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Subject: From A Solitaire Player: Many Thanks! rss

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Dale Buonocore
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Just had to take a moment here to express my sincere gratitude to the developers of this game for what looks to be a passionate and concerted effort to come up with a truly excellent solitaire AI/system and to include it in the base game. This is a rare thing, and is certainly greatly appreciated by all who appreciate and value quality solitaire gaming, whether it be their primary way of playing (like me), or just an occasional way of "scratching the itch." Thank you!

This is one factor which helped nudge me into looking at and then choosing (with little hesitation) to order this game, which is currently on its way to my doorstep. Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting its arrival!

Again -- thank you so much for taking solitaire play into account and giving it devoted and thoughtful attention and effort.
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Elad wrote:
Just had to take a moment here to express my sincere gratitude to the developers of this game for what looks to be a passionate and concerted effort to come up with a truly excellent solitaire AI/system and to include it in the base game. This is a rare thing, and is certainly greatly appreciated by all who appreciate and value quality solitaire gaming, whether it be their primary way of playing (like me), or just an occasional way of "scratching the itch." Thank you!

This is one factor which helped nudge me into looking at and then choosing (with little hesitation) to order this game, which is currently on its way to my doorstep. Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting its arrival!

Again -- thank you so much for taking solitaire play into account and giving it devoted and thoughtful attention and effort.

Agreed, and you will not be disappointed. Morten has done an amazing job, and the AI with its multiple "personalities" is wonderfully emergent to many different styles of play. Personally I'm still looking forward to playing against multiple AIs, but even the single opponent has posed enough challenge
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Stephen Miller
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Just played on the easiest automa difficulty level, and it's another solid one from Morten, imo.
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Malaki Blondin
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Just arrived and from all the reviews, I am totally excited to break this one open. One question; to play with multiple AI's, are several automa decks needed? Is there a mechanism to play multiple AI's with the standard (one) deck? Thanks for any information you can provide!
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Stephen Miller
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There are experimental rules by Morten, the url for which can be found in the published solo rules.
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Jan-Phil Andiel
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Marcus the Leper wrote:
One question; to play with multiple AI's, are several automa decks needed?


There are not needed but I the experience is better with multiple decks. I am currently working on an app to remove the need for multiple decks.
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Jeff McLeod
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Something you could do (provided you have Scythe on Steam's Tabletop) is use the deck you have with the game alongside the virtual deck in the Tabletop version for a second automa opponent. Maybe set up a laptop zoomed in on the virtual deck next to your physical table and let 'er rip!
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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Playing with one deck for both automas makes the AI very swingy and much less effective. Two decks is a much better experience. Stonemaier will be selling extra automa decks later this year, and in the meantime there are some PnP files in the file section of Scythe so you can print your own second deck.
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Stefan Tymoshyshyn
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Elad wrote:
Just had to take a moment here to express my sincere gratitude to the developers of this game for what looks to be a passionate and concerted effort to come up with a truly excellent solitaire AI/system and to include it in the base game. This is a rare thing, and is certainly greatly appreciated by all who appreciate and value quality solitaire gaming, whether it be their primary way of playing (like me), or just an occasional way of "scratching the itch." Thank you!

This is one factor which helped nudge me into looking at and then choosing (with little hesitation) to order this game, which is currently on its way to my doorstep. Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting its arrival!

Again -- thank you so much for taking solitaire play into account and giving it devoted and thoughtful attention and effort.


You and me both Dale. I've just ordered after reading impressive comments on the 1 player guild. Can't wait to get started.
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David Studley
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Elad wrote:
Just had to take a moment here to express my sincere gratitude to the developers of this game for what looks to be a passionate and concerted effort to come up with a truly excellent solitaire AI/system and to include it in the base game.


Thanks for the note. A passionate and concerted effort is a fair description of how Team Automa works. We hope it translates to a challenging and enjoyable experience. As a fan of your numerous solitaire efforts, Elad, I'm eager to hear your thoughts on our Automa.

