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Subject: Some ideas to improve the Solo Campaign mode. rss

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josh dempsey
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First I'd like to say that I love the solo campaign. It makes playing solo all the more enjoyable, but I do have a few ideas to improve it.

The Event table is great. It adds needed variety to each game. I think having special unlock-able Events would make it even better. For example; if you successfully complete 3 different quests in a certain Event category a special Event is then unlocked. This special Event could then be selected instead of rolling randomly on the Event table. This special Event would have more difficult/interesting rules, as well as a much more difficult but rewarding quest.

I love the Achievements. It gives a real reason to collect Victory Points instead of only trying to beat your high score. A way to improve it would be to change its current form into a tech tree. Of course many more new achievements would need to be made to fill out the new tech tree.

The only thing I don't really like is the Province table. I really like the idea behind it. As your Empire grows you become more powerful but it becomes more and more difficult to control until eventually your Empire falls and you lose the campaign. But that just doesn't happen.

First of all there is no real benefit to acquiring provinces. Sure the traits are mostly good, but what you pay in Control and Upkeep Costs far exceed any benefit you would get. So actually as you acquire more and more provinces you become weaker, not stronger. Gaining one stone every round, but having to pay one wood every round (plus 5 or more VPs at the end of the game) isn't a good deal.

Second of all there is no threatening penalty to losing all of your provinces. Say I lose all of them. So what? I still have my achievements. As easy as it was to "win" a solo game without achievements, now that I have some its practically impossible for me to lose. In fact, I have never lost a solo game before. Granted I have only played it a dozen times or so, but I've never lost.

There is no reason to keep provinces, they don't help you and there is no incentive to keep the ones you've got. So I propose that first, get rid of the Upkeep Costs. Then the provinces (for the most part) actually benefit you. Second, make losing provinces something you really don't want to happen. For example, when you lose a province, you lose its benefits, other provinces' Control Costs go up, and you lose a random achievement. Losing Achievements is the only way you can lose the game by the way. That way I actually want to get more provinces, because I become more powerful, and I also want to keep them, because losing them would suck. Eventually this problem would snow ball resulting in my defeat. This scenario is what is described in intro.

Anyway, let me know what you think of my ideas, and/or post your own here as well.
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Matt Williams
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I like some of your ideas, the tech tree for the achievements sounds good - more achievements would also be welcomed.

The idea of special events is interesting - I would be particularly interested in hear what ideas you had for these events.

I can see where you are coming from with the provinces, there is almost an incentive to just dispose of them as soon as you get them unless they provide a tangible benefit (which most do not). The game should clearly discourage you from doing this with more severe penalties.

One thought I had was to increase the strength of the dummy player for each province lost, this way it would be harder to win and it could prevent players from simply refusing to pay the upkeep. Eventually you would be forced to lose one but you would not be happy about it.

You could boost the dummy player by giving them a certain number of cards at the start of the game, or by drawing extra cards each round so they get more than 2, thus making it harder to raze all their cards. You could even just increase the cost of razing. Alternatively you could give them the ability to attack in other ways - stealing faction buildings or resources. There is a lot of scope here and I feel that it could really make the game more interesting if it was actually possible to lose.


 
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josh dempsey
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Hey there Matt,

thanks for the feedback and showing and interest in my ideas to improve the solo campaign.

Unfortunately I have been really busy these past few months and haven't had time to play Imperial Settlers, let alone think about improving the campaign rules.

I'm thinking the campaign end conditions should be changed from losing all of your achievements to losing all of your provinces. Much like a game of Risk, if you are wiped off the map, you lose.

Achievements would never be lost, but losing provinces would increase the control cost (I think this could be thought of as your empire's moral) of all remaining provinces. Your empire doesn't like it when you lose, and think you weak.

Individual upkeep costs would be pooled together to form an Empire upkeep cost. This would function much like the quests do, instead of paying a cost every round, you would have a cost that needed to be paid before the game ends. Im still trying to work out the specifics. Story-wise, I picture this upkeep cost as sending supplies to the other provinces to help defend against invasion. If they don't get enough supplies, the province(s) is lost to the enemy.

I have no specifics about those special events yet, I'm sorry to say.

I also agree that the A.I.'s difficulty should increase as the campaign progresses. Perhaps it can also get bonuses of some sort every time you lose a province.

