Home Forums General Game Design Solitaire Rules

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  • #147074
    Dan Kennedy
    Participant

    I only had seven weeks of ‘proper’ lockdown, earlier in the year, and gratefully went back to work in late May. Having both the kids home All The Time was great but also…well, I’m not a teacher, that much became clear.

    But I went hardcore down a new rabbit hole of gaming. Circumstances meant that Vassal gaming ceased (and won’t pick up again for a while), and having the kids at home All The Time meant my usual gaming table had turned into a school desk, and my ever-patient wife explained to me that while she loved me I wasn’t allowed to spread my still unfinished Blood Bowl teams all over the kitchen table.

    Furloughed and without my normal gaming…what to do, what to do…

    Long story short, I ended up convincing myself that years of house-ruling existing games to suit my solitaire interests meant that of course (of  course!?) I’d be able to write a pure solitaire boardgame from scratch, tailored to my specific tastes and preferences, and able to be played in a small space.

    Well.

    Writing solitaire rules is HARD. Writing any ruleset ain’t easy, but solo rules are their own special kind of mind-twisting challenge. Months later I’m still at it, still trying to work out how to  squeeze a circle into a square, reading up on successful solitaire rules and being mouth-foamingly jealous of people who can make them work when I can’t. I’m getting there, and after more than half a year of dead-ends and re-thinks I refuse to give up, but you kind of have to think through a Mobius loop in some ways to work with things like limited intelligence and how the ‘bot’ controls the enemy. It took me ages to realise that solo wargames cannot resemble F2F games in any way, they’re a different beast.

    On the flip side, I’m really enjoying the challenge; what’s emerging is so far from what I envisaged but that doesn’t matter. It’s all good.

    Anyway, just felt like sharing/ranting…

    #147079
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    That sounds frustratingly cool.

    #147080
    Nathaniel Weber
    Participant

    I find solitaire gaming quite fun with me playing both sides, occasionally using some role play or random dice rolls to add uncertainty (such as playing one side overly cautious, or creating several possible deployments for the defender and randomly deciding on one when contact is likely to occur).

    Obviously though this system doesn’t work with rules that have hidden information, so I have to avoid those.

    I have been picking up some actual solo games lately—the slasher horror game Don’t Look Back and the free test game for Perilous Tales. Both have interesting ideas.

    Looking forward to hearing more about the game you are working on.

    #147095
    irishserb
    Participant

    I just went Nathaniel’s route of playing both sides, incorporating a sort of character/role playing element into the commands.  I have to say that it opened up a whole new area of gaming and enjoyment for me.

    Best of luck with your rules, please share your ideas/rules/methods with us as they develop.

    #147111
    Patrice
    Participant

    I’ve not often tried to play solo, but aren’t they two different things:

    – The solitaire aspect: reactions of the enemy, surprises, etc.

    — The combat system (which could be any other rule).

    You do not need to create both, you could adapt one to the other?

    http://www.argad-bzh.fr/argad/en.html
    https://www.anargader.net/

    #147119
    Dan Kennedy
    Participant

    The ‘muscle’ of the rules – combat, movement etc, that’s fairly straightforward. The tricky stuff is in creating a ‘bot’ which the human player can use to control their ‘opponent’  while still providing enough unpredictability to make the game worthwhile.

    What I’ve realised over time is that it needs to be a very restricted, focused game/scenario, as you have to plan for every possible thing the bot might need to do, as it were, and the wider the scope of the game the more unplayable it becomes.

    Really good examples of solo wargames, such as Where There Is Discord, NATO Air Commander, pretty much anything from Dan Versenn Games, the GMT games COIN series, the legendary RAF and more besides, all keep the basic premise of the game narrowly focused. Every time I realise I’ve gone down a dead-end with something, it’s usually because I’ve tried to include too much. I’m trying really hard not to rip off anyone else’s ideas, so there’s a lot of dead-ends…

    #147151
    Phil Dutré
    Participant

    When playing solo, I’m also in the “play both sides” camp.

    What I often do is define a few options for one side, attribute a probability to each option, and roll a die to see what option that side follows. That’s very flexible, and allows for introducing unforeseen tactical situations etc. You can also “zoom in” or “zoom out” as needed.

    For me, a solo game run in a format against some form of programmed AI that tries t cover all circumstances is not very fun nor satisfying. Solo games are most rewarding if you look at them more as exploratory games rather than competitive games.

    Tiny Tin Men Blog: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/
    Wargaming Mechanics Blog: http://wargaming-mechanics.blogspot.com/

    #147174
    Dan Kennedy
    Participant

    Playing both sides is great, I’ve had a lot of fun over the year with exactly what you describe.

