48th round (the fourth meeting).

Loss of Crew: Every time a human crew card is decommissioned, except when building a colony, achieving glory or successfully creating a future, put a black disk next to the table above. Each black disk temporarily raises the minimum VP requirement by 3, checked at the next directory meeting only. This means the loss of human life reflects badly on the space program and there will be need for an extra effort to convince the board to maintain it. Note a player might need to score at the end of the first directory board meeting round if he loses crew due to pad explosions, hazards, etc.

After the directory meeting, remove all the aforementioned black disks. This means the loss of a human crew won’t affect the next meeting twelve years later, as public attention is diverted elsewhere. However, the loss of a robot colonist won’t earn a black disk, even if emancipated.

Glory is fleeting: When earning glory, its victory points account only for the next directory meeting. Afterwards, remove the cube(s) on the achieved glory spot(s) and substitute for a black disk(s). While the successful return of a crew constitutes progress and establishes good PR, the directory board prefers more tangible results in the long run. Strategically speaking, a player may opt to a glory mission early in the game for an easy VP grab and avoid complications at the first meetings (especially if the player suffered crew loss). Alternatively, the player may save such missions for later, when the pressure for VP builds up and a quick go for glory may avoid extinction of the space program. The greatest gain occurs when a glory mission is completed at the same solar cycle a future is fulfilled. Since glory is lost only after a directory meeting, ending the game by creating a future does not forfeit the glory VP and they do count for the total score.

Promoted Purple Bernal: Instead of "policy immunity", the promoted bernal of the purple faction becomes the training center of private and national space agencies, interested in advancing their own programs by training their crews at the player's bernal in exchange for political lobby. When a colonist card is located at a promoted bernal stack, it gives the player a number of victory points equal to its voting power during the directory meeting ONLY (and not at the end of the game!). The political alignment of the card is irrelevant and if there are multiple colonists in play (whether in a bernal or ersatz-bernal), only the card with highest number of votes count. However, these VP are only applicable as long as the colonist card is in a promoted bernal stack and are checked only at the end of a directory meeting round, for the express purpose of avoiding the termination of the space program.

Winning the solo game: The game immediately ends with victory if the player’s faction successfully creates a future. If a future was failed, put a black disk on the appropriate slot, as usual. It will earn the player 3 VP per the standard rules but it does NOT affect the game end’s condition and does NOT alter the odds of an epic hazard roll. If all the future’s slots are covered with black disks, the space program is doomed and the game ends.

The following colonists have been altered on this variant:

New Attica Secessionists (Revolutionary Future): Instead of the requirement of setting the politics to “War”, pay 10 WT to the supply, meaning the huge military investment needed by the revolutionaries to fulfill their future. The other requirements are unchanged.

Group Mind Immortalists (Pan-Sapiens Future): Instead of hostile recruiting, make recruit operations instead. Fulfill this future by successfully making two epic hazard rolls when this card is collocated in a stack along with at least two other human colonists.

Wet Nano Ecologists/ Eugenic Pilgrims (New Venus Future/ Footfall Future): These futures are unchanged, but they are only considered to be fulfilled 12 years later, which means a directory meeting round will occur meanwhile and thus the minimum VP requirement will be higher. The victory points of these futures are NOT scored until the time is up, so it is possible the space program might be cancelled before the directory board sees its fruits.

Siren Cybernautics Inc: This card does not need to pay the mandatory 10 WT to attempt a Suffrage Operation.

Vatican Observers: Ignore the “in power” requirement. The colonists just need to be in a Bernal to perform its Op for free.

Cryo Librarians: Decommissioning humans does not earn a black disk for minimum VP requirement.

Rock Rats Miner’s Guild: Instead of hostile recruit, this card raises the minimum number of colonists in space to 2. However, the colonist may only execute its OP if it is in the same stack of the Rock Miner’s Guild in order to execute its operation. Also, this ability is superceded by the Bernal dirtside if its total hidration is 4 or more.

Measuring the faction’s space program success at the end of the game: After successfully creating a future, deduct the current minimum VP requirement from the total victory points accumulated by the player’s faction. This difference represents the net success the player has scored.

