Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
 Hide
22 Posts

Terraforming Mars» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Solo strategy, priorities, first turn and downfalls rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Fredrik
Sweden
Malmö
flag msg tools
Head like an orange
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So I have played a handfull of solo games now and I would like to read your ideas and tips on main strategies, tactics and priorities. Below I'm giving you an idea of how I usually like to start off, my main priorities as well as my usual issues.

Main strategies

Focus on increase in production (green cards) and raising global parameters events (red cards).
Don't think about VP or special city tiles until late game and when completion of global parameters is in sight.
Focus first on temperature, then water then oxygen.
Production focus on energy, plant and M€ or titanium.
Set up to be able to create chains example Aquifier -> placement bonus 2 plants -> Spend 8 plants -> raise oxygen level -> Raise temperature bonus on the Oxygen level.

Priorities
Research phase - production and events over VP:s
Max 3 cards research
Try to raise at least 1 global parameter per Generation as minimum.
Placing Greenery's from left to right (or vice versa) on top of the main ocean on Mars.
Placement bonus for Ocean tile first plants-then cards

First turn
Power plant standard project
Increase in titanium/M€/steel if possible or Increase temperature

Downfalls
Due to my focus on green and red cards I usually end up with a low amount of blue cards. They usually are not prioritized by me when I'm in the research phase or I draft cards that don't givem e that much.
I barely manage to complete the objective.
Low on cash until mid-game to late game.

So hopfully I can get some pointers or ideas. Maybe save my cash first few generations, collect cards and just build a bunch on the 3rd or 4th generation?

Look forward to reading your replies.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lorry Moller
Canada
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
General strategies for me, ymmv:
- first turn, don't keep too many cards or you'll be too broke to bootstrap your money upward. of the original 10 I generally cap at 4-5 cards and throw any that have even moderate temp/o2/ocean requirements, no matter how good they are.
- update your ME production early either with +Me cards or +TR. 14 per round is very hard to do anything with after buying any cards
- personally I don't worry about points until later in the game. if you can get down items that give you TR or ME production at the cost of a couple points, play them! Nuclear zone and protected valley are great first turn cards to me, as well as those earth card that give you +2 and +3 Me production
- have a plan for the oxygen track - either plants or the electricity-to-oxygen converters (sometimes you might want 2 of the latter!). I find it harder than the temp and ocean tracks.
- you are playing many turns, so try to keep anything that gives discounts, they can pay off big in the later rounds. You don't have to play them until the first time they give a discount...
- there aren't a lot of microbe cards in the deck, so cards that help other microbe cards aren't generally worth keeping unless you already have a microbe card down.

Finally, this might be specific to me, but:
- I always try to keep the science tag cards if possible, even the one that don't further your board position (search for life, etc). They often help you draw cards, and drawing cards is very important solo, even if it's just to draw past the bad ones. And the cards that have big science tag requirements are the best in the game: +6 electro (!), -2 cost per card, +4 electro, draw2 cards, etc. there is an 11 point card that gives two science tags, I almost always keep this card as it helps fulfill the science requirements so well.
Plus - it's just more fun to see more cards and make them work for your engine.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Pettersson
msg tools
jaffawahha wrote:
Focus first on temperature, then water then oxygen.


Focus on what the cards/corporations give you, not a set order.

Quote:
Set up to be able to create chains example Aquifier -> placement bonus 2 plants -> Spend 8 plants -> raise oxygen level -> Raise temperature bonus on the Oxygen level.


It´s nice when you can do a long chain, but don´t spend too much effort thinking out set ups. It has a bigger impact in multiplayer than single player, after all no one else can get the bonus.

Quote:
Research phase - production and events over VP:s

When going just for a win this is a key factor, it´s absolutely fine playing cards with minus VP if it means you save a couple M€.

Quote:
Max 3 cards research

It´s fine buying more cards, if you can afford it and it is the best option available. It´s probably an ok guideline though, but not as a hard rule.

Quote:
Placement bonus for Ocean tile first plants-then cards

No! You pick what is needed the most. Sometimes cards are most important, sometimes titanium and sometimes plants. Look at the situation and see what you need.

Quote:
First turn
Power plant standard project
Increase in titanium/M€/steel if possible or Increase temperature

If you mean to buy extra power almost by default id say it´s a definite no-no. Usually I find cards to spend M€ on, of course it can be right to use standard projects but only if it serves some purpose. It will give you ~1,5 temperature increase in the long run, but maybe the money is better spent on other things. Or not at all this generation.

