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Subject: Poll - How important is solo varient to you? rss

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Stan Strickland
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Deathworks wrote:
Hello!

A Wong: I don't think you need to worry too much about it. In my experience (albeit it is limited), cases where the multiplayer game suffers because of the solo play are really rare. For many soloable games, you have official solo variants that do differ from multiplayer gaming while still trying to preserve the elements that can be preserved reasonably (preserving negotations a la Diplomacy is probably not something you could do (^_^;; ). Quite often, these even come along with specific additional components like the dog and Friday in Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, which are actually used to allow for solitaire and two-player gaming.

With true co-ops, it is just a matter of how well a game scales. Defenders of the Realm is designed in a fashion that allows it to automatically scale down for solitaire play, but it still has lots of cooperative/interactive aspects when played with others. Eldritch Horror has limited forms of support for other players but requires you to come up with a very good strategy as a team, so there is quite some interaction. With the help of explicit scaling, it does work well with single-character solitaire as well.

So, co-operative games can have both a high level of interaction in multiplayer gaming and a solid solitaire variant by in some way decreasing the difficulty for the solitaire gamer. The means of that usually has no impact on the multiplayer version.

For competitive games, you usually get some kind of dummy player mechanism. For instance, there is the rather militant dummy player of Romolo o Remo?. This game does have both direct (if your units are on tiles with enemy units, you can do no actions except for battle there) and indirect (by manipulating the market prices, buying away the buildings/characters) interaction between the human players and the map is tight enough that you probably rarely end up isolated. Yet, the official solitaire variant is solid, although it does lack a bit of the constructive aspects as the AI doesn't build buildings you could take advantage of. Or take Mage Knight Board Game which has two different kinds of solitaire variants and can be played both competitive and cooperative in multiplayer gaming.


As for which takes precedence, as I said before, it is usually the solitaire variant. Of the games I know, only At the Gates of Loyang seems to be considered stronger in the solitaire than in the multiplayer variant. Personally, I think that Level 7 [Escape] is also much more fun as a solitaire game, but this may also stem from my dislike for traitor games. I only know one game that is a solitaire game where the multiplayer option is faked, and that is Ökolopoly.

EDIT:
plezercruz wrote:
I just can't imagine if I'm sitting alone someday, that I'd pull out a box and proceed to push wooden cubes or miniatures around by myself, with no opposition and with nobody to compete again, nobody to witness, nobody to talk about it with.

Do people actually do this? Aren't there better options?

Pete (wonders if people just don't have computers or something)

It actually works quite well for me as a thematic gamer. I am looking for a story to unfold in the game, which is basically my personal story. As opposed to a book or most computer games, it can be highly individualized.

There is the excitement of seeing what happens next, the worries about what the next card will bring or how the dice will roll. And when you have a game like Level 7 [Escape], being alone actually fits into the atmosphere of trying to survive all by yourself, hunted by military personnel and some strange monsters in an unknown underground complex.

And in co-operative games, there is always the inherent opposition in the game - be it the weather in Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island or the Great Old Ones in Eldritch Horror. And quite often, even a random opponent can prove to hatch fiendish plans - or so it seems to you

Yours,
Deathworks

Deathworks,

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I am glad to hear your input. It really helped!
 
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Stan Strickland
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Fluxx wrote:
There are some games that I bought mainly because of their solo-mode (mage knight, lotR - LCG, Friday) and I'm planning to get the pathfinder adventure card game where I'm not sure if it is something for my group so I perhaps wouldn't buy it without a solomode.

But for the most games I buy I don't ask for a solomode and don't care about it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Georg!
 
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Chad Mestdagh
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Tropitec wrote:
Fluxx wrote:
There are some games that I bought mainly because of their solo-mode (mage knight, lotR - LCG, Friday) and I'm planning to get the pathfinder adventure card game where I'm not sure if it is something for my group so I perhaps wouldn't buy it without a solomode.

But for the most games I buy I don't ask for a solomode and don't care about it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Georg!

Thanks Stan for responding to each of our comments individually. Can't say I have seen that before.
 
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Chad Mestdagh
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GrimThunderbrew wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
I just can't imagine if I'm sitting alone someday, that I'd pull out a box and proceed to push wooden cubes or miniatures around by myself, with no opposition and with nobody to compete again, nobody to witness, nobody to talk about it with.

Do people actually do this? Aren't there better options?

Pete (wonders if people just don't have computers or something)

I play games for the social interaction. If no one is around to play, I will play video games with others over the internet; if no one is on the internet (or something to that effect) then I will play a single player video game- or against computer AI.

No you won't. You will do the same thing that I am doing right now: Surfing the geek looking for the next new awesome thing.
 
