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Subject: I just realized what it takes for me to enjoy a game solo rss

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Øivind Karlsrud
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I will use Uwe Rosenberg games as examples. After finally having tried all of his big games, A Feast for Odin has been the most enjoyable solo experience. That made me start to think about the reasons why. I realized that, just like Mage Knight, A Feast for Odin gives me these small, managable puzzles to solve, from turn-to-turn. How can I surround this bonus space on my homeboard in A Feast for Odin? What's the best way to play this hand in Mage Knight? These small puzzles, which can be solved exactly, are what keeps me interested when I'm playing solo. Let me give examples of two games which failed for me, for different reasons. The first is Ora et Labora. In Ora et Labora, the puzzle just felt too hard for me. Not only are there many ways to get the resources needed to build a building, how you place them has a big effect on your score. And then there are limitations on where certain buildings can be built. There's a real puzzle here, but it's not manageable for me, and just makes my brain hurt. The second example is Caverna. It failed (solo, I'm sure I would like it multiplayer) for the opposite reason. Let's say I have decided that my next goal is to get a third dwarf. It's easy to see what I have to do, and there's not much of a puzzle at all. The only incentive for playing it solo again would be to beat my own score, and that gives me no enjoyment at all.

For a game to be truly great, there has to be room for an overall strategy too, but more than anything, for a game to be enjoyable solo I need it to continually give me small goals I can try to reach by solving a puzzle. A puzzle which is manageable to me, and gives me just the right amount of brain burn.

For others who enjoy solo gaming, what does it take to make solo gaming fun for you?
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John Burt
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I get different enjoyment from different solo games, but in general there are two types that work best for me. The first is as you describe: a tactical puzzle that keeps me engrossed throughout the game. The other thing I like is deep strategic puzzles that require more long term planning. Ora et Labora isn't my favorite, but it has that aspect. My all time favorite solo game is Roads and Boats, which rewards players for very careful strategic planning from the very first move. When I play R&B, I keep a notebook handy to write out my game plan, including diagrams and lists of milestones, then I obsessively play the same scenario 5-10 times over a week, refining my approach to maximize my score.

There are two mechanisms that I don't like in solo games, the first being reliance on luck to provide tension, and the second is the "lose many times until you solve the game" (e.g., Friday).
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Øivind Karlsrud
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quill65 wrote:
I get different enjoyment from different solo games, but in general there are two types that work best for me. The first is as you describe: a tactical puzzle that keeps me engrossed throughout the game. The other thing I like is deep strategic puzzles that require more long term planning. Ora et Labora isn't my favorite, but it has that aspect. My all time favorite solo game is Roads and Boats, which rewards players for very careful strategic planning from the very first move. When I play R&B, I keep a notebook handy to write out my game plan, including diagrams and lists of milestones, then I obsessively play the same scenario 5-10 times over a week, refining my approach to maximize my score.

There are two mechanisms that I don't like in solo games, the first being reliance on luck to provide tension, and the second is the "lose many times until you solve the game" (e.g., Friday).

It's been many years since I played Roads & Boats, but it's a game I really enjoyed, and it's very much multiplayer solitaire anyway, so I'm sure I would enjoy it solo. It has the kind of turn-to-turn puzzles I enjoy. How do I get this timber to the sawmill, while at the same time getting these bricks over there, etc.

I have found that I can stomach some luck, as long as there are interesting puzzles for me to solve. How well I do in the end doesn't matter that much to me, although I always try to do my best. The worst type of solo game (for me), are those which are just about the story, with no interesting puzzles, just a lot of random things happening to you. There are so many solo or co-op games which have failed for me, for this reason. They can be fun with others, though. I've had a lot of fun with Eldritch Horror. But it's not the kind of game I enjoy alone.
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BG.EXE
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Quill, you would like Firlds of Arle and Caverna I think. Both reward very strategic plans from the first move and your first action has a meaningful effect on your last possible action in the game.

