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Subject: Review of solo Twilight Struggle rules by GameRulesForOne: Excellent!! rss

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Jason Sample
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SOLO Session Report

First things first, I am not a Twilight Struggle expert. I have played a hand full of times, and I enjoy the heck out of this game. I do not always have an opponent to play FTF, though.

I decided to give a SOLO game a try. I used the rules that were developed and published by
SoloPlayGames
United States
Ohio
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. I have to admit that I had some trouble getting my head around them at first, but that is more a function of me than of the very clearly written rules by this BGG user.

I played as the United States and used the setup rules as outlined in the solo play rules. It was a bit different from the “Standard Opening Setup” that folks use, but I went with it.

Each turn begins with card “drafting” where you deal several face up cards and then select cards for yourself and for the AI based on total OPS. The object is to balance OPS. The hands are then augmented by several randomly dealt cards (so you do not have perfect information). I did my best to avoid really committing the cards to memory.

There are other mechanics in play for choosing a headline for you (you pick one out of three randomly edealt cards from your hand/deck) and for the AI (the first of its events that comes off the deck, randomly). Then the game goes through action rounds with the player executing deal two/choose one from his/her hand/deck and the AI playing the top card from its hand/deck.

The particularly neat mechanic is the role that scoring cards are played. The scoring cards are in their own deck and the scoring cards are dealt one or two at a time. You can only place influence into the regions that are displayed on the scoring card(s). One region is the “primary” region and that follows standard placement rules. The other scoring card displayed is the “secondary” region. You can place influence here at a penalty of -1 OPS total (so it would cost 4 OPS to place 3 influence in an uncontrolled country in the secondary region). Again, influence placement follows standard placement rules.

The scoring happens at different times depending on the round. During the Early War, you score the first Early War scoring card that is revealed on or after turn 3. During the Mid and late War, you score the scoring card revealed on round 3 and then on round 6. There is another neat little mechanic in there that could only be explained if you played it. It is neat because it adds some tension as you try to figure out which region could be next.

This started out as a session report, but now it reads more like a review. So I will take it that way. After 4 hours using these rules for SOLO play, I came to a few conclusions.
1) This is a very fun SOLO variant. There are enough twists and turns to keep it unpredictable and fun.
2) In many ways it does NOT simulate a game of Twilight Struggle, but at the same time it prepares you to play 2 player games of Twilight Struggle because you have to solve many of the same problems.
3) Big ups to the game designers, both of the parent game and the SOLO variant rules. A lot of work and thought was put into all of it.
4) I got better at playing the AI as time passed.
5) On a few occasions, I made a different play than what the rules directed because there was often a clearly better play.
6) This would be a good way to learn the cards, but a bad way to learn how to play the game.

How did it end up? I played 6 rounds and got tired after 4 hours of play (there were several interruptions that extended the session). At that time, I was +10 on VPs with good footholds in Europe and South America. The AI was owning me in Africa (this is a common theme in my games) and had a leg up on me in Asia until I played Indo-Pakistani war and replaced a bunch of influence with my own. It was a fun time. I was forced to make a lot of the same decisions you make in Twilight Struggle with a few modifications. The restraints on placement are necessary to even out the extra information that the human player has.

Again, it does not compare to a FTF 2er or a 2er on wargameroom.com, but it helps scratch an itch when needed. I will definitely be playing this one again.

Peace,
Jason
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Jason,

Is this exercise useful for learning the game? It sits in shrink right now on my shelf, and I'm having trouble finding the proper motivation to learn the game.
 
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Tom Duensing
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markgravitygood wrote:
Jason,

Is this exercise useful for learning the game? It sits in shrink right now on my shelf, and I'm having trouble finding the proper motivation to learn the game.

My version sat around for a long time before I got to it. I played it solitaire and had a great time.
 
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David
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This is a fantastic game but I don't get the chance to play it much. I played it solo a month ago, just doing the best with each side and had a blast.
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Jason Sample
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I think that the best way to learn the game is to open it and try a few rounds of solo play, playing both sides, after reading the excellent examples in the rulebook. After that, head on over to Wargameroom.com and get your butt kicked a few times by more experienced players.