Scale of Success (Total VP – Minimum VP Requirement)
-1 or lower: Controversial
0-11: Fair
12-16: Good
17-20: Very Good
21+ Excellent
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Victor Caminha
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I am still tinkering with the variant , so I will reserve this post to point when a change is made.

* Included a modified Promoted Purple Bernal, since the ability of the original one is useless in the scenario.

* Added entry change for Siren Cybernautics Inc: no need to pay 10 WT to attempt suffrage Op.

* (Major Update) Changed the rate of Minimum VP requirement to a table. The solo game now has a tougher increase for VP requirement. Only after the first and third directory meeting the VP is raised by ten and not fifteen. After the first meeting the game has just started and wanted to offer options between space ventures and factories when aiming for the initial 10VP. At the second directory meeting, the game has advanced enough for the player build his first factory, which will earn at least 12 vp (10 + 1 for claim and +1 for a cube). That's because the minimum VP checked at the 36th round is 25. And at the third meeting, the VP is raised by just ten (for a total of 35 VP minimum) so a player does not feel obligated to necessarily build three different factories (a bernal earns 1 VP, two factories of the same type with claims and a single cube = 20 VP, needing a different factory providing 12 VP and either complementing the rest with a glory run or industrializing a science site, which gives 2 extra VP). Thereafter, every meeting will raise the VP requirement by 15. In case anyone is interested in an easier VP progression, I pasted below the original rules:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Minimum VP requirement - Easy Mode: In order to keep playing, a player must score a minimum of victory points at the end of a directory meeting round. Whenever the solar cycle marker passes through the “senility” sign, put a blue disk at the center of the solar activity cycle, which represents 10 victory points. At the end of the actions phase of the next directory meeting round, the accumulated disks represent the minimum of VP a player must have to avoid the termination of the program.

So, when the solar cycle marker passes through the senility sign for the first time, the first directory meeting takes session, which demands no minimum VP requirement right now and sets the standard for 10 VP for the next directory round, twelve rounds later. At the end of the second directory meeting round, the player must have accumulated at least 10 VP or it is game over and the minimum VP requirement will be raised to 20, checked at the end of the third directory round and so on. Eventually, the space program will be cancelled, unless the player successfully creates a future, which ends the game with victory, silencing the most skeptical members of the board.


* In the same update, added "Glory is Fleeting" entry. Glory now is temporary and must be considered carefully when it should be pursued, instead of just going to a nearby asteroid and returning with one burn at the beginning of the game. Also, when Glory fades, you regain your precious cube back.
 
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Patrick Schifano

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Thanks for articulating this solo variant. I have been playing through it the past couple days and here are my thoughts and observations...

1) The 'normal' VP progression is a little punishing if you have any bad luck or really bad tech draws. However 'easy' also seems a little unchallenging once you get your first factory going. My current session is the first meeting goal is 10, but all subsequent meetings are +15 points.

2) Board evaluations. Conceptualize the rows of the politics grid as being levels of evaluation ranging from Horrid/Bad/Adequate/Good/Excellent. At each meeting you put a ship from another faction in a spot coresponding to how well you did versus the current target.

Horrid - Meet goal of two meetings or further back.
Bad - Meet goal of previous meeting.
Adequate - Meet goal of current meeting.
Good - Meet goal of next meeting.
Excellent - Meet goal of two meetings from current.

That means there are 3 Adequate, 1 Horrid/Excellent, and 4 Bad/Good spaces. If all spaces on a row are occupied you get to move to the level above or below If a review ever leads to a ship going past Horrid, the program is cancelled.

I went with this system so that really bad luck early on a mission wouldn't kill your whole program, but consistently poor performance would. Also two horrid results is an auto-loss.

3) Daredevil - I think glory rewards should involve escalating needs. Maybe each meeting has a minimum requirement to glory missions undertaken to get the points. Haven't integrated this, but I will.
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Victor Caminha
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Hi, thanks for the elaborate feedback! I agree the easy mode are not challenging after the first factory and that was one of the reasons I put another scoring. I also agree the standard vp progress can be punishing, specially when you suffer a pad explosion. This way, promoting a bernal or having a crew card with low mass or space broom ability helps to avoid early vp loss. An easy industrialization for the first factory is also another tactic, particularly if you lost too much time researching tech.