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radchad wrote:
Tropitec wrote:
Fluxx wrote:
There are some games that I bought mainly because of their solo-mode (mage knight, lotR - LCG, Friday) and I'm planning to get the pathfinder adventure card game where I'm not sure if it is something for my group so I perhaps wouldn't buy it without a solomode.

But for the most games I buy I don't ask for a solomode and don't care about it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Georg!

Thanks Stan for responding to each of our comments individually. Can't say I have seen that before.

Well, most of our comments whistle
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Mike Strickland
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radchad wrote:
Tropitec wrote:
Fluxx wrote:
There are some games that I bought mainly because of their solo-mode (mage knight, lotR - LCG, Friday) and I'm planning to get the pathfinder adventure card game where I'm not sure if it is something for my group so I perhaps wouldn't buy it without a solomode.

But for the most games I buy I don't ask for a solomode and don't care about it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Georg!

Thanks Stan for responding to each of our comments individually. Can't say I have seen that before.

Thanks Chad! I appreciate that!
 
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Moe45673 wrote:
radchad wrote:
Tropitec wrote:
Fluxx wrote:
There are some games that I bought mainly because of their solo-mode (mage knight, lotR - LCG, Friday) and I'm planning to get the pathfinder adventure card game where I'm not sure if it is something for my group so I perhaps wouldn't buy it without a solomode.

But for the most games I buy I don't ask for a solomode and don't care about it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Georg!

Thanks Stan for responding to each of our comments individually. Can't say I have seen that before.

Well, most of our comments whistle

You are right Moe, I tried to respond to as many as I could! I really appreciate all of the responses and discussion that has come about. It is all very helpful and opens my eyes as to what types of play mechanisms you guys like. Truly a wealth of info! Thanks everyone!
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Juan Crespo
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plezercruz wrote:
I just can't imagine if I'm sitting alone someday, that I'd pull out a box and proceed to push wooden cubes or miniatures around by myself, with no opposition and with nobody to compete again, nobody to witness, nobody to talk about it with.

Do people actually do this? Aren't there better options?

Pete (wonders if people just don't have computers or something)

These kind of opinions aren't that different from those some people that don't know about modern board games have about us. It's sadder when they come from another geek...

I'm a major extrovert, the life of the party, some might say, and I really prefer the physicallity of playing a board game solo over droning in front of a screen. I work in front of a computer all day. Moving tangible stuff around with my fingers, watching the components from multiple angles in all their real-lifeness is something that I truly enjoy. And I also play video games and iPad adaptations of board games. I'm a well-rounded gamer.

Now tell me, what, if not a stigma, is the difference between playing against an AI in a video game than Mage Knight? Isn't it you playing against an algorithm? No, there are no better or worse options. They are just different and scratch different itches for some of us.
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juanma99 wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
I just can't imagine if I'm sitting alone someday, that I'd pull out a box and proceed to push wooden cubes or miniatures around by myself, with no opposition and with nobody to compete again, nobody to witness, nobody to talk about it with.

Do people actually do this? Aren't there better options?

Pete (wonders if people just don't have computers or something)

These kind of opinions aren't that different from those some people that don't know about modern board games have about us. It's sadder when they come from another geek...

I'm a major extrovert, the life of the party, some might say, and I really prefer the physicallity of playing a board game solo over droning in front of a screen. I work in front of a computer all day. Moving tangible stuff around with my fingers, watching the components from multiple angles in all their real-lifeness is something that I truly enjoy. And I also play video games and iPad adaptations of board games. I'm a well-rounded gamer.

Now tell me, what, if not a stigma, is the difference between playing against an AI in a video game than Mage Knight? Isn't it you playing against an algorithm? No, there are no better or worse options. They are just different and scratch different itches for some of us.
I honestly don't know. I find the idea of sitting at a table with a game board by myself to be somewhat absurd...

...but I also find the idea of sitting around a table with 5 other people playing a game on a large flatscreen absurd.

I don't know exactly why.

Pete (will have to think on that)
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Hello!

plezercruz wrote:
I honestly don't know. I find the idea of sitting at a table with a game board by myself to be somewhat absurd...

...but I also find the idea of sitting around a table with 5 other people playing a game on a large flatscreen absurd.

I don't know exactly why.

Pete (will have to think on that)

I suppose it is really difficult to imagine if you don't do it. Personally, it depends on what you are looking for in gaming. If it is all about the social interaction, solo board games may be a bit of a problem. But if you enjoy overcoming a challenge or solving a puzzle, other players are not really necessary. With puzzle-like games, you basically get a puzzle book (think Sudoku), which may, however, be randomized so as to be presenting new puzzles every time you play.

