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Subject: Finally a victory in this awesome solo game rss

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Ben Bosmans
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Finally...

In my 16th session of this game I could beat the AI bot in this grand strategical game of WW2.

The Bot always plays the Axis and is designed by the same person who was responsible for some AI bots in recently upgraded COIN games like Cuba Libre.


The game started with a series of misses for the AI. Its complete Barbarossa Campaign went nowhere except for the Northern axe through the Baltic. It took a Blitzkrieg towards Leningrad, but failed.



Curiously in previous games the AI went for a Yougoslavia or Northern desert attack instead of the Russian Front... and almost all these games centered around the middle east or the struggle to control the Mediteranian sea and Malta (Allied invasion of Italy later on).

This time it attacked Russia ... and so it failed in the Center and South...

I saw an opportunity here: so I decided to attack the production Center in Rumania...



It worked. The AI bot did conquer Leningrad though and ceased control of part of the Atlantic.

It was around this time I obtained the most important event card for the rest of the game: the T34 - Sherman combat card.

One of the most crucial battles was the Poland campaign.



His Waffen SS against my Tanks card benifit. I narrowly won, so he lost a precious combat card and I kept it, gaining an important ground into Germany.

A few turns later I used the extra Tanks to get to that Austrian production Center and ... the AI bot was running out of good cards, slowly but steadely.



I had to move quickly now, before the AI got his new yearly deck...

The AI attacked fiercely now with a newly acquired Tiger combat card.



That battle was sooo narrowly won and ONLY because I fortified the terrain in a previous turn, allowing me to turn a die into a “5” roll (coming from an originally rolled 1). My tanks were spent, so I had huge luck !

Now it was a matter of timing and not over rush things.

The temptation to go directly to attack Berlin was set aside: first take East Prussia, so the AI will not have too many extra combat dice...



The final attack on the Berlin capitol could not have been better with the AI deck being down to a last poor 8 tactical card and me having a Suppreme Commander card WITH reroll capabilities...



The city of Berlin fell...

——
Although, in this game ... the Germans get a chance to do a final assault and reconquer Berlin.


To my surprise the AI bot got hold of perhaps the best available event card possible: Outfoxed! The player has to play a random combat card ! And can not choose what to play.

And since the AI had a complete new filled card deck, it was a true nail biting moment:

My 8 defense card against his 9... with no extra advantages involved for both sides...



Phew... I won ...

First time in 16 games.

WW2 in 3 hours of solo fun.

Because of the great AI bot, this light strategic wargame rocketed into my top 10 of solo games.

It is very unique really and it is enough to give me that 30 year old Rise and Decline of the Third Reich vibe again to play in a European theater of War game without spending 2 weeks of my life on it.

One win in 16... Nice.
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Mark Stevens
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I'm looking forward to trying the Bot. I've just used Fog of War at this point.

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David Janik-Jones
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Up Front fan | In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this | Combat Commander series fan | The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me! | Fields of Fire fan
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Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
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Great AAR!
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Jim F
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Who knew trench warfare could be such fun?
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Great game!
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Steve O'Grady
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Excellent read. Concise and fascinating (thanks for the supporting pictures). Having looked at the rules last night, I sort of understand your play.

I am trying to digest the rules to try this game out as well.
Despite the less than stellar reviews, I am pushing through to master the rules and get this game played. I have seen other reviews or commentaries like yours that tell the other side of the story...that it is a good game (especially at solo, which is why I bought it).

Your AAR is very inspiring to keep pushing forward.

Thanks.
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Vince Leamons
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I think you've just sold a game for GMT. You ought to get a commission.
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Mark Stevens
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It’s a great game. Don’t let rules struggles slow you down. We’re here to help. Ben has done the game justice with this AAR.
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suPUR DUEper
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Barb only conquered the Baltics and an assault on Leningrad?

What month/year did Berlin fall?

Was this an East Front only scenario? I don't see any Wallies or a second front (or an Italian Front for that matter).
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Todd McFarlane
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Ben:

1 for 16... i like you enthusiasm to continue playing! Some of my favorite games that I continue to play over and over are games that beat me over 80% of the time, and I keep coming back to those games because I keep thinking that I can do better the next time, and the next time, and the next time, etc.

My thought is that if I lose a game I have no one to blame but myself since all the games I play are solo versions (Ottoman Sunset, Freedom: The Underground Railroad, Cruel Necessity, K2, Comanchería: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire and Skies Above the Reich). If you like Hitler's Reich you might want to try a couple of the ones I listed.

TODD
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Mark Stevens
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For the solo players, don’t be afraid to try Fog of War method either. It’s great fun. The rules lay out how to do it and how to deal with some of the cards. I’m looking forward to the Bot but the Fog method will get you started quickly with a little less overhead. They’re really two different experiences which is exciting for solo play.
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michael humphreys
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I have this but have not opened yet... waiting to see if I should move it on... or break it out... The criticisms about the rule book got me...
I am awaiting the rewrite...
Many of you have mentioned that a game is more fun, or shines, playing solo... I have never played a game solo and not sure if I ever will...
Could anyone explain how this game (or ANY game) could be more fun (or better) solo than with a human opponent...?
I also cannot imagine an AI making better strategic or tactical decisions than a human... So wouldn’t a player feel they are really/truly testng their limit’s and their decisions better by facing a human?
Thanks!
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Steve O'Grady
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I find playing with a human opponent much more stimulating and fun than going it alone. Whereas I have ample friends to play boardgames, living rurally, I have no friends who share my passion for wargames, thus I solo the experience. I know there are those that want to point me to Vassal, and maybe one day I will try that. But I do not mind wargaming solo. It allows me to play what I want at my own pace.

