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Great Western Trail» Forums » Variants

Subject: Great Western Trail Automa 1.0 (solo play) rss

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Wil
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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
Denmark
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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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Kevin Marema
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Ellisville
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I love this game and I do a lot of solo gaming, so I'll give this a shot as soon as I can.

Thanks for doing this!
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Didier Renard
France
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I don't have the game yet but am potentially interested. I am a solo player so this variant might be the decisive point to trigger an order!
If I do, I will definitely test your variant and provide feedback.
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Martina Kessler
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Played two times now. Opponent won with about 40 points and is very hard to beat.
If he is lucky, he will take all the cows with 6 or 7 points, objektives with 5 points and 28 points with buildings. His victory points are earned too easy in my opinion but the Automa mechanism works really great. Next time I will modify the deck a little bit and report. Thanks for the idea!
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Decatur
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lealuna wrote:
Played two times now. Opponent won with about 40 points and is very hard to beat.
If he is lucky, he will take all the cows with 6 or 7 points, objektives with 5 points and 28 points with buildings. His victory points are earned too easy in my opinion but the Automa mechanism works really great. Next time I will modify the deck a little bit and report. Thanks for the idea!

Unfortunately, most automa variants don't really work as competetive simulations because it's very hard to create a system where the variability in the rival's points from game to game is equal to or less than the number of rival points that the player can have any effect upon. (If the rival's point variability consistently swings beyond the "player effect" window, then it would be just as meaningful to toss a coin at the beginning of the game to decide who wins.)

The best way to use automas, imo, is for good old beat-your-best-score purposes. That is what Pedersen's original automa system is, after all, in Viticulture/Tuscany: you choose a victory point condition at the start of the game (easy, medium, hard) and then try to beat that.

So I totally appreciate this variant and am eager to try it asap; but I'll almost certainly be using it to beat my best score.

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Travis Hylbak
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Marietta
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Love this variant. Brisco has wiped the floor with me 4 times now. The great thing is that I dont feel frustrated to the point of not playing the game. I dont know if it is the Automa or the great game that is Great Western Trail.

But boy does it get disheartening when you see those monster buildings go out, then the 5 point objectives, and finally that dreaded take highest cattle.

I may try a medium strategy where Brisco puts out 7a, 6a, 5a, and so on. He may take the lowest objective. I may or may not mess with the cow acquisitions.

Regardless, fantastic job on the Automa deck. I like that you dont have to keep up with money, cards, disks, etc, etc. Straight forward.
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Gert Breugelmans
Belgium
Vorselaar
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Yesterday, played my first solo session with the Automa deck.
That mecanism works really fine.

The things mentioned above are also my conserns ... the cows & objective cards. That went up really fast, togehter with buildings.
Also my train didn't move as fast as his train ... he was immediatly ahead of me, so he took everytime the stationtile with the bonus. Really hard to stay at least 3 steps ahead of the opponent's train.

My score was 103 and the score of Brisco 156.
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Roger S
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Bolingbrook
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This game is high on my wishlist and I'm hoping to play this automa variant.
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Lars Hoffmann
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I received the game today and played it with this solo variant 4 times.

The first 3 games I lost, while the first was pretty close (78:86), but I#m not 100% sure, if I missed some rules.
The second and the third one: I don't want to speak about it ... blush

Thank you Wil for ths great variant, but (for me) it is very hard.

So I tried to make it a little bit easier for the forth game and changed the rules for Brisco in this way:

1) If Brisco buys cattle, he always buys the most (changing keyword lowest to highest) valuable cattle card(s).
But he is only to buy cattle card(s), he has cowboys for it (e.g. with only 1 cowboy Brisco could buy a level 3 or a level 4 cattle card).

2) If Brisco buys a building, he buys the most valuable building, he has craftsmans for it.
He first tries to buy a build before upgrading it.
He buys buildings with hand icons first.

This time I won this game by 82:78


For my next games I want to try a rule change for the engineers, too:

3) If Brisco moves the train, he moves it X spaces (X = number of engineers ).
He always uses the station route and always upgrade the station.
The train won't stop for upgrading a station and moves forward the remaining spaces.
If Brisco is able to deploy a station master, he takes a worker of witch he has the most (tiebreak: engineers first, then craftsmans, then cowboys).


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Martina Kessler
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Tried again with this rule variation:

Sorted out:
Movement 3,4,5. one time
Buy cattle with the highest value

Modified:
Objective cards: take the card with the lowest value


I won 99:98 meeple


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James Geist
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Trying this as we speak. Let's say Brisco gets to KC his second time, so his next disc should go on Santa Fe. However, my train is at Santa Fe. Can he seemingly rule break and stick his disc there, and if so, where does his train go? Or should he place it further up the track on Albuquerque, and come back to Santa Fe next if available?

Also: does Brisco HAVE to have an available worker to put on the station master tile, should he have the opportunity?
 
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Chris Bock
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jwgeist00 wrote:
Trying this as we speak. Let's say Brisco gets to KC his second time, so his next disc should go on Santa Fe. However, my train is at Santa Fe. Can he seemingly rule break and stick his disc there, and if so, where does his train go? Or should he place it further up the track on Albuquerque, and come back to Santa Fe next if available?