For me, the appeal in games lies in the adventures I (and my fellow gamers if any) have in the game's world. In the most extreme case, that is Tales of the Arabian Nights, while there is a goal, namely getting the destiny and story points you set for your goal and then return to Baghdad, the main focus of the game is really the fantastic random adventures you experience. There is no real strategy you can use and even tactical decisions are impossible most of the time (there may be occasional decision as for instance visiting a city in order to use its city card you have previously drawn or deciding whether to go for wild areas or more civilized ones) as both what will happen and also how your reactions to it will affect it are unpredictable - helping a princess in need may give you wealth but it may also just give you a curse, for instance, without much of a warning in either direction. With this game, you can have an adventure with or without fellow players.

Or take co-operatives like Eldritch Horror. They are games where the players are already playing against the game itself when in multiplayer mode. Eldritch Horror, for instance, tells tales of so-called investigators who have learned about a threat of global dimensions who desperately try to stop it from waking and destroying humanity. There are tales of heroism but also deep despair there and those tales do note care whether there are 3 investigators or just a lone hero (and Eldritch Horror does not change the core rules for solo play - you play just as with 2 or more players, although the number of monsters drawn and some other aspects are scaled - you draw more monsters if playing with 3 people rather than 1 person and you draw even more monsters if there are 5 people playing and so on). The exciting tale is always there.

Well, this is at least how I see this. Maybe this helps you a little bit understand at least some solo-gamers.

Yours,
Deathworks
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Gregg Saruwatari
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Sorry, but I just have to interject. The important difference between a solo board game and solo video game is not the stigma. It is the fact that in any decent video game you have a chance to win if you play well and a chance to lose if you play poorly. The random factors required to make a solo board game difficult also end up creating scenarios where there is no possibility of winning or no possibility of losing. I have a personal preference where I do not like games like Candyland where the outcome is determined by the random setup(shuffle) and not decisions made by the players. If I realize that the way the shuffle came out, I had no chance to win, it ruins the experience for me. Likewise, if I realize that the random setup has made the game too easy or hard, I am left with the dilemma of shuffling until the game is reasonable or playing the game as written with the outcome already decided. On the one hand, "Without rules the game is nothing," but on the other hand, "Is a game worth playing if the outcome is already decided?"



juanma99 wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
I just can't imagine if I'm sitting alone someday, that I'd pull out a box and proceed to push wooden cubes or miniatures around by myself, with no opposition and with nobody to compete again, nobody to witness, nobody to talk about it with.

Do people actually do this? Aren't there better options?

Pete (wonders if people just don't have computers or something)

These kind of opinions aren't that different from those some people that don't know about modern board games have about us. It's sadder when they come from another geek...

I'm a major extrovert, the life of the party, some might say, and I really prefer the physicallity of playing a board game solo over droning in front of a screen. I work in front of a computer all day. Moving tangible stuff around with my fingers, watching the components from multiple angles in all their real-lifeness is something that I truly enjoy. And I also play video games and iPad adaptations of board games. I'm a well-rounded gamer.

Now tell me, what, if not a stigma, is the difference between playing against an AI in a video game than Mage Knight? Isn't it you playing against an algorithm? No, there are no better or worse options. They are just different and scratch different itches for some of us.
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Juan Crespo
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Let's say you see someone riding the metro solving a crossword puzzle, or a person sitting at a coffee shop playing Angry Birds, or even Solitaire with a deck of regular cards at home.

Would you think of them as being absurd? How many people, not only board gamers, will look at them and think of it as completely absurd? The answer I bet is very few, since it is ingrained in our collective psyche that those are "culturally acceptable" solitaire pastimes. For some, solo board games are another option just like those ones.

Therein lies the crux of solo board gaming in the eyes of people that don't do it, or even know that is possible. It is a foreign concept, thus labelled as absurd for them. Furthermore, it is even stigmatized by some people that only visit board games for the competitive/social aspect, like Deathworks mentioned before. The nice thing about table top in general is that it covers much more than those two aspects.
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GrimThunderbrew wrote:
Sorry, but I just have to interject. The important difference between a solo board game and solo video game is not the stigma. It is the fact that in any decent video game you have a chance to win if you play well and a chance to lose if you play poorly. The random factors required to make a solo board game difficult also end up creating scenarios where there is no possibility of winning or no possibility of losing. I have a personal preference where I do not like games like Candyland where the outcome is determined by the random setup(shuffle) and not decisions made by the players. If I realize that the way the shuffle came out, I had no chance to win, it ruins the experience for me. Likewise, if I realize that the random setup has made the game too easy or hard, I am left with the dilemma of shuffling until the game is reasonable or playing the game as written with the outcome already decided. On the one hand, "Without rules the game is nothing," but on the other hand, "Is a game worth playing if the outcome is already decided?"

