she didn't want to play it again. All the other games I had bought because she said she would play them with me, but with Red Rising, I just really liked the IP and the book series it was based on, so I didn't even think to ask when I saw it on the Facebook marketplace at 50% RRP. Still, at £30, I felt cheated at the idea of only playing it once. Not only did I personally love the theme, but I thought the gameplay was quite fun and had the potential to develop a lot of depth parallel to my growing understanding of the game—this lead to cracking out the Automa rulebook.
Suppose you are unfamiliar; to my knowledge, almost all Stonemaier games come with an Automa Factory version. This third party design team creates a unique solo mode for an existing game and includes a rulebook and some individual components. What I like about this, which is also why I'm happy it was my first experience, is that the AI felt real. From a distance, I have seen so many solo modes, which are the base game, but either you play as the other player but blindly, or it's just the case of beating your high score with no competition other than yourself. This design has, of course, worked well in the video game industry with arcade games and a lot of racing games as well. Still, with board games being inherently more sociable and viscerally interactive, it feels like something is missing from experience.
I love this system because there is just enough randomness to work without the human player being able to see information to gain an advantage (like the AI's hand). Still, the human player also has enough information to work with. This is balanced perfectly with the priority cards that are placed during the setup. The priority cards are labelled A through D, with A being more likely to be placed in and drawn from and D less likely. This can help the human player strategise how to play, just as it would be with another human player. Meaning that you have a good idea of what would be best for the other human player to do (like if there was a perfect card at a specific location), but there is a chance that they will pick a card up from somewhere else.
The game design is solid, and I am excited to try some more difficult levels. (The levels are based on how many points the AI gets for either even or odd value cards, the higher the level, the more points per card). However, the icing on the cake is the additional theming. They gave the AI player a name, Tulu Au Toma. "Au" being a middle name is very much present in the villains in Red Rising, so I think that little addition was so perfect and shows that these third party designers, for one, cared, but for another, were adequately consulted and worked well with the designer of the base game.
Overall, I am thrilled with my first experience with solo. It has allowed me to be more confident about picking up games without consulting my partner first, especially if Automa Factory has anything to do with it. Also, I won my first game by about 50 points for the record, so come on to the next level!
Hello, my name is Niall Crabtree, and this is my comprehensive blog showcasing all of my game development endeavors and successes, as well as essays on game design.
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