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One of Raine's biggest hobbies has always been gaming. It all started with an Atari and spread out to Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: the Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons. As an artist, Raine takes pride in painting models for games as well as making his own terrain. He's also been a writer for many years, working both in the journalism industry and writing pieces of fiction. He decided to create Initiative : Tabletop as a platform to talk about all things gaming that he simply thought were cool, and reviewing games became a part of it!

Guest Post: The Plan – Part 8: Always Alone

This might be a short column.  This is due to the fact that I don’t have many new games to talk about this week.  Yep, I knew it would happen – I have been secretly dreading this moment since I started this column, but the fact remains that my gaming group decided to play a couple of repeat games.  Then the college basketball game here in town took the second gaming day away.  So, Wednesday night knowing that I would be busy this entire weekend and might not get even a single game off my list, I sat down in my basement and pulled out a solo game.  It probably won’t be the last, but this marks the first time I had to do it to get content for this column.

What repeat games you ask?  First off I played a game of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.  Even though I own everything current in that game, I played a scenario from the adventure pack 2.  That game is still fun to me and I am glad that there is an expansion on the way, but it does take a bit of maneuvering to get through a game.  I recommend that if anyone dies that they must start with all the basic cards, but they get all the character bonuses (skill feats, card feats and the like).  Let’s be honest – you wouldn’t force anyone in a RPG to start over at level 1 if you were all level 6…

Secondly, we played Krosmaster.  It’s still an enjoyable tactical game, but I can’t help but wonder if the ‘excitement’ for this one will die down in the coming months (like Dreadball or Dropzone Commander).  We played with the Gallons of Glory mechanic and I have mixed feelings on that part of the game (the first couple of games I played was until one side was completely destroyed). It’s nice to have a game to play that might be a flash in the pan that I didn’t buy into.

Moving on to the games from the list:

First was AstroNavis Merchant – where you take control of a merchant moving goods from planet to planet trying to make a profit in 23 to 25 turns.  The map set-up is really novel, but the actual game play is fairly simplistic (most games have you making 4 deliveries for the 20+ planets you just set up). The game play is based on tramp freighters from the 1900s where you bid for a contract to deliver goods from one port to a second with a fixed income.  The game quickly devolves into a mathematical puzzle – at the end of things if you solved the puzzle correctly, you win.  I have heard that the advance version helps in this with events and having the worlds have a bit of character, but I don’t have the files anymore (I’ve had too many computers between when I bought this game and now – I looked).

AstroNavis Merchant - You can see my ship at port in the bottom left of the map. Planets are randomized by zone for each game.

AstroNavis Merchant – You can see my ship at port in the bottom left of the map. Planets are randomized by zone for each game.

The second game played is Free Trader.  This is a print-n-play game that has the player moving about a growing universe buying and selling goods trying to pay back their loan in four months.  The event deck also serves as the game clock (the month ends and the loan interest is due once the final card is drawn from the event deck – even if in combat).  If you can manage to pay your loan all four months, you win.  The game is a bit on the simple side of things, but it was a nice diversion.  The event deck is pretty random so be prepared for some really quick games (especially if you find a level 3 pirate the first couple of events).

Free Trader - At the end of four months, I have a fully maxed out ship with a couple of goods remaining. I had the cards made at www.artscow.com.

Free Trader – At the end of four months, I have a fully maxed out ship with a couple of goods remaining. I had the cards made at http://www.artscow.com.

The Solo Game Experience

To date, I have played three games that are completely solo and two more that could be played with additional people, but I played them by myself.  I have a bunch of additional games that are or can be played solo. Some people might give me a weird look about playing a board game – something that is supposed to be a social event – by myself.  I don’t see it as a negative; I play games to relax and unwind after a stressful day.  Most people wouldn’t think twice about playing a computer game or video game for hours by themselves, but I set up a board game to be enjoyed by myself and I get chided. Don’t let those cool graphics or the fancy game system fool you.  When you played Grand Thief Auto 5 or Fallout 3 for hours, you were playing a solo game – the computer just did all the calculations, movement and randomizing for you…

Until next time – Play a solo game!

Brendan Mayhugh


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