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Vanuatu (second edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: Solo Variant for Vanuatu rss

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Dennis Beck
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Vanuatu solo variant

This is my solo variant based on the 3-player-game. You are playing against two AI opponents that use dice to make their decisions in a beat-the-highscore game.

Setup
Use a normal 3 player setup, the two AI players only need their boat and the 5 action cubes, as they don't score points and don't use money.
Place the character tiles above the board, each character directly above the action space that it is used for (e.g. the fisherman above the fishing action). Place the three characters that are not associated with an action (beggar, preacher, gouvernor) on the left side of the others, so that they all form a line.

You always are the starting player. The decisions of the AI players are made by a D8 and a D10.
General rule: If a result makes no sense, re-roll the die. If there are decisions to make that are of equal quality, do a random decision by rolling an appropriate die.

Choosing the characters
As usual: Take one available character, then put back the one you used in the previous round. The AI decides which character it takes by rolling a D8. In the first round, they roll a D10, as there are more characters available. Roll the die then count the rolled number from the left to the right on the line of characters and give the appropriate character to the AI player by counting them from left to right.

Putting the action cubes
As usual the action cubes are set in a 2-2-1 style starting with the starting player.
If an AI Player has chosen a character that is associated with an action space, the first action cube of that player always is put on that action space (e.g. if an AI player has chosen the sailor by rolling a 6, he puts his first action cube on the sailing action).
In the first game round, both AI players will always sail, so they put one of their first action cubes on the sailing action (field 3). When executing the sailing action in round 1, the two AI players will sail their boats to different sea tiles.
In all other rounds an AI player might or might not sail. Check if all chosen actions are possible from the current boat location of an AI player before putting down his last action cube. He will put it on the sailing action, if it is needed for at least one of his chosen actions.

In all other cases he decides the action space he puts the next cube on by rolling a D10. If he rolls a number from 1 to 9, put the cube on that action (e.g. if he rolls an 8 put the cube on the 'sell fish' action). Re-roll the die to choose another action space, if one of the following two exceptions applies:
a) There is no chance to execute that action in the action phase, because of the current board situation: Diving action and no treasure chests on the board, Build hut action and no empty building places etc.
b) The player already has an action cube on that space and he is not endangered to lose that action or his position on that action until he can set again: e.g. the player is in third position and already has an action cube on the export action. He will not set a second action marker on that space, as he can not be superseded by the other players in the next setting round.
If a 10 is rolled, the AI player puts his action cube on a space where he can supersede the human player. It that is not possible, try to produce at least a tie.

Executing the actions
In the execution phase an AI player always chooses the action space that reveals as few actions as possible to the other players. If this is true for more than one action, he chooses the one that makes most sense right now (so decide what YOU would do in that position).

He then executes that action:
1 (Export): Take the most expensive resource from an island next to that player's boat. Put the resource on the appropriate export ship. Put an extra resource there if the player has the export character. Always follow the rules for correct exporting, so use only a resource that can be placed on an export ship correctly.
2 (Diving): Remove a treasure chest from the field that player's boat is on, if any.
3 (Sailing): Move the player's boat to the water field with the most resources (fish+treasures) in a range of 1-3 fields.
4 (Build): Put a hut of that player on an island next to his boat.
5 (Rest): Take the best available chip in this order: Starting player, +1/+1, +1 point, +1 money.
6 (Tourists): Remove one tourist from the tourist info, if that player's boat is next to an island with a free tourist spot. Do not put the tourist on the island, but remove it from the game.
7 (Fish): Remove one fish from the field that player's boat is on, if any.
8 (Sell fish): Lower the fish price marker by one.
9 (Draw sand picture): Put a sand picture marker on an appropriate spot on an island next to that player's boat.

Whenever the player has the possibility to choose where to build/take something, he chooses the location that hinders the other players most or would maximize his points. So he takes resources from islands that are nearer to the other players, builds huts where the most tourists are and draws his sand pictures on islands that are nearer to the other players. If two spots are tied in case of distance, he chooses randomly.

If an AI player is in the situation that he can't execute any of his actions regarding to the majority system, he has to remove his action cubes from one action field without executing it (just as human players do). He once again chooses a field that reveals as few actions as possible to the other players.

Only three of the characters may cause an effect to the AI player who has taken it:
- The exporteur exports one more resource (see Action 1)
- The preacher may once execute an action if he doesn't have any majority at the moment. Flip the character card over and then resolve this as normal
- The gouvernor may once move his action cubes from one field to another instead of executing. If an AI player has the unused gouvernor character when it is his turn and he has no action where only his action cubes are located and he could execute usefully, he instead uses the gouvernor: Identify the action that the AI player is most endangered to lose because of the majorities or that is least useful to him. Then choose an action the action cubes are moved to by choosing randomly between the other actions which would make sense to that player.

Putting new tiles
If an AI player happens to be the starting player in one of the rounds that allow him to put new water/island tiles on the board, he always tries to maximize his own benefit, so he will try to put them in a matter that he is next to new islands and water tiles with resources and they are as far away as possible from the other players. Most of the time there are only two or three combinations of positions that can be taken, so it is quite clear, which position is best to the player.

As Vanuatu is a game where you have to make many interesting decisions from a wide spectrum of possibilities, it is a bit difficult to do all the AI decisions by dice and still get a gaming experience that feels like playing against capable opponents. So, when putting the action cubes and executing the actions for the AI players, try to make their decisions as if you were in that position. This will lower your score a bit, but result in a much more competitive and better game (and that's what solo gaming should be about).

I hope you have fun and I'm very interested in your feedback, so let me know, if you tried this one out. My best result was 84 points by now, but I also had a game with only 65 points. So please post your results and gaming experience and help to improve this variant.

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