Last week we had the honour of working with Dávid Turczi, designer of games like Anachrony and Dice Settlers, as well as solo modes for Teotihuacan, Cerebria, Keyper and many more. He came here to work with us on the solo mode for Europa Universalis: The Board Game the whole week. We can safely say that we got more from him than we could ask for.
Solo gaming might not be for everyone, but for a growing number of board gamers it is a deal breaker, and we really wanted to make something good for the solo gamer community too. We now have the framework for what we believe will become a great solo mode for the game. Dávid will work with us in the coming months to get it to perfection. In addition to this, Dávid has also helped us tremendously with other development work. This has sharpened the focus of other aspects of the game, resulting in increased tension and level of competition overall.
Computer gamers might be asking themselves why people would want to play the board game solo when they already have the PC game. The answer will differ depending on who you ask, but one way of seeing it, is that they “scratch different itches“. Many solo board gamers emphasise the tactile experience of moving actual pieces on a board, or that they look for ways to spend time away from the screen. Compared to traditional board gaming, which is a social experience, solo gaming is more like a puzzle that you try to solve.
The solo mode for Europa Universalis: The Board Game is set up like a 3-player game. It will pit you, as a player, against two Major Power Bots that essentially have an AI which determines their behaviour. Additionally there will be a number of Active NPR minors with a much more limited and simple behavioural pattern.
This means you will be playing the solo mode very much in the same way as you would be playing a game against other human players. The obvious difference is that there will be a lot less negotiating, deal making and backstabbing. What you want to do is score more Prestige (Victory Points) than any of your bot opponents. The solo mode should play very fast once you get used to the main bot actions and decision making.
Each of the Major Powers will have its own dedicated Bot, which makes decisions that make sense for that Realm, both historically and in the context of its current position in the game. Of course it will not be as advanced as a human opponent or the AI of the video game, but it will constantly keep you on your toes. And it should be really tough to beat in a head-on confrontation.
Each Bot will be drawing from a deck of cards to determine what type of action it will take on its turn. These actions will unfold in various ways, determined by the current circumstances. There will be an advanced hierarchy of priorities for each of the more complex bot actions, but it will be presented in a manner that makes each action easy to execute.
Above you can see one of the prototype flow charts we are working with while we are creating the “AI” of the bots. This is just a peek “under the hood”, and the final look of the actual charts in the game will be very different. This type of chart provides us with a quick way of testing if a specific Bot Action can be resolved in a satisfying manner in all relevant situations.
Major Power at a Glance: England
England’s starting position in 1444 is a bit tricky. As the Hundred Years’ War draws to a close, the French are likely to be on the war path. At one point you must make a choice: how much are you willing to sacrifice in your bid to defend the English continental possessions? Is it worth being dragged into an all-consuming conflict with France, or should you make peace and look elsewhere for more profitable hunting grounds?
With two Maritime Trade Nodes just off their coast, a third one nearby, easy access to North America and the Caribbean, and lots of ports, England is well positioned to build a trade empire based on naval power. This choice of strategy however, is likely to bring you into conflict with Castile/Spain, who have similar ambitions.
If you can deal with your domestic problems, like the War of the Roses, and build a strong basis of power in the British Isles and Ireland, while maintaining a navy second to none, you can project your power across the world. At the same time you are in a unique position, since a strong navy will also keep your homeland safe from the attacks of hostile armies.
Read the previous Development Diary chapters here:
Development Diary #1 (Map Board)
Development Diary #2 (Box Art and Monarch Power)
Development Diary #3 (Action Cards and France)
Development Diary #4 (Set-up, Sequence of Play and Castile/Spain)
Development Diary #5 (Diplomatic Relations)
Development Diary #6 (Warfare and Ottomans)
Development Diary #7 (Non-Player Realms)
Development Diary #8 (Basic Actions)
For more news about the upcoming Kickstarter, how to sign up as a play tester, and reminders about Development Diaries, Sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter.