Having played Wingspan base game with family and friends, I decided to try the solo mode attached to the game – the so called Automa. When there is nobody around to play, or you just can’t get enough of the game – and believe me, I did – you can try that special mode. It in essence it assists you to familiarize better with this position and maximize your scores, but do not expect the intelligent AI which will be able to respond to each of your cunning actions 🙂
So how does it play? The bot does not have it’s player mat, it will not score any bonus cards, it is not using the resource tokens, does not utilize the birds abilities but has a specific set of activities to execute. Among them we have:
- laying eggs
- depleting resources in bird-feeder – usually combined with activating of our pink abilities
- adding or removing end-of-round goals cubes
- reshuffling the birds display and taking one random bird for 3 / 4 /5 victory points , depending on difficulty level of game
- getting the highest VP bird from display matching Automa bonus card
Now, in order to perform the specific operation bot will use action cards. There is usually four choices, reflecting the four rounds of game – we just need to cross-reference the correct one. Some cards have only 2 or 3 rounds marked and they are removed from Automa deck earlier.
We still play with end of turn goals. Automa – depending on round – starts already with some value regarding each of them – example – in Round 1 Automa has initial value two for total number of birds, while eleven in Round 4. This can be supplemented / decreased by cubes received / lost during the Automa actions so you are never sure what would be the final number.
It is possible to tweak the difficulty levels of the game. First way is to change number of points awarded for bird cards. Four is the default, you can change it to 3 (easy level) or 5 (difficult level). The other thing is adding the special action card – so called “Automubon” – it has same activity each turn but a pretty powerful – matching bird from display plus end-of-round goal cube.
Now let us focus how does it work in the real play. In essence, it is not so easy to win in solitaire mode. My current statistics show that I am getting on average 74 when playing against Automa, while my opponent reaches 80 VPs. The more proficient and experienced with the game I am the better results, but still it can be a challenge.
Automa is definitely a very nice addition to the multiplayer mode for Wingspan. It is not a super-intelligent bot with multiple algorithms and decision flowcharts. It is simple yet efficient way to check your skills and try to max out results, while allowing for resources and birds reshuffle. Great supplement to already superb game! Highly recommended!
Addendum – Digital Automa
I thought I finished my article but I would like to supplement it with very interesting info found on boardgamegeek.com. You might not be aware, but there is a set of Automas created by Gavin McGruddy, with also one for Wingspan.
It definitely helps with some maintenance and does pretty many calculations for us. Of course, you need full game to do your moves, but this is a very nice, efficient and well programmed addition. You can find it on Gavin’s page, and the thread about Automas on BGG here. Definitely worth trying!