I made some notes when I play tested some of these ideas to varying degrees of success. Later when I have time (hopefully soon) I will post those.
 
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josh dempsey
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UPDATE for new campaign rules.

Im playing as the Barbarians, and I just won my 6th or 7th province. The difficulty is definitely scaling up. The last two games were pretty close, and I see foresee my empire starting to fall in two or three more games. Which is good, because I was hoping the empire would start to collapse around game 10 or so.

As soon as I finish the campaign, and tweak the rules a bit, I will type up the rules and post them here for others to try out.
 
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Joel Thompson
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What if the province table was replaced with a printable map? Instead of getting random provinces each game, a player would start with a province on the coast, and then each game they wold conquer an adjacent province. If a player loses, they lose a province on their border. Maybe that province could be harder to claim than others, since the virtual player conquered it.
Instead of upkeep costs and events making the game harder, what if the virtual player got harder every game as their empire expands? As you already suggested, there could be an achievement technology tree and unlockable quests too.
I think it'd be really cool to make alliances with other border factions, and at the end of each game, I could deck build with other factions. If I was playing as the Egyptians and the Romans were the border faction, I could switch an Egyptian card type with a Roman one for the next game.
 
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Katrina
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There is already a rule that when you lose a Province (by not being able to pay Upkeep) the Control Costs for the other Provinces go up. That is enough motivation in my book to keep Provinces!

I couldn't find in the current rules what happens when you cannot pay Control Cost for a Province, and that just happened to me.



 
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josh dempsey
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PezKat wrote:
There is already a rule that when you lose a Province (by not being able to pay Upkeep) the Control Costs for the other Provinces go up. That is enough motivation in my book to keep Provinces!


True, but having provinces hold you back more than anything else. And loosing all of your provinces doesn't end the game. So... why have them?

Anyway, after a long hiatus from playing Imperial Settlers (Gloomhaven was a major contributor to that) I finally played another game this morning. Yay! Turns out, I forgot how to play. Boo! I just played a few solo games (non-campaign) to get my bearings again, and am looking over the campaign rules and my notes from before on how to change them.

Hopefully I stick with it and come up with something before 7th Continent arrives.

*Edit*

Ok, so the quick fix is...

Add the lose condition that if you have zero provinces after phase 2 (playing a game), your Empire is in ruins and you have lost the campaign. This prevents the player from simply loosing their provinces, gaining achievements and becoming an unstoppable machine.

I have several ideas for changing how provinces work, increasing the difficulty of the A.I. and Empire payments. It's a bit much to just briefly mention what these are, so I will type up some rules and make a campaign sheet.
 
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josh dempsey
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Here are the rules I came up with...

Disclaimer

I have not play tested this very many times. It is possible some tweaking of the numbers is necessary. Perhaps the VP cost for provinces are too high, the A.I. has too many bonus points, its abilities need to be moved around, changed or spaced out Maybe the Empire payments are too numerous or the penalties for losing a game are too low. Its also possible that all these changes are just a big mess and need to be scrapped (I’m hoping some of the numbers just need to be changed).

Anyway, if you have played this and have any feedback, I would be more than happy to hear it.

Thanks.

Playing the Campaign Mode v2.0
by Zhashiya

Each Campaign game consists of 4 phases. At the end of each game, you will be able to spend your Victory Points on Achievements to help your Empire grow. There is no end goal to Campaign Mode v2.0. You may play as many games as you like. As long as you keep winning, your Empire will grow. However, it is not easy to maintain a large Empire. You will need Achievements to help offset the cost of running such a large area, as well as to fight against a virtual player that grows in power throughout the campaign. How long can you last?

I. Roll for events (skip on game 1)
II. Play a solo game
1. Play 4 rounds
2. Resolve event quests (skip on game 1)
3. Collect VPs
4. Empire Payments (skip on game 1)
- Can send all resources - no penalty
- Cannot send all resources - pay VP penalty cost (# of unpaid resources x 10)
5. Victory / Defeat
- Victory
A. Pay VP for province control (from oldest to newest)
B. Gain new province (roll on chart)
C. Update VP costs and production bonuses
D. Increase A.I. level
- Defeat
A. Pay VP penalty for losing (10 x A.I. level)
B. Pay VP for province control
C. Update VP costs and production bonuses

6. Status of the Campaign
III. Purchase achievements
IV. Update records

1. Increase Empire Payments


Empire Sheet:

You will need to print the Empire Sheet to keep track of your progress. Use the Empire Sheet to track your Provinces, Achievements, Events, Production and Victory Points (VP). When instructed to pay your Empire Payments, place the goods on your Empire Sheet in the space provided.

