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Here are my ideas for making the solo variant more interesting, including some of the variant ideas for 2p play posted by BGG users and also the "New Game-Play Options" (http://www.csegames.com/images/NHLIB%20New%20Game-Play%20Opt...) linked to from the CSE Games Ice Breaker webpage (http://www.csegames.com/nhlib.htm).
Play using 3 cards, not just 2. For the "system", turn over cards one at a time, up to 3 cards total as needed, in a manner analogous to the official solo variant.
Order of strength of hands, from weakest to strongest:
1. Single Card
2. Pair of different colors
3. 2-Card Straight (both of same suit)
4. Pair of same color
5. 3 cards of one suit
6. 3-Card Straight of different colors
7. 3-Card Straight of same color
8. 3 of a Kind
9. 3-Card Straight (all same suit)
All 3-card combos are Power Hands.
The player must always build on his initial card, as according to official rules. So if I start out by playing the 7 of Spades, I cannot then lay down a pair of 8's, but could lay down another 7, making a pair.
Power Hands must be laid down all at once in place of the initial card, as according to official rules. They have the same effect as in the official rules.
The system must ALWAYS use its first card as its single card if it does not end up with a pair, triple, or straight (i.e. it canNOT use the best of 3 cards as its single card choice, if the best card is the 2nd or 3rd card flipped over). BUT, unlike the human player, the system CAN often (not always!) be allowed to have an extraneous card privilege. So for instance if the system turns over 7Spades, 8Hearts, 8Diamonds in that order, it can use the pair. Or as another example, a different order of draw, 8H, 7S, 8D also yields the pair, if the extraneous card privilege is currently allowed. If the extraneous card privilege is not currently allowed, then 8H-7S-8D would only score as the single card 8H, as would 8H-7S-10D, but 8H-7S-9D would score as a 3-Card Straight of different colors.
When behind one's own blue line (in the defensive zone), play using the "dwindling down" basic rules (use up all one's cards before refilling), and use the All-Star rules otherwise. ("Dwindle down" in the Shooting Zones as well.) For the system, keep flipping over 3 cards if necessary, but revoke the extraneous card privilege as the system's way of "dwindling down".
When a stoppage of play occurs inside the system's defensive zone, and the system "refills", reflect this by allowing the extraneous card privilege for the system for 1 turn only.
PENALTIES: Player refills to only 2 cards, and must play 4 cards (refilling to 2 each time he runs out of cards) before refilling to 3, unless system scores. If system is penalized, remove its extraneous card privilege, PLUS human player gets to refill to 4 cards until a stoppage of play.
"Face-Off Icing": Dropping a "2" on initial play inside your defensive zone is automatically icing -- the puck is moved to nearest face-off circle in the end of the player who iced the puck. Both players then "refill" to 3.
OPTIONAL "Pull the goalie" -- can be done for player and/or goalie in 3rd period only. Can be done more than once by either side. Must be announced at a face-off in middle of the board each time, and must continue until a game stoppage (at which time it could continue to another game stoppage). If system is in its defensive zone, then it turns over 3 cards instead of 4, but DOES have its extraneous card privilege. If system "refills" inside its defensive zone, then for 1 turn only it turns over 4 cards AND has its extraneous card privilege. (These rules about system defensive zone also apply to having 4 cards in "Melee", described below.)
NEW GAME-PLAY OPTIONS (from CSE Games webiste): Melee, Icing (aka "Penalty Icing"), Off-side, and The Hockey Sticks. All are self-explanatory for use in this solo variant (download the rules from website (http://www.csegames.com/images/NHLIB%20New%20Game-Play%20Opt...)), with extra notes for Melee.
MELEE: Also use diagonally opposite square on other side of board. For cases where system is in its defensive zone, see rules for "Pull the Goalie" above.
OK, that's it, whew! I had fun using these more complicated rules, let me know if you have any questions and if you like them or not. --NEO