Caverna is even deterministic solo, aka it can be solved. Nobody has yet however, and I'm honestly not sure anyone will bother to. Fields of Arle has randomized buildings at the start of each game, and so is non-deterministic if you prefer that.
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mortego
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1.) uninterrupted privacy
2.) coffee
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Crazed Survivor
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Well it's not that easy to nail, I'd have to think about it really. But it's a very interesting question, especially as I mostly play solo nowadays.
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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I hate playing solo, the swine keeps cheating.
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Doug Hook
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I like playing solo when I can't find others to play. Most games set up and move along much faster than f2f. Right now I'm playing Ticket to Ride on my cell phone against 4 AI opponents. Gotta go it's my turn...
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Geoffrey Burrell
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I like playing solo because I am the only person who can second guess my own actions.
 
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M Smith
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No gaming night or family members to play 2+ boardgame.
Household must be happy,well fed and doing something that will keep em busy.
Classic FM or thematic music (current stuff to check out is the wonderful gloom of kilforth tracks on YouTube).
Ice cold cider or soft drink on tap depending on how the working day went.

Time to enjoy a Solo game.

Strange how it is that to enjoy a solo game some of us need to know others around us are settled too.

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John Burt
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boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
Quill, you would like Firlds of Arle and Caverna I think. Both reward very strategic plans from the first move and your first action has a meaningful effect on your last possible action in the game.

Caverna is even deterministic solo, aka it can be solved. Nobody has yet however, and I'm honestly not sure anyone will bother to. Fields of Arle has randomized buildings at the start of each game, and so is non-deterministic if you prefer that.


FoA is one of my favorites, for both 1p and 2p. I'm looking forward to the expansion due out later this year.

I haven't played Caverna 1p, only 4p, and find it to be very fun, but a little too loosey goosey for my tastes.
 
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John Burt
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slatersteven wrote:
I hate playing solo, the swine keeps cheating.


That's because you're not a Wookie.
 
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Øivind Karlsrud
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After starting this thread I have played both A Feast for Odin and Mage Knight again, and it confirmed my feelings in the original post. It's solving puzzles like Paul jokes about (at 0:35, I can't seem to start the video at the right point):

Trying different combinations, taking everything back, trying a new combination, etc. In Mage Knight, it happens when you're going to fight several enemies, and you can block with this card and this unit, attack with this unit, or you can block with this more powerful card, and attack with all your units, or you can.... It's the kind of thing I love when I play solo, but hate in multiplayer games (because of downtime). Quinns reminded me of what kind of decisions I love in multiplayer games (at 10:17):

 
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TonyKR
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I largely agree with the OP here. When I want to exercise the little pea rattling around in my head, I tend to gravitate to the larger low-luck/no-luck strategy games that may (or may not) offer smaller tactical puzzles along the way (Mage Knight, AFfO, a number of Euros played multi-handed, etc). Roads & Boats would certainly be on that list if I owned a copy.

Although there are times when I'm perfectly happy pulling out Hostage Negotiator for a game or two. But we're talking 10-15 minutes a shot there instead of a few hours. And those tend to be the times when I specifically don't want to think about what I'm doing (note to self: never consider being a hostage negotiator in real life).
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Simon Maynard
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I have ruminated a lot on what I in solo games and have come to the follow (provisional) conclusions:

I like my solo games to be:

1) Highly variable in the game setup making each game a different challenge and therefore endlessly re-playable.

2) More tactical than strategic so that each turn presents a new problem that must be overcome and that one cannot plan too far ahead.

3) The direct consequences of my actions should be highly deterministic. I hate it when I decide what to do and then have to roll a dice to see whether it succeeds or not.

So, that's why I love playing games like Nations and Peloponnes Card Game. They are both highly tactical, highly variable in setup and on each turn I am presented with a new and different problem. However, on my turn I can make a decision and know what the effects of that decision will be.

A game that I got board of (solo) because they were far more strategic than tactical: Agricola

A game that I find very frustrating because everything hangs on the balance of a simple die roll: Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game
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Thomas M
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I pop the plastic wrap, punch the cards and read through the rulebook. Then study the game pieces, read any cards, etc.

One never really get to appreciate unpacking a new game if you do it straight into an X-player setup.

Secret of this trick: It works for non-solo games too

The downside: I own games that only ever got unpacked and never played.
 
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