After that, this is a great way to cement a few key ideas and have some fun.

I enjoyed this variant very much. It is well researched and developed.
 
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Frank Prisciandaro
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queequeg wrote:
SOLO Session Report

First things first, I am not a Twilight Struggle expert. I have played a hand full of times, and I enjoy the heck out of this game. I do not always have an opponent to play FTF, though.

I decided to give a SOLO game a try. I used the rules that were developed and published by
SoloPlayGames
United States
Ohio
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. I have to admit that I had some trouble getting my head around them at first, but that is more a function of me than of the very clearly written rules by this BGG user.

I played as the United States and used the setup rules as outlined in the solo play rules. It was a bit different from the “Standard Opening Setup” that folks use, but I went with it.

Each turn begins with card “drafting” where you deal several face up cards and then select cards for yourself and for the AI based on total OPS. The object is to balance OPS. The hands are then augmented by several randomly dealt cards (so you do not have perfect information). I did my best to avoid really committing the cards to memory.

There are other mechanics in play for choosing a headline for you (you pick one out of three randomly edealt cards from your hand/deck) and for the AI (the first of its events that comes off the deck, randomly). Then the game goes through action rounds with the player executing deal two/choose one from his/her hand/deck and the AI playing the top card from its hand/deck.

The particularly neat mechanic is the role that scoring cards are played. The scoring cards are in their own deck and the scoring cards are dealt one or two at a time. You can only place influence into the regions that are displayed on the scoring card(s). One region is the “primary” region and that follows standard placement rules. The other scoring card displayed is the “secondary” region. You can place influence here at a penalty of -1 OPS total (so it would cost 4 OPS to place 3 influence in an uncontrolled country in the secondary region). Again, influence placement follows standard placement rules.

The scoring happens at different times depending on the round. During the Early War, you score the first Early War scoring card that is revealed on or after turn 3. During the Mid and late War, you score the scoring card revealed on round 3 and then on round 6. There is another neat little mechanic in there that could only be explained if you played it. It is neat because it adds some tension as you try to figure out which region could be next.

This started out as a session report, but now it reads more like a review. So I will take it that way. After 4 hours using these rules for SOLO play, I came to a few conclusions.
1) This is a very fun SOLO variant. There are enough twists and turns to keep it unpredictable and fun.
2) In many ways it does NOT simulate a game of Twilight Struggle, but at the same time it prepares you to play 2 player games of Twilight Struggle because you have to solve many of the same problems.
3) Big ups to the game designers, both of the parent game and the SOLO variant rules. A lot of work and thought was put into all of it.
4) I got better at playing the AI as time passed.
5) On a few occasions, I made a different play than what the rules directed because there was often a clearly better play.
6) This would be a good way to learn the cards, but a bad way to learn how to play the game.

How did it end up? I played 6 rounds and got tired after 4 hours of play (there were several interruptions that extended the session). At that time, I was +10 on VPs with good footholds in Europe and South America. The AI was owning me in Africa (this is a common theme in my games) and had a leg up on me in Asia until I played Indo-Pakistani war and replaced a bunch of influence with my own. It was a fun time. I was forced to make a lot of the same decisions you make in Twilight Struggle with a few modifications. The restraints on placement are necessary to even out the extra information that the human player has.

Again, it does not compare to a FTF 2er or a 2er on wargameroom.com, but it helps scratch an itch when needed. I will definitely be playing this one again.

Peace,
Jason

One question. How did you handle the China card?
 
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Jason Sample
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Funny you should ask. I had originally placed it into the hand/deck, but at one or two points in the rules, it makes itbseem like the China card ia held aside and is a possible option for the AI to use.

I just messaged the variant designer to ask.

It seems like it would make more sense to leave it as an option for the AI and place it in your own hand/deck when you have it.

