This thread describes/discusses the design and development of the Azul SoloPlay variant.
The download is available using the following link(s):
Azul SoloPlay Rules
This file is #74 in the SoloPlay series.
More game files available here on the Geek can be accessed from the following Geeklist:
SoloPlay Variants Posted on the Geek
SoloPlay- BGG user GameRulesforOne
Design Goals: Develop a variant that gives the game a little more meat and depth.
I knew that there would be a day that I would pick up Azul. Not because it is the best thing around or some deep experience but because it is the perfect spouse/ mother/daughter game. There are almost no rules and yet much like playing dominoes (which I don’t enjoy) you get that tactile, social experience. Sometimes this is what makes for a perfect gaming night.
SoloPlay Azul Design Comments:
Due to the game’s simplicity there is always a concern that there is not enough design space to build a decent variant around. I take this as a challenge much like The Game of 49. I started with the “Patchwork” idea but it was not working right and just felt like moving pieces around. It was not very interesting.
I then went too far the other direction and the thing was a mess. I was moving to far away from the core design. Then something clicked in my mind that I needed to utilize the floor lines of each board. This started me on the right track and when I came up with the action matrix, I was all in.
What is a Penalty Row?:
I knew that I was going to need to use 2 boards otherwise there was not enough design space to develop the variant. I then went with the 5 factory displays like a 2-player game. I set up the game to play it out and it was too open. The center pool was not going to work. What to do?
This is when I called one board the action board and the other the player (scoring) board. Each board had a different gaming purpose. I knew I needed something where you had to make real decisions and the action board gave me that. Development stopped while I parsed all of the tools at my fingertips.
I placed pieces onto the factory line and thought about using this as a way to develop the action board in a sequence to enhance scoring. From the first play this worked great and the factory line on the action board was now known as the penalty row. I had now put a 50lb weight around my neck right from the start with the goal to remove it.
Then came the actions:
Still focusing on the action board I needed to give it more of a purpose than just for shuffling tiles. I determined how each line could be used to impact the penalty row. There was just enough space in the variant design to create the appropriate actions for each of the 5 lines. This was starting to become very interesting as I was now trying to build combos with the tiles. Combos in Azul? Oh, yeah!
The first time you pull off a 4 action combo you can’t resist performing a fist pump. The first 5 tiles in my penalty row are blue, red, orange, orange and black. I don’t have enough blue to work with but red is on the 3rd line and there is enough black to complete the fourth line. I can do this.
I take a blue to fill the top line (1 tile), take 2 orange for the 2nd line, place the 1 red to finish the 3rd line and then take 2 black twice to finish the fourth line of the action board. At the same time I am placing tiles on my scoring board. Just focusing on the actions here …
Resolving the actions I take the one tile action: return the first tile to the bag and draw a new one for the end of the line. I discard the blue and as luck would have it I draw another blue but now it is at the end of the line (out of the way). I then need to switch tiles to move black up a position using the 2 tile action line(switch 2 neighboring penalty row tiles). I switch the positions of the 2nd orange and the black tile. I now have red in the first position, orange in the second, black in the third, orange and blue in the fourth and fifth positions respectfully.
3 tile action: remove matching first tile from the penalty row. I move a red to the action board wall and then remove the red from the penalty row. This slides all tiles up. I then resolve the 4 tile action (moving a black tile to the wall) and since the black is in the 2nd position I can remove it from the penalty row. Removing 2 tiles from the penalty row is a great turn as it reduced my negative scoring by 4 for the current round.
Now I know that many of you may not be able to follow what just happened but hopefully you will be able to experience something like this. The point was that I was more invested and felt I had more control of how the game was going to play out. This was shaping up to be something cool.
… but what about the 1st player tile?:
As I am a no piece left behind kind of variant designer, I knew that I needed to come up with something. I first tried using it as a reshuffle tile but this created too much variance. Accidentally I placed the tile on the action board and it came to me. This is a way to make the action board a little different and create a new scoring opportunity. It was a simple thing and something where you are now balancing the actions against scoring. If you can get the full 11 points off of the tile (I have not yet done this) can provide a huge lift towards victory. It is definitely something to take note of.
And then it was just play after play after play. The whole game plays in 20-30 minutes tops so I could rip out 5+ games a night and it held up really well. A few end game scoring opportunities were put in to ensure that you cannot tunnel too hard on one strategy.
After this it was a couple nights of typing and editing and it’s done. Another easy variant in the can.
Goal of the rule design
1. Increase the strategic possibilities of the game
2. Increase the game’s variability
3. Increase the design space and give the player more to do
Comments are always welcome.
1. Focus on the action board. You have to know how they are going to help you and maybe give you a little scoring in the process.
2. You still have to score all the while trimming back the scoring penalty each round. Even when the penalty hits zero you still have to worry about it due to the way the actions change for the 1st and 2nd lines.
3. Can you get to where you will play 8 instead of 7 rounds? Will you be successful? Will it make a difference?
Some variant designs just show the possibilities early on in this process. This one was like a pistachio that had not started to burst from its shell yet. I held to put a little pressure on it to bring out the goodness. Once in the open, I could not stop with just one.
Setup time: <5 minutes
Play time: about 20-30 minutes.
If you have questions about the rules, you can be post them here or to this user’s mailbox to be answered individually, if needed. I will add a FAQ to this post as I see the need.
