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Subject: Designing the SoloPlay Vairant for the Game of 49 rss

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This thread describes/discusses the design and development of the Game of 49 SoloPlay variant.

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

Gameof49 SoloPlay Rules

This file is #62 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 bidding game as the sole mechanic?

Preface:
I start this discussion by stating that there was nothing driving me toward buying this game other than the clearance price and a spattering of reviews. The game board is bland, just a bunch of numbers. There is no theme. It is almost a game that the players create through their play. The designers are not going to help you with this one.

What I mean by that last statement is that if all of the players let the other players get things on the cheap or block at every turn the game can be too free form or stagnate. The latter seemed to happen most often if someone does not run away with the victory. Suffice it to say the game is old school, OK.

SoloPlay Game of 49 Design Comments:

Where to begin?
One afternoon I decided to pull this off the shelf (it was about 3 months after the purchase) and play with the pieces to see if there was something that I could work with. There are very few components but there were a few key moments that spoke to me that this is possible.

I decided that treating the spaces like plots of land and to integrate an automatic costing system kept the balance and made it much more “strategic”. The game is basically all tactics and valuation, normally. This was not going to work in the solo environment.

The goal was driven home by using the 2 tokens in the game. One acts as a kind of timer and the other acts as a bank. If the timer ever reached the “bank” marker you have lost. With the purchase of spaces changing the speed at which the tokens moved was an intriguing idea and one I went with. It proved to be the pivotal point and indicated that the concept was sound.

As I noted above this was more about making a game out of a “non” game. The challenge of making this work was a game all to itself.

The building blocks

To ensure that the replayability was as high as it could be the cards needed to be limited while still provide the opportunity of a good gaming experience. It needed to provide the essence of chance and the ability to manipulate the luck to fit a game plan. In this way the wild/payout cards became crucial to plan for as these replace cards that might not actually be in the deck this game. The same limited card set could be played back to back and different game experiences could and did occur.

With the limited card set and the costing model a basic formula the player could get a good feel for the value of the given spaces on the board. Sure if you buy a lot of low valued spaces you can save $ but also lower your game score.

Scoring?

Yes, this was needed. As the basic game is a win/loss situation, I always want to be able to gauge my result. This is what helped to mitigate the spaces on the game board. Sure you could pull out a quick victory but your score likely will demonstrate that you did not take chances to buy up many better sections of “land”. This goal is what drove me to continue developing the idea. After a few plays without these rules the game was a bit dull. Now I had something to strive for.

Wrapping it up

Once the parts were in place, you have to play the heck out of it. Plays went on day after day with usually 2-3 games played at a sitting. The flow is quick and the game plays in very little time. It was interesting how much thinking would happen each turn. Sure there are turns where it is obvious what you need to do but then there are others where you might make a timely purchase to give you that payout you desperately needed. Knowing when and being able to take a “dividend” to prevent the game from potentially winning is something you always need to consider. This is why you have to ensure that there is enough space between the tokens to provide you the ability to make a decision.

In the end, I proved in my mind that I could make something out of nothing. It is much more intriguing as a solo game than a group dependent “party” game.

Goal of the rule design
1. Give the game a purpose
2. Add strategy and a strong measure of control
3. Keep the game moving
4. Add tension as you see the card deck thinning out.

Comments are always welcome.

Strategies:
1. Buy early to set up your possibilities then gauge when to block your opponent and when is the best time to take a dividend.
2. Should you claim the 49 or should you find your victory elsewhere. It is worth a significant amount of points.
3. Be aware of how many payouts have occurred and try to setup to maximize on their appearance.

Final Thoughts
This was a nice diversion to work on. It became a game to design the variant and proved to be interesting even given the limited components. If you can get this one on the cheap, pick it up.

Setup time: about 5-10 minutes
Play time: 15-30 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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