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Merchant of Venus (second edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: Simple way to make the solo game easier. rss

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Paul Cockburn
United Kingdom
Sleaford
Lincolnshire
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After my first brutal experience of the solo game in which I quickly ran out of money before I had come anywhere near completing the third challenge (and I only completed the first because I misunderstood it) I mulled over how you could make this game a little easier and a lot more fun without substantially altering the solo rules. Here's what I came up with:

Place the turn counter on turn 11 and then count down until you get to turn 1. After this the game proceeds as normal (except that you run out of passenger tokens towards the end.)

Effectively you are taking ten extra turns before any of the challenges kick in. This allows you actually to play the game for a while - doing a bit of trading, buying the occasional upgrade, exploring a few systems, accumulating some funds - rather than immediately having to start dealing with the challenges. The challenges are still there lurking on the horizon but not so urgent that they stop you having fun.

I've only played this variant once. It took three hours (including set-up) and I had completed all the challenges by turn 14 on the track (actually my 24th turn) so the last part of the game was simply trying to earn as much money as possible. In retrospect this might have tipped the game the other way, from too hard to too easy but the beauty of my variant is that it can be adjusted. Next time I can start with the counter on 9 and if that's still too easy move it down to 7 or even 5. Who knows? With experience I might eventually be able to tackle the proper solo game without crashing and burning in a pitifully few turns.
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Stephen Allen
Australia
TERALBA
NSW
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Yeah, I was crushed by the Solo game just yesterday (and only by turn 9!) but I figured it was because of my inexperience with the game (I was just doing it to familiarise myself with the rules) and a bad run of encounter cards (6+ pirates on turn 2 sitting on the one spot on the map that prevented me from being about to satisfy challenge 1 was bad)
 
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Rus
United States
Mountain View
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I actually wish the solo game was harder (have not lost once after 5 plays, and most of the time it wasn't even close... and I'm quite the rules lawyer, so I'm pretty sure I got the rules right).

I recommend playing it a few more times as is before modifying it. The solo challenge is easy if you take due time to analyze the probabilities of various actions, i.e. what are the chances of completing the challenge if I do this vs. that.
 
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