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Subject: Challenge of solitaire factions rss

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Jesse Edelstein
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I've been playing a bit of Fire in the Lake, and now I've done 3 Full scenario games (with period events) versus bots.

The first I played as both US and ARVN, which I think is suggested in the rules, but it was a blowout. I suppressed the insurgents so well they couldn't do much at all, and ran up Patronage and Support to some silly level. This was partly because it's easy for two coordinated factions to set up one-two punches against the enemy and other tricks like that, which wouldn't be possible with a human partner.

The second I played NVA alone, and I lost to US-bot on the 4th Coup round, when Nixon effectively cut and ran even though I'd pushed Aid down to nothing. This was a fun, stressful game but I didn't ever really see a path to victory, because the COIN bots liquidated the VC very efficiently so I could never advance much even after doing a lot of damage with Easter Offensive. As in the other games, I never saw a Tet Offensive because VC never had nearly enough guerrillas on map.

The third was a solo US game, which was a bit more tense than the first but ended up with the insurgents falling apart, ending the game at 7 points for VC, 2 for NVA. My partner ARVN bot put up a decent fight at least but it didn't really focus on Patronage enough to have a shot at winning, and I cruised to victory with 61 support+available at the end.

So, what to think about the challenge level of the different factions? Unless I got really lucky, it seems like a player US is pretty strong versus bots, while the bots for VC and NVA have trouble putting up solid resistance. There are also some capabilities that make life particularly difficult for bots, such as unshaded "Cadres" which constantly depopulates VC trying to increase Opposition. It seems like things are a lot harder for player NVA, though I probably have a lot to learn about how to play them effectively. I haven't tried VC or ARVN yet, but I'd be interested to hear what you think about the playability of different factions in solitaire mode. I get the impression that the game is just too easy when playing two factions at once, though.
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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jmedelstein wrote:
I get the impression that the game is just too easy when playing two factions at once, though.


Just to confirm, when playing two factions at once, you were using the lower victory margin of the two factions when determining if you won?

Mark and Volko have also posted some variant rules to tone down the strength of the US faction, I use some of these when I play (particularly the withdrawalvariant).
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Vez A
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This doesn't really answer your question, but I've found that the longer the scenario, the better the player is able to game the bots.

That's why I prefer to solo the shorter scenarios, and when I do I like to play the US as you're fighting a war on multiple, very different fronts, all at once. Thus you've got to shake the military fist at NVA & VC, yet also fight for the hearts and minds, and finally, keep ARVN patronage in check. I've had excellent times soloing this game.
 
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Oerjan Ariander
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jmedelstein wrote:
The first I played as both US and ARVN, which I think is suggested in the rules, but it was a blowout. I suppressed the insurgents so well they couldn't do much at all, and ran up Patronage and Support to some silly level. This was partly because it's easy for two coordinated factions to set up one-two punches against the enemy and other tricks like that, which wouldn't be possible with a human partner.

This is true in 2- and 3-player mode as well with a single player controlling both US and ARVN. With the competition between Support and Patronage removed from the game, the insurgents don't have much of a chance

Regards,
Oerjan
 
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Jesse Edelstein
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reverendunclebastard wrote:
jmedelstein wrote:
I get the impression that the game is just too easy when playing two factions at once, though.


Just to confirm, when playing two factions at once, you were using the lower victory margin of the two factions when determining if you won?

Mark and Volko have also posted some variant rules to tone down the strength of the US faction, I use some of these when I play (particularly the withdrawalvariant).


Yes, I was using the lower score -- they were both really high, though. I'll have to try things with the Withdrawal variant, that's an interesting mechanic.
 
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Jason Sherlock
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When I play solitaire, it is always with 3 bots. My greatest challenge is not normally keeping the enemy from winning, but denying my ally faction the instant win at the coup rounds.
 
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Jesse Edelstein
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masil wrote:

This doesn't really answer your question, but I've found that the longer the scenario, the better the player is able to game the bots.

That's why I prefer to solo the shorter scenarios, and when I do I like to play the US as you're fighting a war on multiple, very different fronts, all at once. Thus you've got to shake the military fist at NVA & VC, yet also fight for the hearts and minds, and finally, keep ARVN patronage in check. I've had excellent times soloing this game.


I took your advice and played a Medium scenario as VC vs the bots. I pulled off a victory but it was not clear I was going to make it, as all three bots threatened to win at one point. Maybe the Medium scenario is really the way to go, since the bots aren't much for grand strategy.
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Vez A
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Glad you enjoyed it, Jesse.

Once or twice I played the med scenario with 10 cards instead of 12 per each Coup. Makes it a little faster and harder still (I was the US).
 
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Jesse Edelstein
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I've now lost two solitaire games as NVA, and I'm wondering how to win with them. Admittedly my last game was close and I almost pulled it off, but I was ultimately beaten by ARVN who pushed Patronage way, way up so I couldn't do anything about it, despite my control of about 10 population. I feel like I know the basics of what I should be doing -- taking provinces, building Trail infrastructure, knocking out US forces, seizing VC bases, etc. -- but it's a real challenge to integrate it together in a way where you won't lose momentum to bot counterattacks.

This is an issue in both the short scenario, with no pivotal events, and in the medium and full scenarios where NVA gets access to Easter Offensive but also has to deal with Linebacker II. I can see how a well-timed Easter Offensive lets you overrun several COIN provinces in the best case, but this hasn't been enough to push me to victory. Another challenge is the possible collapse of the VC, which can push the US way ahead. Any advice on NVA play?
 
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Jason Sherlock
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jmedelstein wrote:
I've now lost two solitaire games as NVA, and I'm wondering how to win with them. Admittedly my last game was close and I almost pulled it off, but I was ultimately beaten by ARVN who pushed Patronage way, way up so I couldn't do anything about it, despite my control of about 10 population. I feel like I know the basics of what I should be doing -- taking provinces, building Trail infrastructure, knocking out US forces, seizing VC bases, etc. -- but it's a real challenge to integrate it together in a way where you won't lose momentum to bot counterattacks.

This is an issue in both the short scenario, with no pivotal events, and in the medium and full scenarios where NVA gets access to Easter Offensive but also has to deal with Linebacker II. I can see how a well-timed Easter Offensive lets you overrun several COIN provinces in the best case, but this hasn't been enough to push me to victory. Another challenge is the possible collapse of the VC, which can push the US way ahead. Any advice on NVA play?


There are some good ideas here:

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/18229525#18229525
 
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