Quote:
I barely manage to complete the objective.

What objective do you mean? Terraform the whole planet?

Quote:
Low on cash until mid-game to late game.

That is kinda how it should be. If you don´t use your money, what are they for?
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fredrik
Sweden
Malmö
flag msg tools
Head like an orange
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
LorryMoller wrote:
- have a plan for the oxygen track - either plants or the electricity-to-oxygen converters (sometimes you might want 2 of the latter!). I find it harder than the temp and ocean tracks.

Which converters are you refering to? I agree, I also usually have issues with raising oxygen levels.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Pettersson
msg tools
jaffawahha wrote:
LorryMoller wrote:
- have a plan for the oxygen track - either plants or the electricity-to-oxygen converters (sometimes you might want 2 of the latter!). I find it harder than the temp and ocean tracks.

Which converters are you refering to? I agree, I also usually have issues with raising oxygen levels.


Probably Ironworks, Steelworks and 2 others I don't know the name off. But basically you play a card that allows you to, once per generation, transform 3-4 energy into an oxygen increase.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fredrik
Sweden
Malmö
flag msg tools
Head like an orange
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ThomasP87 wrote:
jaffawahha wrote:

First turn
Power plant standard project
Increase in titanium/M€/steel if possible or Increase temperature

If you mean to buy extra power almost by default id say it´s a definite no-no. Usually I find cards to spend M€ on, of course it can be right to use standard projects but only if it serves some purpose. It will give you ~1,5 temperature increase in the long run, but maybe the money is better spent on other things. Or not at all this generation.

This is really helpfull insight. That putting poney on cards isn't that bad after all. Of course everything is situational as you write and kind of adapting as you go. The Corporation, the hand you are dealt.But I think I will be more open to spending money on cards, thanks.

ThomasP87 wrote:
jaffawahha wrote:
I barely manage to complete the objective.

What objective do you mean? Terraform the whole planet?

Terraforming the whole planet
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Pettersson
msg tools
Ideally you don't want to spend any money on standard projects. Good cardsare much more M€ efficient.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jens Hoppe
Denmark
Frederiksberg
flag msg tools
What are you, like 80?
badge
It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In the solo game, it seems to me that there's a built-in dilemma between maximizing your chance of winning (on the one hand), and maximizing your score (on the other). In other words, if every choice you make is designed to maximize your chance of winning (so, playing safe), your score will likely suffer. Alternatively, take more chances, lose more often, but potentially score more points when you do win.

I usually tend to play it more safe, and these days have a rate of winning of about 60-80% or so - definitely better than when I started out. But most of my scores are mediocre, usually ranging from mid-70's to mid-90's. Only 3-4 times or so have I had scores above 100.

Just trying to maximize your chance of winning involves engine-building (increase production) combined with events to raise global parameters for the first half or more of the game, and sprinting to complete global parameters for the last couple of generations. Or, that's the way I approach it, at least.

I always stop and assess the situation after the first seven generations. At this point I need to have significantly increased production, and I usually need to have accomplished at least a modest increase in global parameters. Not much, necessarily, but at least a couple of oceans, a couple of points of O2, and 3-5 steps of temperature is nice. If I haven't done anything in terms of global parameters at this point, it can be hard to get everything done in the final seven generations, regardless of how fantastic an engine I've created. Not the least because those modest global parameter increases will have increased your TR, and thereby your income.


But still, I often find it hard to predict whether I am going to win a game or not, even when looking at the game several generations in. I might think I have had the best possible first two generations, only to see myself fail miserably. Other times, I feel my development has been too slow, but then something comes along and helps me, and I cruise to an easy victory.


As stated, I am far from an expert on how to achieve high scores. That said, I have had high-scoring games where the points mainly came from the board (greeneries + cities), and games where I had an outrageous number of card points (Jovian tags being a fine way to get that, of course).
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fredrik
Sweden
Malmö
flag msg tools
Head like an orange
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
jens_hoppe wrote:
In the solo game, it seems to me that there's a built-in dilemma between maximizing your chance of winning (on the one hand), and maximizing your score (on the other). In other words, if every choice you make is designed to maximize your chance of winning (so, playing safe), your score will likely suffer. Alternatively, take more chances, lose more often, but potentially score more points when you do win.

I usually tend to play it more safe, and these days have a rate of winning of about 60-80% or so - definitely better than when I started out. But most of my scores are mediocre, usually ranging from mid-70's to mid-90's. Only 3-4 times or so have I had scores above 100.