Ha, play a rougelike sometime.
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GrimThunderbrew wrote:
Sorry, but I just have to interject. The important difference between a solo board game and solo video game is not the stigma. It is the fact that in any decent video game you have a chance to win if you play well and a chance to lose if you play poorly. The random factors required to make a solo board game difficult also end up creating scenarios where there is no possibility of winning or no possibility of losing. I have a personal preference where I do not like games like Candyland where the outcome is determined by the random setup(shuffle) and not decisions made by the players. If I realize that the way the shuffle came out, I had no chance to win, it ruins the experience for me. Likewise, if I realize that the random setup has made the game too easy or hard, I am left with the dilemma of shuffling until the game is reasonable or playing the game as written with the outcome already decided. On the one hand, "Without rules the game is nothing," but on the other hand, "Is a game worth playing if the outcome is already decided?"


juanma99 wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
I just can't imagine if I'm sitting alone someday, that I'd pull out a box and proceed to push wooden cubes or miniatures around by myself, with no opposition and with nobody to compete again, nobody to witness, nobody to talk about it with.

Do people actually do this? Aren't there better options?

Pete (wonders if people just don't have computers or something)

These kind of opinions aren't that different from those some people that don't know about modern board games have about us. It's sadder when they come from another geek...

I'm a major extrovert, the life of the party, some might say, and I really prefer the physicallity of playing a board game solo over droning in front of a screen. I work in front of a computer all day. Moving tangible stuff around with my fingers, watching the components from multiple angles in all their real-lifeness is something that I truly enjoy. And I also play video games and iPad adaptations of board games. I'm a well-rounded gamer.

Now tell me, what, if not a stigma, is the difference between playing against an AI in a video game than Mage Knight? Isn't it you playing against an algorithm? No, there are no better or worse options. They are just different and scratch different itches for some of us.

Not all solitaire board games rely on randomness for being viable. Take Caverna, or any other beat your own score game. In fact, there are many more options available lately that break that mold that you'd be surprised. You just don't know about them if you're not interested in the topic.
In my opinion, they do need some minimal randomness for the replayability aspect, not game play per se.

Many video games have a dexterity, hand eye coordination component that is not there in most solo board games, and some people just don't care for that. They're just different beasts for different audiences.
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GrimThunderbrew wrote:
Sorry, but I just have to interject. The important difference between a solo board game and solo video game is not the stigma. It is the fact that in any decent video game you have a chance to win if you play well and a chance to lose if you play poorly. The random factors required to make a solo board game difficult also end up creating scenarios where there is no possibility of winning or no possibility of losing. I have a personal preference where I do not like games like Candyland where the outcome is determined by the random setup(shuffle) and not decisions made by the players. If I realize that the way the shuffle came out, I had no chance to win, it ruins the experience for me. Likewise, if I realize that the random setup has made the game too easy or hard, I am left with the dilemma of shuffling until the game is reasonable or playing the game as written with the outcome already decided. On the one hand, "Without rules the game is nothing," but on the other hand, "Is a game worth playing if the outcome is already decided?"



juanma99 wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
I just can't imagine if I'm sitting alone someday, that I'd pull out a box and proceed to push wooden cubes or miniatures around by myself, with no opposition and with nobody to compete again, nobody to witness, nobody to talk about it with.

Do people actually do this? Aren't there better options?

Pete (wonders if people just don't have computers or something)

These kind of opinions aren't that different from those some people that don't know about modern board games have about us. It's sadder when they come from another geek...

I'm a major extrovert, the life of the party, some might say, and I really prefer the physicallity of playing a board game solo over droning in front of a screen. I work in front of a computer all day. Moving tangible stuff around with my fingers, watching the components from multiple angles in all their real-lifeness is something that I truly enjoy. And I also play video games and iPad adaptations of board games. I'm a well-rounded gamer.

Now tell me, what, if not a stigma, is the difference between playing against an AI in a video game than Mage Knight? Isn't it you playing against an algorithm? No, there are no better or worse options. They are just different and scratch different itches for some of us.
Yes, I think I agree.

I would consider playing 1-player Agricola on a computer or phone just as lame as playing 1-player Agricola on a game board. It's not really the medium that's the issue, it's the game itself. Worker placement games, for example, seem dumb to me if there's no competition for placements, whether you do it on a screen or on a board. You're essentially eliminating the only opposition you had.

The reason I play solo video games if I'm alone is because they are not the same kind of games. They are either plot-driven games (which are essentially like reading a book or watching a movie with some participation from me), dexterity games (where the challenge is to accomplish a physical feat), puzzle games (which are more similar to doing crosswoards), or simulated multiplayer games (where an AI substitutes for a human opponent).

So, to answer the original question, I would not play Mage Knight solo on a computer. I probably wouldn't even play that game on computer against an AI, but if I did and it was weak or predictable, I'd soon abandon that activity. There are different types of games that play better solo on a computer.

