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Terraforming Mars» Forums » Variants

Subject: Drafting Variant for Solo Play rss

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Chris Toth

Clovis
California
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After Playing Terraforming Mars a few times with a group and almost 20 times solo, I have noticed that in solo play (especially with the Corporate Era Cards included) you go through only a fraction of the cards and it can be difficult to win. I came up with a mock drafting variant for solo play that increases the number of cards you will see in between rounds and makes for a few interesting choices. Below are the rules for the solo drafting variant, check it out:

DURING NORMAL RESEARCH PHASE:

-Solo player draws four cards, chooses one to place aside and then discards the other three.

-Solo player draws three cards, chooses one to place aside and then discards the other two.

-Solo player draws two cards , chooses one to place aside and then discards the other one.

-Solo player draws one last card randomly from the deck and places it aside with the other cards set aside during this research phase.

Solo player will then choose from these four cards which to buy and will pay the normal cost (3 mega credits per card) to bring them into their hand for the next phase.

-----------------

And that's it! This simulates the choices you would get in a four player game playing with the drafting variant. This variant seems to be allowed in the rules of the game, but is not explicitly stated as a variant for solo play. I believe this increases the number of choices that you will have during your solo game and make the solo game a bit better as you can choose better cards to purchase especially early in the game.

Please let me know what you think of this variant. I think you will find it to be a more interesting way to play the research phase during solo play.
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Tyler Gingrich
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Interesting idea.

It will definitely make winning the solo game easier -- which is a good thing.

Sometimes I just can't get the cards I need when playing it per the standard solo rules.

10 cards + 4x14 = 66 + a small handful you get off the board and from cards (lets say 10).

Let's estimate 76 cards for a solo game -- that's a lot less than 1/2 the deck for the corporate game.

Your method lets me look at 10 per round. So I get to see 150 + the 10 from the board/cards. That's 3/4 of the deck. A big improvement.

However, you do still have the gotcha when you get multiple cards that you really want in the early draft draws. So that will help slow you down a bit. 84 of the cards you get to look at must be discarded via this drafting procedure.

The biggest downside of this an inability to compare high scores with folks who, so far, are playing the standard solo game.

I'm gonna try this a few times tonight just to see how it plays out.

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Carsten Reuter
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NRW
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Hey Chris,

This is a nice variant. Thanks for sharing it.

FYI, this solo draft rule was also published in the recent issue of Spielbox: http://www.nostheide.de/webshop3/product_info.php?products_i...

My personal stand is NOT to use this rule since I am still hoping to make it into the Solo-Highscore:
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1623613/solo-highscores

Carsten
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Chris Toth

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It really increases your choices, and I think that's a big bonus. I played it a few more times this weekend with this variant, and it works well. It makes it a bit easier to win, but my high scores are still nowhere near the HIGH SCORE LIST:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1623613/solo-highscores

This weekend I scored 101 with mining guild using this drafting variant and I thought I was doing so good! then I looked at the high score page... sigh...

I honestly don't know how anyone could score as high as they do on that list, especially with less choice in their cards they take into hand. It must be just a fluke to get all the right cards at the right time. Which doesn't feel as strategic to me, that part makes the game feel more random.

Anyways, I'm glad you like this variant! Let me know how it works for you!
 
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Chris Toth

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Hey Chris,

This is a nice variant. Thanks for sharing it.

FYI, this solo draft rule was also published in the recent issue of Spielbox: http://www.nostheide.de/webshop3/product_info.php?products_i...

My personal stand is NOT to use this rule since I am still hoping to make it into the Solo-Highscore:
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1623613/solo-highscores

Carsten



Thanks Carsten! I starting writing this and then I realized that it must've already been thought of, and it's also mentioned in the comments of this forum here:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1647638/solo-drafting-v...

About the high score list, I honestly don't know how anyone could score as high as they do on that list, especially with less choice in their cards they take into hand. In my opinion, the solo game is much more random without this variant, and I think it plays better solo with this variant as it's all about your choices. Plus you may still face tough choices as you may get 4 cards on your first draft that you really need, but can only choose one of them.

Anyways, If you ever try out this variant, I'd be interested to know how it worked for you.
 
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Ken Chaney

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eltopo1980 wrote:
This variant seems to be allowed in the rules of the game, but is not explicitly stated as a variant for solo play.
...
Please let me know what you think of this variant. I think you will find it to be a more interesting way to play the research phase during solo play.


I don't immediately find anything prohibiting a draft variant in the solo game, but let's take a look at what that means:

From the rule book p.13 Draft Variant
"Each player first gets 4 cards and chooses one to
draft, putting it aside and passing the rest to the next player.
Then you have 3 cards; set aside 1 of them and pass the rest
to the left. Then set aside 1 of the 2 you receive, pass the last
card, and finally receive your last card."