Just trying to maximize your chance of winning involves engine-building (increase production) combined with events to raise global parameters for the first half or more of the game, and sprinting to complete global parameters for the last couple of generations. Or, that's the way I approach it, at least.

I always stop and assess the situation after the first seven generations. At this point I need to have significantly increased production, and I usually need to have accomplished at least a modest increase in global parameters. Not much, necessarily, but at least a couple of oceans, a couple of points of O2, and 3-5 steps of temperature is nice. If I haven't done anything in terms of global parameters at this point, it can be hard to get everything done in the final seven generations, regardless of how fantastic an engine I've created. Not the least because those modest global parameter increases will have increased your TR, and thereby your income.


But still, I often find it hard to predict whether I am going to win a game or not, even when looking at the game several generations in. I might think I have had the best possible first two generations, only to see myself fail miserably. Other times, I feel my development has been too slow, but then something comes along and helps me, and I cruise to an easy victory.


As stated, I am far from an expert on how to achieve high scores. That said, I have had high-scoring games where the points mainly came from the board (greeneries + cities), and games where I had an outrageous number of card points (Jovian tags being a fine way to get that, of course).


Really interesting to read your strategy. I realise that I do a bit of both the whole 14 generations. I try to push up global parameters early and focus a bit too much on that by for example paying for a standard Project rather than building a good card Worth 14 M€ or more. I usually fall on the fact that I'm Close to completion but not enough due to my weak Engine. I don't invest enough in my engine - I try to pay my way to full terraforming. My Investors see that early and jump ship (thematically speaking). AHH I love this game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lorry Moller
Canada
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
ThomasP87 wrote:
jaffawahha wrote:
LorryMoller wrote:
- have a plan for the oxygen track - either plants or the electricity-to-oxygen converters (sometimes you might want 2 of the latter!). I find it harder than the temp and ocean tracks.

Which converters are you refering to? I agree, I also usually have issues with raising oxygen levels.


Probably Ironworks, Steelworks and 2 others I don't know the name off. But basically you play a card that allows you to, once per generation, transform 3-4 energy into an oxygen increase.


Yep, exactly that. They can also give steel or titanium, and it dovetails nicely with the science strategy i mentioned as many of the science cards give energy bonuses (some very big). It can hurt your score a bit though, since getting oxygen with forests has the bonus of giving points for the forests themselves.

Even after about 30 solo plays its still fairly challenging - I only win 3 in 4, and almost all of those wins are completed on turn 14. I did squeek out one 133 pt win (first turn earth catapult) but most of the time i'm happy if I can crack 100.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
corum irsei
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ThomasP87 wrote:
Ideally you don't want to spend any money on standard projects. Good cardsare much more M€ efficient.
Yeah, but what do you do if you don't get any 'good' cards?

Imho, it's preferable to buy into standard projects (ideally raising the temperature) in the first few turns to increase your income rather than 'waste' your turns by buying cards you cannot play for a long time.

Of course, if you do draw 'good' cards, buying and playing them takes precedence.

I also agree on the inherent dilemma between trying to successfully terraform and optimizing your score. It's actually very hard to fail to terraform if you concentrate on it, but you won't typically end up with a good score.
You need to carefully balance your desire to optimize your score vs. fullfilling the terraforming requirements. It isn't always easy to tell with how much optimization you can get away in the end; there's always the danger of being too greedy.
Typically, I only start to concentrate fully on the terraforming in my last three turns, often using standard projects to get there.

But you'll recognize a truly outstanding solo game earlier: In my best game so far, I was finished with terraforming in generation 12. That allowed me to spend more than two turns with very high income on nothing but optimizing my score. Unfortunately, such games require a lot of luck in addition to good planning.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fredrik
Sweden
Malmö
flag msg tools
Head like an orange
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Corum, you are onto what my problem has been during the starting turns, the cards arent good or the requirements need that parametera go up . So standard projects has to be done or else it's too late. Thats my thought process.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Pettersson
msg tools
jhaelen wrote:
ThomasP87 wrote:
Ideally you don't want to spend any money on standard projects. Good cardsare much more M€ efficient.
Yeah, but what do you do if you don't get any 'good' cards?

Imho, it's preferable to buy into standard projects (ideally raising the temperature) in the first few turns to increase your income rather than 'waste' your turns by buying cards you cannot play for a long time.


