Monday, January 8, 2024

Mulling over the Simply Solo series

With the Last Lighthouse on Kickstarter, I thought it would be fun to look at the already existing Simply Solo games. You know, rank them and share some thoughts.

Food Chain Island was the first game in the series and it remains the best as far as I’m concerned. The core mechanic is dead simple, just a card implementation of a soliatire peg game. But the card powers and interactions are brilliant.

More than that, Food Chain Island is a game that I would recommend for just about anyone. Non-gamers, casual gamers, serious gamers. If the goal was to start the line strong, that goal was met.

Unsurmountable and Royal Limited kind of hold joint second place for me.

Unsurmountable is the one where you’re building a mountain and trying to make sure there’s a path from the bottom to the top. Cards either act as actions or as tiles. But what makes me come back to it is how unforgiving even one mistake is. Sometimes luck of the draw makes for easier games but they are always interesting.

I’m still learning the Royal Limited but the game really clicked for me and I’m really enjoying it. Rail-themed games work for me and this takes me back to happy memories of Station Master. That said, I do have this concern for the Royal Limited. It seems to have the simplest decision tree out of all the games in the series and I don’t know how it would do in the long run. It might really need it expansions more than other games in the series.

On the complete other hand, while I really like Fishing Lessons, it hasn’t clicked in my head. The programmed movement of the boat over the row of fish, I have not yet groked it. That said, Fishing Lessons might have the most complex decision tree and I think keeping at it will be very rewarding. Honestly, I can see it and the Royal Limited flipping in my estimation.

And the Ugly Gryphon Inn continues to be my least favorite Simply Solo game. Poor Ugly Gryphon Inn! I find the turn sequence downright fiddly and the random factors can spoil my plans with the flip of a card. 

With that said, the Ugly Gryphon Inn is wonderfully thematic. Not only is every element thematic, they mesh with the mechanics. For all my issues, the game does a brilliant job creating a narrative. It is less that I dislike the Ugly Gryphon Inn and more that I think that all the other games are so much better.

Really, the Sinply Solo series consistently delivers. Even the weakest game is strong. In the world of solitaire games that take less than a half an hour (and there are a surprising number of games in that world), they are top knotch.

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