There is nothing there that even with my very twisted mind can even remotely be interpreted to fit with your proposed method. If it can work, the next player, to your left, is you. You will "have" or "receive" the same cards you "pass." If the words were "gain," "draw," or even "get" my compulsion to interpret the rules wrong would kick in, but even I can't make this leap.

That said, it looks like a fine house rule! It surely makes the solo game easier to win, and with a higher score. If that makes the game more fun for you, by all means use the house rule. I just don't see this as being allowed by the printed rules, so I would not report high scores from games played this way, unless someone starts keeping a list of scores using this method.
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Chris Toth

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kenchaney wrote:
I don't immediately find anything prohibiting a draft variant in the solo game, but let's take a look at what that means:

From the rule book p.13 Draft Variant
"Each player first gets 4 cards and chooses one to
draft, putting it aside and passing the rest to the next player.
Then you have 3 cards; set aside 1 of them and pass the rest
to the left. Then set aside 1 of the 2 you receive, pass the last
card, and finally receive your last card."

There is nothing there that even with my very twisted mind can even remotely be interpreted to fit with your proposed method. If it can work, the next player, to your left, is you. You will "have" or "receive" the same cards you "pass." If the words were "gain," "draw," or even "get" my compulsion to interpret the rules wrong would kick in, but even I can't make this leap.

That said, it looks like a fine house rule! It surely makes the solo game easier to win, and with a higher score. If that makes the game more fun for you, by all means use the house rule. I just don't see this as being allowed by the printed rules, so I would not report high scores from games played this way, unless someone starts keeping a list of scores using this method.


I agree that the rules really can't be twisted for an all-out endorsement of this proposed draft variant. However I feel like the nature and spirit of the variant is in line with the game and produces the same results during the solo research phase as playing with the draft variant would in the research phase of a 4 player game.

I also agree that playing with this variant means that you can not post a solo score on the high score list, but after having played the game solo about 20 times. I find that a high score seems to be achieved by a random group of fortuitous card draws and not by tactical decisions made by implementing solid judgment based on a variety of options. During the research phase, this method increases the number of those choices from picking from 4 cards to picking from 9 (in the method described above, your last draw of one card is completely random). This means that you have greater control over what you will choose to develop. But you also have to make choices over what you won't develop.

In the first draw of four cards, you can only choose one, which means that 3 of four will be lost for the rest of the game. You might've pulled four awesome cards, but you are limited into evaluating which of the four will best serve you now, and I like that choice as it closely mimics the choice you face during a multiplayer game with drafting. It does vary though as drafting during the multiplayer game adds another decision element as you may grab a card just to prevent another player from developing it.

Overall, I think this game is spectacular, and I believe that this small variant adds just a bit more consideration/tactics and takes away just a bit of the randomness to the solo game.
 
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Ken Chaney

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I agree with your essential points.

Drafting adds desirable control, balance, and agency in the multi-player game, and does the same for the solo game. For my taste, both games are improved with drafting.

Your method is a good practical one to capture the effects.

If it makes the game more fun for the player, they should use it! If the player wants more challenge and/or accepts more random variation determining their success, they can take what they get.

The possibility of poor draw meaning a solo win is either impossible or nearly so - let alone achieving a high score being implausible - is very real. Drafting decreases the chance of such a game state - a good thing. Those that are getting amazing scores are surely getting some favorable draw, but there is no doubt they are making some excellent decisions as well. More risky decisions will lead to more losses, but are a more likely path to a high score as well - the magic is in measuring the risk to just achieve the win along with the maximum score!
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Ron Emch
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I would even offer one other variant. Deal out 4 sets of 4 cards. You take a card from the first set, and discard the 3. Take the 2nd set of 4 and randomly discard 1 card. Then take 1 from this group discarding the other 2. Then take the 3rd group and randomly discard 2 cards, and take 1 from this group and discard the other. Then take the last group of 4. Randomly discard 3, and take the last one.

This way, the same amount of cards will come out as in a normal 4 player game.

Thoughts?
 
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Laura "lelo" D. Arrowsmith Deddens Gerard
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emcher wrote:
I would even offer one other variant. Deal out 4 sets of 4 cards. You take a card from the first set, and discard the 3. Take the 2nd set of 4 and randomly discard 1 card. Then take 1 from this group discarding the other 2. Then take the 3rd group and randomly discard 2 cards, and take 1 from this group and discard the other. Then take the last group of 4. Randomly discard 3, and take the last one.

This way, the same amount of cards will come out as in a normal 4 player game.

Thoughts?


To what purpose? What happens if you run through the entire deck? What is the difference between the cards in the discard pile that you never looked at and ones at the bottom of the draw pile that you never looked at.

It's an interesting idea but I think it's needlessly fussy.
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