Of course, if you do draw 'good' cards, buying and playing them takes precedence.

I also agree on the inherent dilemma between trying to successfully terraform and optimizing your score. It's actually very hard to fail to terraform if you concentrate on it, but you won't typically end up with a good score.
You need to carefully balance your desire to optimize your score vs. fullfilling the terraforming requirements. It isn't always easy to tell with how much optimization you can get away in the end; there's always the danger of being too greedy.
Typically, I only start to concentrate fully on the terraforming in my last three turns, often using standard projects to get there.

But you'll recognize a truly outstanding solo game earlier: In my best game so far, I was finished with terraforming in generation 12. That allowed me to spend more than two turns with very high income on nothing but optimizing my score. Unfortunately, such games require a lot of luck in addition to good planning.


I pretty much agree on everything. What I want to add is about the part in bold.

Lets say you have no good cards to play soon, but you get an amazing mid to late game card like Kelp farming. That´s a case where it can be viable to just buy a bunch of oceans to get that +3 plant and +2 M€ as soon as possible. It´s not good in the short term, but in the end it can be what saves you since the swing from Kelp farm is huge.
Saving a situationally great card like Nitrogen-rich asteroid and hope to get plant cards is another strategy. Or if you have no plant production and know oxygen will be a problem, you can keep Giant space mirror, Nuclear power or some other card that increases your power and just hope to get lucky and draw ironworks/steelworks/water splitting plant(?) or Ore processor.
You can also keep Robotic workforce or extreme-cold fungus and hope you can combine it with something. If it pans out it can be a game saver.

Sometimes you play for your outs and hope to get lucky. You just have to look at the board/cards and think about how can i win. Mindlessly spend scrap on either cards or standard projects is a bad idea. It might be better to hope you get something the next turn, or you buy an ocean tile and pick up 2 cards to increase the chance of getting something useful. There is no definite right/wrong, just do choices that gives you a net positive in the end. The more you play and the more situations you encounter the better intuition you will get.

Just some rambling thoughts about mindset/decisions.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marcus S
Canada
Calgary
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
jaffawahha wrote:
Corum, you are onto what my problem has been during the starting turns, the cards arent good or the requirements need that parametera go up . So standard projects has to be done or else it's too late. Thats my thought process.

This can be very tempting, and is what I used to do... and may be the "safe" play...I always used to use standard projects if i had a decent amount of money left over at the end of the round... but I have started doing this a lot less more recently. If I don't really play any cards in the first couple turns, not such a big deal, but that means if i draw Soletta, Io Mining Industries, Deimos Down I can play them immediately, and it cost me 2 income over 2 turns maybe?
There is always the risk that you won't get the big useful cards to spend the money on, but then you end up using Standard projects later which still only costs you a few Mc in production for a couple rounds.

As I have made this progressive change, my average score has gone up, and my success rate has actually gone up too, to my surprise.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Örjan Almén
Sweden
Karlstad
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
CarcuS wrote:
jaffawahha wrote:
Corum, you are onto what my problem has been during the starting turns, the cards arent good or the requirements need that parametera go up . So standard projects has to be done or else it's too late. Thats my thought process.

This can be very tempting, and is what I used to do... and may be the "safe" play...I always used to use standard projects if i had a decent amount of money left over at the end of the round... but I have started doing this a lot less more recently. If I don't really play any cards in the first couple turns, not such a big deal, but that means if i draw Soletta, Io Mining Industries, Deimos Down I can play them immediately, and it cost me 2 income over 2 turns maybe?
There is always the risk that you won't get the big useful cards to spend the money on, but then you end up using Standard projects later which still only costs you a few Mc in production for a couple rounds.

As I have made this progressive change, my average score has gone up, and my success rate has actually gone up too, to my surprise.


Yeah, there are mostly raising the terraform rating and production levels that can't wait for the next generation, everything else can be postponed to next generation without losing anything as you have as many actions as you want each generation.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fredrik
Sweden
Malmö
flag msg tools
Head like an orange
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
CarcuS wrote:
jaffawahha wrote:
Corum, you are onto what my problem has been during the starting turns, the cards arent good or the requirements need that parametera go up . So standard projects has to be done or else it's too late. Thats my thought process.