Other games that will be/are available from SoloPlay/GameRulesforOne are posted within a Geeklist that I created:
SoloPlay Variants Posted on the Geek
- Last edited Fri May 18, 2018 3:10 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri May 18, 2018 3:09 pm
Played this variant twice today. This is fantastic. Thank you
Game 1 score: 68
Game 2 score: 43
Game 3 score: 59
I like it quite a bit. I am determined to core in the 90s.
- Last edited Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:17 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sun Jul 22, 2018 4:25 am
Late to the party, but this variant is fantastic.
Thanks for this
I have my own solo rules that give a win or lose game rather than beat your highest score.
Never tried joining a thread before so before I explain the rules I just want to check that this message works!
My aim was to make the game as close to the actual rules as possible. The vast majority of the ‘rules’ below relate to how the Bot chooses and places tiles. I have tried to cover every eventuality but I suspect that this has led to the rules sounding more complicated than they really are!
Please note that I am not actually very good at Azul (losing on a regular basis to both of my son’s) so for the stronger players out there, I have suggested a couple of alterations at the end to make the Bot more competitive.
Human v ‘Bot’ Rules for Azul
Set up the table as normal for a two player game.
The Human plays the game exactly as they would in a real game.
The Bot also follows the usual rules (following the process given below) with three exceptions:
a) When playing more tiles than is needed to complete a pattern line, only the first extra tile drops to the ‘floor line’. Any others go into the box lid.
b) If the Bot takes the starting player marker it does NOT go on his floor line (but he will go first next round as normal).
c) In the scoring phase, each tile that the Bot moves to the wall scores an additional 2 points on top of the normal points scored.
The Bot starts the first round.
The word ‘shop’ used below signifies one of the six possible spaces that tiles may appear (the 5 factory displays plus the ‘centre’).
Factory Offer Stage for the Bot
The Bot randomly chooses a shop from amongst those that have tiles on them. (This could be 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 shops.)
Once a shop is chosen, the Bot takes the tiles of the colour that has the most tiles in the shop. (If there is a tie for the most tiles of one colour, choose one of those colours at random.)
eg If there was 2 red, 1 blue and 1 black tile in the shop, the Bot would take the 2 red tiles (and, if the shop was one of the factory displays, the other tiles would go into the center as usual). If instead the shop chosen was the ‘center’ and there was 2 red, 2 blue, 2 black and 1 yellow tile, the Bot would choose at random between red, blue and black.
Exception: If the Bot is unable to place any of the chosen colour tiles on a pattern line, he ignores that colour and chooses between the other colours present in the shop (following the same rules). If none of the colours present in the shop will go on any pattern line then the Bot goes back to choosing the colour that has most tiles – placing one on the floor line and the others in the box lid. He does NOT choose a different shop.
Once the Bot has chosen his tile(s) he places them on a pattern line (following the normal placement rules) by choosing the highest possible option in the following list:
1) Complete exactly (ie no excess tiles) a part completed pattern line. (If two or more can be completed exactly, choose the lowest line.)
2) Complete exactly an empty pattern line.
3) Complete a part completed pattern line (putting the first excess tile on the floor line and any others in the box lid). If 2 or more pattern lines can be completed choose the one that requires most tiles. If there is still a choice, choose the lowest pattern line.
4) Complete an empty pattern line (putting the first excess tile on the floor line and any others in the box lid). If there is a choice, choose the lowest pattern line.
5) Place the tiles in a part completed pattern line. If two or more pattern lines can be added to, choose the one that needs the most tiles. If there is still a choice, choose the lowest pattern line.
6) Place the tiles in the lowest empty pattern line.
7) If no tile(s) can be placed on any pattern line, put the first one on the floor line and any others in the box lid.
Everything else is played according to the normal rules.
eg Game ends when one (or both) have a completed row. Whoever takes the starting player marker goes first in the next round. At the end of each round, the tiles in partly completed pattern lines stay on the board. Wall tiling phase is done in the usual way (except for the Bot’s 2 additional points for each tile that goes on the wall). End of game additional points are scored in the normal way. etc.
For a ‘harder’ Bot, change the rules so that he doesn’t put any excess tiles on the floor line. Or, give Bot 3 additional points (instead of 2) for each tile put on the wall. Or both options!
NB To randomly choose a shop I find it easier to put the factory displays in a straight line (and imagine the ‘centre’ to be at the end of the line) and simply use a normal 6 sided die. If there are 5 shops to choose from, ignore any throw of 6. If there are 4 shops to choose from, ignore any throw of 5 or 6. If there are 3 shops to choose from, a 1 or 2 gives 1st shop, a 3 or 4 gives 2nd shop, a 5 or 6 gives 3rd shop. If there are 2 shops to choose from, a 1, 2 or 3 gives 1st shop, a 4, 5 or 6 gives 2nd shop.
When needing to choose at random between 2 or more different colours, I simply put one of each colour in my hands, shake them up and pick one at random.
Julie Ann Glaz-Bopp
Thanks for posting this, your variant makes my brain feel VERY stretchy!
I’ve played 6 times (obsessively) this week but just can’t seem to win. I’ve pulled a few unlucky sets of tiles, but I feel like there’s more to it than that. I definitely focus on the action board with scoring secondary. Any tips/suggestions?
Also, at the end of the game, is it five points per board that has ANY empty tile rows or five points PER empty row?