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Subject: SoloPlay Variant is available for Patchwork (includes 2 mini-expansions) rss

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This thread describes/discusses the design and development of the Patchwork SoloPlay variant and the mini-expansions.

The download is available using the following link(s):

Patchwork SoloPlay Rules + 2 Mini-Expansions

This file is #61 in the SoloPlay series.
More game files available here on the Geek can be accessed from the following Geeklist:

SoloPlay Variants Posted on the Geek

SoloPlay- BGG user GameRulesforOne
Design Goals: Can I create a variant for a puzzly 2 player game where spatial interaction among the players is all there is.

Patchwork was a hit in our household right from the start and even today it is rare where someone will turn down a play. A lot of this has to do with the simple mechanics and the ability for many to beat their old man. I used to think that I was good at this type of game but apparently it is not so.

Technically this does not fit my definition that prompts a solo variant because it does get played quite often. Still I wanted to see what could be done.

SoloPlay Patchwork Design Comments:

Where to begin?
There was a false start when I began to work on this variant. I was sticking very close to the original design and did not want to have the player play 2 boards. I made a number of passes with this idea in mind but they were rather dull. The issue was that it became too easy to do the same thing all of the time without any interference. You in essence could just bide your time and “leave the space open” for the perfect fit.

So I had to start over and rethink the design. I did not like that the boards always started blank and did not have a solution for it right away. I started playing 2 boards waiting for lightening to strike. The sky was clear for a couple of plays and then a button rolled onto one of the boards and it dawned on me what needed to happen.

I stopped the play and took a selection of buttons out and placed them on both of the boards. From now on I need to work around these and maybe get to score them when I surround them. Things started to move forward. I used the parts in the box but knew that because I was confusing the buttons on the board with those that I was collecting I was going to have to create something to use instead. I try not to do this but it made sense. I stopped playing and devised to blocker tiles.

After a couple of plays I knew that there was going to have to be restrictions on where to place the blockers. If you could place them next to each other you could easily work around them. A few words of direction dealt with this. Everything is now on the rails moving towards completion.

Breaking down the rules structure

Patchwork has low rules overhead and I wanted to keep it that way. However, once I decided that the 2 boards were going to have different rules, I had to focus on this. The time mechanic makes it simple and while you are not competing against a player I wanted to focus on the fun. How do I get these pieces to fit together?

I enjoyed the planning as you could really plan your moves. You have no one to blame but yourself if you paint yourself into a corner and start discarding patch after patch. Oh those early plays were something else. I would score 3 then 7 then -2 and then 11 … I think I got it … nope. Eventually I found the right rhythm and started to score in the teens regularly. I had my youngest son play the variant and he scored 28. That was embarrassing. It took another handful of games before I approached his score. I think that he is some kind of savant.

Still not varied enough

After one of the plays I thought, “why am I using bland “buttons” and not something more interesting”? I thought of Uwe’s other creation and thought “why not”? Let’s make up some action tiles to use in place of the button/blockers and reward the player with actions if they can surround them.

I want one-timers, repeaters and an end game goal. I did not want to overload the system and thus the limits of 2/2/1 were a natural result given that I was using 5 blockers already. I spent an evening thinking up all the different type of actions I could come up with. They needed to have a reasonable effect but not overpowering or distracting. It took a few passes to get the balance right. When I played 2 player with the actions the game just blossomed into something else. There was more focus on timing and getting certain patches. We suddenly began to focus more on what we were leaving the next player and what they needed to score better. Man, this is good!

Wrapping it up

From then on out most of the time was spent balancing the actions and then coming with an idea for the special patches that would only work in the multi-player game (you could use them in the solo variant, but they are meant as more of an incentive element). It was fun the rest of the way out as I gradually started to get better with my planning. The lay of the patches makes a huge difference as to how you need to start each game. I no longer always started in a corner.

The rules set stayed small which makes editing easier to do and allowed me to play more instead of constantly checking my grammar etc. I always hate that part because a change in one place can cause a problem somewhere else. There were little spots of pain but mostly it came to a close quickly.

Goal of the rule design
1. Make the experience as varied as possible
2. Keep the focus on the fun factor
3. Keep the rules clean and brief
4. Give it the “let’s play that again, I can do better than that” vibe

Comments are always welcome.

1. Planning, consider short and long term goals especially if you are using the action tiles
2. You have 2 boards to play, balance the load.
3. Keep the end goal in mind and maximize your action tiles (if you are using them) but not to the point of distraction. Sometimes the end goal does not fit your game plan. Don’t do it then.

Final Thoughts
Fun, quick and thought-provoking both in design and play. Perfect little side project.

Setup time: about 5-10 minutes
Play time: 20-45 minutes

If you have questions about the rules, you can be post them here or to this user’s mailbox to be answered individually, if needed. I will add a FAQ to this post as I see the need.

Other games that will be/are available from SoloPlay/GameRulesforOne are posted within a Geeklist that I created:

SoloPlay Variants Posted on the Geek

All new variants and information about upcoming projects will be listed there.

SoloPlay Motto:
A game that sits in a closet is a waste. Get it out and play it any way you can. These are just my ideas.
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United States
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You just created part of Barenpark. Sounds good, I'll have to try it!
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miha hančič
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When I play Patchwork solo, I just play both players and try to fill the board as best as I can on each turn

Will try this out for sure.
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