This can be very tempting, and is what I used to do... and may be the "safe" play...I always used to use standard projects if i had a decent amount of money left over at the end of the round... but I have started doing this a lot less more recently. If I don't really play any cards in the first couple turns, not such a big deal, but that means if i draw Soletta, Io Mining Industries, Deimos Down I can play them immediately, and it cost me 2 income over 2 turns maybe?
There is always the risk that you won't get the big useful cards to spend the money on, but then you end up using Standard projects later which still only costs you a few Mc in production for a couple rounds.

As I have made this progressive change, my average score has gone up, and my success rate has actually gone up too, to my surprise.


I will be giving this strategy a try for sure. I also do that behaviour you did - "Oh, I have M€ left- I can buy a standard project and progress."
Really interesting thread. Anymore tactics, recommendations, pitfalls or other? Please share - I love reading and discussing this game and this varient specifically
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enoch Fryxelius
msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Well, a lot of the solo game is about evaluating the cards. Since the cards and corporations are balanced for multiplay you will find some cards to be inherently stronger or weaker. Experience with the cards and a good strategy will go a long way...
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Game Guy
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmb
As far as Standard Projects, I stay away from them unless I need them to establish the Pre-Reqs for a card.

Only buy cards you can get played within a turn or two. On the initial buy, you might keep a card which you will need to hold 3-4 Generations, but not if it means taking over four total cards. This rule of thumb works pretty well both MP and solo. It is even more important in solo because of your lower starting income. In solo, being able to play a card within X Generations means you have an actual plan to meet he pre-reqs for your cards which you can actually afford to execute. Bonus points if you have a few MCs left over so that you can still at least buy some more cards so that you do not find yourself with an empty hand...although an empty hand is still better than a bunch of cards you cannot get played.

The best early buys are card which allow you to directly move the terraforming parameters and cheap cards which give production. It matters less that your first few cards seem like a random grab bag of mines and other small production cards than it does that you not let the first two Generations go by with nothing established. A little bit of anything is better than nothing and a little bit of everything is never all that bad. By turn 4-5 you should have a plan for how you are going to move each parameter. At that point you need to focus on getting each part of your plan up and by turn 7 that plan should be under way. By turn 10 your production should meet or exceed what you will need to complete terraforming.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fredrik
Sweden
Malmö
flag msg tools
Head like an orange
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Only buy cards you can get played within a turn or two.


I think this principal might be too harsh but initially I can understand the need to be cautious with the buys but if a good cards comes up that pushes up the parameters further ahead in the game then I feel it's worth it. I think all cards that push up global parameters whatever the requirements must be prioritized in a solo game.

Another question:
Which corporations are you favourite Corporations for solo play?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Guttag
United States
West Chester
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hey Jan-Fredrik,

Saturn Systems, as that was my first win, with a final score of 103. That corporation fits the mantra of this post: a decent amount of initial ME, an immediate production of 1 titanium, an immediate production of 1 ME (and an increase in ME for each subsequent Jovian tag). I especially looked for cards that had titanium and/or Jovian tags, provided titanium and/or increased titanium, increased ME production, or would place Ocean tiles/increase thermal. By the later generations I was up around 60-70 ME each generation as my TR was way up and my ME production was above 20-with that much ME I could pay for just about all the Ocean tiles or thermal increases I wanted, as well as Green tiles to boost oxygen, plus I had now a fairly good plants and power/heat production engine in place. As the initial post says, focus on meeting all the oxygen/theral/Ocean tile requirements, and worry about total VPs later.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Guttag
United States
West Chester
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hey Jan-Fredrik,

Recently won solo with Helion (final VP score of 92) and Mining Guild (final VP score of 72).

With Helion, you definitely focus on cards with Space tags, plus you get to use Heat as ME which can come in handy.

I found Mining Guilds to be a slower engine to develop (hence the lower VP score), but this corporation tends to have great Steel production that is useful for the many cards that have Builder tags. You should also place cards that increases ME production, and especially Power as there are two Action cards that will allow you to trade Power for more Steel, as well as to increase the Oxygen level, with any excess Power being later converted to Heat for thermal increases.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fredrik
Sweden
Malmö
flag msg tools
Head like an orange
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I haven't played those corps yet. Good job. I played a multiplayer yesterday and it was fun. I finally got to seeing the perks of working with microbes and had some really nice action cards which added more microbes. Something I will consider in a solo. Good way to stack VPs for a small cost.

You should add your scores on Jonathan Fryxelius thread Solo Terraformer Challenge for 2017 April. I Think challenges like this can help develop my gaming. A bunch of high scores so it will be interesting to write to people and learn a thing or two from the "experts".
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.