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Archipelago: Solo Expansion» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A solitaire review of Archipelago - the solo expansion. rss

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Sébastien Patry
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Hello, i am here to give a concise review of a small box expansion, the solo expansion for the game Archipelago

This is my second review on the BGG, my first was also for a solo game called Pocket civ.

I have already played over ten hours of Archipelago solo, but only played two games with three players. I honestly enjoy the base game very much, and would rate it a high 8 out of 10. For the purposes of this review, i will assume that you have a good understanding of the rules of the base game, and that you are simply wondering if the solo expansion is for you or not.

Regarding the solo expansion, i came into this game expecting something of a puzzle. I thought each scenario was some kind of puzzle to solve, and when you found the solution you would achieve the gold objective and never play that scenario again. In that regard i was disapointed in my very first few plays of the short scenarios.

Me perception was : "They are IMPOSSIBLE!" angry

I played the medium and long scenarios then i realized that i could get gold in those, with some reasonable luck. That renewed my faith and i have been enjoying the game for the last two weeks.

Recently the designer of the game joined the conversation on this forum to defend his design choices. One of theses choices for the solo expansion was to make it more of a "solitaire" or "réussite" (in french) to extend replay value. I won't debate wether it's a good choice or not, all i am going to say is that i found this to be completely true for the short game objectives, not the longer ones. In the short ones, the "difficulty" lies in the randomness of the evolution cards and the exploration tiles. It will be completely impossible to achieve the gold objective 9 times out of ten, simply because of luck. So, conter-intuitively, the short scenarios are much more difficult then the mong ones.

There lies a problem in evaluating the solo expansion. I hink most people will assume that playing the short scenarios is like a "tutorial" but it is not. The same problem of perception arose in pocket civ, where the scenarios where the first scenario was realy difficult. It is not a problem with the design itself, but only a rpoblem in regards to our expectations.

So, my advice is simple this :
Buy it, it is worth your time and money,
BUT start with the longer scenarios, they are more forgiving.

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Eoin Corrigan
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Thanks for the review, Sebastien.

Interesting point concerning the relative difficulty of the short vs the medium and long scenarios.
 
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Phil McDonald
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Having played all the short and medium length scenarios I have come to the following conclusions:

1. Many of the scenarios are impossible to achieve gold unless you are VERY lucky with the advancement card draws.

2. Rebellion will sometimes occur in the first couple of turns due to starting conditions.

3. The short scenarios are the hardest.

4. The feel is solving a puzzle rather than playing a game.

5. People who don't like high luck factors will hate this expansion.

6. I found it a fun way to learn the game and develop strategies.

7. Consider the silver level as the WIN and accept the golds as planets aligning for you.
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John Bradshaw
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philmcd wrote:
4. The feel is solving a puzzle rather than playing a game.

6. I found it a fun way to learn the game and develop strategies.

7. Consider the silver level as the WIN and accept the golds as planets aligning for you.


Agreed. It is about "solving a puzzle" though I think that is true of most games, especially those which don't involve elements of human judgement/interaction such as bidding/negotiation etc. As those elements are obviously missing from a solo game, it is a case of solving a puzzle. To get gold in some (all?) scenarios, you need luck ("the planets to align"). So not only do you have all these interesting scenarios - you can "play" them in 2 ways, firstly, as designed, just taking the luck of the draw and seeing how high you can score, second, working out the puzzle to determine just how the gold level could be achieved - and in what order cards/tiles have to emerge - both interesting challenges.

philmcd wrote:
5. People who don't like high luck factors will hate this expansion.


I don't suppose they would enjoy the base game too much either(!) as there is quite a degree of luck in how cards and tiles emerge. But I'm sure many gamers would enjoy the challenge of solving the puzzle as to how Gold victory can be achieved. And they can also play against themselves, attempting to better their previous score and so on.

I must say I'm very impressed with the expansion which is an excellent way to learn the basic mechanics of the game, and is an enjoyable experience in it's own right.
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Paul Aceto
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I recently watched Ricky Royal's Box of Delights multi-video play-through of a Robinson Crusoe scenario, and the game looked very appealing.

Have any of you played both Archipelago and Robinson Crusoe solitaire, and if so, how do they compare as solo experiences?
 
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Sébastien Patry
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Zouave wrote:
I recently watched Ricky Royal's Box of Delights multi-video play-through of a Robinson Crusoe scenario, and the game looked very appealing.

Have any of you played both Archipelago and Robinson Crusoe solitaire, and if so, how do they compare as solo experiences?


I am wondering the same thing, i was watching his video at the same time i saw your post ! I am seriously considering buying Robinson but trying to resist the urge for now. blush
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I'll start by saying that I really enjoy both games. On the whole I enjoy Robinson a bit more as I find the theme stronger, and being a wargamer and ATer, theme is very important to me. Archipelago solo is very much a puzzle and a good way to learn the game. But you are in a way playing a different game than when you do with other players. Robinson solo however is the same game solo or multiplayer. It is very difficult as well and does have a bit of a puzzle feel, but I find that the theme completely obscures any 'puzzliness'. I am a huge puzzle fan too, so I enjoy both, depending on my mood.
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Paul Aceto
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Thanks, that's the kind of feedback I was hoping to get. I was going to wait to get the Z-Man edition of RC, but it looks like it is now pushed off from March until the summer. So I'll be getting the original edition.
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IMHO, castaway is also a good solo game in the vein of robinson crusoe . Personally, I felt it is much more intuitive and streamlined than robinson crusoe. Robinson crusoe's rules feels clunky to me.
 
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Robert Huffman
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Before this turns into a Robinson Cr. or Castaways debate, let me say a few words;
My brother owns Castaways and I own Robinson C. (I obviously have played both). Robinson C. bits and art are amazing, but beating the game is damn near impossible (without some house-rules). I don't like the vast eclectic variants in Robinson C.. Castaways is more fun in my opinion, the great mechanics, a bit easier, but the art isn't very good and the bits could be way better.

I play Mage Knight all the time and it's one of the best solo games ever made.

I was really hoping this Archipelago Solo variant would be good, because I often want solo experience (when I can't get the guys together for some gaming).

Thanks for the feedback guys!

RH
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