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Subject: Solo variant rss

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This is a beat-your-best score variant against a rival who places bots and submarines and takes resources off the board as a player would. He programs and uses the headquarters, so you can plan around what he’s likely to do, as in a normal game. Despite the wordiness of these rules, it actually plays very quickly and intuitively.

Setup:

Have a D6 and D10 (or just use a dice-rolling app). Your rival is Urbot. He doesn’t score points, use a lab, or keep any resources. Choose a color for him. He does use his Engineer, Scientist and bots. He’ll use a player mat only to keep track of his programmed bots. You can just pile his bots and submarines next to his mat: you don’t need to arrange them properly.

After drawing and setting up your lab/sector, randomly choose a starting sector for Urbot and set up his pieces, the crystal, and time markers as normal, including the bot he gets to place on his Program Symbol (based on the white-space action of his sector).

Play: You're the starting player. Take your turns as normal.

On Urbot’s turn:

* If he has 2 programmed bots on his mat, he will carry out an action. Roll to decide which bot/action will be used.

* If he has no programmed bots on his mat, he’ll program a bot (or pass if he's at the top programming space).

* If he has 1 programmed bot on his mat, roll D6: On 1-3, he’ll carry out the action. On 4-6, he’ll program another bot, or pass if he's at the top programming space.


When Urbot programs a bot:

Roll to choose which of the two programming spaces his Engineer will enter. Put one of his bots on the appropriate Program Symbol on his player mat.

Exception: Urbot will always choose the lab expansion space, so no need to roll there.

When Urbot carries out an action:

If it is “Expand the Lab,” see below. Otherwise, roll D10. Urbot will move his Scientist (or not) as follows:

1-3: He stays in his current sector
4-5: He moves to the sector to his left
6-7: He moves to the sector to his right
8: He moves 2 sectors to his left
9: He moves 2 sectors to his right
10: He moves to the opposite sector

Then put the programmed bot in the control space of that sector, which might displace an existing bot (including his own) into the Loading Station. Normal Loading Station rules apply. Then carry out the appropriate action in that sector:

Take Time Markers: Discard time markers.
Take Crystals: Discard crystals.
Catch Octopods: Discard octopods.
Place a Submarine: Place one of his submarines
Take a Research Card: Discard the top research card
Program a Bot: Put one of his bots on the appropriate Program Symbol on his player mat.

Expand the Lab: Roll the D10 as usual, but only take the lab from that sector if it shows a letter that you do not have in your lab. If not, look for such a lab elsewhere, starting with with his current sector or closest to it, rolling to break ties. Put his bot and Scientist in that sector, then discard the lab expansion, noting the letter(s) on it. Put one (or two) of his bots in the corresponding sector(s) (skip this action if he already controls that sector and cannot fit a bot into the holding area).


If Urbot's action cannot be carried out in the chosen sector -- e.g., there are no Time markers when he needs to take them -- then he will try to do so in a sector that would displace your bot from the Control Space. His first choice will be the sector his scientist is currently in, then the sectors next to that, then next to those, etc. (Roll to select between 2, if needed.) If none of your controlled sectors will allow the action to be carried out, he will just do so in the closest empty sector, if possible, then in one of his controlled sectors, beginning with the one his scientist is in, etc.
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Dale Buonocore
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Thanks so much for this, WG. I've just ordered this game, and came to this forum hoping that someone had come up with a viable solitaire variant. Looks like those hopes were not in vain.

I'll definitely be giving this a try at some point soon (it'll be competing for my gaming time with D&D Dice Masters and, hopefully, Forge War), and I'll get back to you with some feedback then. Thanks again!
 
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Elad wrote:
Thanks so much for this, WG. I've just ordered this game, and came to this forum hoping that someone had come up with a viable solitaire variant. Looks like those hopes were not in vain.

Thanks Dale. The only reason I ever come up with these variants is because you haven't done so yet!

Thanks for turning me on to Forge War -- I hadn't seen that one yet.
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Dale Buonocore
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WG -- I'm just now finally taking the plunge (pun intended) into this game, and have one question with regard to your solo variant: as you didn't specifically mention it, I'm wondering whether you place those 2 neutral subs as in the 2-player set-up?

And what kinds of scores have you been achieving thus far? Once a range of typical scores becomes evident, perhaps appropriate "win levels" could be specified...?!

This looks like it'll be fun...!
 