Border Faction:

Same as Campaign Mode v1.0

I. Roll for events

Same as Campaign Mode v1.0
Although I do have ideas for changes in the future.

II. Play a solo game

Play a solo game as detailed in the Imperial Settlers rulebook with the following modifications;

1. Play 4 rounds - Each game of the campaign is only 4 rounds.
2. Resolve event quests - resolve any Event Quest rewards/penalties.
3. Collect VPs - Count your VPs as normal.

4. Empire Payments - Send all resources to make the demanded Empire Payments. These resources are saved during the 4 rounds of the game by placing them on your Empire sheet in the place provided. If you are able to fulfill all of the Empire’s demands, then they are satisfied (for now) and there are no consequences. If however you are not able to meet their demands, then you must use some of your VPs to help defuse their anger. Take the number of unsent resources times 10, this is the number of VPs you must pay. If you don’t have enough VPs, you will lose your most recent province (and its bonuses) as well as any remaining VPs you have.

5. Victory or Defeat
- Victory - You win if you have more Faction Locations built in your Empire than the A.I.’s end score, which is equal to how many cards are in its collection pile plus any score bonus.

Pay the VP control cost for the provinces you currently control. This cost is listed on your Empire sheet. The costs listed include all provinces above it. Don’t add them together! If you cannot pay for all of your provinces, pay for the ones you can. Each unpaid province is lost, as are any bonuses they provided. Erase them from your Empire sheet.

*Note* Provinces are always lost from most recent to oldest. It might help to think of your first province as your main base, and each new province afterwards as an outpost.

Gain a new province by rolling a d20 on the Province table. Each province can only be acquired once. However, lost provinces later can be acquired again. Record your new province on your Empire sheet, as well as any bonuses that come with it.

Increase the level of the A.I. by one on your Empire sheet by filling in a box (from top to bottom). With each level, the A.I. becomes more powerful. The number to the right of the box is a bonus the A.I. gets to its final score. These bonuses are not added together. To the right of these are abilities for the A.I. These will be described later.

- Defeat - You lose if the A.I.’s end score is equal to or greater than the number of Faction Locations built in your Empire.

Pay a VP penalty cost for losing equal to the level of the A.I. times 10.

Pay the VP control cost for the provinces you currently control, the same way as if you won.

6. Status of the Campaign

- If at any point you lose your original province, your Empire is in ruins and you have lost the campaign!

- If however at this phase you still have your original province, then you may continue your campaign.

III. Purchase Achievements

Same as Campaign Mode v1.0
Although I do have ideas for changes in the future.

IV. Update Records

It is now time to record changes and get ready for the next game!

1. Remove all goods, resources, and cards from the Empire sheet.
2. Update your production track to remove any temporary bonuses
3. Remove all cards and deals from your Empire
4. Roll a number of dice based on the max number of provinces you've controlled, as shown on the Empire Sheet (This never decreases). The results correspond to resources on the Empire Payments table. Fill in the resources based on the die results. Each resource caps at 10. Any additional rolls for such resources must be reallocated at the player’s choice.

A.I.

*The number listed for each level of the A.I. is added to the amount of cards in its Collection pile to determine the A.I.’s final score.
*Each level also has an ability that is described below. As noted, some abilities replace others.

Scouting - The number listed is the number of additional A.I. attack cards that are revealed at the beginning of the game. These abilities are not cumulative, newer Scouting abilities replace older ones.
Fortify - A defense token is placed on the 1st card as indicated in the A.I.’s playing area. The second time this ability is gained, both common cards selected benefit by having defense tokens.
Blockade - You now need to exchange 3 workers for 1 resource of your choice or for 1 Common or Faction card.
Siege Engines - The A.I. has 3 attacks per round.
War Lord - The A.I. now only needs to match a single Good to raze one of your Locations.
Explosive Projectiles - Each attack can raze up to two Locations.
Blow the bridge - The path to your border faction has been destroyed. You no longer have access to your border faction. Any achievements you have that deal with your border faction can no longer be used.

 
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