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Solo variant mechanics for multiplayer games

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Rick L
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I'm wondering how many different types of mechanics there are out there to enable you to take a game that is mainly designed for 2 or more players and play it as a solitaire version.

One example is Elder Sign (Fantasy Flight games). It's cooperative - players have to complete adventures to earn a certain number of Elder Sign tokens before a "Doom Track" is filled. Players add tokens to the track as directed in the game. If it fills, there's a final battle showdown.

The game can be played solo - you just take a turn for each "character" so you're basically playing against the clock-like mechanic of the token moving along a track. Kind of like the barbarians in Settlers of Catan Cities and Knights.

I'm thinking I can do a similar track for my current project, but what other cool mechanics are out there for solo play? I don't want to rely on just one idea without at least considering other options, but I don't know what else is out there.

I assume that AI would be too difficult to simulate in a board game, thus the race against time mechanic above. Anything else out there?

Gabe
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Any co-op game, like Elder

Any co-op game, like Elder Sign, can be played solo, and I wouldn't even call it a solitaire version as, technically, multiple players are in the game, they're just controlled by the same person.

Scythe has an interesting solo play variant in which an AI plays according to a specific set of rules and uses a deck of cards to dictate its actions. Here's the ruleset:

https://app.box.com/s/rj3jrw0rab2uiz02up89kbant5g8ew1p/1/4995749493/4936...

Rick L
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Thanks Gabe, I was actually

Thanks Gabe, I was actually reading the Scythe solo rules on Tabletopia last night, which is what got me thinking about a solo rule set for my game.

I haven't finished the Scythe solo rules yet, but basically aren't you drawing cards that give you limited choices to use for the "opponent's" turns? It seems pretty involved, like you're basically playing two separate games at the same time.

I'm assuming it works well enough, as it seems well thought out, but isn't it kind of on the tedious side?

What about rules that basically sum up an average amount of progress for your invisible opponent, without you having to play through those "ghost" turns yourself?

Edit - looks like the link you posted isn't working

radioactivemouse
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Gabe wrote:Any co-op game,

Gabe wrote:
Any co-op game, like Elder Sign, can be played solo, and I wouldn't even call it a solitaire version as, technically, multiple players are in the game, they're just controlled by the same person.

Scythe has an interesting solo play variant in which an AI plays according to a specific set of rules and uses a deck of cards to dictate its actions. Here's the ruleset:

https://app.box.com/s/rj3jrw0rab2uiz02up89kbant5g8ew1p/1/4995749493/49368486886/1

*CoughHanabiCough*

Of course there are exceptions. But Gabe as a point. Most co-op games can be played solo.

Consider a game like Race for the Galaxy. It does a fairly good job at making a single-player out of a multiple player game possible. Of course you would need the base game and an expansion to see get the automated player option, but you know what I mean.

questccg
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Yuck!

radioactivemouse wrote:
*CoughHanabiCough*

@Jay I haven't the least bit understanding what you meant by this reference!

I've checked out the game, and how are you supposed to play a SOLO variant of "Hanabi"??? It's IMPOSSIBLE! You can't even see your own cards...

This has got to be "morse-code" for who-knows-what!!!

I still can't understand how that "card game" won such a prestigious award. It's really not all that great. To me it actually seems like a "boring" game that is a mixed-up game of Uno where you don't see your cards and you have to collect sets to win.

BORING! (Sorry just my opinion...)

radioactivemouse
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Well...

questccg wrote:
radioactivemouse wrote:
*CoughHanabiCough*

@Jay I haven't the least bit understanding what you meant by this reference!

I've checked out the game, and how are you supposed to play a SOLO variant of "Hanabi"??? It's IMPOSSIBLE! You can't even see your own cards...

This has got to be "morse-code" for who-knows-what!!!

I still can't understand how that "card game" won such a prestigious award. It's really not all that great. To me it actually seems like a "boring" game that is a mixed-up game of Uno where you don't see your cards and you have to collect sets to win.

BORING! (Sorry just my opinion...)

It's a great game. My students love it and it's quite challenging. I didn't want to steal Gabe's thunder, I just wanted to point out there's always exceptions.

You should at least try the game before you judge it, though :)

questccg
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IDK - Not my genre/style

radioactivemouse wrote:
...It's a great game. My students love it and it's quite challenging. I didn't want to steal Gabe's thunder, I just wanted to point out there's always exceptions.

Ah gotcha! It was in reference to Gabe's comment that ANY coop game can be played solo... Makes sense now. Hehehe... How can you play "Hanabi" SOLO?!?! You can't even SEE your OWN cards! ;)

radioactivemouse wrote:
You should at least try the game before you judge it, though :)

Sounds partially like a Party Card Game. Maybe Tom didn't do it justice... Or maybe it's the style of game... I'm into Thematic Card Games and since I mostly design Card Games, this type/genre of Card Game is not normally what interests me.

Right now I'm struggling with making a CCG/TCG WITHOUT "illustration/artwork". All you would get is the cards with the abilities... Don't know if this could sell - but hell, it would be real inexpensive to make!!! And if the game is thematic and FUN... Well who knows...

Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Probably what sums it the best...!

Rick L
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I haven't played any

I haven't played any cooperative games other than Elder Sign and various RPGs. Aside from RPGs, which can have all kinds of "win" conditions, how are other co-op games won? Is it usually some sort of time mechanic - complete the goal before "something bad" happens? Or are there other mechanics - is suppose I should refer to them as "losing" mechanics, since in a co-op game everyone wins together or they lose together, right? (Unless there's player elimination).

questccg
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Well... another example

In my game "Tradewars - Homeworld", each player takes on the Role of one (1) of four (4) Factions in the game. Each Faction represents one of the Exterra Mega-Corporations.

