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Subject: SOLO ??? rss

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James Boutilier
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Does anyone play solo ? I don't mean both sides (chess).
Does anyone play 1 player with some form of production restriction/elimination and goal oriented tasks?

Love to play but I only solo.

 
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Kevin B. Smith
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Personally, I wouldn't find it very satisfactory as a solo game. If I were going to design a simple solo variant, it would start with a 2-players setup, but then focus on the main points of interaction: limited numbers of buildings and ships, and the role auction.

Somehow those buildings and ships would need to disappear. Ideally in some kind of random but predictable way. Or even in a way that the player can affect.

For the roles, you could do something simple like "To switch roles costs $x", or "You must pick a different role each round" (i.e. not the same role twice in a row).

With that, you could just try to beat your high score. But the randomness without variability would make that feel pretty flat for me.

Instead, I might look to design an automa. It would focus on the same points of interaction, but would also score points somehow, leading to the possibility that it might win. For inspiration, see Games with Automa opponents for solo play.

Keys for an automa might be: Choosing a role that aligns with other choices (like going for a wall strategy), choosing buildings that work well together, and deciding when to buy ships (and which ones). You probably wouldn't want the automa to actually worry about money, and quite possibly not even goods cubes. Perhaps some combination of buildings and ships and contracts could directly generate points.
 
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James Boutilier
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Thanks Kevin.

Your comments before automa pretty much echoes my thoughts to make it work.

One question, you said randomness "without variability"... howso no variability ? Are the buildings and contracts out on the board pretty much different each game?
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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jgb7 wrote:
One question, you said randomness "without variability"... howso no variability ? Are the buildings and contracts out on the board pretty much different each game?

Sorry for not being clear with that brief wording. I meant no "setup variability", which is something that many people (including myself) value in a game.

Every game, exactly the same buildings and ships are available. Every player has the same player board and starting position (aside from the initial role selection, arguably). I should have said that there is no setup variability.

Once the (competitive) game gets going, there is randomness in the contract draws, but nothing else. A basic solo variant might add randomness in the form of buildings and ships disappearing, or in role selection.

You could create a solo variant that has setup variability *instead* of in-game randomness: At the start of the game, remove X random buildings and Y random ships. That would increase the strategy and puzzle-solving, while reducing the need to tactically respond to the board changing. Personally, I wouldn't enjoy that as much, but some people would.

---
For me, the joy of the game really comes from managing the randomness of the contract draw. For me, the jostling for roles and buildings is the price I pay to enjoy an optimization puzzle.

Having an AI opponent randomly take or not take exactly the building I needed for my strategy would be more frustrating than fun.

Choosing between a low-risk/low-reward strategy and a higher-risk strategy can be fun against a human, because they are having to make the same choice, and we each might adjust based on whether we are ahead or behind. When playing for a high score, it's easier to just pick a risk level arbitrarily, and feeling like the score you ended up with was based on that (plus the random contract draws if you went high-risk), rather than deep skill or really clever play.
 
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James Boutilier
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Kevin, thanks.
Ok, this is a BIG DEAL.... you are saying there are only a certain number of "Different" Buildings, and they are always on the board. If there are say 10 Red Spots on the Board, there are ALWAYS the same buildings on those spots? Same for Yellow, Green, etc..?

You can't select 10 random buildings to put out because there are only 10 different buildings to begin with.

Correct? (of course 10 might not be the number, but you get my meaning)
I did not notice that from vids
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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jgb7 wrote:
Ok, this is a BIG DEAL.... you are saying there are only a certain number of "Different" Buildings, and they are always on the board.

Every unique building has a space for it printed on the board. Every game, at least one copy of every unique building will be available. For some building colors, the number of copies of each building type is determined by player count. So, for example, in a 2-player game, exactly one copy of each building is always available at the start of the game.

In a solo variant, you could only put out half the buildings. But doing it completely randomly would definitely mess with strategy and balance. For example, if you're going into walls, you really want as many as you can get (they score roughly triangularly). If not all of the green-cube production buildings are out, a green-cube-heavy strategy might not be viable.
 
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James Boutilier
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Right, and the only "variety" of buildings are what you see printed on the board. That's my BIG worry solo playing. Very rarely would a game be satisfactorily different.

Drat... wanted to like this one.

I'm picking up Bremerhaven. At least the solo offers decent resource elimination. And, there is a lot of variety per game... and there's a BIG time pressure, not just in the rounds, but per ship and truck.

I was just hoping for something with a bit more "ship/vessel" play. (and something like Lehavre is a bit too big for me)

 
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