Pete (tries to reason this out)
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plezercruz wrote:
GrimThunderbrew wrote:
Sorry, but I just have to interject. The important difference between a solo board game and solo video game is not the stigma. It is the fact that in any decent video game you have a chance to win if you play well and a chance to lose if you play poorly. The random factors required to make a solo board game difficult also end up creating scenarios where there is no possibility of winning or no possibility of losing. I have a personal preference where I do not like games like Candyland where the outcome is determined by the random setup(shuffle) and not decisions made by the players. If I realize that the way the shuffle came out, I had no chance to win, it ruins the experience for me. Likewise, if I realize that the random setup has made the game too easy or hard, I am left with the dilemma of shuffling until the game is reasonable or playing the game as written with the outcome already decided. On the one hand, "Without rules the game is nothing," but on the other hand, "Is a game worth playing if the outcome is already decided?"



juanma99 wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
I just can't imagine if I'm sitting alone someday, that I'd pull out a box and proceed to push wooden cubes or miniatures around by myself, with no opposition and with nobody to compete again, nobody to witness, nobody to talk about it with.

Do people actually do this? Aren't there better options?

Pete (wonders if people just don't have computers or something)

These kind of opinions aren't that different from those some people that don't know about modern board games have about us. It's sadder when they come from another geek...

I'm a major extrovert, the life of the party, some might say, and I really prefer the physicallity of playing a board game solo over droning in front of a screen. I work in front of a computer all day. Moving tangible stuff around with my fingers, watching the components from multiple angles in all their real-lifeness is something that I truly enjoy. And I also play video games and iPad adaptations of board games. I'm a well-rounded gamer.

Now tell me, what, if not a stigma, is the difference between playing against an AI in a video game than Mage Knight? Isn't it you playing against an algorithm? No, there are no better or worse options. They are just different and scratch different itches for some of us.
Yes, I think I agree.

I would consider playing 1-player Agricola on a computer or phone just as lame as playing 1-player Agricola on a game board. It's not really the medium that's the issue, it's the game itself. Worker placement games, for example, seem dumb to me if there's no competition for placements, whether you do it on a screen or on a board. You're essentially eliminating the only opposition you had.

The reason I play solo video games if I'm alone is because they are not the same kind of games. They are either plot-driven games (which are essentially like reading a book or watching a movie with some participation from me), dexterity games (where the challenge is to accomplish a physical feat), puzzle games (which are more similar to doing crosswoards), or simulated multiplayer games (where an AI substitutes for a human opponent).

So, to answer the original question, I would not play Mage Knight solo on a computer. I probably wouldn't even play that game on computer against an AI, but if I did and it was weak or predictable, I'd soon abandon that activity. There are different types of games that play better solo on a computer.

Pete (tries to reason this out)

Now we're agreeing on something. For us that enjoy solo board games, it's just a different activity that scratches a different itch. It is not meant to be a substitute for anything else. We are a minority in an already excentric hobby!
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juanma99 wrote:
Let's say you see someone riding the metro solving a crossword puzzle, or a person sitting at a coffee shop playing Angry Birds, or even Solitaire with a deck of regular cards at home.

Would you think of them as being absurd? How many people, not only board gamers, will look at them and think of it as completely absurd? The answer I bet is very few, since it is ingrained in our collective psyche that those are "culturally acceptable" solitaire pastimes. For some, solo board games are another option just like those ones.

Therein lies the crux of solo board gaming in the eyes of people that don't do it, or even know that is possible. It is a foreign concept, thus labelled as absurd for them. Furthermore, it is even stigmatized by some people that only visit board games for the competitive/social aspect, like Deathworks mentioned before. The nice thing about table top in general is that it covers much more than those two aspects.

Juan I think you hit it on the nail! That is exactly the way I see it, and I think you are absolutely right about there being a cultural acceptance of certain types of solitaire games such as a crossword puzzle. Solitaire board games are still somewhat of a foreign concept as you mentioned, so they tend to be stigmatized by some as being weird.

My opinion is, if you enjoy playing a solitaire board game then go for it. Deathworks has a good point too regarding the whole adventure concept - there are many games that do not involve strategy, co-op, etc. Those types of games can be great for solo play.

Having that said though, the reason I started this thread is to determine whether I should create a solo variant for my game Tau Ceti: Planetary Crisis. Your feedback has certainly helped me make that decision. I think at this point I'm definitely going to try and incorporate it somehow, I think it's possible. There is a lot of heavy strategy in the game, but I'm sure I can come up with some AI scenarios to make it work. I realize that there are many people who may not have a group of gamers to play the game with, so I want to make sure I don't leave them out. I want everyone to be able to enjoy playing this game. While I will most likely come up with a solo variant process, I'll probably open up the possibility for others to create solo variants as well for this game after it's been released. Naturally, I want to monitor the consistency of the game, so I'll probably have some sheet or set of guidelines for creating AIs for this game. Does this make any sense? This will be my first time incorporating a solo variant in a game, so I want to make sure I go about the process in the correct way.


