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Subject: How easy is it to "max out" solo? rss

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Brian Long
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My main worry with beat your own score type solo plays are that there are in fact hard maximums, or at least a palpable range of "diminishing returns". On Manhattan Project Energy Empire, for example, I hit what I'm pretty sure is a near peak solo score on like my 3rd playthrough. For this reason I tend to prefer automata type solo games. How does AFFO do in this regard? It seems like a big criticism leveled against Caverna, but not Agricola.
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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Caverna solo is a static puzzle with no variation.

With the occupation cards, and the dice, AFfO gives you a lot more to work with.
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Ryan Feathers
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First off, Josh is exactly correct. Solo Caverna is an entirely different thing, and I'm not even sure it qualifies as a game to many--there are literally no random elements, and as such you can perfectly plan out. There is very much a true max score. (And indeed if you go through the forums you can find the highest anyone has ever been able to achieve, and I sincerely doubt there is much improvement, if any, to be found).

Agricola at least has the minor improvements and occupations that help to keep each game different. You will take slightly different moves and actions based on your starting hand. Still from that starting hand you can perfectly plan the rest of your game out.

AFFO isn't like that at all--mostly because of the die rolls. You can't know what will happen, and so it provides an element that you can't plan past. I personally believe it is part of the reason why I think AFFO is one of the best solo games I've played, and probably the best of Uwe's solo offerings. The fact that you also are drawing occupations during the game, along with the brilliant self-blocking, make this a fascinating puzzle every time that doesn't devolve into simply repeating more or less the exact same moves.

Which isn't to say you won't eventually reach a certain points range. I personally improved greatly over my first dozen games or so, then my next dozen or so saw a bit more improvement, until after around 30ish games I pretty comfortably can get in the 160's to 170's and it doesn't seem there's much room left for improvement. Fortunately though GAFBlizzard runs excellent solo scenario competitions more or less monthly which help make sure I keep getting the game to my table with a new objective to go over. (As it often changes the rules in some small ways and has you competing against others to see who can get the best scores).

I hope that helps give you a better idea of the sort of experience you can expect out of this game. While it is ultimately a beat your own score game, I think it has many elements that really make it stand out from other solo Euro's like that.
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Jefferson Krogh
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newobj wrote:
My main worry with beat your own score type solo plays are that there are in fact hard maximums, or at least a palpable range of "diminishing returns". On Manhattan Project Energy Empire, for example, I hit what I'm pretty sure is a near peak solo score on like my 3rd playthrough. For this reason I tend to prefer automata type solo games. How does AFFO do in this regard? It seems like a big criticism leveled against Caverna, but not Agricola.


I wish it were easy to max this out solo! I find this a tough nut to crack. A couple of dozen plays and I am still confounded...
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Francis Irving
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I've played about 40 times nearly all solo.

Here's the graph of my score over time:



I'm struggling to reliably score over 140 - it's frustrating as I know it is possible! Suspect I'm not good enough at the tile placement jigsaw puzzle part, but I'm not sure.

I thought my score was increasing, but now I've plotted the graph I'm not so sure. Nevertheless, playing with different occupation card decks, and challenging myself to try new things to get a higher score, held my interest for a long time.

I think I'll get back into it at some point too. Either when I've nothing else to do, the solo thread has a challenge I fancy, or I get the expansion.
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Alex Bokser
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I'm about to play my first game soon, and I'll be playing AFfO exclusively solo. The rulebook mentions a solo score of 100 being "very good", but reading through the posts here it becomes apparent one can get much, much higher scores.
I wonder if there's some "standard" regarding this, so to speak. The At the Gates of Loyang rulebook mentions what would constitute a "good", "very good" and "master" score (17, 18 and 19, respectively). Has the community come up with its own standard for AFfO? This would give me some perspective as I'm starting out with the game.
Thanks in advance.
 
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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bxrrr wrote:
The rulebook mentions a solo score of 100 being "very good"


100 really is "very good" in solo.
My first solo game score was 6.
It took me several games to hit 100.

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Brian Long
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Bought the game today so I guess I'll find out the answer to my own question soon! THanks everyone! I'll report back with my first score
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Northern Polarity
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You should also check out the scenarios page to help with the diversity: it's a great way of not running into this problem since the scores vary wildly based on the constraints.
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Ryan Feathers
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bxrrr wrote:
Has the community come up with its own standard for AFfO? This would give me some perspective as I'm starting out with the game.
Thanks in advance.