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Whew! Played through my first "learning game" tonight -- gradually smoothed things out with regard to the rules and mechanics after stumbling through numerous mistakes, which subsequently became apparent and were then corrected (some with the help of the BGG rules forum -- thanks, BGG folk!), and began to glimpse the somewhat mind-boggling range of tactical and strategic options arising at virtually every choice point. Another dazzling Feld game, indeed.

So the answer to my preceding question (above) quickly became obvious (of course you use neutral subs just as you do in a normal 2-player game!), but one other question arose: when Urbot's chosen action cannot be carried out in the chosen sector, resulting in his targeting another sector (as specified) where that action can be carried out, I assume you also move his Scientist to that sector as well as his bot?

Otherwise, this variant played nicely and I'm quite delighted with it. Thanks once again for developing and posting it...!
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Elad wrote:

So the answer to my preceding question (above) quickly became obvious (of course you use neutral subs just as you do in a normal 2-player game!), but one other question arose: when Urbot's chosen action cannot be carried out in the chosen sector, resulting in his targeting another sector (as specified) where that action can be carried out, I assume you also move his Scientist to that sector as well as his bot?
Hi Dale -- glad it's working. You can see the variant is pretty similar to what you would have come up with if you had gotten there first!

Yes, you do use the neutral subs, and the rival scientist always moves to the sector where his bot carries out an action.
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Dale Buonocore
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Thanks for that confirmation.

Looking forward to playing again tonight, and hopefully starting to better wrap my brain around all the intertwined and interactive parts in order to begin getting a better handle on decent tactical/strategic approaches -- e.g., especially in terms of learning how to synergistically "chain" things together.

I do so love games that challenge me in this manner, as many Euros and most Feld games typically do -- and having a good solitaire variant readily available is like "icing on the cake." So, thanks once again...!
 
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I changed Urbot's "Expand the Lab" behavior to better combat the player's lab expansion strategy.
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Dale Buonocore
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Thanks, WG -- I'll incorporate that little tweak next time I play...
 
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Hi,

thanks so much for this solitaire variant. I've played it several times already and I find it really convenient. The mechanics works nice, so that I can enjoy the game, that I like very much

I'd like to ask about the situation, I've met today: What if the Urbot has to do the action "Take Time Markers" and there is NO time markers on the board (neither in any of his nor in any of my sectors)? I've played normal rules in this case (I mean: as if he has taken two additional "clocks" from general supply). But it means, that he did not make any action, actually, instead of placing his bot in the control space of the sector. Was that right? Or should've he programme the bot instead?

And what in case, when there is no cristals on the board?

And what if, say, in both situation the Urbot has no more possibilies to programme the bot (he must either do the action, or pass)?

The second thing is: what I've observed in my plays is, that most of the time the Urbot passes the round first, so that I have at least one (most of the times two or three) more turns. Actually, he starts only the first round, if any, as the first player. And now: I understand, that he is only a kind of machanism to make my actions hard. But: do you think, there would be possible (and needed) an inplementation of any mechanism of collecting time markers by Urbot, to enable him the action of programming the bot by paying three time markers?
 
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erem wrote:
I'd like to ask about the situation, I've met today: What if the Urbot has to do the action "Take Time Markers" and there is NO time markers on the board (neither in any of his nor in any of my sectors)? I've played normal rules in this case (I mean: as if he has taken two additional "clocks" from general supply). But it means, that he did not make any action, actually, instead of placing his bot in the control space of the sector. Was that right? Or should've he programme the bot instead?

And what in case, when there is no cristals on the board?

And what if, say, in both situation the Urbot has no more possibilies to programme the bot (he must either do the action, or pass)?

Hello -- I'm glad it's working for you! The answers to your questions may have been a bit hidden in the last paragraph:

If Urbot's action cannot be carried out in the chosen sector -- e.g., there are no crystals when he needs to take crystals -- then he will try to do so in a sector that would displace your bot from the Control Space. (This includes Time Markers: he wants one of the stacks.) His first choice will be the sector his scientist is currently in, then the sectors next to that, then next to those, etc. (Roll to select between 2, if needed.) If none of your controlled sectors will allow the action to be carried out, he will just do so in the closest empty sector, if possible, then in one of his controlled sectors, beginning with the one his scientist is in, etc.

Quote:

The second thing is: what I've observed in my plays is, that most of the time the Urbot passes the round first, so that I have at least one (most of the times two or three) more turns. Actually, he starts only the first round, if any, as the first player. And now: I understand, that he is only a kind of machanism to make my actions hard. But: do you think, there would be possible (and needed) an inplementation of any mechanism of collecting time markers by Urbot, to enable him the action of programming the bot by paying three time markers?

