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Subject: Home Alone: A Solo Playthrough of Charterstone (SPOILERS) rss

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Zap Rowsdower
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No, seriously, SPOILERS. This post has all the spoilers.

PART ONE: INTRO

I've never played a legacy style game. Seeing as how Viticulture and Scythe are two of my favorite games, I was excited to make Charterstone my first experience with this hot new genre.

I wasn't entirely sure my gaming friends would like this kind of thing, they tend to gravitate towards heavier games. I would be a grumpy gamer if they decided to bail out mid-campaign.

So I filled my refrigerator with a week's worth of cured meats, boarded up the windows of my house, and played through the entire Charterstone campaign all by myself.

PART TWO: THE CAMPAIGN

I played one charter (grey, which initially focused on coal so I named it Black Lungsburgh), set up two automas (Green and Red), and three inactive charters.

It went ... a little something ... like this: (note: games I won are bolded)

Game 1: The automa smoked me. It was ugly. Those orange "A" cards mocked me with their tiny card voices, I swear I heard it.

Game 2: I ended game 1 with some leftover stuff, which I used to my advantage to squeak out my first win. I felt very clever for building the Coal Market, which allowed me to convert my coal to money (this game comes with actual coins, which: awesome).

Games 3 and 4: Two more automa smackdowns, one by Green and one by Red. I need to be less terrible at this game.

Game 5: Another win for the Black Lung team! Maybe I'm getting the hang of this?

Game 6: Eh, not so much. This would be Red Automa's last win of the campaign.

Game 7: Green Automa takes it in a runaway.

Games 8 and 9: Two wins in a row for dumb ol' me! Let's hear it for *cough cough* Black Lungsburgh!

Game 10: Green Automa manages to eke out a last gasp win because of the ridiculous Automa Strength score it had built up with my back-to-back victories.

Games 11 and 12: I win the last two games. Not only that, I manage to defeat the Forever King and crown myself the new ruler of Greengully. Now, to start feeding on those delicious, delicious souls ...



I'm sure I got about a million rules wrong. I missed the rule that I was supposed to bury 3 Automa cards at the beginning of each game until around game 6, and I figured out that I was playing the small-to-large/large-to-small Automa cards wrong around game 9. I'm not entirely sure either of these mistakes helped or hurt me (ultimately it probably didn't matter that much).

PART THREE: FINAL SCORES

Black Lungsburgh (me, a human): 777 points
Green Automa: 458 points
Red Automa: 369 points

(I wasn't sure if I was supposed to multiply every glory point, or only categories of glory points I completed. I decided to go with every glory point.)

PART FOUR: GENERAL THOUGHTS

Several of the surprises made me laugh out loud. One was unlocking Sky Islands and finding more stuff hidden under the insert. The other was opening one of the boxes to find a candle I had to burn during the next game. Brilliant.

Every game felt very short. I don't know if it's because it was 3 players (me and two automas), but I felt as if I could barely get anything done before the progress tracker hit the end. There are entire categories of advancement cards that I never used (such as friends) because I could never find the time to get them during a game.

The one mechanic I was a bit iffy on was having to burn a turn taking my workers back once they were both on the board. This is a feel-bad moment when it happens. But this was alleviated somewhat when the opponents had to do the same thing. Also, unlocking minions helped quite a lot, not only do they give you more actions before you must do a reset, but they also give you goodies when you use them.

The Automa deck does become a bit predictable after a few games. You know what's going to happen, you're just not sure when it will happen. Obviously, playing with other humans would add that element of unpredictability.

Speaking of other humans, I do want to buy the Recharge Pack and give this a go with my friends. I would just have to warn them that the first 2-3 games are a bit simplistic, but it does get more interesting after that. And I'd like to focus on just playing the game instead of worrying about the extra Automa rules (which aren't too bad, but certainly took getting used to).

I now think I'm ready to emerge from my home back into society, my eyes blinking in the harsh sunlight, wandering around looking for random crates to open.

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Luke
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I just finished my solo campaign the other day as well.

We had some similar experiences!

I forgot the Automa card rule for the same number of games. In the end, everyone got a few extra turns so I don't think it was a huge deal.

The campaign seemed very resilient that way.

I won 880 to 876 to 749.

What do you think about your board for post-campaign play? I haven't used mine yet, but I worry that Blue (the human faction) will have an advantage just because they have an economic loop in their charter, so their minions can get more uses.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Rowsdower wrote:
The Automa deck does become a bit predictable after a few games. You know what's going to happen, you're just not sure when it will happen. Obviously, playing with other humans would add that element of unpredictability.


There's definitely some predictability to the Automa's moves. The three cards that are put aside at each shuffle of the deck is intended to lower that, but of course 3 out of 17 cards is a not a huge change. We had a trade-off there between unpredictability and scoring balance, but it.

That said, a level of predictability was actually a design goal, because human players also have some predictability in the game. If you look at what another player has been doing (both in this game and the previous one), what she has in her stockpile, what the current guidepost is, and where her workers are, you can make predictions about what she's going to do.

Does she have the stuff needed to complete one or more objectives? Then she's going to go for the Grandstand soon. Does she have the resources required by a building card in hand? Then she's likely going to the Zeppelin soon. Has she been fighting hard on the rep track and it's close to being full? Then she's likely to go for an space giving reputation. Etc.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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mournful wrote:
I forgot the Automa card rule for the same number of games. In the end, everyone got a few extra turns so I don't think it was a huge deal.


I'm not sure what you mean here. Whether you put three cards aside at each shuffle or not, the Automa will take the same number of actions.
 
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Rowsdower wrote:
Every game felt very short. I don't know if it's because it was 3 players (me and two automas), but I felt as if I could barely get anything done before the progress tracker hit the end. There are entire categories of advancement cards that I never used (such as friends) because I could never find the time to get them during a game.


Yeah, I've had the same thing happen. Depending on what buildings is built, what objectives and personas are in play, etc. will play a big part in determining which parts of the game is used.

E.g. I had a campaign during playtesting, where I hardly used items, but in the campaign I'm currently playing with my wife (and an Automa) I've used them a bunch and in our most recent game I pulled off a significant win using items because of a combination a building in my charter, my persona, and minion set.
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