If you’re like me, you’ve got Guardians cards sitting around and can’t find anyone else to play. Maybe you’ve boxed them up, or they’re sitting in a folder full of 9 card pocket protectors gathering dust.
Last year I picked up two board games, Runebound and Arkham Horror. What intrigued me about the games, besides the gameplay and atmosphere, was the ability to play with a solo rules variant. So when I pulled my Guardians cards out of the basement a few weeks ago, then found C. J. Burke’s Event Cards and philbarfly’s Adventure Cards on the Web, I started to wonder if there was a way to play Guardians solo.
The quick answer is no. What I mean is, not the way the current game is set up. You can’t play both sides because you have to pretend you don’t know what cards the “other side” has, despite the fact that you are playing the “other side”. And victory is hollow, since you’ve basically beaten yourself.
To make a solo version work well, you can’t know what cards will be in play. You will know what’s in the opposing deck, but you won’t know how that deck is ordered. Unfortunately, this invalidates the mechanics of several cards that depend on being able to “see” an opposing card or hand. Still, exclusion of such cards is necessary. Victory will feel sweeter because you didn’t know what the next card you turned over would be.
There are some things, however, that you just can’t simulate. A human opponent has cunning and intelligence – he or she would know where to move a Shield, which creature to discard, when to burn a power stone, etc. There is really no way to simulate this in a single-player environment. The best you can do is introduce some randomization and hope it works out. Which lead to…
The adventure aspect. I felt that simply randomizing creature combat wasn’t enough – it was a shell of the original game. I almost immediately realized if randomization was to be utilized, the game needed something more, something to work at, a sense of urgency, and a feeling of accomplishment. Thus the adventure aspect was born. (This is not to be confused with the “Adventure Cards” on philbarfly’s site.)
Guardians has sometimes been referred to as a board game in a card game’s clothing. So I added elements to simulate things you might find in an adventure-type board game like Runebound or Arkham Horror. First, there is the map or board. Next, you have a character (I call it a Champion) who can take wounds, and whose death would cause you to lose the game. You have a way to progress your character or your “adventurers”, in this case experience and gold. You can buy items. You have a time limit, after which you are dead. Your enemies get tougher as the game goes on to continually challenge you.
I also used an idea or two found in the Traveler’s Guide to the Midrealms book by Dave Gentzler, specifically the “Into the Great Wide Open” variant.
In adding the adventure or board game elements, some things had to go – things like Terrain changing hands, Shields moving all over the place, the way movement works...there are about 85 cards that just don’t work (mostly Spells and Magic Items) under my rules, and 60 more (mostly creatures) that needed modification. However, I don’t think that’s bad out of almost a 700 card base, considering how radically different this concept is from the base game.
Make no mistake. These are not your basic Guardians rules. Although I tried to maintain the spirit of the original, I have made some drastic changes. But in reality these are only meant to be a baseline, to spark creative interest. If you come up with a mechanic that works better than something I’ve done, by all means use it, and post it here or over at the Yahoo! Group. There will be a lot of reading, and probably some initial confusion. I’ll also be posting some variant rules to make the game harder if it’s too easy, or easier if it’s too hard, and looking for ways to incorporate incompatible cards. I will also be creating some new cards just for this version of the game.
Right now I’m doing some last-minute playtesting. I should have it up by this coming weekend. So once I post it, try it out and give me some feedback. It’s not comparable to the base game, but if you pull out your cards and give it a chance, that’s a good thing. The Guardians CCG doesn’t deserve to be sitting in a box or in a book on a shelf, collecting dust.
So with the preamble aside, and in fond memory of Keith Parkinson - one of my heroes…stay tuned for:
GUARDIANS SOLO ADVENTURES