I'm not exactly certain what is being done wrong, but I think you may have a rule wrong. The train should not be able to block a KC delivery. Also, the train should not be moving up the track during the KC delivery, only from actions on the buildings, auxiliary actions, or bonus actions on the objective cards.
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James Geist
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Wow, big miss by me! I thought the train went the track to where you were delivering. Thank you so much. This explains a lot And nullifies my question!
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Chuck Mitchell

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if Briscoe draws the Take Worker card and places a worker on his board that triggers an action, does Briscoe carry out the action?

I'm thinking mostly of the action space that allows building at a discount, I think. Don't have game in front of me.
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James Geist
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Played me second game v Brisco today, and while I closed the gap slightly, both my score and Brisco's increased.

First game was 111-69. This one came out 126-94. How the hell do you guys keep Briscos score down? He put up 68 just in building tiles, cows, and objectives, which are the three things you have very little control over.

He whooped me in station master tiles thanks to very inconvenient drawing of the "move 3 train spaces" cards, but other than that, just not sure how to keep his score DOWN.

Love this variant though. Tough and lets me try different general GWT strategies when I can't get it to the table with friends.
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Wil
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jwgeist00 wrote:
Love this variant though. Tough and lets me try different general GWT strategies when I can't get it to the table with friends.

Thanks for sharing your scores and feedback! Glad you had fun!

I just uploaded version 1.3 of the rules (pending BGG's approval). A few details can be found here:

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

The key items I focussed on were creating three difficulty levels, pacing tweaks (slowing Brisco down a bit so you have more time to work on your strategy), and some variation in Brisco's building selections.

I'm hopeful that the pacing tweaks open the game up a bit more and simulate real players time within each the trail more accurately.

Thanks again!

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Roger S
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I hope to find a bargain on this game at GenCon and try out your Automa!
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christian lecuyot
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Amazing solo rules. It works perfectly and is a lot of fun. I won twice in easy mode [54-46; 115-67](i know, i am not very courageous modest). Now i will have to try it in standard mode. To put some different difficulty levels is an excellent thing too. Thanks for your great work.
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Andrew Robbins
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I have been really enjoying the solo mode. Closest game so far was 101-97 in Briscoe's favor.

One thing I have added is rolling a die for Kansas City sub-phases 1-3 when Briscoe delivers. For an odd number, I place the higher tile in each space. An even number places the lower tile. I did not like choosing the tile for Briscoe as I could game the automa to get myself an extra delivery. It makes it harder, but I think it adds a bit more.

Best,
Andrew
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Tim Morton
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Still tempted by this game have re read the rules, how long does it take to play is my main question with setup and packing up.

It will mostly be for solo play like Viticulture Essential Edition which I get out once every few months. And takes about a hour for me.

Thanks
 
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glue crouik
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I finaly tested the Brisco solo version and I enjoyed it a lot. I like that there is not much to enjoy on the automa side (no money, only few decisions...). It's smooth to play and enjoyable. Thanks !

The only question remaining is when recruiting some worker for the automa enables some building construction ability on the player board... should a building be shuffled ?

 
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Jonny
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Played this yesterday resulting in a 113-113 draw! I enjoy this a lot, it gives a good feel of an opponent. One suggestion would be to slightly change the building rule for the automa since it is a bit random? Something like the first time through the deck randomly build one of the first 3 buildings, the second time through a building from 4-7 and the third time through from 8-10?
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/|\ Roland /|\
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Uphillspin wrote:
Played this yesterday resulting in a 113-113 draw! I enjoy this a lot, it gives a good feel of an opponent. One suggestion would be to slightly change the building rule for the automa since it is a bit random? Something like the first time through the deck randomly build one of the first 3 buildings, the second time through a building from 4-7 and the third time through from 8-10?

That's a really cool idea. Would love to see that added to the online automa since that's all I use.
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Wil
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Uphillspin wrote:
Played this yesterday resulting in a 113-113 draw! I enjoy this a lot, it gives a good feel of an opponent. One suggestion would be to slightly change the building rule for the automa since it is a bit random? Something like the first time through the deck randomly build one of the first 3 buildings, the second time through a building from 4-7 and the third time through from 8-10?

Thanks for suggesting this. I like this idea quite a bit as well.

Originally, the buildings were quite static. Literally place building 10, then building 9, then building 8. This worked but it was always the worst case.

In the latest version of the Automa, my attempt was to create levels. The easy mode limits the buildings to numbers 1-5 (points: 1, 1, 1, 3, and 4), and the hard mode limits the building to numbers 6-10 (points: 5, 6, 6, 9, 13). Although, more random I've felt that this point balance works well for these two modes.

The normal mode on the other hand is where the randomness can really stand out as it uses all 10 buildings (points 1, 1, 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 9, 13). You could draw only low point buildings, or you could draw only/mostly high point buildings (which is my luck usually goes).

Your suggestion seems like an excellent way to address this. I'll take a look at the scores I have on record to see how this change would effect these scores. I'm optimistic that this may be a great way to tune this further.

Thanks for playing and thanks for sharing this feedback.

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Nicolas Guibert
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Just played the automata. Loved it. Great job!

I ran into a case that the rules don't seem to deal with. What if I need to place a building for the automata and there is no place in front of me? Either because I am on the last square on the trail or on a branch (like at the beginning of the trail). I was at the beginning of the trail and placed the new building where it annoyed me the most (and it did I can tell you), but I wish the rules had been clearer on this.

Similarly, when the time comes to choose an objective card, there are often several contenders. So shall I pick the one that suits me best?

Finally, where do the workers go? On the opponent's board? So they can get bonuses (like getting a hazard for the 4th column in the cowboy row) and score points for the 5th and 6ht column?



 
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