    But what I’m finding interesting with this project is the challenge of the design. Personal opinion, I think a solo game can be fun and rewarding as a competitive experience, but it’s all down to precise design. Again, I’d cite RAF (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/40209/raf-battle-britain-1940) as a good example of this, but there are others.

    I guess it’s because this is new to me, I’ve never looked at a wargame like this before.  The frustration is…fun.

     

    #147196
    jeffers
    Participant

    I’m glad someone mentioned RAF. It’s a work of genius and easily the best solitaire game I’ve played – alarmingly, I cannot even recall the others apart from B17! St Lo might have been, but it was so dull I didn’t manage a full game.

    I think it takes a lot of design experience to get right and not everything is well-suited to solitaire play (strategic air warfare may be the easiest, I don’t know…), so I wish you luck in your endeavour and would love to hear the results. I have certainly never been able to ‘solitaire’ anything and just play both sides with equivalent evil intent. I grew up doing it so it’s second nature.

    More nonsense on my blog: http://battle77.blogspot.com/

    #147900
    Les Hammond
    Participant

    The role-playing aspect is an interesting point and one which I embrace in a sort of subjective way (which sadly can’t be quantified in rules as such).

    When an element on the table has a choice between going to the left or right of an obstacle (hill, farmstead, copse, etc) rather than have tables and dice rolls I put myself in the combatant’s place: Do I fancy going this way or that and then, well just do it. Once the decision is made it isn’t undone for better or worse.

    Perhaps if I can’t immediately picture the tankie’s predicament I might do an odds-evens roll or 66-33% or 75-25% toss up if I note some contributing factors but once committed I think it’s important not to rethink, redo or re-roll. That’s what was decided and the rest is/(will be?) history.

    6mm France 1940

    http://les1940.blogspot.co.uk/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/386297688467965/

    #147902
    ian pillay
    Participant

    Solo games are most rewarding if you look at them more as exploratory games rather than competitive games.

    Exactly how I play solo. I enjoy the campaign aspect that can become a game in its own right, but I like the table top battles the best. Luckily for me my solo opponent, is as bad as me at rolling dice 😊
    Although still searching for an AI system that I am happy with. Until that is found I will carry on being both Generals. I find a good scenario helps when playing both sides.

    Tally-Ho!

    #147912
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    I’m glad someone mentioned RAF. It’s a work of genius and easily the best solitaire game I’ve played – alarmingly, I cannot even recall the others apart from B17! St Lo might have been, but it was so dull I didn’t manage a full game. I think it takes a lot of design experience to get right and not everything is well-suited to solitaire play (strategic air warfare may be the easiest, I don’t know…), so I wish you luck in your endeavour and would love to hear the results. I have certainly never been able to ‘solitaire’ anything and just play both sides with equivalent evil intent. I grew up doing it so it’s second nature.

     

    I think boardgames are easier to design for solo play. Counters on a map are much more versatile than figures on a table.

    AH’s B17 and Patton’s Best are dull exercises in die rolling with hardly any human player input, but VG’s Carrier and the Ambush! series are the best solo boardgames I’ve played.

     

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #147919
    John D Salt
    Participant

    AH’s B17 and Patton’s Best are dull exercises in die rolling with hardly any human player input, but VG’s Carrier and the Ambush! series are the best solo boardgames I’ve played.

    “B-17” has almost nothing for the player to do other than the clerical exercise of rolling dice and consulting charts, but “Patton’s Best” is substantially more interesting, with decisions necessary each turn on what ammo to load, what to shoot, and where to drive. I suppose this is reasonable, in that a tank commander has a great deal more latitude for action than a bomber crew in a rigid formation.

    “Ambush!” is a brilliant innovation in the field of programmed-paragraph solitaire games, but I’d also recommend Omega Games’ “Ranger”. Although it’s a boardgame, it dispenses with hexes, and you, as patrol commander, plot your route with chinagraph pencil on a coated map. It has more of the texture of real patrolling, for my tatse, than any other game I’ve ever seen.

    Cards can help make a solitaire game run smoothly. “RAF” is one of the best solitaire games I’ve ever seen, and also the best simulation of the Battle of Britain. If you can still find copies of Ariel’s old “Mystic Wood” or “Sorceror’s Cave”, they are essentially carboard implementations fo what would be called a “rougelike” game if it were on a computer. One set of big, thick cards produce a random terrain as the player’s party explores, and another set of small, thin cards represent monsters, treasure, traps and so forth.

    The character activation mechanism used in “Red November” and “Firefly Adventures” is intended for collaborative, or “multi-plater solitaire” play, but also works fine for single-player solitaire.

    All the best,

    John.

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