Saturday, 25 December 2010

solo Roll Through the Ages

Recently I have been playing quite a number of solo games of Roll Through the Ages on the iPhone. In the solo game, you just play 10 rounds and see how many points you score, as opposed to checking the normal game end conditions. Also rolling three skulls mean you lose 3pts as opposed to other players losing 3pts. I enjoy the solo game a lot, and have learned some new tactics. I appreciate some of the finer points of this seemingly simple game. There are some clever design considerations behind many aspects of the game. Here are some things I've learned.

  1. The single-vase and the two-grain-or-two-people sides are not always inferior to double-vase-and-skull, triple-grain or triple-people sides. In the case of the single-vase, sometimes you do need exactly one less skull to avoid a major disaster, and you're happy enough to have one less vase. In the case of two-grain-or-two-people, sometimes you actually don't need that additional grain or people, and also the flexibility can be very useful.
  2. It's good to have a 3-people dice in the first round because that means a new city.
  3. You do need to have a long-term plan. Some combos need long-term planning to pull off. E.g. Caravan lets you store lots of goods, and Commerce lets you score 1pt per good stored at game end. However you'll need to have been storing goods for quite a few rounds if you want to score big.
  4. Knowing when to stop rolling is important. Don't always try to get the perfect roll. Be flexible.
  5. I used to look down on coins but I now appreciate them more. With Coinage making them worth $12 instead of $7, they can be very helpful. Also in Round 1 if you get a coin ($7) and a double-vase-and-skull (one wood and one stone would be worth $3), the $10 means you can already buy a tech.

The solo achievements are a nice element. You get awards for fulfilling certain conditions, e.g. building all monuments, gaining 20pts from the Commerce technology, gaining 8 technologies. These led me to try different approaches and made me discover aspects that I have not explored before.

In this particular game I had 7 cities. I had locked one double-vase-and-skull die, and I rerolled four dice in my final roll. My face paled when I rolled this. What are the chances?!! It's 0.08%!!!

This was a major disaster - a revolt, and I would lose all stored goods too. Then I clicked to the next screen and found this.

Woohoo!! I forgot that I had purchased the Religion tech which protected me against revolts. That meant I was swimming in goods! 10 goods from this round.

I eventually scored 65pts for this game, which is a good score.

This is a summary of the game.

These were the techs that I bought.

I had seven cities, and five monuments completed. I like to go for the Great Wall because it protects against invasion. One down side of the solo game is there is no competition in building monuments.

There's a nice progress chart that shows the history of your little dice-built civilisation. This is a nice touch.


Dave said...

So what's a good solo score? I'm topping out in the 80's, and I have no clue if that is decent or not.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

I had thought 65+ is pretty good. Guess I was wrong. :-) I don't think I've even reached 70.

Dave said...

By good I mean my top scores, not a score that's easy to hit. I think getting into the 60's is pretty common.

Ironically, while doing a demo of my base strategy to write here I just hit 90 for a new record :) And that missed empire, so it could be improved by just hitting a few disaster dice.

A number of the workers here were combo dice, though of course it would always be better to have a plain die of whichever type you wound up spending it on.

something like worker/worker/worker (2 were combo's, pity)[cities];
grain/disaster/disaster/worker/worker[city, -4!];
grain/grain/disaster/disaster/worker/worker[-2, city, granaries];

take food, buy agriculture; take food, buy masonry, take disasters as possible (I had very few this game, which made it hard to buy empire), take workers and food.

I'm pretty sure I missed about 8 points by not hitting empire, which would have been easy if I had found a few more disasters. So this probably realistically hits around 100 best case, though you could do even more with perfect dice I guess.

I'm not sure if never taking workers again would be better, maybe with caravan that could work.

Dave said...

Thinking about it, it must be better to start
[pure worker, disaster, disaster]
[disaster, disaster, ?, ?] - probably worker worker I think, though grain grain seems possible.

That gives you an extra turn with the granaries, which should more than make up for the food penalty and missing die at the start. The drawback is it will be harder to 2 disasters with fewer dice.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

I have a lot to improve on. What are the general strategies that you apply? I tend to go for building more cities early, often hitting 7 cities during my games, and also I tend to like getting Masonry. I usually don't let my goods go to waste, so I buy a tech even if it's not something that I'm particularly keen on. Do you do that?