@WadeB1977 has been asking if and when I'd ever get around to playing #The Gallerist solo. I just gave it a go and wanted to do a little first impressions posts of my thoughts about it. I picked this game up thanks to BGA and their lovely giveaways. I wrote my first impressions awhile back. While I thought it was a good game, I wasn't exactly ready for the heaviness. @drossaphus had given me some excellent advice and videos to watch before giving it another try and I had a much better time the second time around. That all being said, it's been a month since my last play and while I don't think I totally forgot everything, there may have been a few minor things I was doing horribly wrong with my solo playthrough lol. Anyways, here are my thoughts! (PS I didn't use pictures like @R0land1199 did in their lovely review of #Maracaibo lol)
Changes from Multiplayer
The setup for #The Gallerist solo is the same as it is for a 2 player game. The main differences lie in the AI player, "Lacerda." Cute name right? ;P Lacerda doesn't collect any contracts or money nor does he take any actions outside of the International Market section so he requires no influence track marker or player board. When Lacerda lands on the International Market location, he places an assistant on a market spot in a specific order as described in the rulebook. The net effect is the elimination of that spot for you to take later on. The way the AI moves is pretty simple. He starts of in the spot directly across from where you first place your pawn. You start as the first player and following your turn, Lacerda moves clockwise around the board. He always leaves an assistant behind for purposes of a time track. Anytime you kick out Lacerda or his assistant from a spot, you have to remove one ticket of the color that has the most tickets remaining in it's stack. The game will end when all of the tickets are gone. You finish out the current round and then the human player takes one more turn at a different location from where they are.
For the human player turns, the game plays identically to how it does multiplayer. I won't rehash all of the rules for simplicity sake, but it felt just as tedious if not more so because there was no one there to help remind you to say pull meeples from the bag or give yourself tickets as needed. Those were 100% my own fault lol. Of course with Lacerda's turns being completely predictable, you can plan ahead a few turns which is nice. However, It was a tad boring to move him around because it's not like he really affects the board in a meaningful way other than with regards to the time.
I did very much enjoy the challenge particularly with the time aspect. Towards the end of the game, it took some VERY careful planning (and possible bending of the rules lol) to ensure I could do what I needed to do to at least attempt to win. It seemed the best way to do that was to hit the International Market pretty hard and always ALWAYS leave assistants behind whenever possible. It's definitely a solo mode where you have to plan ahead to where Lacerda is moving and try to make sure you can take additional kick out actions. Particularly the option of taking the location action which requires you to constantly have influence available. Because of the way Lacerda works when it comes to you kicking out his assistants, the game played very quickly. I wrapped up the game in about an hour.
How to Win
This is where a picture would have been great lol. The rulebook lists out 3 levels of winning with increasing difficulty. I was just aiming for the lowest "Apprentice" level which required me to:
1) Achieve at least one of each of your Curator and Art Dealer goals
2) Acquire at least 4 Reputation tiles
3) Acquire at least 1 Masterpiece
4) Have at least 160 money
I wound up completing both 1 and 2 but missed out on a Masterpiece and only managed 155 money.
Getting the highest level of win conditions, "Master Gallerist," seemed completely impossible. That required:
1) Get at least 35 money in total from Curator and Art Dealer goals
2) Acquire at least 5 Reputation tiles
3) Acquire at least 3 Masterpieces
Currently I just don't see there being enough time to be able to complete all that. Maybe when I have a lot more plays under my belt I won't feel that way.
I think I prefer The Gallerist just a little more as a multiplayer experience vs the solo mode. I think it moved a little bit too quickly as it was (at least for a noob like me) hard to prevent kicking Lacerda assistants out constantly. That being said, I do want to play it again and see if I can continue to improve.