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Phill Webb
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reverendunclebastard wrote:
Playing with one deck for both automas makes the AI very swingy and much less effective.

With all respect I'm not convinced this is true.

Has this been playtested or is it all just "intuitive"? I've not seen anything to say that it has been playtested.

It sounds like a small increase in chance is being seen as a much bigger one.


I haven't done the maths so I could be wrong but here's my thinking.

1 Automa at the moment has a very small chance of missing all it's star cards by doing combat.
It also has a larger (but still smallish) chance of missing it's faction specific cards due to combat and the Schema II reshuffle.

2 Automa using the same deck would have an increase in the chance of 1 of them missing the star cards due to Combat and/or the other using them. However my feeling is that this would actually only be an increase of a few percent as it's just not that likely.
Furthermore 2 Automa will go through almost twice as many cards (including reshuffles) which I believe reduces the chance of swingy draws as well.


In summary I think, yes it will be a non significant amount more swingy and maybe less effective (at stars maybe but combat etc are not tied to the star cards exclusively), but not "very" swingy and "much less" effective.


I would like someone with more math skills than me to run the numbers though.

Phill
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Freeloading Phill wrote:
I haven't done the maths so I could be wrong but here's my thinking.

1 Automa at the moment has a very small chance of missing all it's star cards by doing combat.
It also has a larger (but still smallish) chance of missing it's faction specific cards due to combat and the Schema II reshuffle.

2 Automa using the same deck would have an increase in the chance of 1 of them missing the star cards due to Combat and/or the other using them. However my feeling is that this would actually only be an increase of a few percent as it's just not that likely.
Furthermore 2 Automa will go through almost twice as many cards (including reshuffles) which I believe reduces the chance of swingy draws as well.

16/19 Automa cards have a star. Correct me if I am wrong at statistics, but if the non-star cards can go either way, I think the odds of getting three non-star cards on one Automa would be (1/2) * (1/2) * (1/2) = (1/8) = 12.5%, not very high.

However, I think a more significant issue may be that the different cards represent different "strategy" elements. If more of the "move worker" cards get drawn for one Automa, the other Automa may get fewer "move worker" actions and end up with less territory.

But don't just take our word for it -- feel free to play using a single deck! Do 3 games, keeping notes of whether one Automa plays badly, and what the final scores are. Then you can decide if you want to print/buy another deck.
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Helmut Apel
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Elad wrote:
Just had to take a moment here to express my sincere gratitude to the developers of this game for what looks to be a passionate and concerted effort to come up with a truly excellent solitaire AI/system and to include it in the base game. This is a rare thing, and is certainly greatly appreciated by all who appreciate and value quality solitaire gaming, whether it be their primary way of playing (like me), or just an occasional way of "scratching the itch." Thank you!

This is one factor which helped nudge me into looking at and then choosing (with little hesitation) to order this game, which is currently on its way to my doorstep. Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting its arrival!

Again -- thank you so much for taking solitaire play into account and giving it devoted and thoughtful attention and effort.


What he said
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Unfortunately, the solo game just isn't very good.

I love Morten's automa system for Viticulture/Tuscany. It's perfect for worker placement. And I think he designed the solo system for Between Two Cities? -- which works beautifully as well.

But I've played 5 solo games of Scythe on Tabletopia, and the system ends up being too crude and uninteresting for area control. Despite all of the subtle nuances that the cards try to introduce into each game, the rival spreads out on the board like an undifferentiated ooze in the same way every game. The spreading ooze reaches you about the same time every game, and so your rhythm and response ends up being similar each time. The cool variability among the factions just doesn't make up for the same blobbing elaboration on the board each game.

I can see it's fantastic multiplayer, though.


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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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Freeloading Phill wrote:
reverendunclebastard wrote:
Playing with one deck for both automas makes the AI very swingy and much less effective.

With all respect I'm not convinced this is true.

Has this been playtested or is it all just "intuitive"? I've not seen anything to say that it has been playtested.