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zorin_productions wrote:
juanma99 wrote:
Let's say you see someone riding the metro solving a crossword puzzle, or a person sitting at a coffee shop playing Angry Birds, or even Solitaire with a deck of regular cards at home.

Would you think of them as being absurd? How many people, not only board gamers, will look at them and think of it as completely absurd? The answer I bet is very few, since it is ingrained in our collective psyche that those are "culturally acceptable" solitaire pastimes. For some, solo board games are another option just like those ones.

Therein lies the crux of solo board gaming in the eyes of people that don't do it, or even know that is possible. It is a foreign concept, thus labelled as absurd for them. Furthermore, it is even stigmatized by some people that only visit board games for the competitive/social aspect, like Deathworks mentioned before. The nice thing about table top in general is that it covers much more than those two aspects.

Juan I think you hit it on the nail! That is exactly the way I see it, and I think you are absolutely right about there being a cultural acceptance of certain types of solitaire games such as a crossword puzzle. Solitaire board games are still somewhat of a foreign concept as you mentioned, so they tend to be stigmatized by some as being weird.

My opinion is, if you enjoy playing a solitaire board game then go for it. Deathworks has a good point too regarding the whole adventure concept - there are many games that do not involve strategy, co-op, etc. Those types of games can be great for solo play.

Having that said though, the reason I started this thread is to determine whether I should create a solo variant for my game Tau Ceti: Planetary Crisis. Your feedback has certainly helped me make that decision. I think at this point I'm definitely going to try and incorporate it somehow, I think it's possible. There is a lot of heavy strategy in the game, but I'm sure I can come up with some AI scenarios to make it work. I realize that there are many people who may not have a group of gamers to play the game with, so I want to make sure I don't leave them out. I want everyone to be able to enjoy playing this game. While I will most likely come up with a solo variant process, I'll probably open up the possibility for others to create solo variants as well for this game after it's been released. Naturally, I want to monitor the consistency of the game, so I'll probably have some sheet or set of guidelines for creating AIs for this game. Does this make any sense? This will be my first time incorporating a solo variant in a game, so I want to make sure I go about the process in the correct way.


OK, I promise I'm not trolling or trying to make people mad here.

I see solo board gaming as doing word searches, not crosswords.

When I see a person on a bus doing word searches, it boggles my mind. What's the point? You'll inevitably find all the words. There is no challenge there. Sooner or later, you'll "win."

The only way word searches interest me at all is if there is an opponent. Who can finish a word search faster? That's a game. But without the competition, it's pointless.

So you could do word search after word search, and time yourself, and see if you can get the best time...but to what end? How do you know if word search A is just easier than B, and so you got a better time, how do you know if you really performed well? You kind of don't.

So you play Agricola alone and score 55 points. You have no idea if that's a good score or a bad score given the cards you had. You went through all the motions, nobody was going to block you, nothing unpredictable was really going to happen, and you got a score.

So what?

Pete (doesn't understand this at all)
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plezercruz wrote:
But without the competition, it's pointless.

Here you answer your own question. For you, as for many others, board games are mainly about competition and social interaction. The point that I try to convey is that there are many others that find many more things in board games than those two aspects.

An analogy for me is people that like to go to the movies by themselves, something that I would never do, but they enjoy. Something similar I guess is what board gamers think about solo board gamers. For solo gamers, it doesn't matter who's sitting next to them in their enjoyment of the movie.
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plezercruz wrote:
zorin_productions wrote:
juanma99 wrote:
Let's say you see someone riding the metro solving a crossword puzzle, or a person sitting at a coffee shop playing Angry Birds, or even Solitaire with a deck of regular cards at home.

Would you think of them as being absurd? How many people, not only board gamers, will look at them and think of it as completely absurd? The answer I bet is very few, since it is ingrained in our collective psyche that those are "culturally acceptable" solitaire pastimes. For some, solo board games are another option just like those ones.

Therein lies the crux of solo board gaming in the eyes of people that don't do it, or even know that is possible. It is a foreign concept, thus labelled as absurd for them. Furthermore, it is even stigmatized by some people that only visit board games for the competitive/social aspect, like Deathworks mentioned before. The nice thing about table top in general is that it covers much more than those two aspects.

Juan I think you hit it on the nail! That is exactly the way I see it, and I think you are absolutely right about there being a cultural acceptance of certain types of solitaire games such as a crossword puzzle. Solitaire board games are still somewhat of a foreign concept as you mentioned, so they tend to be stigmatized by some as being weird.

My opinion is, if you enjoy playing a solitaire board game then go for it. Deathworks has a good point too regarding the whole adventure concept - there are many games that do not involve strategy, co-op, etc. Those types of games can be great for solo play.

