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Subject: 4th solo game - 55 points is still a dream undreamed of rss

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Matti Mäkäräinen
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Some background info: my SO's brother fell in love with board games around Xmas time after discovering they can be more than dice-rolling games he played in his youth, and as we had played mainly Puerto Rico and Dominion he figured we'd give the other top ranked game a try. I've now had his game for a few days to learn the mechanics so I can teach them when we first play a multi-player game this Sunday.
So far I've played a few mock-up multiplayer games and now gave the solitaire a try. My points were something like 22, 30, 42 and this is the fourth attempt.

I'd like to get feedback as to where I went wrong, what would've been a better option etc., so I can learn even better than just by repeating my mistakes time and time again.

Here we go:
Starting Hand:
Clay Deliveryman, Clay Mixer, Dock Worker, Hedge Keeper, Master Builder, Stablehand, Stablemaster
Baker's Oven, Carp Pond, Mini Pasture, Riding Plow, Stone House Extension, Stone Tongs, Windmill

Round 1 (Fences)
Day Laborer (2 food)
Occupation (Stablehand)
End: Food 2

Round 2 (Sow)
Occupation (Clay Mixer, -1 food)
Clay (2+2 clay)
End: Clay 4, Food 1

Round 3 (Improvement)
Improvement (Cooking Hearth, -4 Clay)
Occupation (Hedge Keeper, -1 food)
End: -

Round 4 (Sheep) oops, I guess I should feed my people
Fishing (4 food)
Day Laborer (2 food)
Harvest: -6 food
End: -

Round 5 (Stone)
Wood (10 wood)
Fences (-6 wood, creating a 2 x 1 pasture + 3 fences from the Hedge Maker into a 1x1 pasture. Stablehand's stable inside the smaller one.)
End: 4 wood

Round 6 (Renovation)
Stone (2 stone)
Clay (4+2 clay)
End: 4 wood, 2 stone, 6 clay

Round 7 (Family Growth)
Sheep (4 sheep)
Fishing (3 food)
Harvest: -2 food, -2 sheep
+1 sheep
End: 1 food, 6 clay, 2 stone, 4 wood, 3 sheep

Round 8 (Wild Boar)
Reed (8 reed)
Renovation (-2 clay, -2 reed), Basketmaker's Workshop (-2 stone, -2 reed)
End: 1 food, 4 reed, 4 clay, 4 wood, 3 sheep

Round 9 (Vegetable)
Wild Boar (2 boars)
Sheep (2 sheep)
Harvest: -3 sheep, -1 boar
+1 boar
End: 1 food, 4 reed, 4 clay, 4 wood, 3 sheep, 3 boars

Round 10 (Stone)
Clay (4+2 clay)
Build room (-5 clay, -2 reed)
End: 1 food, 2 reed, 3 clay, 4 wood, 3 sheep, 3 boars

Round 11 (Cattle)
Family Growth, Riding Plow (-4 wood)
Fishing (4 food)
Harvest: -5 food, -1 sheep
+1 sheep, +1 boar
End: 2 reed, 3 clay, 3 sheep, 4 boars

Round 12 (Family Growth II)
Plow (3 fields)
Grain (1 grain)
Family Growth II
End: 2 reed, 1 grain, 3 clay, 3 sheep, 4 boars

Round 13 (Plow and Sow)
Family Growth II
Grain (1 grain)
Plow and Sow (3 fields, 2 into grain fields)
Cattle (3 cattle, 1 sheep moves into the house, other two are slaughtered: +4 food)
Harvest: 2 grain
-1 reed (=3 food), -4 food, -2 boars
+1 boar, +1 cattle
End: 2 grain, 1 reed, 3 clay, 1 sheep, 3 boars, 4 cattle

Round 14 (Renovate & Fences)
Wood (18 wood)
Stone (8 Stone)
Reed (6 reed)
Renovation (-3 stone, -3 reed), Fences (-3 wood) creating total of five 1x1 pastures.

Wild Boar (+5 boars)
Harvest: +2 grain
-4 boars, -1 cattle
+1 boar, +1 cattle

Scoring:
6 Fields 4
5 Pastures 4
6 Grain 3
0 vegetables -1
1 sheep 1
5 wild boars 3
4 cattle 3
1 unused space -1
2 fenced stables 2
3 stone rooms 6
5 family m. 15
Cooking Hearth 1
Basketman's w. 2+2
Total: 44

On the whole, looks like I never have enough actions to do what I want to do. The house was expanded a few turns too late to benefit from family growth, usually the last turn before harvest is spent in gathering food. Everything I do seems to be a firefighting mission (oops I needed to do that too), not a part of a well-deviced plan.
I was trying to aim for the well, I would've liked to get the food and clay from the occupations, etc.

So far I'm not too impressed with the game, but I'm sure it "gets better" once I learn to play it better. This game isn't quite as intuitive as most of the games I like - Puerto Rico, Dominion, Ludvig XIV, Roborally (ok, that's a borderline chaotic one), Talisman, and Twilight Imperium.

- Kez.





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Dan Catlin
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Although I can't offer any help, personally, I want to add a vote of encouragement for the veterans out there to provide tips/analysis. We picked up Agricola last weekend based on the great reviews, and have played through the family game twice and the full game twice, but are still working to pick up the combos/pace.

I love the session reports and appreciate seeing others' thought processes. Analysis of "coulda, shoulda" would help even more.

Thanks for the session report and bring on the color commentary!
 
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Dave
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While I'm not a veteran, I'll agree with your assessment about building out your hut a little late. Rooms lead to people, which lead to more actions. And the more efficiently you can build them, the better (building multiple rooms in one action).

