Solo Game Unlocked and Player Interaction
Solo Game is Innnnnn!
We're really happy about this one. We were surprised with how many people loved the original Posthuman's solo game. While it worked well, being our first game and not realising how many people played solo was quite a light touch, design wise. It was always in there but we didn't add any components to cater for it. With Vengeance we had a dedicated solo game that even modified the base game's rules and gave each hero their own unique mission, some of whom had their own rule variations.
With Posthuman Saga we're similarly focusing on a dedicated solo game that is not simply an after-thought but is designed specifically to be played solo. Since we have a stellar designer such as Jon Gilmour already developing the game, it felt like a natural next step to also have him create an aspect of the game. The solo was a perfect fit. But given the added expense we had to do two things (a) put it up as a significant stretch goal and (b) wait to fully develop it until we were sure that stretch goal is met. Gordon has started drafting the solo game, and will now work with Jon to make it its own little mutant cutie within the larger mutant mama that is the main game.
Aside from this we need to have the base game locked down 100% before we can start tightening the screws on the solo game since the latter depends on the former and any changes will have a considerable effect on the latter. Obviously, since we test some of the stretch goals but not all, we don't start the last wave of polishing and blind testing the game till after the Kickstarter.
We're explaining all this since some of you asked we felt it was good to clarify why the solo mode is still in development.
A number of backers have been asking about player interaction in the game and if this is a multiplayer solitaire game. The short answer is: absolutely not! But of course, being a pedantic game designer, here's the long answer (there's a thread on BGG if you wanna contribute there).
First off it's important to clarify what we mean by player interaction. Interaction is not just stuff you do that directly affects others, but having your attention engaged by stuff relating to others around the table (indirect interaction). Ultimately when we say "interaction" we mean the enjoyment of involving yourself with other players around the table, or social involvement, so both direct and indirect interaction are important.
Posthuman Saga includes both considerable direct and indirect interaction. Don't be fooled by the fact that you're each building your own quadrant of the board. This is done to enable the map formation to be a puzzle that's interesting to form and to give the game more replayability. We also wanted to keep the sandboxy feel of Posthuman that so many players loved. Quite simply, in Posthuman Saga if you don't keep track of what other players are doing turn by turn you're going to do badly.
Let's have a look at some of the aspects of the game that either involve direct interaction or are a mix of both direct and indirect.
First off we have the Broadcast event. This is squarely an example of direct interaction in the form of an auction that is crucial to your map journey and scoring Rep points. It happens every other turn (and in the first two turns) and decides what tiles and scavenge site tokens you will have in hand to play. If you don't have the right tokens you won't score Recon Objectives. If you don't have the right terrain tiles you will not be able to score Mission Objectives. The tiles also determine what resources you can Forage, since Foraging now gives you a set number of resources. What you bid for and how many tokens you bid is going to be hugely influenced by what other players want, what they have already on the board and what Action you think they re going to take next. All things that can be inferred if you're paying attention. Furthermore, the auction establishes the player order which is going to be important for the Map action since it determines who will pick from the available tiles first. Finally, the order will stay for two turns so you gotta think two turns ahead. So that element is already a major source of interaction - not just for when it happens but for the upcoming turns and it contains both direct interaction (the actual bid, selection, player order) but also direct interaction.
Next up are the Mission Objectives. You want to be first or at least as close to first as you can in completing them. But you'll need to Camp, Forage for weapons and food etc and Map to get more tiles and scavenge tokens for the Recon Objectives. What you choose is heavily dependent on what you think the others are doing and what their state is (how many objective tokens they have down, health etc). If you are not mindful of this, again, you will do badly in the game.
Then there are Intel events. You place tokens on the board at the start of the game. When you explore a tile on that space you take that token and place it on any global event space on the turn tracker. When an event happens and your token is on the current event space on the tracker you look at the top two cards and read both sections. The top section is a bit of info you've gathered and are communicating to others and the Fortress. The bottom one is what happens if no one found that bit of info out. You choose one card and put it at the bottom of the pile and trigger the other's top part reading it out to players. You will obviously choose events that benefit you but not others or flat out mess up your opponents.
The Recon Objective is visible to all and while everyone can score the same sequences you can very much draw tokens that others want to complete their sequences. You can also wipe the supply of tiles and tokens in a Map action if others have things they want and you don't mind wiping.
Then there's the indirect social interaction of the narrative encounters. One could argue that this is not indirect interaction at all but simply social engagement. There's a fine line between the two and the important part is the engagement so I'm mentioning it as test groups have loved this aspect of the game. Here aside from the two players involved in the encounter (narrator and active player) other players are engaged socially through the storytelling. Of course you might not care about the story and then you're not really engaged.
Ok, that's all for today folks. We would really appreciate it if you could help us spread the word of Posthumanity to the thousand corners of your social network. There's no better remedy for the mid-campaign slog!
Love and Mutations to All!