Two games I did solo and enjoyed was 1846 Race for the Midwest (an 18xx) and Triumph and Tragedy. By soloing both games and learning the games, I eventually was able to hook up with players of both games at Origins and had a great time. Plus I learned more by seeing different play styles.

So I mostly solo at home...to learn and to tinker. And then occasionally find a couple of gamers to hook up with at conventions.

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Ben Bosmans
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stowcreek wrote:
I have this but have not opened yet... waiting to see if I should move it on... or break it out... The criticisms about the rule book got me...
I am awaiting the rewrite...
Many of you have mentioned that a game is more fun, or shines, playing solo... I have never played a game solo and not sure if I ever will...
Could anyone explain how this game (or ANY game) could be more fun (or better) solo than with a human opponent...?
I also cannot imagine an AI making better strategic or tactical decisions than a human... So wouldn’t a player feel they are really/truly testng their limit’s and their decisions better by facing a human?
Thanks!


It is all about the quality of the AI bot.

Of course a game can be very challenging against an AI system.

I could explain it here, but I did it already numurous times for other games like Conflict of Heroes: Eastern Front – Solo Expansion or Enemy Action: Ardennes

In the case of EA:A I consider it even the best Bulge game ever and it has 2 complete seperate solo modes. One for the Allies and one for the Germans.

And btw ... these are PURE solo games that don’t rely on interventions or corrections by the player, NOR do these belong to the so called adventure dice rollers where everything is decided by dice like the old B17.

They are not puzzles either, but are smart AI designs, using several smart mechanics and trics to surprise the player.

Some mechanics used:

- Unexpected card twists.
- Very short actions between player and AI bot. In the case of CoH solo: ONE hex step or single shot and then it is back to the other side...
The shorter this interval, the less an AI can make long term mistakes.

- If Then Else statements related to every AI card drawn.

Again in the case of the AI bot in CoH, the bot considers:
- the state of the human units.
- the state of the AI units
- the overall board situation

... with EVERY single action (card taken).

As such the AI resembles a player which often will act LESS emotionally than a player.

In the case of Hitler’s Reich, the AI bot was written by a designer who created multiple COIN bots, but in this case he mixed the typical flow charts with more randomised decisions which are very well integrated in this strategic concept.

The game is as challenging against the AI bot as it was against my wargaming friend.

Also: in pure solo mode you can play at your own pace and rythm.

My Enemy Action: Ardennes solo game is now set up for weeks already and I play whenever I am in the mood for it.

———
There are dozens of superb solo games these days and a LOT are amongst the most popular ones, like The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, Eldritch Horror.

So the progress in designing smart solo games simply advances each year.

The advantage is that you get a MUCH better return on investment with these games as they come much more to the table.

16 times in the case of HR, more than 150 times in the case of CoH. Not bad for games that can last 5-6 hours ...

Also each session is quite different from the previous one due to the random decision making but STILL very logical through the algorythm being used on the flow charts and/or AI cards.
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Mark Stevens
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As has been said, solo for me is mainly a time and access-to-opponent issue. Vassel makes getting access to opponents easier, but the time issue is the biggest issue for me. I rarely get to plan when I play.

I’ve learned to solo nearly everything. Some games are just a matter of doing your best, others can be adapted. As Ben states, some games are designed for solo. If you don’t like solo, no game will be adequate enough. If you do, but want strictly designed games that intended for solo, there are plenty. If you’re like me, it nearly all works.

I leaned a great trick to play Up Front (a card game) solo that works for nearly every card driven or assisted game I’ve played. For the traditional hex-and-counter, I do my best. Sometimes I’ll randomize certain situations but only if I don’t think it will break the game.

The best part though, is that my opponent is always available when I am.
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Ben Bosmans
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Baetis wrote:
As has been said, solo for me is mainly a time and access-to-opponent issue. Vassel makes getting access to opponents easier, but the time issue is the biggest issue for me. I rarely get to plan when I play.

I’ve learned to solo nearly everything. Some games are just a matter of doing your best, others can be adapted. As Ben states, some games are designed for solo. If you don’t like solo, no game will be adequate enough. If you do, but want strictly designed games that intended for solo, there are plenty. If you’re like me, it nearly all works.

I leaned a great trick to play Up Front (a card game) solo that works for nearly every card driven or assisted game I’ve played. For the traditional hex-and-counter, I do my best. Sometimes I’ll randomize certain situations but only if I don’t think it will break the game.

The best part though, is that my opponent is always available when I am.


I fully agree.

There are so many advantages of playing solo:

- Pace.
- Availability.
- Return on investment.
- Immersiveness.
- Study.

Sometimes I prefer pure solo games and sometimes I simply want to play 2 sides. If I count the percentages, I would say I play 95% in solo mode.

My regular 2-4 player games are being held once or twice a month, which frankly is far too little to even make worthwhile the initial investment for these rather expensive boardgames.

The only thing I do not like is playing solo in preparation for a 2 player duel.

I don’t like to play to “win” against other players. Frankly I am more than pleased when the other player wins but AFTER giving him a good fight.



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Ralf Brechtel
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Sorry Folks, but i can' t share you excitement. I really want but for me the bot is hard to understand.
 
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