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Subject: Solo - the impossible victory rss

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Box of Delights
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Hi folks... I'm learning to play the solo game, and something struck me which made we wonder if there needs to be a variation in Díaz setup somewhere.

I'm looking at his defense of 4 loyalty, 4 command, 4 revolution and 6 outrage (not including any extras he earns), and because we're only playing with 70 cards in the solo game, I thought I'd check the play deck to see if there was actually enough prestige in there to allow me to catch up and win. There wasn't. Before the game even began I had already lost.

e.g. In the 70 cards there was 2 command, so even if I played Teddy Roosevelt and flipped my Hacendado to get an extra 1 command, that would still only give me 4.

In the multiplayer game it doesn't matter, because you always have the gold victory as backup. In solo, though, it's unsatisfactory to have a potentially impossible victory.

It also means, even if victory is possible, the likelyhood of victory is determined more by the balance of the deck than by your card play.

This makes me think there might need to be some balancing mechanism in the play deck construction.

I count 35 cards providing Revolution, 29 providing Loyalty, 33 providing Outrage, and 15 providing command.

Out of 203 cards, 90 provide prestige. I'm not sure what the odds are for having an impossible play-deck from those numbers....

My first thought is that perhaps (a) Dìaz's starting command should be 2 rather than 4. And then I wonder whether the starting deck should have a more controlled balance of cards. e.g. First separate the cards into the prestige providing ones and the non-prestige providing ones. In a 70-card deck, we should then deal an equal proportion of prestige giving cards, as follows:

Loyalty: 9
Revolution: 11
Outrage: 11
Command: 5

Now we have a level playing field, and we can balance Díaz's starting defence accordingly, and per the desired difficulty. Of course there will still be a certain amount left to chance. e.g. the 5 command cards might all be below the final topple card in the deck. To rectify this, it might be better to ensure the last topple card is the last in the deck, and reduce the playdeck count to 60 cards for the solo game. Now we're getting somewhere!

60 card play deck constructed from 8 Loyalty, 10 Revolution, 9 Outrage, 4 Command, plus 29 non-prestige cards. Divide into 6 piles of ten; stack one topple with one of the piles on top, shuffle the 3 topples into 3 of those decks, stack them on top, and then place the remaining 20 on top again. Finally, add 10 random cards to the bottom the deck to make your 70.

Díaz starts at 3 Command instead of 4 and go from there.

I'll test this out... it may be worth the extra setup time, to ensure a balanced solo game, and no duds every so often if things are dealt imbalanced.

I'm still not convinved there isn't a better way of doing this... there must be... But hey, those are my thoughts for now (at 01:30 am!)
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ricky2002 wrote:
Out of 203 cards, 90 provide prestige.

In a 70-card deck, we should then deal an equal proportion of prestige giving cards, as follows:

Loyalty: 9
Revolution: 11
Outrage: 11
Command: 5


44.3% of 203 cards provide Prestige so if you are arranging the deck you should not include more than 31 out of 70 cards.

I do not like the idea of putting them in prearranged proportions. It removes variety and unexpectedness, taking away an important feature of the game. One of the challenges in playing Pax is to discover what win conditions are possible as the game develops and then exploiting opportunities to Topple Diaz. The alternative would be to shuffle the 90 prestige cards and deal 31 randomly (not looking at what is in the mix).

Quote:

Díaz starts at 3 Command instead of 4 and go from there.


After playing the rules wrong, making stupid choices or getting squashed in my first three attempts I have been winning solo games consistently, and have pulled it off wins on the third Topple. I even had a game where my Prestige was high enough to win on two fronts. I do think Command is virtually impossible to win playing solo, but to me that just means it is not something to attempt unless the cards really comes through early.

I do not mean to come off as overly critical of you ideas, I think they are on the right track for ensuring the game is not set up as an automatic defeat due to poor randomized Prestige distribution. So far I have not been dealt a deck that was impossible to win with, but if it does come up I will take a closer look at presetting the deck with a minimum number of Prestige cards. I can see that mathematically the screwage can happen, but sometimes when testing the parameters of games I like to put my hand in the fire to actually feel the pain myself before tweaking the rules.
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Really valuable thoughts - thank you! I suspected the odds weren't that bad.

Critical analysis is great. And experienced thoughts were why I posted.

I like the idea of just mixing in the prestige as a whole better. You're right - this maintains the strategic development.
On the maths , the spread meant half a card of each type, hence the rounding.

Even better, I'm thinking Díaz's points should somehow reflect what's occurring on the board - e.g he starts at 0000 but gains prestige for each card drawn into the market up to the maximum 4464. This necessitates a tracker or tokens for his pseudo 'starting' defense.

Early days ...
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Three more games, with spread as follows:

Loyalty 09 10 15
Command 04 06 05
Outrage 10 12 08
Revoltn 15 19 11

So, a small sample set, but the numbers look good. I may just dismiss it. I guess my concern is being uncertain that the game is going to present me with a winning opportunity, right from the off. Such a small niggle, but it upsets my thinking (!)