Two comments:

1 - It is not just about the star advance part of the card. Every other feature of the card is there for balance reasons too!

2 - Probability-wise, I described it this way in another thread to make it clear that there is a significant increase in the "swinginess" of using one deck vs. two:

reverendunclebastard wrote:
Imagine there were two piles of 19 envelopes each. Each pile has 16 envelopes with $1 inside and 3 empty ones.

1 - If you and a friend each pick your own pile and choose 17 envelopes from that pile alone, you are guaranteed to pick a maximum of 3 empty ones and a maximum of 16 full ones, so your potential earnings are $14-16.

2 - If you each alternate choosing from the first pile, until it is empty, and then alternate choosing from the second pile until you have 17 envelopes each, you are guaranteed to pick a maximum of 6 empty ones and a maximum of 17 full ones, so your potential earnings are $11-17.

The second option (synonymous with the two factions passing through one deck twice) clearly results in a much swingier set of possible results.


In the first example (using two decks) the maximum potential difference between you and your friend is $2. In the second example the maximum potential difference between you and your friend is $6.

If you change the number of envelopes drawn to 22 envelopes: using separate decks potential earnings are $16-19 ($3 difference). Using one deck potential earnings are $13-23 ($10 difference).

Given how close together the stars on the automa track are at the end game, this kind of difference will inevitably affect game play.
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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GAFBlizzard wrote:
Correct me if I am wrong at statistics, but if the non-star cards can go either way, I think the odds of getting three non-star cards on one Automa would be (1/2) * (1/2) * (1/2) = (1/8) = 12.5%, not very high.


That math is way off! First of all you will be going through the deck more than once if using one deck, so you need to consider that in your stats.

My example above shows how the difference between the maximum and minimum stars you can get using one or two decks. This is the key factor in determining the swinginess of whether one automa will dominate and finish early with stars from the automa track.

It is definitely possible to play with one deck, and probably still fun. However, the careful balance designed into the automa deck will absolutely be thrown off and some playthroughs will see one of the two automas race to the finish line at almost double the speed that was intended. If one cares about such nuances I recommend using a second deck.
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reverendunclebastard wrote:
That math is way off! First of all you will be going through the deck more than once if using one deck, so you need to consider that in your stats.

My example above shows how the difference between the maximum and minimum stars you can get using one or two decks. This is the key factor in determining the swinginess of whether one automa will dominate and finish early with stars from the automa track.

It is definitely possible to play with one deck, and probably still fun. However, the careful balance designed into the automa deck will absolutely be thrown off and some playthroughs will see one of the two automas race to the finish line at almost double the speed that was intended. If one cares about such nuances I recommend using a second deck.

I am unsure how quickly the deck would need reshuffled if shared between Automas -- I suppose it depends on the star cards and whether phase 2 is reached. I was considering the pre-shuffle case.

Thanks for the clarifications. I think some additional math would be needed, however. Yes, there is the possibility of greater variance with one deck, but what are the odds that the extreme values will be hit? (earning the least / most money in your example) If these odds are low enough, some people might not mind.


Wretched Git wrote:

Unfortunately, the solo game just isn't very good.

I love Morten's automa system for Viticulture/Tuscany. It's perfect for worker placement. And I think he designed the solo system for Between Two Cities? -- which works beautifully as well.

But I've played 5 solo games of Scythe on Tabletopia, and the system ends up being too crude and uninteresting for area control. Despite all of the subtle nuances that the cards try to introduce into each game, the rival spreads out on the board like an undifferentiated ooze in the same way every game. The spreading ooze reaches you about the same time every game, and so your rhythm and response ends up being similar each time. The cool variability among the factions just doesn't make up for the same blobbing elaboration on the board each game.

I can see it's fantastic multiplayer, though.



What difficulty were you playing on? Are you certain you followed the rules properly? This does not match up with the many detailed reports others have given, e.g. some games an Automa turtling, other games it rushing for the Factory, and so forth.

