Monday, July 23, 2007

Dungeoneer Scenarios: Solo Play

One of the most common requests I've heard from players, online and in person, is for a good set of solo rules to play Dungeoneer by.

Dungeoneer was designed as a multiplayer game from the beginning. For a game to be successful I believe it has to have a strong social aspect, players must be able to interact frequently, a game should foster communication. One of the reasons I think so many dungeon-crawl boardgames (and card games) have failed in the past is because each player takes his or her turn independent of what the other players are doing. This creates isolation and reduces the crucial community aspect of game playing! Dungeoneer solves this by forcing player interaction each turn through the Peril/Glory mechanic and the Dungeonlord/Hero phases of each player's turn. This interaction is the heart of the game - well, almost.

Quests are the only time a player is really "playing in isolation" compared to the rest of the game. And Quests are the other piece of the heart of the game.

So how do we go about creating a compelling solo player experience out of a game intended for multiple players? The answer must lie in the Quest system. And this means the solo player's goal must be almost exclusively to complete Quests. I've seen several solo variants floating around on the Internet, and I do pay attention to how others have tried to solve the problem. It almost always boils down to automating the Dungeonlord aspect of the game, and allowing the players to focus on playing their Hero. Still, there are many cards such as those with Shift and Warp effects that only make sense in a multiplayer game. After considering all the solo rules what we've ended up doing is choosing 4 solo rules variants and polishing them. In addition we've put together a collection of modular solo rules that can be used with any of the solo variants. This is the basic description of each variant:

Variant 1, Run Forest Run:
In this variant the goal is to complete 3 Quests and return to the Entrance to win the game. All "problem cards" are removed from the deck.

Variant 2, Revise Problem Cards:
In this variant, similar to the first the goal is to complete 3 Quests and return to the Entrance to win. But it has a breakdown of all the "problem cards" and explains how to use them in a solo context. Yeah, more consulting the book, but you can use all the cards.

Variant 3, Simple:
The turn order is cut down significantly. Problem cards are removed. None of the modular variants are used, instead it describes it's own abbreviated variants.

Variant 4, Scenarios:
This isn't so much a set of solo rules, as it is various scenarios using the cards in a pre-determined manner to create interesting problems to solve with your Hero (some even as the Dungeonlord to slay all the heroes defiling your evil lair before they can kill off your Boss monster and make off with your captive Princess...).

Now, I'm sure I've disappointed many of you since I haven't put up a full solo rules set for you to try out. Sorry, but you'll have to pick up Dungeoneer Scenarios for that when it comes out. Besides, we are still testing them out.

Happy Dungeoneering!

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