Not really. I personally disagree with the idea that 100 is a very good score--in contrast my first game was a 91 and only a few sessions after that I surpassed that score never to be sub 100 again. I would expect most players take a handful to a dozen games to get to a level where they will consistently break 100.

Personally I'd probably put the tiers somewhere around 130, 150, and 170 for good, very good, and master scores. At this point when I'm playing I'd be surprised to ever be below 130, about 10-20% of the time I'll be under 150, and about 20% of the time I'll break 170, with most games in the 150-70 range.

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Alex Bokser
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Ranior wrote:
bxrrr wrote:
Has the community come up with its own standard for AFfO? This would give me some perspective as I'm starting out with the game.
Thanks in advance.


Not really. I personally disagree with the idea that 100 is a very good score--in contrast my first game was a 91 and only a few sessions after that I surpassed that score never to be sub 100 again. I would expect most players take a handful to a dozen games to get to a level where they will consistently break 100.

Personally I'd probably put the tiers somewhere around 130, 150, and 170 for good, very good, and master scores. At this point when I'm playing I'd be surprised to ever be below 130, about 10-20% of the time I'll be under 150, and about 20% of the time I'll break 170, with most games in the 150-70 range.


Very cool. Thank you, Ryan.
 
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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Ranior wrote:
Personally I'd probably put the tiers somewhere around 130, 150, and 170 for good, very good, and master scores. At this point when I'm playing I'd be surprised to ever be below 130, about 10-20% of the time I'll be under 150, and about 20% of the time I'll break 170, with most games in the 150-70 range.


Heh, you're much better at the game than me. It's been awhile since I soloed, but after nearly 20 solo games I think I would not even qualify for your "good" on any consistent basis.
I think the only time I exceeded 130 was when I misinterpreted a rule

Edit: Nope, just double-checked. My highest score on solo was 120, and that was due to playing a rule incorrectly. Last game was almost exactly a year ago, so I might have to bring it out to the table again...
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Ryan Feathers
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jozxyqk wrote:


Heh, you're much better at the game than me. It's been awhile since I soloed, but after nearly 20 solo games I think I would not even qualify for your "good" on any consistent basis.
I think the only time I exceeded 130 was when I misinterpreted a rule


Hrm, perhaps the scale needs to be adjusted a bit downward then. I have a bit of a hard time judging exactly where the lower thresholds should be, especially after 50 some games. I just can speak for some of the other top players that we rarely would score below 130 in a solo game. (Assuming we're actually aiming for a top score, a lot of the time I just enjoy exploring new strategies and combinations of boards and houses).

Just to be clear as well these scores are all for the full 7 round solo game. I'm not sure many play the 6 round "short" version, but if you do scores will be quite a bit lower.
 
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Bob Smith
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I've played 4 times so far - 2 of them solo. And all of my games have ended with me in the 60s.

Clearly a lot of others here are getting WAY better scores and getting them pretty quickly, but I'm guessing they have more experience with similar style games than I do and/or they are just better at them.

My problem has largely been that I get focused on getting big pieces to fill my board, but then at the end can't actually fit all the pieces in useful ways which leaves me with a lot of wasted actions and -1s left exposed.
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Ossian Grr aka "Josh"
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Ranior wrote:
Just to be clear as well these scores are all for the full 7 round solo game. I'm not sure many play the 6 round "short" version, but if you do scores will be quite a bit lower.


Yes, to sadly clarify, my results are from the 7-round game, with all 3 Occupation Decks A/B/C shuffled together.
I have started a thread in the forum before, asking for solo play advice, and followed some of it, but some of the decisions come easier to certain brains than others.

To answer the question in general: Yes the solo mode is challenging and fun, even when your scores are as low as 6.

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Ryan Feathers
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I have tons of experience with mid to heavy effeciency/engine building Euro's so I typically score reasonably well, even in my first game.

With that being said, I also improved pretty quickly in AFFO by reading some of the strategy advice, most notably that from dotKeller in the early days of this game who probably had the highest scores and posted the most tips. I quickly learned and studied a few pictures and a few games to get a lot better.

And I know that approach isn't for everyone--some really enjoy exploring the game on their own and figuring out tips and tricks for themselves. And there's nothing wrong with that, but it will probably take quite a bit longer to get better that way.

