Recent Solo Board Games

I haven’t really had time to write up a lot of session reports lately, so here’s a quick look at some recent solo plays I’ve had.

  1. Vindication
  2. Umbra (Previously Untitled)
  3. Friday
  4. Stroganov

Vindication

I actually played solitaire before playing multiplayer (didn’t have patience to wait!). I stuck to the simpler solo mode, one of two available in the first expansion. I ended up going pretty heavy into companions which made the black die exhaustion result really nasty. But somehow, I was always able to pay the extra influence when it hit.

I was very careful about the defilement, spending conviction almost exclusively to keep it at bay. Not upgrading my mount was a bit risky, but I ended up sticking to mostly one area of the map anyway. It was my monsters that helped keep my head above water. I scored a big chunk of points from their bonus scoring.

I’m a little sad that you can’t use expansions/modules with the solo mode, but maybe you can fudge a few in. I haven’t gotten around to the second solo mode yet, it seems quite a bit more daunting. Maybe soon.

Check out my Vindication review!


Umbra (Previously Untitled)

This prototype design had no name when I last posted a playtest. I’ve made further tweaks to the game as well as finally chosen a name. It’s now called Umbra: Ghost Stories of Visagros. My previous report included a lot of basics on the game mechanics.

The new session…

In this new session, I made a Noble Animancer (a type of sorcerer). I went high Intelligence with some points in Charisma and Skill, letting my Strength drop to 0 (but I started with a companion that had +1). I didn’t come up with a last name, so this character was just Yvette. I also decided to try out the easier solo rules. No Survival mode (lose Health if you’re not in town, didn’t pay for a room or use a tent) and chose 10 as the Fate value.

Overall, it was pretty easy due to luck with draws and rolls. I never really had to face tough encounters, so I only had to worry about my quests, and consistently high rolls meant rarely needing to spend resources or Stamina to get things done. My biggest hurdle was finding the right location for one of my quests early on. Despite playing a caster, I barely cast any spells!

I’ll probably still experiment with the difficult some to find a good sweet spot. The system feels just right, so it’s just a matter of getting the balance to match.


Friday

I borrowed my friend’s copy of Friday to try out. While the rules are pretty straightforward, the rulebook is written in a weird, casual way that makes some of the rules less clear. There were a few minor things I wasn’t sure about, but I just ruled in favor of whatever made it harder.

In the first game, I died early into the Yellow stage. In the second game, I was doing pretty well through the Yellow stage but died during the Red stage. Still never faced a pirate. Third time’s the charm. In the third game, I scrubbed the -1 cards from my deck ASAP. I also got some lucky draws on a big 4-cost card during the first run through my deck, I got the 2 and two 1s. I tried to get a wide range of abilities, though didn’t have many card draws. My Destroy cards helped trash the aging cards when they came up. In the end, it was my Exchange cards that really made the battles against the pirates work. I flew through my deck, gaining life, drawing cards, and exchanging things I didn’t need anymore.

The gameplay is really fun, but the theme is a bit odd and the aesthetic is kind of repulsive. I’m not a fan of the super goofy cartoon artwork. Rio Grande really should have rethemed this with new artwork by now.


Stroganov

I’ve been really looking forward to this one since the KS. Once again, I had to rely on my friend’s copy. I played it 2-player first before trying the solo mode. Production issues aside, I’ve been enjoying the game.

Ivan had a strong first turn. He happened to move onto a location with 2 bear furs and happened to take the two most valuable furs for his hunting. Oof. Worse, he then built an outpost, filling up the first region so I could not build all 5 of my outposts during the game. Double oof.

I had to figure out where else to get my points. My problem so far in Stroganov is that I want to do everything, but you can’t. I built 2 outposts, only worth 3 points, collected only 2 location tiles (worth nothing but their printed points), and only completed my starting Tsar’s Wish, but I at least completed my Trophy track. Final score, Ivan-53, me-37. I’ll have to really focus next time…

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