Sunday, 30 October 2016

At a table for one

This week, while several GNNers are off having a games festival in Ilfracombe, I was cat-sitting for Sam. This gave me a chance to try some of the single player versions of recent favourites.

I began on Friday evening with Viticulture. This game has been a big hit recently, but how would the game stand up away from the thrust and parry of real opponents?

Unfortunately, not too well. The method used to place your opponents workers is to draw a card at the start of summer or winter and place workers accordingly. Since the game uses a two-player set up this means certain spaces will be unavailable, unless you use your grande.

With these obstacles in the way, the game gives you seven rounds to beat twenty points. I managed it (got to twenty-five) but it didn’t feel that satisfying. It lacked a certain something.

Then on Saturday morning, I broke out Caverna. Recently, this has been the go-to game for Agricola-style worker placement since it avoids the most stressful part of Agricola, trying to feed your family.

Well, in the single player game, that part is back: every round after round five is a harvest! This can cause some serious issues with AP.

Also, and this is the clever bit, when a space has six resources on it, it will reset at the start of the next round. When I read that rule I thought, fair enough, I’ll just wait until it is full and then take it. The trouble is, by that time, I had other plans in motion and the idea of using a go just to pick up lots of stuff seemed like a waste.

The cards for the later rounds are always in the same order, so the game can play out the same way each time, if you do the same things. I got to 59, but the rules suggest that 100 is possible. I’d love to know how. Anyway, this is an excellent version of Caverna and one that really captures what’s so good about the main game.

My board at the end of the game

Finally, on Saturday evening, I went the full Matt Damon and played Terraforming Mars. Now, this must be mankind’s second attempt at colonising the red planet, because the game begins with two cities and two bits of greenery already on the board. After that, you have 14 rounds to achieve all three game-ending criteria.

Blimey. 45 credits and +/-2 on criteria

I enjoyed it, but found my progress rather slow. When round fourteen was over, I’d barely got halfway to each of the end-game targets. Perhaps I haven’t played it enough to know how the cards work together, but it seems like a tough assignment to beat.

Let's science the shit out of this!

It's all getting a bit I'm The Boss

Plenty of production power

But not enough time to make it pay.

So, anyway, that was my weekend. Disappointed by Viticulture, delighted by Caverna and still undecided on Terraforming Mars.


  1. Excellent insights Andrew! Thanks again for looking after Finn and Mr Fishy.

    We got a few games played in Dorset too. I'll write em up if I get a chance.

  2. Andrew we must play Fields of Arle, then you can borrow it for a bit of one-player fun if you like - I love it as a solo player.

    I'm enjoying the lighting bloom on the Terraforming Mars pics - very Martian.