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Subject: Solo automa variant rss

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Kevin B. Smith
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I enjoy Oh My Goods!, so I decided to try designing a solo variant using the automa approach[1]. I did quite a bit of non-game testing, and have played one full solo game using these rules. I think they could use a little tweaking, but they feel like a solid base. Please post your results here if you try them, and feel free to offer suggestions for improvements.

RULES

This is based on the 2nd edition rules.

SETUP
No setup is required for Alex (the AI). Alex does not start with a charburner.
Put out 4 random assistants.
Normal setup for the player.

1. NEW HAND CARDS
As normal. Alex does not have a hand, so does not draw cards.

2. SUNRISE
As normal. Alex does not have a worker, and does not (yet) choose a building to build.

3. SUNSET
As normal.

4. PRODUCTION AND BUILDING
As normal for the player, who always goes first. [We might need a rule that limits a player to buying a maximum of 2 assistants during the game.]

Alex does not produce. For Alex's build, count the number of card in the "sunrise" flop, and add the number of face-up buildings Alex has already built. That is the amount of gold that Alex can spend on a building this round. NOTE: Do not include "sunset" cards in this calculation. [Possible variant to make it harder: Include face-down cards when calculating available coins.]

He will buy the most expensive building he can afford, from what is visible in the sunrise and sunset areas. If there are multiple buildings with the same cost, choose the one that was revealed earliest. Place the built building face-up in Alex's tableau.

[For a harder variant, choose the highest point-valued building he can afford, favoring the one that was revealed earliest.]

If Alex cannot afford to build any building, take the first card that was revealed, and place it face-down in Alex's tableau.

Alex will never buy an assistant. [An interesting variant could be to allow him to discard one from play if he has face-up buildings matching that assistant.]

GAME END
The game end is triggered when the player has built 8 buildings as normal, OR when Alex has 10 cards in his tableau (including both face-up and face-down cards). One additional round is played, as in a normal game. Per the 2nd edition rules, the player may use all their production chains.

Alex's score is the sum of the point values of all his face-up cards, plus 1 point per face-down card. Whoever has the highest score wins. Alex does not have coins, so the player can win the tiebreaker with 1 coin or more.

DESIGN GOALS

1. The automa opponent should compete to outscore the human to win.
2. The automa should be very simple for the player to operate.
3. The automa should score higher in "easy" games and lower in "harder" games.
4. The automa should score fewer points in earlier rounds, and more points in later rounds, to encourage the player to hurry.

DESIGN RATIONALE

Early on, Alex can generally only afford cheap (2-point) cards (if anything). As the game goes on, he is more likely to buy 3 or 4 point cards. If the player ends the game early, by buying cheap buildings, Alex will have fewer points.

Basing Alex's purchases on the sunrise flop rewards him when the sunrise is productive, and punishes him when it is weak. A player will experience a similar effect, so this is intended to allow Alex to score higher when the player is also having an easier time scoring more.

In my testing, Alex scored 25-30 points, when ending with 11 cards. In my one full play with these rules, I got 24. I intentionally didn't buy any assistants (to make my life easier, since I'm pretty new to the game). Alex had 10 cards (9 face-up and 1 face-down), so beat me with 25 points.


[1] Games with Automa opponents for solo play
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Nick Shaw
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Re: Solo automa variant (draft)
Sounds very interesting, especially how "Alex" ramps up his buy ability as the game goes on.

Is there a reason you intentionally didn't buy any assistants in your playtest? Did you think it would be overpowered? I like your idea to let Alex discard an assistant from the pool if he has matching face-up buildings, though I don't think that would happen all that often (getting the right cards to get assistants as a human player is often hard enough!).

Will definitely try this out when I can. I'll let you know how I find it. It'll be the 4th solo variant for this game I've tried, so it'll be interesting to see how it compares.
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Kevin B. Smith
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Re: Solo automa variant (draft)
njshaw2 wrote:
Is there a reason you intentionally didn't buy any assistants in your playtest?

I'm new to the game, having only played it "for real" twice. So I wanted to keep things simple for myself and focus on the core gameplay. Last night when I played against a human opponent, I didn't manage to buy an assistant, so it seemed reasonable not to do so against the AI. I'll clarify this in the original post.

I had a thought that perhaps Alex should include his face-down cards when calculating his available coins. That should increase his scores a bit, for those who want more of a challenge. I haven't tested that yet, though.

