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Subject: What are the thoughts on solo suitability? rss

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Val Doonican
United Kingdom
Ipswich
Suffolk
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Have this in the post and am really looking forward to it, but as ever I will look to some form of solo variant. What are the thoughts from those who have played it/know it? Is a decent solo variant a reasonable possibility? Thanks for any ideas.
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Phil Hendrickson
United States
Seward
Nebraska
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Sure, I think a solo variant would be simple to try. Just place one employee per row on the employee market and only refill the cattle market to four (4) cards. All of the other mechanisms work as regular.

Try that and see if it plays reasonably well. There would be no competition for cattle cards, station master tiles, or building locations, but actions are still at a premium. The obvious goal is to score a high as possible.

Perhaps some target goals could be introduced, such as:

- build both the level 7 and level 9 buildings
- upgrade all of the farthest five stations

After a few playtests, determine whether this method provides enough time for an appropriate number of deliveries. If necessary, choose two or three rows in the employee market to receive a second employee tile. Perhaps the rows that refresh the cattle market should also receive 2 employees, for example.
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Wil
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Tucson
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I think a solo variant is achievable. In my opinion, it would be interesting to have a dummy player type of approach so that you have notable competition.

Here's some thoughts off the top of my head:

1. Set up a two player game. The second player is the dummy player.

2. Rather than draw a hand for the dummy player, on their turn just flip over one card and take an action for them based on the card. Then discard the card. When you get to the end of their deck, reshuffle and continue.

As for the actions, here are my thoughts:

* Jersey / Gray (Advance and money) - Advance the dummy player's cattleman forward its maximum distance and take 3 coins. Ignore the building action to keep it simple. Treat hazard and trading hands as normal so they pay you or the bank if they pass a hand. Have them favor the cheapest route when it comes to hands. If even, they should favor the bank.

* Guernsey / White (Buy cattle) - The dummy player should buy the highest victory point card(s) possible based on the number of cowboys they have and cash. Put the card off to the side as victory only, not in their deck.

* Dutch Belt / Green (Trains and stations) - Advance the dummy player train forward the amount of engineers they have always trying to get stations. If they land in a station and have the cash, claim the space BUT use a worker from the number 2 tiles so you don't deplete their worker supply.

* Black Angus (Buildings) - Build a building on the next available space from wherever the dummy player currently is. Building costs are standard and based on cowboys and 2 coins per cowboy needed. Once 4 buildings are placed, start upgrading buildings instead.

3. In Kansas City, do step 1, 2, and 3, as usual filling the board (always fill workers over hazards and teepees if given a choice). Then place a dummy player disk in the next city available that they haven't placed in already (starting with Kansas City). Do the action if relevant such as get cash or get an objective card. Put the objective card in their victory pile. Then buy the left most available cheapest worker and place it on their board (ignore any action it would trigger except for victory points at the end).


Obviously I haven't played this idea out yet nor have I truly considered the balance, but I think something along these lines would work quite nicely. The dummy player will be gobbling up stations, cattle, and workers which is needed for the "race" aspect of the game, plus they will be adding buildings which will impact your advancement. All the while they are sacking away victory points.

I'll give this a try in the upcoming weeks and will let you know how it goes and will tweak the balance. I'm sure it's quite out of whack but I think a balance can be figured out to get something like this to work.

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Robert
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The cattle market may require an additional tweaking. Maybe something like this:
1) market size is 5 cattle
2) half of the 3/4/5-cattle of each color (rounded down) are removed before the game begins

Also, in single-player it would be even more importent to prune the worker/teepee/hazard tiles. One idea to allow a bit more choice: draw a second worker tile for each line in the worker market (to potentially increase choice), then remove the second worker in the line when the player purchases the other one.
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Dave Armstrong
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DrumPhil wrote:
Sure, I think a solo variant would be simple to try. Just place one employee per row on the employee market and only refill the cattle market to four (4) cards. All of the other mechanisms work as regular.

Try that and see if it plays reasonably well. There would be no competition for cattle cards, station master tiles, or building locations, but actions are still at a premium. The obvious goal is to score a high as possible.

