BSoMT are supremely, nay, over the moon-ly proud to introduce Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games, who has very kindly taken time out of his busy schedule to write a piece illustrating his take on solo board gaming for A Guest Knows Best.
Jamey Stegmaier and a Solitary Stonemaier Games
When I entered the realm of tabletop game publishing in 2012, I had no idea that solo boardgaming even existed. I was enlightened by backer, volunteer, and eventual employee, Morten Monrad Pedersen. At the time, Morten was an avid solo gamer, and he had started to experiment with game design. Morten’s Automa system, which he originally created for Viticulture/Tuscany and then expanded to Scythe, Charterstone, and Between Two Cities, has had a significant impact on Stonemaier Games.
As a publisher, I love that the Automa system expands the number of gamers we can reach. Based on survey data from 3,512 of our subscribers, 5.6% of gamers typically play games solo. I really don’t want to exclude 5.6% of all gamers when I publish a game—I’d rather have the opportunity to bring moments of joy to their tabletops too.
I should clarify that when I talk about solo versions of my games, I’m not talking about a paragraph or two buried in the back of the rulebook that tells solitaire gamers to try to beat a specific score. I encourage Morten early on to add any components necessary to create a unique, fulfilling, robust solo experience. Usually the result is a deck of cards that represents the Automa player(s). As a publisher, the benefit of reaching solo gamers is worth the expense of adding a few cards and a solo-specific rulebook.
We’ve also found—especially with Scythe and Between Two Cities—that there’s an increasing number of multi-player gamers (especially those who primarily play games as a couple) who want to include Automa “players” in their games. So we’ve been trying to expand into that realm.
The big challenge we face as Stonemaier Games expands its catalog is that Morten and his Automa team have limits on the amount of time they can spend on Automa (they all have other jobs). So as much as I’d prefer to include the Automa system in each of our games, I think there will be some upcoming games where we need to wait until the expansion to add Automa.
Overall, I’m honoured by the many solo gamers who have chosen to add our games to their collections, and I hope that continues for years to come.
Jamey Stegmaier on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jameystegmaier
Stonemaier Games: https://stonemaiergames.com/
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