Then again, maybe it's just personal preference -- I and several others have had quite positive experiences with the solo game.
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Phill Webb
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GAFBlizzard wrote:
16/19 Automa cards have a star. Correct me if I am wrong at statistics, but if the non-star cards can go either way, I think the odds of getting three non-star cards on one Automa would be (1/2) * (1/2) * (1/2) = (1/8) = 12.5%, not very high.


That looks okay. As long as you ignore cards turned over for combat - although checking the cards I see this is really only a schema 2 wrinkle in the calculations.


GAFBlizzard wrote:
However, I think a more significant issue may be that the different cards represent different "strategy" elements. If more of the "move worker" cards get drawn for one Automa, the other Automa may get fewer "move worker" actions and end up with less territory.


That makes a little more sense. I just have the impression that the reason's put forward have all bean about stars and advancement.

In Schema 1: Worker moves are on 11 of the cards and combat is on 1 (3 for Saxon). So there would be a very high chance of 1 of the Automa not doing combat before Schema II.


GAFBlizzard wrote:
But don't just take our word for it -- feel free to play using a single deck! Do 3 games, keeping notes of whether one Automa plays badly, and what the final scores are. Then you can decide if you want to print/buy another deck.

When I get the time I'll have a go at it.
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Phill Webb
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reverendunclebastard wrote:
2 - Probability-wise, I described it this way in another thread to make it clear that there is a significant increase in the "swinginess" of using one deck vs. two:

reverendunclebastard wrote:
Imagine there were two piles of 19 envelopes each. Each pile has 16 envelopes with $1 inside and 3 empty ones.

1 - If you and a friend each pick your own pile and choose 17 envelopes from that pile alone, you are guaranteed to pick a maximum of 3 empty ones and a maximum of 16 full ones, so your potential earnings are $14-16.

2 - If you each alternate choosing from the first pile, until it is empty, and then alternate choosing from the second pile until you have 17 envelopes each, you are guaranteed to pick a maximum of 6 empty ones and a maximum of 17 full ones, so your potential earnings are $11-17.

The second option (synonymous with the two factions passing through one deck twice) clearly results in a much swingier set of possible results.


In the first example (using two decks) the maximum potential difference between you and your friend is $2. In the second example the maximum potential difference between you and your friend is $6.

If you change the number of envelopes drawn to 22 envelopes: using separate decks potential earnings are $16-19 ($3 difference). Using one deck potential earnings are $13-23 ($10 difference).

Given how close together the stars on the automa track are at the end game, this kind of difference will inevitably affect game play.



All of this is ignoring the odds of those extreme results happening (and ignoring envelopes flipped over for combat).

Sure the chance of the extreme results exists, but is it significant? Chance of getting 6 is about 1.5%, and 5 is about 3%

In Schema II; 4 of the cards initiate combat, which flips a card and reduces the chance of the extreme results. By your analogy it guarantees that using 1 deck the maximums are 1 less $14-22 ($8 difference), and makes it quite likely that they're 2 less $15-21 ($6 difference).

In fact, the average appears to be at about the same point so it looks to me like about 1 in 20 games (5%) you could play a pair of opponents where 1 collects stars very quickly and the other stays in schema I for longer. In another 2-3 of those games 1 would collect stars a bit quicker. The other 16 games would play with star collection more or less the same as using 2 decks.

YMMV as to whether those odds are significant enough to worry you ( or, perhaps, whether occasional increased variety of opponents may actually be a good thing)
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GAFBlizzard wrote:
What difficulty were you playing on? Are you certain you followed the rules properly?


Normal difficulty ("automa"). I followed the rules correctly, they're not confusing (which is a plus), although the movement priority takes some getting used to.

Quote:
This does not match up with the many detailed reports others have given, e.g. some games an Automa turtling, other games it rushing for the Factory, and so forth.


Well, I can't explain those reports, because it's just not possible for the automa to "turtle" in a game. Yes, sometimes you draw a card that doesn't have the hero or a mech moving forward -- but over the course of several turns the movement forward will happen no matter what, and the total movement always ends up being toward the factory, then the player. Sometimes the player gets targeted before the factory, but the total effect is that the automa units spread toward the factory, then toward your position. In every game I played, the rival's blob of units had avanced into my territory to pretty much exactly the same degree.