I am going to try this variant:

Diaz starts with a defence of 2222 in each type. Each time a card hits the market with a Prestige icon, Diaz's defence of that type increases by 1, to a maximum of 4464.

Note: prestige from Diaz's in-play and Grudge Pile cards continue to add to his defense during a Topple.

It may well prove unnecessary complication, with every game hitting 4464 very quickly. But testing will demonstrate. All feedback/ideas welcome.

I'm trying some other solo variant ideas too, like:


[] If Diaz is hit by strife, weight the die-roll to determine which faction he will keep, by the number of cards of each colour he has in-play. e.g. in red/white strife, if he has 4 red cards in play and 1 white, randomly pick one of those 5 cards, and he keeps that colour and discards the other. Still not an intelligent play, but is perhaps a slight improvement(?)

[] Ties: he select the eligible enterprises/partners in your tableau by:
- prestige points you have the most of,
- most number of your cubes,
- least number of his cubes,
- cards free of unrest,
- highest card number.
he select the eligible enterprises/partners in his tableau by:
- prestige points you have the least of,
- most number of your cubes,
- least number of his cubes,
- cards with unrest,
- lowest card number.

The aim is to ensure playability versus a response reflective of game-state is balanced - i.e. not to add complication that impacts playability without enough compensation in improving game-play.
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Some more feedback on the solo variant ideas....

1. "the impossible victory" - it can happen, but is very unlikely. So much so that I have concluded it's not worth the extra book-keeping to cater for it. The thing I've realised is that if certain prestige types come up less frequently, thn it is also less likely that Dìaz can build on his score either. So, I'll be happily stick with the 4464 setup.

2. Strife: a simple d6 - 1-3 is one colour, 4-6 is the other is fine also. Trying to evaluate which is best for Dìaz is tricky, since strife affects all partners/troops in the faction, yours or Dìaz's. The other thing to consider is that this unpredictabality models the kind of thing that happens in 3+ player games - i.e. other players' actions can inadvertently benefit you. The draws from the market do not necessarily have to benefit Dìaz, since we are not trying to model a human 2-player opponent.

3. Ties. Still playing with this idea. My gut tells me there is potntial here, and it should be simple. So far it's:

Ties: he selects the eligible enterprises/partners in your tableau by priority:
- prestige points you have the most of,
- most number of your cubes,
- least number of his cubes,
- cards free of unrest,
- highest card number.
he selects the eligible enterprises/partners in his tableau by priorty:
- prestige points you have the least of,
- most number of your cubes,
- cards with unrest,
- highest card number.

4. Selecting from the market. Finally instead of a 1d6, I roll a 2d6 and select as follows:
Market 0 - roll 7 (6:36 odds)
Market 1 - roll 6 or 8 (10:36 odds)
Market 2 - roll 5 or 9 (8:36 odds)
Market 4 - roll 4 or 10 (6:36 odds)
Market 8 - roll 3 or 11 (4:36 odds)
Market16 - roll 2 or 12 (2:36 odds)

The Market 1 and 2 spots are likely to be taken 50% of the time, which reflects a more 'human' result, with Market 0 cards likely to be the ones that were least desireable(?) It also stops the soloist making a favourable 16-cost-card speculation, which can give a huge payoff advantage.

The biggest lesson from another night and day of play, is that the choices for Dìaz don't need to be 'intelligent'. They just need to provide variability,mwith the 4464 setup defense providing the challenge.
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Mike Oberly
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I have never tried the solo variant, but I wanted to say that am glad you are playing this, Ricky. It's an amazing game, almost a miracle, really. I hope you do a video series on it.
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Paul Boreham
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MikeOberly wrote:
I have never tried the solo variant, but I wanted to say that am glad you are playing this, Ricky. It's an amazing game, almost a miracle, really. I hope you do a video series on it.


Yup, absolutely love Ricky's series (just started "Bottom of the 9th" today) and also would really enjoy a Pax video play through as its such a great game.
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Conclusion: the "impossible victory" is a little naive. It might happen, but the odds are stacked against it.

I have published some modified solo rules, discussed in this thread: Refined Solo Rules
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colmmccarthy wrote:
ricky2002 wrote:
Conclusion: the "impossible victory" is a little naive. It might happen, but the odds are stacked against it.

I have published some modified solo rules, discussed in this thread: Refined Solo Rules


I toppled Diaz on my second solo attempt tonight (at least I think I did) using Loyalty. I beat him six to five by flipping my hacendado and using his -1 Achilles Heel for Pax Porfiriana. I think there were only four cards left in the draw deck, so it was close but it can certainly be done. With 70 cards though, it would be very much determined by the luck of the initial mix alright.

I do like the look of your refined rules. Will give them a crack tomorrow.


Thanks Colm. Congrats on the victory. I also managed my first victory: 5 command versus his 4, and that was without my hacendado. I used both public cards with a big money engine. I kept loyalty in my pocket, but did consider it a luck break!

Hope you like the tweaked rules... it plays mostly the same, just a few clarifications, and a very small notch up in difficulty.
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