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Subject: SoloPlay Variant for Carcassonne with Expansions Available rss

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A way to play Carcassonne with a combination of 3 expansions in a solo format has been posted to the Geek.

The download is available using the following link:
Carcassonne + Expansions SoloPlay Rules

Rules include a player’s aid which contains all of the scoring objectives, score track that notes the goals with the respective expansions, if used, and some reminders about the gameplay.

This is #9 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: Improve game value by providing a challenging solo variant that plays like the original. Primarily these are games that no longer get to the table as often, if at all, like they used to.) This one is a bit different in that it was specifically purchased for my wife and me. Of all the games in my collection, this is the one that she will play anytime.

Preface:
I find Carcassonne to be a very relaxing game to play which provides a sense of satisfaction when the “land” is completed. It is hard to find anything wrong with this game once you have given it a run through a few times.

It has been played with the game group a couple of times as a filler and no one objects to its role. It has never been requested as the primary game for the evening.

I am not a complete-ist when it comes to all of the expansions and find that the 2 I have included (Inns and Cathedrals and Traders and Builders) increased the enjoyment of the base game and provide enough variety in the play.

What I did not expect was when I was putting all of the solo variants together I actually played the base game without any expansions probably for the 1st time. Whoa. I found it to be the most intense play of the lot since I knew the tiles so well, or at least I thought I did. It took some time to get my plans in order and recognize how best to lay the land and to retrieve the followers.

Carcassonne Solo Design Comments:

The core mechanic of place a tile and then place a follower remains unchanged. This for me is the appeal of the game. It had to remain the primary focus. I saw no other way to not be the focus.

As I began playing through solo using the normal rules I recognized that some of the scoring needed to be altered (scaled down) and there needed to be some restrictions on the placement. I have seen others post solo ideas for Carcassonne by limiting the size of the play area and play as usual. This was OK but still not up to the solo strategizing that I felt it needed to be continuously appealing.

The play area is limited to a particular size depending on any expansions that are being used. If the player could do whatever he wanted to do it would come down solely to luck of the draw. There will always be luck of the draw due to the nature of the game but there had to be an increased planning element as well.

Limitations-
1. Play area is limited to a particular size
2. The player cannot score any item unless it is 3 tiles or larger. If the player wants to close a “2” item occupied by a follower, the follower is retrieved but nothing is scored.
3. The followers will be locked in (no more placed or retrieved) when the “grid” hits a particular size. This is where the planning really resides. Learning how to score the followers over and over and then get them on the “grid” to maximize your final score before getting “locked out” is a skill that I had to develop.
4. The scoring scale needed to be reduced to make tracking easier without re-inventing the wheel. For the most part, they are halved except with the roads which retain the 1 point per tile.

With the base ideas setup, play-testing commenced and the struggles began. I try to get my game up to at least an intermediate level (in the solo environment) after a long period of play-testing where my score plateaus and the success ranges present themselves. I then play through them numerous more times looking for the little ways to eek out more points here and there and determine if the ranges will stick. More often than not I will move them up a little bit more. Once I have achieved the game ratings, I would consider myself an advanced player of the solo game which does not mean that I am successful every time. I am looking to achieve the lowest success rating about 50-60% of the time compared to 20-30% for the 2 level to 10-20% for the top level. The game has to be challenging to keep my interest.

I then incorporated all of the expansions and play-tested all of the various combinations. I am glad that I don’t have more combinations or it would have taken forever to lock it down. With each expansion I had to add ways to work with each of the new components (large meeple, builder, pig, cathedral etc.). Scoring adjustments and strategies for the placement of each item was needed to give the game its character and variety. I like to have a use for every item that is in the game to add different strategies to the play.

Designer’s note: my favorite is the large meeple combined with the collection of goods of the Traders and Builders expansion. You are limited to the size of the item the large meeple can be placed on, it adds 1 point to every tile/shield when scored (+cathedral if used), can only be used once and doubles the goods within the castle, if necessary. It also limits the placement of another follower until it is off of the playing area. (Instead of playing 7 followers and the large meeple you are limited to 6 and 1) Getting a good doubling of goods is very important to achieving goods majorities or monopolies and the extra points. Too much focus could affect the way the land is being built. Sounds like a mouthful but it really isn’t. It is all in the plan.

The river is a strange animal. I note that many on the Geek don’t care for its use. I like it in the setting I mentioned earlier with my wife but in the solo environment it becomes something to overcome. I saw it as a way to up the level a little bit by trying to deal with the space that the river occupies.

Needless to say each expansion brings in its own character and new things need to be considered.

I did add numerous new scoring methods. I actually had many more but noted that many of them were too confusing, I felt, to be understood by those who may give the game a try or were not relevant to increasing strategy and were more “luck of the draw” scoring. It is important that you are aware of all of the scoring methods to be able to integrate them into a game plan. Pig pen? Yeah, that is one of the scoring methods.

Play time is about 30 minutes.

With all of this the solo game was completed.

Goal of the rule design:
1. Maintain the game mechanics of the original.
2. Increase the tactical and level of challenge.
3. Give the game variety.

A comment that I have received numerous times is about how hard the SoloPlay game variants play. I believe that if the game does not provide a challenge then what is the point of play.
The only way that I could see to make these variants easier is to allow follower placement all of the way to the end and/or to score the “2 tile” items. If you need to do these until you get the hang of the variant, feel free to put them in.

Comments are always welcome.

Strategies:
1. I can’t understate the need to know the tiles in the game and expansions used especially the cloisters. I designed these variants assuming that the player had at least a good sense of what is coming.
2. Leaving space in the grid design was like an art. Sure it is cool to build a tight grid that slowly expands out but the ability to make the big scores is diminished a bit.
3. Time is ticking as the tiles are being used. Be aware of when you need to do what/when. I have won the game by not having all of the followers on the board but more often I want to have everyone on the board.
4. Scoring – the bonus scoring for having “unoccupied” castles on the board that are 4 tiles or larger is something to take note of. If you placed a follower on it during the follower placement phase and scored it you will be able to score 2 more points for it again at the end. This can be significant if it is combined with a farmer. Be aware of all scoring methods and how to maximize them.

Final Thoughts
Carcassonne has been and is a fun game to play in a light environment. The SoloPlay variants up the ante a bit and gives the game a new dynamic. It almost like working on a puzzle while watching a movie but with scoring and strategy to boot.

I rate Carcassonne a 5 to be able to learn and play in the multi-player game. I would give these variants a 6+.

Future Note: If you enjoy this variant and want to really get a challenge keep an eye out for the Soloplay variant for Taluva.

I hope you have fun with this and find it has a great deal of re-playability.

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

All new variants and information about upcoming projects will be listed there.

A game that sits in a closet is a waste. Get it out and play it any way you can. These are just my ideas.
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ppski
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Hi there,

Thanks for such awesome solo play variant. It is fun to play it, however I got few questions mostly in terms of scoring:

Ref 1. a) ii. - only one tile breaking this rule is considered as unplayable, all following can be used to max-up score etc. ?

Ref 4. a) - completed cloisters, that means only ones where we have/had follower? (we have to note during the game which ones where occupied and which weren't?)

Ref 4. b) - we score this during the game, whenever castle with >4tiles and not occupied is finished ?

Ref 5. - are we talking only about roads where we had followers or those completed without followers count as well towards this ? (we have to note during the game which ones where occupied and which weren't?)

Ref 6. - no questions here, because it explicitly says about placing followers.
 
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