But just because there are four (4) player, doesn't mean that you can't play CO-OP 2 vs. 2... Where the winner is the first team to knock-out an opposing player.

We've tried it and it's FUN. Mind you it's quite different. Let me explain.

In the normal game, it's either first player to the goal wins or player elimination and the last player standing is the winner. First one to the goal is usually about a 60 minute game. Last player standing can go as long as 120 minutes (2 hours)... Eliminating three (3) opponents can take time.

But here's the deal: Playing CO-OP 2 vs. 2 is the OPPOSITE! You can probably play the CO-OP game in 30 - 45 minutes. Why? Because one player is like the "Defender" (Absorbing all the attacks) and the other player is like the "Attacker" (Trying to inflict as much damage as possible).

How roles get chosen may be a bit arbitrary - but get determined the first round of play. So you know who's on the Attack and who is desperately trying to hold on ONE-MORE-ROUND so that the team can win...

And it's a completely different experience than the other styles of game play (think Scenarios).

Note: I am working on a four (4) player CO-OP game where all the players work together to combat against Raiding Pirates! The scenario is called "The Privateer". But it's still just an "expansion idea".

I'd also like to develop another four (4) player CO-OP game where all the players are working together to prevent a deadly virus from taking over space. That scenarios is called "Outbreak"... And again it's still just an "expansion idea".

So for now we only have the 2 Player CO-OP in a duel... Which like I said is a very "different" game experience than the other scenarios.

questccg
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On the edge of your seat...

And I just wanted to point out, the FUN is all about the initiative rolls where you think your team is about to WIN ... and ... the opponent rolls a high initiative roll or pulls out a Resistance +2 or Permanent Resistance +1 which foils the attack...

So then you're good for another round and then it's your turn to try to change the outcome of the game - and maybe win this time around. There is a lot of tension - probably more so that just the basic scenarios ... The duel CO-OP 2 vs. 2 is a more cutthroat type of game, which usually gets resolved rather quickly.

I've experienced it first person twice and let me tell you: it's FUN!

Cheers everybody, Happy New Year!!!

Gabe
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Mokheshur wrote:Thanks Gabe,

Mokheshur wrote:
Thanks Gabe, I was actually reading the Scythe solo rules on Tabletopia last night, which is what got me thinking about a solo rule set for my game.

I haven't finished the Scythe solo rules yet, but basically aren't you drawing cards that give you limited choices to use for the "opponent's" turns? It seems pretty involved, like you're basically playing two separate games at the same time.

I'm assuming it works well enough, as it seems well thought out, but isn't it kind of on the tedious side?

What about rules that basically sum up an average amount of progress for your invisible opponent, without you having to play through those "ghost" turns yourself?

Edit - looks like the link you posted isn't working

The link works when I click on it...but try this one instead:

https://app.box.com/s/rj3jrw0rab2uiz02up89kbant5g8ew1p

For a game like Scythe, you wouldn't be able to have an "average amount of progress" for the dummy player because the game requires interaction to work.

However, the game, Shakespeare, has a solo variant that puts progress tokens on the board that you're trying to beat.

Rules for it here: (Got to page 11)

http://www.ystari.com/shakespeare/SHAKE_RULES_US.pdf

This solo variant for Dungeon Petz works pretty well:

https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/122065/dungeon-petz-solo-variant-eng

It uses dummy markers to block places on the board, and they rotate each turn. Then, you're just trying to beat a high score.

Gabe
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Mokheshur wrote:I haven't

Mokheshur wrote:
I haven't played any cooperative games other than Elder Sign and various RPGs. Aside from RPGs, which can have all kinds of "win" conditions, how are other co-op games won? Is it usually some sort of time mechanic - complete the goal before "something bad" happens? Or are there other mechanics - is suppose I should refer to them as "losing" mechanics, since in a co-op game everyone wins together or they lose together, right? (Unless there's player elimination).

Pandemic is a must play.

As is Eldritch Horror, The Captain Is Dead, Shadows Over Camelot, Castle Panic, Robinson Crusoe, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Legends of Andor, TIME Stories, and Samurai Spirit.

There's almost always some type of time mechanic in co-op games to push the players and keep the tension up.

Some games require the players to defeat all the monsters or defeat the final boss to win and don't rely on a time mechanic. There's simply a finite number of enemies.

TIME Stories is won by solving the mystery.

Rick L
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That looks like an awesome

That looks like an awesome list - especially since some of those have been on my wish list for a while!

I'm going to research some of these other rule ideas, but I tried a "Chaos track" timing mechanism for my Chrysopoeia game last night that worked pretty well. I'm trying some simplified battle rules - basically, after rolling for resources and gathering, you do a check roll to see if you're attacked. If yes, you have the option to fight it out or concede. If you fight, you just draw battle cards for your ghost opponent & see if you can beat them. Either way, if you lose or concede, the token on the Chaos track is advanced.

If you start a battle and win it, you move the token back one space, but if you lose, it's advanced again.

I'm trying to find a good balance with it - I also want successful and/or failed Alchemy attempts to affect the track as well - it kind of has to advance as you complete experiments in order to create competitive tension, since those are the game points. Between that & the battles, I don't want the track to advance too quickly. Maybe, in addition to occasionally winning a battle & setting back the track, I can have one more possibility to "stall" the track, or just use a longer track.

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