I had only seen the one solo variant posted here in the forum. Looking at the Files section, I see the other two. It's interesting how the 4 variants have taken radically different approaches.

Thanks for your comments, and I look forward to hearing how this compares to the other variants.
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Daniel Theuerkaufer
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Re: Solo automa variant (draft)
peakhope wrote:
[We might need a rule that limits a player to buying a maximum of 2.]

Since when are players allowed to build more than 1 building in their turn? Maybe I missed that or misinterpreted you? I was of the impression that, on your turn, you chose one building to build, no more.

Automat sounds good. I have to try that.
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Nick Shaw
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Re: Solo automa variant (draft)
snake2shake wrote:
peakhope wrote:
[We might need a rule that limits a player to buying a maximum of 2.]

Since when are players allowed to build more than 1 building in their turn? Maybe I missed that or misinterpreted you? I was of the impression that, on your turn, you chose one building to build, no more.

Automat sounds good. I have to try that.


I had that same thought, but I *think* it might refer to assistants, not buildings. I.e. you can't buy more than 2 assistants in total during the game?...
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Kevin B. Smith
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Re: Solo automa variant (draft)
njshaw2 wrote:
snake2shake wrote:

Since when are players allowed to build more than 1 building in their turn?

I had that same thought, but I *think* it might refer to assistants, not buildings.

That was exactly my intent. I have updated the wording to hopefully make that clear. Thanks to both of you!
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Kevin B. Smith
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Re: Solo automa variant (draft)
I just played, and lost 17-29. My strategy was terrible (with hindsight), so I deserved to lose. I have a lot to learn about how to play this game well.
 
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Eric B
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Re: Solo automa variant (draft)
I just played through the variant and won 29-25 based on some lucky cards in my hand which resulted in a great production chain (the first time I have ever managed to create a quality production chain in close to 10 plays). I really liked the variant, thanks for putting the effort in!!
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Georg Bauer
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Re: Solo automa variant (draft)
I played your variant and it is great fun. You probably should add it to your own list of automa based solo variants, though. Was quite surprised to not find it there
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Kevin B. Smith
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Re: Solo automa variant (draft)
TheGargoyle wrote:
I played your variant and it is great fun. You probably should add it to your own list of automa based solo variants, though. Was quite surprised to not find it there

Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I didn't want to add it to the list before I had enough feedback that it would be worth someone's time to try. I think you have pushed me over the edge.

EDIT: Done. It is now listed in Games with Automa opponents for solo play.
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Randy Thomas
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This is a solid variant idea but I feel like it encourages a build faster than the AI slant...I am trying to come up with some tweaks to slow it down a little and reward putting together a good production chain.

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Kevin B. Smith
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irishroar wrote:
This is a solid variant idea but I feel like it encourages a build faster than the AI slant...I am trying to come up with some tweaks to slow it down a little and reward putting together a good production chain.

I definitely hope you come up with something better, but I'm curious: Do you not find the competitive game to (more or less) be a "build faster than the opponent" sort of game?
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Randy Thomas
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peakhope wrote:
irishroar wrote:
This is a solid variant idea but I feel like it encourages a build faster than the AI slant...I am trying to come up with some tweaks to slow it down a little and reward putting together a good production chain.

I definitely hope you come up with something better, but I'm curious: Do you not find the competitive game to (more or less) be a "build faster than the opponent" sort of game?


Kevin, that is a good point! Most of the games I have played have been 2 player with some rather patient play. I could see how most plays can trend toward pushing for building as fast as possible.

I hope I didn't come off as overly critical I think this is a really solid Automa...was just pondering some tweaks! I have played through twice so far and actually lost first and won second play. So I am interested to see how a few more go.

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Kevin B. Smith
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irishroar wrote:
I hope I didn't come off as overly critical

No, not at all! I strongly encourage discussion and brainstorming like that. This variant came together quickly, and I honestly haven't played OMG that much, so I'm always interested in other viewpoints.
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Simon Maynard
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These rules provided a really challenging opponent, at least I find it so anyway. No matter how well I seem to be doing, Alex is always one step ahead of me...
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Simon Maynard
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In the last three games I played with these rules, Alex has got 38, 37 and 37 points. Therefore averaging at more than three points per turn. He seems rarely unable to purchase a building. I'm almost thinking that these rules are too hard...

One common (and I think problematic) scenario: In the early rounds of the game, especially the first, if you have a large number of cards come out on the market, you can likely do nothing more than produce efficiently on your char burner. Alex, however, can usually end up picking up a 4 point card.

