How to Play Pirates CSG Solo
Over the years, some players have asked how to play Pirates CSG solo, without any “real” opponents. These are sometimes called “solitaire” games. Although it may sound lame or boring at first, playing Pirates CSG by yourself can still be a great experience. I myself have played more games solo than against human opponents, and perhaps someday we’ll even be able to play against AI.
The most important thing about playing Pirates CSG solo is that you need to treat each fleet equally. Playing favorites is too easy and will just result in your favorite faction or fleet winning the game. It’s extremely important to go into the game with the mindset that every fleet will be designed and played optimally.
When making fleets, be sure that they are at least somewhat equally balanced. That said, it’s okay to have that Cursed or Mercenary fleet as a “Team Chaos” fleet that clearly won’t win.
For the map, decide on a method that doesn’t always benefit the fleet that will go first. Remember to alternate the turn order when placing islands/terrain/etc. Also, consider completely doing away with the conventional setup rules and simply designing a map that doesn’t have an unfair home island location.
As usual, the biggest key is to play each fleet as if they are desperately trying to win. Every single turn. Make every decision that you would make if you actually controlled that fleet against your human rival. Before starting each fleet’s turn, do a quick review of what they’re doing, how they can win, what they should do next, and long term planning. If it’s a game where there is a set amount of gold in play (for example, 1v1 standard with 30 total), make sure to keep track of what each fleet has explored and make strategic decisions based on that (for example, if the first fleet finds 14 gold at the two islands they explore, they know they’ll need to get at least 2 gold from the opponent or elsewhere to win). If it helps, you could even switch your seating position to be in that fleet’s point of view on the map.
There may come a time where you know that an “enemy” ship has the Explosives UT, but the fleet you’re currently controlling doesn’t technically know that. If they should ram the ship to try to steal gold, even if it’s your favorite ship you might lose in the explosion, you have to do it. Or else, live with an “asterisk” game that you know was flawed by playing in a way that doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation. I myself have been guilty of this a few times many years ago. It might start with a “free reroll” when you’re mad a cannon doesn’t hit, but then the other fleet has to get one too – except theirs doesn’t work out. Messing with the “balance” at all just leads to compounding issues and a wrecked game of inconsistencies. Trust me, it’s not worth the mess of trying to unwind what should have happened. 🙂
A Few Tips
- Have rules documents and The Pirate Code ready – you may need to check things often
- If it’s too tempting to “remember” the face down crew in the other fleet (ex: avoiding a canceller), try just having all crew in play face up from the start of play.
- With no audible gameplay discussion needed, feel free to blast Pirates of the Caribbean music (or whatever you want) loudly to get in the epic mood! 😀
What is solo play great for?
- Testing out new fleets
- Competitive play to see which fleet is best – this is because when you play against yourself, there essentially cannot be a competitive disadvantage that can occur when players of unequal skill/experience levels play each other.
- Games that cannot be played with real opponents – for example, games that last for multiple days, or games that are bigger than what your playgroup is interested in or capable of playing.
- Testing custom game pieces – before unleashing your latest crazy custom on your unsuspecting play group, try it out in a game to make sure it’s not too OP (overpowered).
Who should probably not play solo games?
- “Faction fanatics” who only ever play with one faction – good luck keeping it fair! 🙂
- Players who need the social aspect of board gaming to enjoy playing
Last but not least, feel free to check out Cadet-Captain Mike’s post on the topic if you want a more procedural guide.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below any tips I missed about how to play Pirates CSG solo!
Question of the Day: Do you enjoy playing Pirates CSG solo? Is there anything about it you actually like more than playing with people?