Having that said though, the reason I started this thread is to determine whether I should create a solo variant for my game Tau Ceti: Planetary Crisis. Your feedback has certainly helped me make that decision. I think at this point I'm definitely going to try and incorporate it somehow, I think it's possible. There is a lot of heavy strategy in the game, but I'm sure I can come up with some AI scenarios to make it work. I realize that there are many people who may not have a group of gamers to play the game with, so I want to make sure I don't leave them out. I want everyone to be able to enjoy playing this game. While I will most likely come up with a solo variant process, I'll probably open up the possibility for others to create solo variants as well for this game after it's been released. Naturally, I want to monitor the consistency of the game, so I'll probably have some sheet or set of guidelines for creating AIs for this game. Does this make any sense? This will be my first time incorporating a solo variant in a game, so I want to make sure I go about the process in the correct way.


OK, I promise I'm not trolling or trying to make people mad here.

I see solo board gaming as doing word searches, not crosswords.

When I see a person on a bus doing word searches, it boggles my mind. What's the point? You'll inevitably find all the words. There is no challenge there. Sooner or later, you'll "win."

The only way word searches interest me at all is if there is an opponent. Who can finish a word search faster? That's a game. But without the competition, it's pointless.

So you could do word search after word search, and time yourself, and see if you can get the best time...but to what end? How do you know if word search A is just easier than B, and so you got a better time, how do you know if you really performed well? You kind of don't.

So you play Agricola alone and score 55 points. You have no idea if that's a good score or a bad score given the cards you had. You went through all the motions, nobody was going to block you, nothing unpredictable was really going to happen, and you got a score.

So what?

Pete (doesn't understand this at all)

Pete I totally get what you're saying, I sort of had this same thought process about solo variants when I first learned about them. I think they should be incorporated properly though, and should not just senselessly be tacked onto any game. As Deathworks mentioned, games that offer an adventure can work well with solo play. I also think games that incorporate good AI can too. So essentially you would not just be playing to beat a time, or score a number of points, but actually beat the AI which would take the place of another player. The AI would be very random, and should be challenging. Personally, I'd prefer to play a game with others, I've never played a solo game. But I'm not opposed to trying it out. Like I said, I think it all depends on the type of game and how well the solo variant is laid out.
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juanma99 wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
But without the competition, it's pointless.

Here you answer your own question. For you, as for many others, board games are mainly about competition and social interaction. The point that I try to convey is that there are many others that find many more things in board games than those two aspects.

An analogy for me is people that like to go to the movies by themselves, something that I would never do, but they enjoy. Something similar I guess is what board gamers think about solo board gamers. For solo gamers, it doesn't matter who's sitting next to them in their enjoyment of the movie.
But a crossword without competition is not pointless...

Pete (doesn't think it's that simple)
 
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juanma99 wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
But without the competition, it's pointless.

Here you answer your own question. For you, as for many others, board games are mainly about competition and social interaction. The point that I try to convey is that there are many others that find many more things in board games than those two aspects.

An analogy for me is people that like to go to the movies by themselves, something that I would never do, but they enjoy. Something similar I guess is what board gamers think about solo board gamers. For solo gamers, it doesn't matter who's sitting next to them in their enjoyment of the movie.

I am a solo gamer, and I mainly soloplay games that have a strong theme and narrative (wargames, mostly), however I also solo games to explore the game systems/mechanisms and to try out different strategies. I just finished a 4-player solo game of Tigris & Euphrates. Its really fun to pick certain strategies for each player and test them out. Really stick to your guns for each player, even if it appears that it is sub-optimal, just to see what happens. This way, I can explore 4 different strategies in one game. Or have 3 different strict strategies and have the 4th be highly reactionary or confrontational and see if a more tactical approach will win. Very interesting.

Its interesting to me, anyways. I guess you need a certain mindset to enjoy such things.

Also, to get back to the poll, I don't care if a game has a solo variant, because I just play all/some sides and find it more rewarding than a shoehorned solo variant.

And Pete, to address the computer thing, boardgames are entirely different than videogames because its inner systems are exposed. Exploring those game systems and how they interact is a huge reason I love boardgames, solo or not. Video games don't really offer such exploration. I also spend too much time staring at a computer screen so sometimes I need a break (and I never want to stop gaming ).

EDIT: Here's a link to a relevant discussion: Playing to win or playing to play?
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plezercruz wrote:
juanma99 wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
But without the competition, it's pointless.

Here you answer your own question. For you, as for many others, board games are mainly about competition and social interaction. The point that I try to convey is that there are many others that find many more things in board games than those two aspects.

An analogy for me is people that like to go to the movies by themselves, something that I would never do, but they enjoy. Something similar I guess is what board gamers think about solo board gamers. For solo gamers, it doesn't matter who's sitting next to them in their enjoyment of the movie.
But a crossword without competition is not pointless...