When I created the requirement chart, I considered putting a +15 VP at each year, but the reason of the lesser increment of 10 points instead 15 at the fourth meeting (it is the only meeting beyond the first which does not have its VP requirement raised by 15) was to avoid an almost necessary industrialization of all different spectral sites in order to reach the minimum VP requirement. Let's exemplify both situations with possible ways to achieve victory points:

A) 35 vp requirement.

- 1 VP for Bernal
- 1 VP for an ersatz-Bernal or a freighter cube
- 8 VP for three, single-cube, industrialized sites, one of them being a science site (3 VP for claimed disks, 3 VP for cubes, 2 VP for the science site)

Still needs 25 victory points:

- 16 VP for two factories of the same type
- 10 VP for a S/M space venture + glory or a factory of a unique spectral type

B) 40 VP requirement.

- 1 VP for Bernal
- 1 VP for an ersatz-Bernal or a freighter cube
- 8 VP for three, single-cube, industrialized sites, one of them being a science site (3 VP for claimed disks, 3 VP for cubes, 2 VP for the science site)

Still needs 30 victory points:

- 20 VP for two factories of different types
- 10 VP for a S/M space venture + glory or a third factory of another spectral type

So, I feared a higher requirement at that point would diminish the strategic options for VP grab. Also, some futures may only be accomplished if you industrialize same spectral sites (e.g Daedalus), which would become even harder if you were forced to diversify industrialization earler.

Board evaluations: I am not sure if I understood the progression, can you exemplify, please?

Daredevil: I find interesting the concept of having a greater need for fulfilling a glory mission. However, personally I do not like the idea of HAVING to reach a specific goal (Glory) the satisfy the directory board.
 
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Patrick Schifano

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After a couple more playthroughs I am agreeing that having to +10 VP meetings is necessary.

I can explain the Board Evaluations better. So you use the Politics Track to keep up with these evaluations. Using the Free Market row values it comes out like this:

Exceptional - 6 wt
Exceeds Expectations - 5 wt
Meets Expectations - 4 wt
Fails Expectations - 3 wt
Horrid - 2 wt

I have been using the rockets from the inactive factions to track the number of meetings. There are 8 meetings before the final, and 8 leftover ships. So at each meeting you put a ship from the supply onto the appropriate row. If Meets Expectations is full, then it goes to Exceeds. if Exceeds is full, then it goes to Exceptional. If Exceptional full, just fill in the next best space. If Fails Expectations is full, then put into Horrid. if Horrid Full and you need to place there, you get fired. It did not feel like a couple bad rolls on early industrial missions killed you, just set you up for failure later.


I will describe the rest later. Thanks for responding.
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Victor Caminha
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That sounded very interesting . Let's see if I got it:

End of first meeting - Needs 10 VP. If nothing was done (has only the 1 VP bernal, etc) , put a non-player coloured rocket on "failed expectations" spot

End of Second meeting: Needs 20/25 VP. If the 10 VP goal requirement was reached, but not the current Vp requirement, should I put another non-player coloured rocket at the second spot of "failed expectations" ? And if I failed to bring even below the previous VP requirement, the rocket goes to the horrid expectations spot?

I am a bit cautious, however of the initial value of 10 VP for the first year. Barring a good combination of cards and lucky claim + industrialization of nearby site, this can mean the failure of the first year expectations a likely event. While it will be no tragedy if the player does well next year, I fear this early requirement, in practical terms, may give the same effect as having the original 1st meeting 0 VP requirement/2nd meeting 10 VP, with an additional threat since one of the "fail expectations" spot will be burned early.

Also, is there a benefit of repeated overshooting the VP requirement? For example, if a player achieves twice "excellent" result, perhaps he should be rewarded with something else (or may even be an alternative victory condition).

But please note the last two paragraphs are essentially speculative. I would like to see more details of your model (especially the VP requirement level) before jumping into more palpable conclusions.


 
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I updated a new version with several tweaks and posted at the files section:

https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/119893/high-frontier-ceo-...
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