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Pax Pamir» Forums » Variants

Subject: Initial Impressions of Solitaire Variant rss

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Paul Cockburn
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Ricky Royal has produced rules for a solitaire variant of Pax Pamir, which have been included in the Khyber Knives expansion. You can find them on his Box of Delights website. This ‘initial impressions’ review is based on me having played two games using these solo rules and no multi-player games. I am also assuming the reader already has some knowledge of Pax Pamir and is curious about the solo possibilities.

Overall the solo experience was enjoyable, and helped me familiarise myself with the rules of the ‘normal’ game. The AI opponent (Shere Khan) seemed very powerful. Instead of a mere two actions per turn he was able to purchase and play two cards and perform all the special actions from these cards. This gave my opponent from 4 to 8 actions as against my 2, although I had the advantage of being able to choose my actions rather than rely on random dice rolls. Even so, Shere Khan was constantly battering down my best efforts, making this a tough game to find a path to victory.

In my first game I chose to be loyal to the British Empire, and so did SK. This meant that there was never any real question of which Empire would be supreme when a Topple card was triggered. Every single piece (armies, roads, tribes, spies) was British or pro-British. My aim therefore became simply a race to gain more British influence than SK before a Topple could trigger. Within an hour the game was over and I had failed. In this game the Campaign action was never used because there were no enemy Empires to attack.

In my second game I chose to be loyal to the Russians and SK chose the Afghans. This made for a longer game (well over two hours) requiring a different strategy. It was clear early on that I would never acquire enough Afghan influence to beat SK so my aim was to make sure it was the Russian Empire which achieved supremacy. This turned out to be very hard. I managed to prevent losing by removing SK’s last tribal cube when Topples were looming, but getting my own ‘one of each kind of piece’ on the map and tableau was only achieved in my very last turn. And manipulating the regime to ensure the Russians had the majority of the right kind of pieces at the right time was very tricky.

It was only after these two games were over that I remembered the solo rules for empire supremacy included a fourth Ottoman empire which is considered to have four of every kind of piece. So supremacy requires not a simple majority ( R > A ) but an overwhelming majority ( R > A+5 ), which on my two experiences so far seems well beyond my capabilities. This should not prove to be a problem. You can simply adjust the size of the Ottoman empire at the start of the game according to how difficult you want to make it. In my case size 0 was a big enough challenge.

The absence of three competing Empires was the biggest drawback. SK never changes his loyalty and there was no point in either game where I felt it would be an advantage for me to change either. This inevitably leads to a one-empire or two-empire game without the full ebb and flow of the three-way struggle which I assume was intended as a key element of Pax Pamir.

My conclusion is that the solitaire version provides a good experience and one which I am keen to try again. But I am already thinking of my own house-rules which would unlock the possibility of a three-way conflict.
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Paul Cockburn
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Just so you know - I won my next two solo games on the third topple (without using the Nation Building variant) remembering to take the Ottoman empire into account. It turns out that there are ways to mitigate SK's plethora of actions and to ensure that the Topple occurs when you have lots of one type of piece. Now I'm going to have to try the Nation Building option.
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