That's a good question. I sort of like it when the rival passes first, because it increases the chance of his taking, for instance, that lab expansion you need before you can get it. But it wouldn't be too hard to house rule that Urbot gets another programming action if he takes a "time" action.
 
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Wretched Git wrote:

Hello -- I'm glad it's working for you! The answers to your questions may have been a bit hidden in the last paragraph:

If Urbot's action cannot be carried out in the chosen sector -- e.g., there are no crystals when he needs to take crystals -- then he will try to do so in a sector that would displace your bot from the Control Space. (This includes Time Markers: he wants one of the stacks.) His first choice will be the sector his scientist is currently in, then the sectors next to that, then next to those, etc. (Roll to select between 2, if needed.) If none of your controlled sectors will allow the action to be carried out, he will just do so in the closest empty sector, if possible, then in one of his controlled sectors, beginning with the one his scientist is in, etc.

Hi,

I know this rule and I use it in my plays. But I ask about the situaion after all "etc." has been checked already, and there is no possibility to take an action of a kind (take time markers, or take cristals). Can't I see anything obvious?

Quote:

That's a good question. I sort of like it when the rival passes first, because it increases the chance of his taking, for instance, that lab expansion you need before you can get it. But it wouldn't be too hard to house rule that Urbot gets another programming action if he takes a "time" action.

That seems to be a good idea. It could be made with D10 dice. Urbot programs with result from 1 to 7 (counting clockwise on the Headquarters). Any higher result must be re-rolled. What do you think about it?
 
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erem wrote:
I know this rule and I use it in my plays. But I ask about the situaion after all "etc." has been checked already, and there is no possibility to take an action of a kind (take time markers, or take cristals). Can't I see anything obvious?

Oh, I see. I haven't encountered that yet, where there are zero crystals (or time markers or octopods) on the board. I think that might be a good time to assume Urbot removes his bot from the programming space, which would normally give a player 2 time markers -- and so we should give him a free programming action, as below...

Quote:
... It could be made with D10 dice. Urbot programs with result from 1 to 7 (counting clockwise on the Headquarters). Any higher result must be re-rolled. What do you think about it?

Yes!

Another thought: I find that a player's lab expansion strategy is still overpowered. So in the cases we're discussing, it might be even better to just have Urbot do a Lab programming action, instead of picking randomly.
 
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Hi,

in my today's play I've introduced changes as follows:

1. every time the Urbot has anything to do with Time Markers, it receives one Time Marker at Player Board (right upper corner). I mean situations like:
a) setup
b) action Take Time Markers
c) no possibble action Take Time Markers, Take Cristals, or Remove Octopods -> unprogramming bot -> taking two Time Markers
2. In case of situation, that Urbot has one programmed bot AND has no possibility to program another one in the usual procedure (since its Enginner is already in one of the three upper programming sections), AND there is a Time Marker in the right upper corner of Urbot's Player Board, I've rolled D6 dice to decide, whether Urbot will take an action, or program another bot. In case of result 4-6, I've rejected the Time Marker from the Urbot's right upper Player Board's corner and Urbot has programmed the Expand the Lab action (following your suggestions, that this action is overpowerd).
3. In case of situation, that Urbot has NO programmed bot AND NO possibility to program one in normal procedure, BUT it has the Time Marker in the right upper corner of Player Board, I've rejected this Time Marker and Urbot has made the action of programming the Expand the Lab action.

That was only one play so far. I want to try it few more times. I also want to try the option with picking Urbot's action randomly instead of programmig Expand the Lab action.

What can I say for now? I personaly have no opinion concerning overpowered character of Lab Extention action, yet. I think it is similar in two players game for instance. But: in today's play it was harder to complete the Lab. Eventually, I've made it, but my final result was significantly lower as it used to be before (69 point instead of 79 or even 89-90 as usual). Urbot's actions were more "hostile".

Please, let me know, what do you think about those changes?
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I like those additions -- I'll try it myself. If you're interested in engaging in some tests, I'd be interested to see if going for Labs with this variant will get you higher scores than otherwise. Because in my "old" version, that seemed to be the case when I played. (And of course the main thing with the labs is to get all different letters by the end.)

If you have a few more plays with this in mind, let me know the results. I'll try it too.
 
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One remark: should Urbot have possibility of extra programming action more than once per round, or not? Player can do it just once per round.
 
