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Ora et Labora» Forums » General

Subject: Any experience with it solo? rss

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Michael Sass
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I've been watching this game for some time now. I'm a big fan of Uwe's other games. Unfortunately, not all of my gaming friends are. Rather than finding better friends (the more satisfying solution ), I often just play solo games. My favorite game to play solo is by far Loyang. Next would be Le Havre, then Agricola. Ora would be worth the cost to me even if I only use it solo (if it doesn't hit it off well with my group) -that is, if it's any good.

So, has anyone tried/enjoyed the solo version yet?
 
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Shawn Fox
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I've not played it single player but I don't see it having a lot of reply value that way. The basic problem is that every game would play out almost the same. A good single player game is one where you have a unique set of problems each time you play.

With Loyang you have a random set of customers each round, so every game in single player is a different puzzle to solve.

In Ora et Labora, your goal is just to maximize your score, but you have exactly the same set of buildings available each game. The only way the game state changes is based off the player's actions. So while I think Ora et Labora would be good to play solo a few times, without the other players adding their "random" actions into the mix, the game would play out exactly the same way each time once you figured out a near optimal path... it is a puzzle to solve but it is exactly the same puzzle each time you play.
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Scott Nelson
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*looks around for the opposite opinion that will definitely be added shortly*

I've read just the opposite from some thread, so I'd wait before shrugging it off.
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Shawn Fox
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There is a thread that says the best single player games are those which have a fixed starting state and no random elements? I find that a bit hard to believe...
 
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Bastian Winkelhaus
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I agree with Shawn. The sologame is a good way to get used to all the buildings but it is the same game everytime. Well, its one of two games everytime because the french and the irish buildings are somewhat different.
It is a challenging puzzle to reach the 500 points, but its not ultrahard and once you got it, theres not much point to do it again.
Myself, after having played the game with multiple players about 10 times, i scored 549 points with the irish buildings on the first try. Will try again with the french buildings but i see no potential to play it again and again just to squeeze out a few more points.
 
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Jan Erb
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I've played it solo once and I barely made the required points in the Ireland scenario (which is supposed to be a bit easier). So I think there might be some replay value in optimising your strategy. Otherwise, I have to agree with Shawn Fox: Since you can use the exact same strategy, once you've beaten it, there is only motivation to do so again if you like perfecting your strategy to see just how high a score you can get.

I very likely won't play it again solo, but then I rarely ever play boardgames solo...
 
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Scott Nelson
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Could removing some random caRDS throw a hoop into the replays?
 
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John Shepherd
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ropearoni4 wrote:
Could removing some random caRDS throw a hoop into the replays?


Well, yes, in the sense of the thrown hoop completely breaking the game... taking out random cards could easily disable some of the resource supply chains.

The blurb on the back of the box says:

Ora and Labora can by played by 1 to 4 players, in either a long evening-filling version or a short version ... a solo game lets players read the rules and immediately "try out" the game.

That's probably the best way to view the solo version - it's a good way to try out the game/learn the buildings, but once you've given it a couple of goes and got the target score, it might not have much appeal.
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Scott Nelson
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MrShep wrote:
ropearoni4 wrote:
Could removing some random caRDS throw a hoop into the replays?


Well, yes, in the sense of the thrown hoop completely breaking the game... taking out random cards could easily disable some of the resource supply chains.


Of course keep staple cards in each game. Is every card a staple card?
Surely, there could some randomized buildings that could be worked with, or make sure those chains have a way to work if the needed card is no longer present e.g. the wild commodity could supply the missing element?
 
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Tom Kassel
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In the solo game, there is a dummy player which builds all remaining buildings at the end of each stage. If this procedure was modified to build a random building each turn (with some suitable chance for no build), then a more varied solo experience could be created.
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John Shepherd
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ropearoni4 wrote:
Of course keep staple cards in each game. Is every card a staple card?
Surely, there could some randomized buildings that could be worked with, or make sure those chains have a way to work if the needed card is no longer present e.g. the wild commodity could supply the missing element?