The fireplace is a good choice to start with as cooking improvements go at only two clay. There will be opportunities to upgrade it to a hearth later, and the clay you save can help with renovations or an oven.

And the ovens provide nice points. If you sow early enough (stage one or two), they offer food for grain when you build them without having to use a baking action.

Just some humble thoughts. Good luck with your next go.
 
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Aaron Converse
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I'm by no means an expert, but I have played dozens (hundreds?) of solo games. With that in mind...

(1) I don't like the play of the clay mixer. You should be looking to get your resources in large clumps, since there is no competition. This minimizes the usefulness of this Occ.

(2) The Clay Hearth, while nice, is a luxury in the early rounds. IF you want to depend on meat for food, then go with the Fireplace, and upgrade later (if you want).

(3) Clay Deliveryman should be one of your best friends. He allows you to do one big clay grab (round 6 or so), and then not need to worry about clay. Combine him with Pottery, and you have points and food as well.

(4) I often like to use Sheep for food in round 7, as you have enough time to then grow them back to 8 woolies at the end of the game. You lose breeding, but you can save several rounds of actions of food gathering. I THINK this is a good idea...but I might be wrong here.

There is probably much more here, but that is what springs to my mind first. Anyone with feedback on these comments?
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Mike T
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Aaron's comments are all spot-on.

Your biggest error is obviously waiting to grow. Usually in a solo game I try to build 2 Wooden Rooms in Round 6 or so. You could have done this if you passed on the early fences, which don't really help you at all.

If you can avoid Fishing in Stage 1 (by taking Day Laborer every round) it becomes a really efficient way to feed in Stage 2.

Between Stone Hut Extension and Master Builder, a 6 Room Stone House should have been your goal. Of course, you need actions to get there...

Oh, and you make at least one rules error: Renovating costs 1 Reed total, not 1 Reed/Room. So, your first Renovation should have cost you 2 Clay/1 Reed, and your second 3 Stone/1 Reed.
 
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Mike T
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Dizzle77 wrote:
I too am frustrated with this game (solo). Tried 8 times and never got over 38 points (game over... you lose). Finally gave up and put the game back on the shelf where it may stay for a while.

Starting with 0 food really does nothing but make you waste time scrounging for table scraps in the beginning. Taking a few beggar cards here and there really adds up and ends the game right there.


During Stage 1 there isn't much to do besides grab food (off Day Laborer) and play Occupations. If you Day Laborer 4 times, you should be fine for the first harvest, so long as you don't play more than 3 occs.

In stage 2, grow and build a fireplace. Cook Sheep. Fishing can also work in a pinch here.

At that point, you've got a lot of ways to find food. Think about an Oven.

You should never have to take begging cards solo.
 
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Mike T
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Dizzle77 wrote:


My dilemma:
A few times i tried to be aggressive with the occupations right out of the gate. Although the first one is a freebee, following ones cost 1 food when the food is much needed to actually feed. Taking day labour for me was one less action I could use trying to build an actual food machine.


That's your mistake then. Don't be afraid of Day Laborer in the early rounds solo. I'm not sure what you mean by an "actual food engine," but you need 6 food after round 4, and there aren't any good ways to get it other than Day Laborer. You can't buy an Oven that early, and eating Sheep or Fish cuts into your future supplies.
 
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Matt Shields
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smcmike wrote:
Dizzle77 wrote:


My dilemma:
A few times i tried to be aggressive with the occupations right out of the gate. Although the first one is a freebee, following ones cost 1 food when the food is much needed to actually feed. Taking day labour for me was one less action I could use trying to build an actual food machine.


That's your mistake then. Don't be afraid of Day Laborer in the early rounds solo. I'm not sure what you mean by an "actual food engine," but you need 6 food after round 4, and there aren't any good ways to get it other than Day Laborer. You can't buy an Oven that early, and eating Sheep or Fish cuts into your future supplies.



Not to beat a dead horse, but Mike is right.

Unlike in multiplayer games, in solo there really is a right and wrong answer, at least baring some truly bizarre set of cards. Family grow first. Build your food engine second.

Day Laborer feels like an inefficient move because it doesn't give you any long term tangible benefit - like having a cooking implement. But what you have to remember is that any time you take an accumulating resource before you absolutely need it, you are actually hurting yourself in the long term, because your future moves will be less efficient. Take fish the last second possible. Take sheep the last second possible.

That means that during stage one you really don't want to take any resources at all. You could take two clay, but you're better off to wait and take six later.

That means that day laborer is actually a great action because taking it doesn't hurt your later moves.
 
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Mike T
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Exactly. If I can, I like to take wood and reed in round 5, at 10 and 5. This gives me the resources for a double build and the reed for a renovation as well. That way I can snag the clay in round 6, setting up a renovation/fireplace, which will let me burn the sheep in round 7.
 
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Mike T
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Yes. You should grab wood in either Round 4 or Round 5, depending on whether you want to build 1 or 2 wooden rooms. Delaying a round or two on Family Growth doesn't seem to be that big of a deal in solo, but you do want to grow by Round 7.
 
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James R
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I agree with everything said above about going for day labourer and then double build in the second stage. Also a big stone house was definitely on the cards (pun intended)

I would add that if your occupations don't add much (clay deliveryman and a late master builder would be my choice of yours) you can also spend the early round sowing some grain fields. Baking is (imo) a great way to get food in single player and especially with the baker's oven in hand.

For example:

Clay oven -> baker's oven -> new clay oven can give you 15 food for one action (sow / bake) if you set up some grain fields early on. That's your entire family fed and hopefully no loss of resources through re-sowing. Also, grain fields, like day labourer allow the other resources to build up as you want them to.
 
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