Open Seat Gaming: Solo Musings: Hotshots Review Part 2 - Solo
Concluding Fire Fighting Week, I have my review of the solo variant for Hotshots!
Publisher: Fireside Games
Designer: Justin De Witt
Main Game Mechanisms: Co-op, Dice rolling, Press your luck, Modular board
Number of Players: 1-4 (solo play will be discussed in Part 2 on Sunday)
Game Time: 45-60 minutes
Check out Part 1 of the article for the overview of the game itself, I'll just touch on the differences for solo play here.
The main difference is that you play with 2 crew abilities and can use either one on any turn, you don't have to alternate between them. In addition, the bonus tokens acquired by anyone are shared and can be used by either person (but still not on the turn they are gained). You can also keep any number of tokens (instead of the limit that the normal difficulty has for the 2+ mode).
Admittedly, based on the difficulty when we played with 3 players, I tried my first solo game with most of the "easier" modifiers in place and it ended up being pretty easy. I still had several tiles scorch but I never felt like I was in danger of losing at any point. I also used the crew boss and spotter, and the crew boss is able to move any other player 1 space on his turn so I was able to drag the spotter around with me and almost always have at least 1 support when rolling to put out fires. If I needed to stay put and roll for the same tile again I could then use the spotter's ability to check out the fire cards.
For my second game I did almost entirely the "standard" game, except that I started with a bonus token, and I used the other 2 crew (each one lets you change different symbols on the dice rolled). This one, compared to the 3-player games we did, also seemed rather easy but was more difficult than the first game (as I had more scorched tiles this game). I got to 7 scorched tiles but still never really felt like I was close to losing.
Being able to control either character on each turn means I can stay and fight the same fire if I need to get it more under control, and that's a huge boon over the multiplayer variant. Also the crew boss is amazing, as mentioned above, as it enables a playstyle of staying grouped up and just moving from hot spot to hot spot with a support coming along with you that can help so much with keeping things in check. I think this may be why the solo mode is easier by default than the multiplayer mode.
I feel like I'd want to try it with some of the "harder" modifiers to see if it actually feels tense and uncertain then, but the solo mode itself seems solid overall. I will definitely play it solo again!
Scott - The Solitary Meeple