No, not every card is a staple card... though the paths to the more valuable resources - Reliquaries, Ornaments (and to a lesser extent, Ceramics and Books) are somewhat fragile. (These 4 items are key to getting the ultra-valuable "Wonder" resources in the closing round of the game, so you might consider their attainability to be somewhat mandatory)

The narrowness of the supply chains for these items brings all kinds of messy dependencies. For example, you must have a Forger's Workshop OR a Cloister church in order to generate reliquaries in the French variant. But, the Cloister church is dependent on a bread and wine supply... bread can only come from a bakery, market, shipping co, or financed estate, so if you dropped the Forger's workshop, you'd then need the Cloister Church AND at least one of those four buildings in the game... except, the bakery isn't particularly viable unless you also have the windmill in the game to produce flour. And so it goes on...

Of course, all these dependencies *could* be worked out, and card draft flow-charts produced, etc etc... but I have a suspicion that this would mostly lead to the most boring buildings being the ones that change from game to game. Most of the fun stuff is heavily enmeshed in the key supply chains.

(I should add that all these interlinked dependencies are, in part, what makes this such a well designed/interesting game as far as I'm concerned!)

There are also implications with the dwelling value of the cards removed, and their impact on your theoretical maximum final score - e.g. you would score FAR less in a game that randomly omitted the Castle (which scores 9 victory points for every adjacent settlement) than you would for a game which was missing the Slaughterhouse (which gives you _minus_ 3 points for every adjacent settlement). Admittedly, this depends on whether you play solo games on a "beat my best score" basis, or just for the experience... but the fact that you'd suddenly be playing on somewhat un-level playing fields from game to game is something to be aware of.

Where I *can* see the solo game being successfully extended - particularly given the non-random nature of the game - is in the context of "chess-puzzle" type challenges... e.g. "From this starting position / these buildings, try to score X points in Y moves". Though, obviously, this kind of thing would have to be community generated, and isn't something that comes in the box.

(Also, I think you have the wrong idea about the wildcard (joker?) token... the wildcard token applies to the "quantity" of a resource, not the "type" of the resource... so, for example, if I use a sheep generating building, I can either take a number of sheep indicated by the sheep token, or a number of sheep indicated by the joker token. Either way, I'm still getting sheep).

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Scott Nelson
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Yep, that isn't a wildcard after all. More of a number enhancer.

Thanks for the insight on the chains and dependencies. I'm guessing your last option would work, but it would definitely be a different game. It would remind me of the puzzles they had in The Duelist magazine for M:TG wherein they give you an game-ending scenerio, and you have to figure out the best to use it for maximum points. Which, I might add, was quite fun. So, who knows?
 
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Michael Sass
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Hmm. All very interesting. My greatest concern was the non-variable setup, and it looks like my concerns were apparently valid. Thank you all for the feedback. It looks like I'll be doing some more reading before I spring for this one.
 
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Joshua Conrad
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Tom Kassel wrote:
In the solo game, there is a dummy player which builds all remaining buildings at the end of each stage. If this procedure was modified to build a random building each turn (with some suitable chance for no build), then a more varied solo experience could be created.


I had also thought about this as a variant. The only problem I have with it is that it really just shifts a little more of your focus to coins, so that you can use the buildings that the neutral player has built. It doesn't really matter much if you've built the buildings or he has. You just have to pay for them in the latter case. Sure, eventually, you would probably have to overbuild more of his buildings than you generally have to in the normal solo game. But, at that point, he probably has plenty of buildings that are obsolete to your supply chains.

So, I think I'm leaning a little more to a variant that allows all the buildings to emerge over the course of the game, so that it doesn't disturb the supply chain or victory point mechanic. But, at least you cannot always guarantee that you can build X building first, then Y building second, and so on.
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Joshua Conrad
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rxdoc wrote:
...allows all the buildings to emerge over the course of the game...


Sorry, I meant to say "...allows all the building to emerge more randomly and gradually over the course of the game..."
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