Hi folks! About three months ago, I began a project to develop a new solo play mode for Resident Evil: DBG. I had tried a few suggestions by others before but found the play experiences to be somewhat unsatisfactory. Many card-based games include solo play variants. Ascension and Thunderstone have fairly successful implementations, although you definitely play a bit differently than you would with human opponents. Race for the Galaxy’s robot AI is a train wreck when it comes to physical execution.
Here were my design criteria:
1) Simple execution – the robot turn shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to complete or involve any significant decision making; it has no deck, doesn’t buy or play cards, and doesn’t have to shuffle anything
2) Competitiveness – the robot must develop over the course of the game via consistent, higher damage output and additional explores
3) Realism – the robot explores the mansion and takes damage; it can heal and be killed; it uses multiple explores in the late game to press its advantage; the human player does not need to play much differently than he/she would with other human players
4) Synergy – the robot must work with my preferences for playing the game; it must work with my randomizer and the modes that I like to play
See attached files
Please bear in mind that the randomizer is configured very specifically for my play preferences. The actions are categorized to produce a balance of weapons and actions that I enjoy using. Some actions have no effect in solo play (i.e. Gathering Darkness), so ignore them. More information about the design of this randomizer will be in another post.
I have played about 30 games using the robot thus far and it is almost guaranteed that I’ll make further changes once the new skill system is fully revealed. Most games end with both players still alive, but not all. The procedures for wrapping up games where one player is permanently killed could use more testing and tweaking. My later test games involved the new basic resources and the most recent few incorporated the three levels of the Medic skill. I have used the Premier, Alliance, and Nightmare mansions, although I would recommend using the Nightmare mansion first.
Much like any game with decent human players, you really need to make every turn count. The robot will likely pile up early decorations before you have an opportunity to mount a comeback by using multiple explores and stringing together powerful turns. The robot’s damage consistency comes at a cost: it does not get +explore benefits until late in the game and it must explore every turn. You may be able to catch an occasional break if the robot gets killed, but death is a two-way street in this game, so watch out!
For the most part, the robot’s development scales with the capabilities of human players in games using my randomizer. Its aggressive late game is intentionally designed to encourage you to try to win before it starts paddling you with high damage and multiple explores. You can also play with multiple robots; it’s hardly more work than playing with only one. I also like to assign the robot a random character so that it has a face, even if I just ignore that character’s abilities.
For any who give this a whirl, I'm obviously interested in hearing about your experiences. Don't be surprised if you get your but kicked a few times. It's tough. And that's the way it should be!