Thematic Solitaires for the Spare Time Challenged

A blog about solitaire games and how to design them. I'm your host, Morten, co-designer of solo modes for games such as Scythe, Gaia Project and Viticulture.

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Morten’s guide to the States of Siege series – Interlude: It’s alive!

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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A few days ago, VPG’s new owner, Dan Yarrington sent out a newsletter which as far as I know is the first time the new VPG has shown any signs of life since firing the old create staff.

By this time many of you probably already seen read the news, but just to make sure that everybody who’re following this series I’ll repost the relevant parts.
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Mon Feb 3, 2020 1:29 pm
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Essen SPIEL 2019 is over – sign me up for 2020

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Microbadge: Fan of Stonemaier GamesMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner KniziaMicrobadge: Level 16 BGG posterMicrobadge: Automa Factory fan
After three days at SPIEL in Essen I’m on my way home. While I got to meet all the people whose location I knew and I bought the games I wanted, I’m regretting that I didn’t have all four days this year.
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Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:44 pm
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More fun than it has any right to be – early impressions from the intro level of Friedemann Friese’s Fire! [Updated with levels 2 to 7]

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Microbadge: Fan of Stonemaier GamesMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner KniziaMicrobadge: Level 16 BGG posterMicrobadge: Automa Factory fan
Today is the day before SPIEL in Essen and after an uneventful trip I once more wandered the huge halls of Messe Essen. Amidst the chaos of people building their booths and breaking the record of most Team Automa people together in RL (3 people, Lieve Teugels, Nick Shaw and myself) I picked up Friedemann Friese’s latest game, Fire! – and for those who listen to the Board Game Insider podcast I can add that I bought it from the guy with too many vowels himself .

Fire! was in my top 2 of the games to buy at Essen (not counting my 3 preorders) and the only one I picked up today. After my hall wanderings ended and I crashed in my hotel bed I dug out the rulebook.

After resting for a while, I uncrashed and setup the game and with that let’s stop my ramblings and get to the actual game.
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Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:22 pm
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Spot me in Essen

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Microbadge: Fan of Stonemaier GamesMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner KniziaMicrobadge: Level 16 BGG posterMicrobadge: Automa Factory fan
In less than a week I’ll temporarily leave my family behind, swap my house for a hotel room and wander the halls of Messe Essen for 3 days during the mayhem that the organizers call SPIEL and everyone else calls Essen.

If you’re also there and spot me, please say hi .
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Thu Oct 17, 2019 9:57 am
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The 2019 People’s Choice Top 200 Solo Games No Prize Contest

Morten Monrad Pedersen
Denmark
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Microbadge: Fan of Stonemaier GamesMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner KniziaMicrobadge: Level 16 BGG posterMicrobadge: Automa Factory fan
The contest is over and the winner of the NoPrize (TM) is

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Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:00 am
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An Urbion contest: The Unity & The Alignment - 2 microexpansions for Urbion using no new components

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Microbadge: Fan of Stonemaier GamesMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner KniziaMicrobadge: Level 16 BGG posterMicrobadge: Automa Factory fan
From gallery of mortenmdk


Instead of doing what I should be doing I somehow ended up creating 2 micro-expansions for Urbion. They’re both played using only the cards in the game box and the rules are short, so the barrier to entry is low.

I’m using them to run a small contest where the winner gets a 0.01 (the world famous “almost-no prize”) and the loser gets 100 (to put a spotlight on their awful performance ) - read on if you want to win one of these fabulous prices.
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Fri Aug 9, 2019 8:50 am
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Morten’s guide to the States of Siege series – part 5: Dice, event resolution, and combat

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Microbadge: Fan of Stonemaier GamesMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner KniziaMicrobadge: Level 16 BGG posterMicrobadge: Automa Factory fan
After a long vacation I’m back with the next installment of my guide to the States of Siege series of games. This time the topic is dice, event resolution, and combat.
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Thu Aug 8, 2019 2:07 pm
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How to make AI difficulty levels feel satisfying

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Microbadge: Fan of Stonemaier GamesMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner KniziaMicrobadge: Level 16 BGG posterMicrobadge: Automa Factory fan
I try to make my Automas (artificial opponents) so that playing against them feel like playing against a human player, but as mentioned in a recent blogpost there are exceptions to this. One such exception is related to simulating the skill level of human opponents.
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Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:23 pm
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Morten’s guide to the States of Siege series – part 4: Tension vs. variation

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Microbadge: Fan of Stonemaier GamesMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner KniziaMicrobadge: Level 16 BGG posterMicrobadge: Automa Factory fan
Some of my best experiences of solitaire gaming come from periods within a session where I’m constantly teetering on the brink of oblivion, where I feel like I could lose the game every single turn but manage to hang on until I finally succeed or get crushed. On the other hand, I also like games with a lot of variation.

Often high-tension and high-variability gameplay are at odds with each other. The tension zone is generally narrow and it’s hard to keep the game there as a designer if you don’t keep a tight control of the gameplay and that tight control is hard to maintain if there are many highly variable factors in the game.
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Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:20 am
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Don’t let your artificial opponent be a random number generator

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Microbadge: Fan of Stonemaier GamesMicrobadge: 1 Player Guild - Together We Game AloneMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner KniziaMicrobadge: Level 16 BGG posterMicrobadge: Automa Factory fan
One of the goals of my “Automa Approach” for making artificial opponents (AIs) is that playing against an Automa should feel as much like playing against a human as possible while keeping the rule complexity and workload for the player as low as possible.

My main way of achieving this is to mimic the core player interactions in a game. There are exceptions to this, though, and somewhat counterintuitively the exception I’ll discuss today relates to games with low player interaction.
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Sun Jul 7, 2019 2:31 pm
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