A beautiful game! Explore the Galapagos Islands alongside Charles Darwin on the famous ship The Beagle. This game was calling out for solo rules, but it was a tricky one as this game is so competitively interactive. To simulate an opponent I've introduced a "dummy" player called "Charlie". These rules are still very much in their infancy, so I hope you will join me in giving them a try and seeing how much of a challenge Charlie puts up.....
Ricky, Box of Delights
On the Origin of Species Solitaire Rules
Set up as per 2-player, using the Advanced Variant for yourself (the "Soloist") but your dummy opponent ("Charlie") gets no private Objectives of his own. Lay your private Objectives face-up so they can be seen by both you and Charlie. You are the 1st player and the 2nd player is Charlie, so start Charlie on 1VP.
In the solo variant, the Habitat Knowledge Decks (Land, Water, and Air) should be placed face-up, so that the top card of each deck is always visible.
On Charlie's turn...
Charlie will DISCOVER if he can. If he can afford no tile, then he will instead Research.
Charlie will collect cards like a regular player, but will ignore the effects of any Tools or Characters he collects, except those that generate resources (i.e. Magnifying Glass, Net, Binoculars, Dissection).
Charlie's Research Action
Charlie will follow regular Research rules, but in deciding where to add (or move) Discovery Cubes Charlie will prioritise as follows:
the Tile that has the highest net number of: [Soloist's cubes] minus [Charlie's cubes];
the Tile that generates the most resources;
the Tile with the most adjacent EMPTY spaces;
the Tile that generates most resources Charlie has least of (on both tiles and cards);
the Tile that the Soloist selects.
This means Charlie will seek to add cubes to the highest priority tile, and remove cubes from the lowest priority tile.
For example, in this situation with the Soloist playing purple and Charlie playing red, the highest priority tile is the Coral (with a net +1 cubes), and the lowest priority tile is the Flamingo (with a net -1 cubes). So Charlie would put the first of his research cubes on the Coral tile. Now the Coral and the Red-Footed Booby are tied for net cubes (both net to zero), so Charlie breaks the tie by looking down his list of priorities and selecting the tile that generates the most resources, and places his second cube on the Booby. As it goes, it had to be the Booby anyway because, like regular players, Charlie can't place both his cubes on the same tile with a single Research action.
In this same example, if Charlie had to move a cube, he would remove it from the Flamingo (since it is lowest priority according to the first condition in the priority list) and add it to the Coral.
Charlie's Discovery Action
Charlie will follow regular Discovery rules, but in deciding which tile to Discover:
Charlie ignores the need for a map (so can always discover the top 3 tiles);
Charlie always has access to the SCALPEL but will only use it on a level 4 Tile OR to claim an Objective Species Tile of any level (public and private.) If Charlie actually holds a Scalpel card, he will use it at the first opportunity, on any level tile, and then discard the card. Remember to give Charlie the +1 victory point when he uses the Scalpel!
Charlie will prioritise the first Species Tile he can legally afford to put into play, from the top of the Evolution Track downwards.
Once a Tile is chosen, when selecting a square on which to place the Tile:
Charlie will REPLACE if he can, prioritising replacing non-starting-tiles above starting-tiles, and Objective Species Tiles (public and private) above anything else, even if doing so is more costly than placing the Tile in an empty square.
Given multiple squares he could possibly place the Tile, he will place on the square that loses him the fewest number of resources (e.g. removing a cube from a Tile with 3 Habitat icons effectively costs Charlie '3 resources').
Likewise, when paying in cubes, Charlie will use cubes that cost him the least number of resources. If there is more than one equally viable cube that can be spent, the Soloist may decide which Charlie spends.
Charlie will only use resources from cards (e.g. Net) if he must. So, for example, if there are two possible squares Charlie could place the tile, but one uses only cubes and one necessitates using a card, Charlie would choose the space that meant he only had to spend cubes. But once Charlie knows he must use a card, he will use it to its maximum. So, for example, if a Tile costs 3 feathers and Charlie has 2 from cubes and 2 from a card, he would use 1 cube and the card, not 2 cubes and the card.
Given more than one equally viable square, Charlie will choose the square with the most adjacent empty squares.
If Charlie still has more than one equally viable target square, the Soloist must decide for him, even if it is to Charlie's disadvantage.
Once the tile is placed:
When collecting rewards for a discovered tile, Charlie will take both Habitat cards if a pair is being awarded, rather than just one of the pair.
The Soloist selects which Species Tile will fill any gaps in the Evolution Track, even if it is to Charlie's disadvantage.
Charlie scores 3 points for each Species Tile he has claimed, instead of the usual 1, and does not score any additional points for Objective Species.
Good luck !
Designer comment in regard to the John Lort Stokes card:
You might wonder why Charlie doesn't use the John Lort Stokes card; it seems like it would be easy enough to say something like, "On Charlie's turn, if he holds the Stokes card and there is a common objective species in the Evolution Track then he will immediately play the Stokes card and claim the topmost objective species tile."
I chose not to include it because in a solo game you don't want your score to be swung by a completely random but significant event: i.e. whether Charlie draws the Stokes card or not. It's already damaging enough that the Soloist is denied the card, so it would have been doubly damaging if they were also denied the opportunity to grab a target species. Therefore keeping Stokes out of the equation means solo scores from game to game are less affected by a random event such as this.
Ricky, Box of Delights