The general point being that you can't always get much benefit, even when a large number of cards come out on the market, especially when they come out at sunset. Alex can, on the other hand, always benefit.
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Kevin B. Smith
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Fried Egg wrote:
In the last three games I played with these rules, Alex has got 38, 37 and 37 points. Therefore averaging at more than three points per turn. He seems rarely unable to purchase a building. I'm almost thinking that these rules are too hard...

Hmmm. Are you sure you're playing right? I'm not sure I ever saw Alex score above 30. I'm skeptical that bad luck alone could produce 3 games in a row with almost identical really high scores.
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Simon Maynard
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peakhope wrote:
Fried Egg wrote:
In the last three games I played with these rules, Alex has got 38, 37 and 37 points. Therefore averaging at more than three points per turn. He seems rarely unable to purchase a building. I'm almost thinking that these rules are too hard...

Hmmm. Are you sure you're playing right? I'm not sure I ever saw Alex score above 30. I'm skeptical that bad luck alone could produce 3 games in a row with almost identical really high scores.

Ah, I've just gone back and re-read the rules and I realise I was playing it wrong. I was counting the total number of cards in the sunrise and sunset flop when working out what building Alex could afford. That explains a lot!

I shall try again with the correct rules and see how I do...
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Kevin B. Smith
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Fried Egg wrote:
I shall try again with the correct rules and see how I do...

Yay!

I can see how that would have been easy to miss, so I just edited my original post to emphasize the sunrise-only part.
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Simon Maynard
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I think I confused myself when I read that Alex builds a card from all the cards in the market, missing the part that said that his purchasing power is only determined by what's in the sunrise pile (+ his own face up buildings).
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Maximiliano Sanchez de Bustamante
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Thanks for this great automa. It is easy to use and a good opponent.
I obtained the game in a math trade at Essen, and also I bought the two expansions, which I not opened them yet wow

I played one game simulating two players to understand the rules and then I played two solo games with the automa.

In my first play with the automa I waited until the 10th turn to build my 8th card because I hired an assistant in turn 6 and I wanted to use it several times, also I hired other one in turn 9. The first assistant helped me a lot in the chain of glass + window making. I beat the automa by a difference of 5 VP. The difference between us was the money generated by my production converted into VP.

The second play with the automa I wanted to explore the ranch/butchery chain after I received the ranch as part of the hand of the first turn. Also I waited patiently building my chain until the 10th turn. I built 2 ranches and 1 butchery and hired one assistant allocated in the butchery. I built other buildings but were built mainly to obtain the colours needed to hire the assistant and were activated once, maybe twice. I could activate the ranch several times, plus the activation of their production chain a couple of times. The time I could activate the butchery I had 5 cows waiting in the ranches. This gives me a lot of money. After the 10th turn, the automa had 29 points and I had 20 points in buildings and assistant, but I made 12 points with the money of the meat and other buildings, beating the automa 32-29.

Overall I enjoyed my two plays. I will explore some of the options you posted here, to make the automa more challenging, before dig in the expansions. I couldn't take a conclusion just with 2 plays, but having the time to build the production chain plus hiring at least one assistant is a good option to beat the automa. Time will tell.
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Maximiliano Sanchez de Bustamante
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I did two more sessions adding a rule that the automa can hire an assistant. It is a variation of your comment:
Quote:
Alex will never buy an assistant. [An interesting variant could be to allow him to discard one from play if he has face-up buildings matching that assistant.]


I did the following:
If Alex has the face-up matching buildings to hire one assistant, he will hire an assistant if there aren't buildings Alex can afford with higher VP compared with the assistant's VP. If there are more than one assistant to hire, Alex will choose the cheapest one.

Alex and I can hire up to 2 assistants.
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Claire Thacker
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Thanks for this. I bought OMG primarily for solo play and have played this variant 4 times - works great. Also shows how terrible I am at it - guess my strategy will improve though as I get to know the game. Beat Alex 31 to 29 last game with cattle ranch/tanner/shoemaker combo - my highest score yet.
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Se Ven
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If the game ends due to alex getting a tenth card, then in the final round, does he gain an 11th card? The player is allowed to build in this final round, right?
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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Se314en wrote:
If the game ends due to alex getting a tenth card, then in the final round, does he gain an 11th card? The player is allowed to build in this final round, right?

Yes, and yes.
 
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