Now, I will say that I tend to "turtle" myself, which probably contributes to the problem. If you play aggressively and move into the enemy's territory quickly, I think the game would feel a lot better, because you will not have let the automa deck "play itself out" before you encountered the rival. In the early game there can be a variety of behaviors for the rival because the deck hasn't had a chance to even itself out, as it were.

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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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Wretched Git wrote:


Well, I can't explain those reports, because it's just not possible for the automa to "turtle" in a game.


It actually is possible for the automa to turtle for quite a long stretch, particularly in the early game. Especially if it fails to get a mech off of the player board before it draws the mech movement cards, and even more so if you manage to defeat the character in combat in the first half of the game, driving it back to the player mat where it has to wait to draw a card to get back on the home base, and then another card to move onto the board.

My most recent game saw the Rusviet faction with no mechs on the board until Scheme II developed. This resulted in all workers and the character being the only ones who could move. Workers do not automatically move towards the factory, even though that is the tiebreaker, because they seek "in the neighbourhood of the most automa units" as their primary placement decision. This can definitely result in a first half "turtle", although once it switches to scheme II it will definitely begin to break out towards the factory as it will inevitably get mechs onto the board.
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reverendunclebastard wrote:
It actually is possible for the automa to turtle for quite a long stretch, particularly in the early game. Especially if it fails to get a mech off of the player board before it draws the mech movement cards, and even more so if you manage to defeat the character in combat in the first half of the game, driving it back to the player mat where it has to wait to draw a card to get back on the home base, and then another card to move onto the board.


Well, I can see that. But if the character happens not to come out for a few turns, a mech probably will, and its first move just rockets it to the front lines. It's not like the attack units have to spend time advancing. That sudden appearance of the attack units on its frontier is another huge turn-off for me. It removes any sense of tactical unfolding or verisimilitude. It makes the game feel like an abstract.

As you suggest, these problems are mitigated if you play very aggressively early on. But I usually don't like to do that, so the solo game's just not for me.

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Rick Scholes
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I already thanked Morton on another thread but I'll do it again here because he well deserves it plus all the encouragement we can give him to do more. (That seems likely given the appearance of the "Automa Factory" logo.)

In a two player game you might prevail without much aggression. With three or more I believe it is unavoidable. The solo game seems to me much harder to win if you are not prepared to attack the AI, and to gain a factory card early on to have the move-every-turn capability that lets you position your combat units so you can move two or three to the same hex on one turn thus ganging up on an AI combat unit which may be directed by itself to play several combat cards. (It's way of ganging up on you!)

I certainly don't see the AI swarming in every game. Sometimes my early game is just exploration. But this is a 4-X game so be prepared.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Elad wrote:
Just had to take a moment here to express my sincere gratitude to the developers of this game for what looks to be a passionate and concerted effort to come up with a truly excellent solitaire AI/system and to include it in the base game. This is a rare thing, and is certainly greatly appreciated by all who appreciate and value quality solitaire gaming, whether it be their primary way of playing (like me), or just an occasional way of "scratching the itch." Thank you!

This is one factor which helped nudge me into looking at and then choosing (with little hesitation) to order this game, which is currently on its way to my doorstep. Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting its arrival!

Again -- thank you so much for taking solitaire play into account and giving it devoted and thoughtful attention and effort.


Thank you, I appreciate your kind words, and yes we are a small team of passionate solo gamers who spend a lot of time on this (I think I spend around 250-300 hours on it).
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Gizensha wrote:
There are experimental rules by Morten, the url for which can be found in the published solo rules.


Here's the link: Playing Scythe with any combination of humans and Automas – semi-official variant

It also includes a link to a web app that implements the Automa deck and it looks like it'll be feature complete soon (the app is not made by Stonemaier).
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