Perhaps some target goals could be introduced, such as:

- build both the level 7 and level 9 buildings
- upgrade all of the farthest five stations

After a few playtests, determine whether this method provides enough time for an appropriate number of deliveries. If necessary, choose two or three rows in the employee market to receive a second employee tile. Perhaps the rows that refresh the cattle market should also receive 2 employees, for example.


Add a few things to this and I think you have it.

1. Several sheets/boards with things you have to accomplish. Each different for variability

2. Event deck that blocks or removes things like a #3 cow or a specific path.
 
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Chris Bock
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Codrdave wrote:
DrumPhil wrote:
Sure, I think a solo variant would be simple to try. Just place one employee per row on the employee market and only refill the cattle market to four (4) cards. All of the other mechanisms work as regular.

Try that and see if it plays reasonably well. There would be no competition for cattle cards, station master tiles, or building locations, but actions are still at a premium. The obvious goal is to score a high as possible.

Perhaps some target goals could be introduced, such as:

- build both the level 7 and level 9 buildings
- upgrade all of the farthest five stations

After a few playtests, determine whether this method provides enough time for an appropriate number of deliveries. If necessary, choose two or three rows in the employee market to receive a second employee tile. Perhaps the rows that refresh the cattle market should also receive 2 employees, for example.


Add a few things to this and I think you have it.

1. Several sheets/boards with things you have to accomplish. Each different for variability

2. Event deck that blocks or removes things like a #3 cow or a specific path.


I like simple easy to implement solo variants and this has that going for it. But I think there is one big problem. That is, there is nothing to stop you from delaying delivery to Kansas City as much as you want. You could stop at every single location along the way with no penalty.

I'm not smart enough to have a good solution, though.
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Dave Armstrong
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33cb wrote:
Codrdave wrote:
DrumPhil wrote:
Sure, I think a solo variant would be simple to try. Just place one employee per row on the employee market and only refill the cattle market to four (4) cards. All of the other mechanisms work as regular.

Try that and see if it plays reasonably well. There would be no competition for cattle cards, station master tiles, or building locations, but actions are still at a premium. The obvious goal is to score a high as possible.

Perhaps some target goals could be introduced, such as:

- build both the level 7 and level 9 buildings
- upgrade all of the farthest five stations

After a few playtests, determine whether this method provides enough time for an appropriate number of deliveries. If necessary, choose two or three rows in the employee market to receive a second employee tile. Perhaps the rows that refresh the cattle market should also receive 2 employees, for example.


Add a few things to this and I think you have it.

1. Several sheets/boards with things you have to accomplish. Each different for variability

2. Event deck that blocks or removes things like a #3 cow or a specific path.


I like simple easy to implement solo variants and this has that going for it. But I think there is one big problem. That is, there is nothing to stop you from delaying delivery to Kansas City as much as you want. You could stop at every single location along the way with no penalty.

I'm not smart enough to have a good solution, though.


that and there is no reason to not overload a single path with your own buildings. A Trajan style timer for moves would solve the number of stops and one might have to put a token on every path and require them be picked up... I'd have to try these to know for sure. I dont like how fiddly the timer idea is but it's a start.
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Wil
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Tucson
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I took a stab at a solo variant which I've uploaded to the files section here:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/142152/great-western-...

It's an Automa deck inspired by Morten Monrad Pedersen’s fantastic Viticulture Automa deck.

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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My goal with this deck was to try to mimic what other players do in a multiplayer game such as placing buildings, buying cattle cards, taking objective cards, and claiming station bonuses. I also wanted to avoid having to do any bookkeeping for the automa opponent (no money, no hand of cards, no having to think out their turn, etc). The end goal being to keep it as fiddly free and simple as possible so I could focus on my own game yet still have an opponent mucking with things.

If you can help with some playtesting to refine this, that would be greatly appreciated. Once we feel it’s working, I’ll add some art so it’s not just a simple black and white deck.

Please also read the FAQ on the files page as I'll add notes to that as they surface as updating the file takes time due to the review period.

Thanks and hope you like it.
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