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Cardboard AI and Solo Gaming

February 25, 2020

There is a good article on Dicebreaker looking at the design of solo boardgame AI, here’s the context:

Solo board games have exploded in popularity in recent years. In fact, the 1 Player guild on BoardGameGeek is the most populous on the site, having earned that distinction sometime in the last year or so.

This is interesting to me as I’ve played solo boardgames for a while; starting with, of course – Chainsaw Warrior! I interviewed the original designer of the cardboard game Stephen Hand, a few years back and this topic came up too:

In direct contrast to the evolution of videogames, the solo boardgame was a neglected beast. You had Solitaire (which I knew as Patience) and that was it. Some multiplayer games did contain variant rules for solo players but these were generally unsatisfying. So Chainsaw Warrior was a conscious effort to try to fill the void. I knew there were many players like me who, at those frustrating times when you couldn’t find another player, would have use for a solo game if only as a stopgap.

Back to the Dicebreaker article you can see the ethos in the design:

“The key phrase I keep in my mind is ‘playability’,” Royal says. “We often talk about creating an ‘intelligent’ opponent to play against when developing a solo variant. Developing this automaton is like working on a sliding scale, with simple and dumbed-down on one end, and complex and intelligent on the other. Somewhere in the middle is a Goldilocks zone where playability is king.”

Which I’d note is similar to how we design for digital too!

PS. You can grab great Chainsaw Warrior loot here! Oh and we did a deepdrive on Chainsaw Warrior in S2 E4 of the podcast.

Chainsaw Warrior Original Board Game

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