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erem wrote:
One remark: should Urbot have possibility of extra programming action more than once per round, or not? Player can do it just once per round.
Good question. Right now I'm leaning toward not limiting it for him, not least because it would be too fiddly to keep track of his one allowed use, but also because I'd like to see even more aggression against the player's lab choices.

 
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Wretched Git wrote:
I like those additions -- I'll try it myself. If you're interested in engaging in some tests, I'd be interested to see if going for Labs with this variant will get you higher scores than otherwise. Because in my "old" version, that seemed to be the case when I played. (And of course the main thing with the labs is to get all different letters by the end.)

If you have a few more plays with this in mind, let me know the results. I'll try it too.

Well, to complete the Lab (with different letters) is an obvious goal if one wants to think about a good result. And this is truth in every variant (or at least in 2 player variant), not only in solo variant. I always play to complete the Lab for first, and everything else I do by the way. If you interpret this as an overpowered action, then this is a problem of the game as such and not of the solo variant itself. Indeed, it might be considered as a lack of balance. But I would have to ask, if anyone can play without this strategy - maybe it is possible.

That was a note in the margin.

And now: I've played two more times with changes as before (Time Marker as a sign for an extra programming of Lab completing action). I have had two different situations concerning this moment:

1. After I've already completed all letters (but not all Lab Expansions) I played Urbot's action Complete Lab Expansions in standard way (D10 dice and so on, as you have described it for other actions). There is a possibility to add an extra rule in this situation, namely, that first of all Urbot tries to collect a component from Playaer's sector. But I don't think it makes the play harder.
2. After I've already completed all Lab Expansions I changed the rule of extra programming to random choice (D10 dice and result 1-7 gives programing action in Headquarters clockwise).

And yet:
1. All three plays confirm, that completing the Lab is harder (which is good).
2. The number of action taken by me and by Urbot is much more balanced.

I will try the option with extra programming action made with D10 dice, but as for now I think the rule I've played already seems to be better.

What are your observations?
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I think your tweaks sound great. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time recently to try any out myself, but hope to get the game out in the near future.

I agree that my enthusiasm for the game seems slightly dampened by the fact that completing the lab seems to be required if you want to maximize your points.
 
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Wretched Git wrote:
erem wrote:
One remark: should Urbot have possibility of extra programming action more than once per round, or not? Player can do it just once per round.
Good question. Right now I'm leaning toward not limiting it for him, not least because it would be too fiddly to keep track of his one allowed use, but also because I'd like to see even more aggression against the player's lab choices.


For keeping track of the time tokens used by the Urbot, you could just collect time tokens on his player mat (since you only need the programm slots) and when he uses one, you put one time token in the upper right corner on the symbol. Now you can see directly if he has used one in the round. You can even give him as many extra moves as you like. I´m thinking about different difficult levels: one extra action per round for an easy game, 2 extra actions for a normal game and unlimited actions for a hard game.
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Update -- I've added one rule in the OP to make the "lab expansion" strategy more difficult (again!): When programming, Urbot will always choose to the lab expansion option, so there's no need to roll when that's one of his options.

I felt it was needed because I'm still getting consistently higher scores when going for lab expansions. Unfortunately, that's the dominant strategy in Aquasphere for a reason, and will always win in the normal game if not actively thwarted by other players.


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Tried this afternoon. Pretty smooth playing. I did go for the lab strategy and got 88 points. Urbot didn't make it easy.
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Wretched Git wrote:


I felt it was needed because I'm still getting consistently higher scores when going for lab expansions. Unfortunately, that's the dominant strategy in Aquasphere for a reason, and will always win in the normal game if not actively thwarted by other players.


Eventually, I wouldn't be so sure. I used to think the same way, but last time I played three players game I've went in the u-bots strategy. It's tru I've lost, but with 3 points only. Anyway once again thank you for the solo variant. I play it really much
 
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erem wrote:
Wretched Git wrote:


I felt it was needed because I'm still getting consistently higher scores when going for lab expansions. Unfortunately, that's the dominant strategy in Aquasphere for a reason, and will always win in the normal game if not actively thwarted by other players.


Eventually, I wouldn't be so sure. I used to think the same way, but last time I played three players game I've went in the u-bots strategy. It's tru I've lost, but with 3 points only. Anyway once again thank you for the solo variant. I play it really much

I'm glad it's working! Now you've convinced me to get this back to the table...
 
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FYI an instructional video for this variant has been posted:

https://boardgamegeek.com/video/128454/aquasphere/hans-solo-...

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