I took an awesome dive into the solo mode for Paladins of the West Kingdom this afternoon, and in true Shem Phillips style; It was awesome! I played the A.I. using the 'easy' difficulty level. Did I win? Absolutely not. 🤣 Does that matter? Absolutely not. 😊 It was an excellent first playthrough of the solo mode.
In the picture above you'll see the AI's player board. The scheme deck pictured on the board near the bottom left is what drives the AI's decisions each turn. The AI collects the round number +3 workers (so more and more as the game goes on), rather than having you deal with another Paladin deck etc... The green token seen above the scheme deck on the left side of the AI's player board is the resource token and decision track. Anytime the AI would collect silver or provisions, it instead moves the resource marker to the right. Anytime it's going to choose a townfolk card or King's favour card, the card of choice is based on where that resource token is on the track. (Example: If the AI is going to discard a townsfolk card and the resource token is in that first position, it would discard the leftmost/first townfolk card from the main board).
The AI otherwise receives benefits from cards and collects workers like a human player would. It makes running the AI pretty straight forward in my opinion. Turns work the same as a regular game as well, with each player alternating one action at a time until passing (or in the AI's case either passing due to no more workers available to useor taking the 'rest' action).
In Paladin's, the AI's workers are all considered the 'same colour'. This creates even less fussing around to manage their turns. In this picture above, you can see the AI has at this point converted one outsider ("Lookout") and has hired an "Acolyte". Just above those you'll see the scheme card that was played this turn which is the 'recruit' action. A worker is placed in the recruit spot on their board and then (based on the resource token) the fourth townsfolk card from the left was discarded, and the AI collected the reward on that card for doing so.
As always, Shem has wonderful iconography on the player boards as well to help remind you of steps for each action. 🙂
Here's the game from (an almost) full table view. What I really enjoyed (and something that's important to me in solo gaming) is that there aren't major differences in terms of the feel or how the rules work.
For example, the Tavern cards (just above the AI's board on the left - you'll see a turned discard pile and one turned card) are a slight difference in the solo game. After I choose mine and collect my workers I gained from the tavern, the AI does not collect workers from the remaining tavern card since it collects numbers as I previously mentioned. Instead, if there's a criminal (purple) on the remaining tavern card, which in this round there was, the AI receives a suspision card (just as a human player would when they collect a criminal).
Another subtle change is at the beginning of each round you would typically take the right-most townsfolk card (if still there at the end of a round) and discard it, followed by shifting the townsfolk to the right and then refilling the empty spaces. The outsiders cards work the same but go from left-most card being discarded, and shifting down to the left. In the solo mode, it works the same however you remove the two right-most cards in the townsfolk row, and the two left-most cards in the outsiders row. Simple. 😃
The game still felt like I was playing an opponent. I love that. That's so important. And it's something that Shem does really well across all his games in my opinion. His solo modes are right there with the Automa Factory, which create the solo modes for Stonemaier games. I had a blast with it!
To finish the game, the end game scoring is essentially just like a human players. There really isn't any changes to that, which I really liked. The AI even receives VPs based on the King's Orders cards that are completed and any VPs on their hired townsfolk/outsiders cards. Awesome!! 😎