Dunno,
Jason
 
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SoloPlayGames
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queequeg wrote:
Funny you should ask. I had originally placed it into the hand/deck, but at one or two points in the rules, it makes itbseem like the China card ia held aside and is a possible option for the AI to use.

I just messaged the variant designer to ask.

It seems like it would make more sense to leave it as an option for the AI and place it in your own hand/deck when you have it.

Dunno,
Jason
The China is left out of the AI player's hand unless certain situations arise or it becomes the AIs best option during a scoring round.

Referring to page 8, 3.a (i, ii and iii): it explains how the AI may play the China card from his "hand".

In essence if his deck goes empty and he is required to play the China card and he has it, he plays it.

If his hand is empty after the last action has been played in a round the China card enters his hand and will be played when it appears from his hand.

Otherwise the card remains to the side.

This process, as I recall took a while to solidify in my mind to ensure that the China card was moving around in at least a semi-logical manner with about the same frequency as in normal play.

As mentioned, the variant does not play exactly like the normal game but I was determined to make it feel like you were playing against "someone else". It should help your play though and get you familiar with how the cards flow. Can be challenging to learn the game from this variant as has been noted in a few different threads and in numerous emails that I have received.

I went from never played the game to devising a solo variant in a short 6+ months. It took 3 months of mechanics analysis and numerous strategy threads just to get me to where I could get the AI to play competently without me "playing both sides".

Thanks for the write up and if anyone gives this variant a go and has questions, send me a geekmail or ask your question in the design thread of the solo variant. I will do my best to answer promptly.
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Jason Sample
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Dear SoloPlayGames (sorry, I do not know your real name),

You have done a remarkably good job with this variant. It feels right and the fact that I am dying to play it again real soon is a testament to your work.

Most of my confusion about the China card aros during the deck "drafting and building" phase.

Thanks again,
Jason
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Greg Becker
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Firt of all, sorry to comment on this post after such a long time blush

But since I've started buying and playing real boardgames (obviously, Monopoly and such don't count), I've always wanted to buy this game as it is really high rated on every forum I know, and the period of the Cold War really appeals to me (I'm happy though I wasn't alive back then )

So my question: Is it worth buying this game for the only purpose to be played solo? Being a student, it's not easy to pay about 55€ (about 70$, but if it's worth it I won't say no
 
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Sam Carroll
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I don't know if it will work for you, but I play and enjoy the game solo. Of course it's not as tense as with two players; it's a different feeling. It's more just seeing how the game unwinds.
 
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Jason Sample
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Being a student can be a challenge, to say the least. Being a gamer AND a student is an even bigger challenge.

This is a really fun game solo. The rules that were written by GameRulesForOne work really well, IMO. Is it possible that you could find a copy of the game and give it a go? Is it possible that you could give it a go on VASSAL using the VASSAL Engine and the Twilight Struggle module? Does your school have a message board where you could put up a plea for a Twilight Struggle opponent (must have a copy of the game)? If you ever want to give the game a go, I could be persuaded to play opposite you at Wargameroom.com. It is OK to play games on there if you don't own the game as long as one of the players owns a copy (like in real life).

It is a fun game to be sure. I have enjoyed playing it solo as well.

With all of that said, I have not been a student in a while so I understand that 55 Euros is a bit of money. When I was a student, 55 Euros would have gotten me a pretty long way.

Lemme know if I can help,
Jason
 
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Greg Becker
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Yes, being a gamer student is a challenge,but I'v been able to buy some pretty good boardgames until now (instead of videogames, which I enjoy as well, but I'd rather buy a copy of a boardgame than of a videogame).

Sadly I don't have the chance to pick up a copy to test it, but playing it online would be great to decide wether this game is worth it or not.

Also, the primary purpose would be to play it solo, but that doesn't exclude some now and then sessions with friends, if I find anyone willing to put the effort to learn the rules.

At the moment I'm watching some descriptive videos about the game and I'll read the rulebook if I find it somewhere online.


Thanks for the answer
 
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