Pete (doesn't think it's that simple)
Says who? I can play devil's advocate and claim that doing crosswords is pointless FOR ME, but that doesn't make it so for the person enjoying the crossword. Isn't that your stance against solo board games?

What empirical factor determines if something is pointless or not? Isn't the person embarking on the activity, being a crossword or a solo game, the one that's supposed to determine if something is pointless or not? The activity itself does not have a value. It's the person doing it that provides that value.

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plezercruz wrote:
juanma99 wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
But without the competition, it's pointless.

Here you answer your own question. For you, as for many others, board games are mainly about competition and social interaction. The point that I try to convey is that there are many others that find many more things in board games than those two aspects.

An analogy for me is people that like to go to the movies by themselves, something that I would never do, but they enjoy. Something similar I guess is what board gamers think about solo board gamers. For solo gamers, it doesn't matter who's sitting next to them in their enjoyment of the movie.
But a crossword without competition is not pointless...

Pete (doesn't think it's that simple)

Very much like a crossword, who's point is a mental exercise, solo gaming can also be enjoyable for similar reasons. Its a mental exercise and a challenge. And an even bigger one than a crossword, IMO, since, if you play them like I do, you are competing against yourself and trying to outplay yourself, which is incredibly mentally challenging. It works parts of the brain that are not worked, even when played with other players since you're focusing only on your strategy instead of 2,3, or 4 different strategies.

It takes a bit of roleplaying skill also. You have to sort of "roleplay" each player and create "personalities" for each player to interact with each other. When a move comes I often think: "Well, this is what I would do, but is that what this player would do if they are trying to achieve this specific strategy?"

You also have to try and separate any preferences. Sometimes I get too attached to a certain strategy or player and I find myself playing sub-optimally (or off-strategy) for other players and I have to check myself. It's really a strain on the brain.

Also, word searches aren't pointless. They improve your pattern recognition skills.
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Dear Pete,

plezercruz wrote:
What's the point? You'll inevitably find all the words. There is no challenge there. Sooner or later, you'll "win."

The only way word searches interest me at all is if there is an opponent. Who can finish a word search faster? That's a game. But without the competition, it's pointless.

I think taking a step back from your own perspective is the problem - or rather the problem with it.

As I tried to explain before, people play games for different reasons. And people who play for different reasons get different things out of their games - or fail to get them. Take for instance random-hating Euro games and compare them to a dice-heavy thematic game with lots of cards and random events. A person preferring to get challenged with large strategic puzzles planning ahead many turns will enjoy the Euro games while they would probably get frustrated by the thematic games. And if you have someone who wants actions and does not care too much about planning the big picture, they may love the thematic game and loathe the Euro game. Those different players would see the other player's way of playing games as alien.

And I think there is a similar issue here. In order to be enjoyable for you, a game needs to offer competition, ways of winning and comparing those wins.

There is nothing wrong with that approach, but it is your personal approach to games. There are other, equally valid (on a grande, objective scale, that is) approaches to games, like my love for adventure. Or people who enjoy facing challenges that may even be unfair and try to overcome those odds. These different approaches are alien to each other and many of them probably won't appeal to you, but that does not mean they do not exist or they are not valid.

So, in order to understand solitaire gaming, I think you need to take a step back and say: "Okay, my personal definition of gaming is competition. Now, if I assumed that someone considered getting an adventure tale out of a game session, how would that person see solitaire gaming?" The important thing here is not trying to enjoy solitaire gaming yourself. As far as I can tell, your preferences do not go along well with solitaire gaming. That is fine and I think trying to convince you to like solitaire gaming would be wrong; all I think we can achieve is that you can abstractly understand "Ah, he plays solitaire gaming because it means this or that to him and he considers that fun. Not my cup of tea, but I understand his reasoning."

After all, for most people, I think, gaming has to do with having fun. And I think we will all agree that what is fun is highly subjective - do you enjoy walks in the woods or do you go to a disco? Or maybe reading a good novel in your living room by yourself? Just as our other ways of fun differ, so do our roads to fun in gaming differ.

As an example, I once again point to my own preferences: I want to see a story develop inside my head. I want to go out on adventures. And in doing it via a board game as opposed to a novel, it becomes my adventure.

Take for example my session reports, which might illustrate what I am looking for in a game:
Dunya's epic travels - a solo adventure (Tales of the Arabian Nights, highly thematic, no strategy no tactics game)
Rudolf and Martha (a solo session of a poor player) (Trying to get the most out of Agricola, which is not one of my favourite games - I just mention it as I saw that you own it)
紅信ちゃんの手紙 (Koushin's letters - a flavoured solo session report using a little bit of Japanese) (At the Gates of Loyang; the one Rosenberg game I really love, and I also think that this is a very good sessions report.)

I don't expect you to share my excitement about the session reports, but I hope that they give you an impression what I am looking for in (solo) gaming.

Yours,
Deathworks
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