At this point for anyone who does quickly want to get better, there are lots of resources out there now. The strategy section of the forums is filled with quite a bit of advice. The sessions section has several helpful reports, including several examples of 150+ scores. They even contain enough detail you can follow the entire game and replay the same thing at home, getting a clear idea how to improve.

Ultimately though the whole point is to have fun. I'm not trying to tell anyone they shouldn't be happy when they break 100. I was just chiming in because my experience is pretty different on what I'd consider a very good score for myself.
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Travis Vandenberg
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I agree with everything Ryan has said so far. Due to the massive number of professions, it’s always a new game. Although the dice rolls can play a part too, I would argue the differences in strategy presented by grabbing different professions is the number one factor in it staying fresh. You would be hard pressed to find a maximum for this game. I did at one point attempt a non-RNG runthrough where I chose all of my professions, which order they came in, weapons, and dice rolls and managed to hit around 240. I’m sure that if the stars aligned and you found some insane combination and had absurd luck, you could get near 300 as a hard cap for points. However, the reality of playing the game is much different.

I think the tiers Ryan has set up are pretty fair. As an avid gamer with probably 25-30 solo plays under my belt and maybe 7-8 multiplayer, I regularly get in the 130-150 category. I’ve only broken 170 twice and have probably made 150-170 three or four times. If you’re below 100, it means you’ve likely made a major mistake along the way (wasted early turns, took an extra island you shouldn’t have). With a few good openings under your belt, 130 is an easily attainable goal for a regular solo player.

I played a little bit of solo Agricola in the variant where you choose your professions and I remember planning out almost the entire playthrough before actually beginning it. It is virtually impossible to do something similar with feast and instead requires on-the-fly thinking which gives it fantastic replayability in both solo and mp.

Edit: my score for no rng was 219 so perhaps 300 is a bit generous as a ceiling. Still there should be some way to break 250 with crazy luck.
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Brian Long
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Played my first game and ended up with 58, with two caveats:

* accidentally just put my first occupation cards straight into play. Didn’t realize game started with it “in hand”
* In last round put some tiles down and let myself rejigger them later in the round due to really idiotic placement.

So, looks like I have along way to go
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Brian Long
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Secod solo score was 80.

Maxed out home board
Maxed out Iceland
One emigration
One sheep
One knarr, one whaling boat
4 money + 26 income
3 occupation card point
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Alex Bokser
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Nice job, Brian thumbsup
I'm currently learning the rules, hoping to play my first game this or next week. Hope I have fun with it.
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WhatAChamp wrote:
I agree with everything Ryan has said so far. Due to the massive number of professions, it’s always a new game. Although the dice rolls can play a part too, I would argue the differences in strategy presented by grabbing different professions is the number one factor in it staying fresh. You would be hard pressed to find a maximum for this game. I did at one point attempt a non-RNG runthrough where I chose all of my professions, which order they came in, weapons, and dice rolls and managed to hit around 240. I’m sure that if the stars aligned and you found some insane combination and had absurd luck, you could get near 300 as a hard cap for points. However, the reality of playing the game is much different.

I think the tiers Ryan has set up are pretty fair. As an avid gamer with probably 25-30 solo plays under my belt and maybe 7-8 multiplayer, I regularly get in the 130-150 category. I’ve only broken 170 twice and have probably made 150-170 three or four times. If you’re below 100, it means you’ve likely made a major mistake along the way (wasted early turns, took an extra island you shouldn’t have). With a few good openings under your belt, 130 is an easily attainable goal for a regular solo player.

I played a little bit of solo Agricola in the variant where you choose your professions and I remember planning out almost the entire playthrough before actually beginning it. It is virtually impossible to do something similar with feast and instead requires on-the-fly thinking which gives it fantastic replayability in both solo and mp.

Edit: my score for no rng was 219 so perhaps 300 is a bit generous as a ceiling. Still there should be some way to break 250 with crazy luck.


This has been my experience as well.

My high score solo is 203 and 2 player I've reached 181.
I am not conviced even 250 is the highest score possible but I do think everything above that requires some lucky card draws and some good rolls.

I think this is what makes the game such a master piece. There is so much to do and discover and for those of us who like chasing a high score it is very hard to solve and offers a ton of depth.
 
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