Tomb Voyager

So, I’ve been enjoying Geek Gamers’ videos and, recently, Geek Gamers released rules for a solo game of Tomb Raider. I tend to experiment with solo options and one of my very first sessions was based around testing out my own Solo Rules (on top of testing out rules for a Pathfinder solo campaign), so I decided to play the rules. You can read up on them here and you can hear about it from the creator of the rules herself here.

So, I’m gonna be using the premiere card set for this game to start off with understanding the rules. Using all six card sets (the three canon and the three fanmade ones) would create a night of me sorting through the sets, something that my experiments with Once Upon A Mythic Time has taught me can get tedious if you decide to use more than one set. Besides, the game tells me that an average difficulty is about twenty location cards and given how my idea for my location deck is all the Tomb cards mixed with the generic cards, that leads to about 25 cards. Another reason may be that the expansions have different rules to play with. For instance, Slippery When Wet, the second card set, mentions something about “oxygen rules”, which heavily implies a new rule.

Speaking of rules, I decided to locate the rules for the vanilla game just so that I can use it as reference in case the solo rules don’t tell me anything. Now, funny enough, the vanilla game has its own solitaire rules, but it’s not as expansive as the one I’m using. And so, we begin our game by shuffling every deck thrice and picking out my character at random. I pull out Lara Croft the Spelunker and my game begins.

I begin by drawing a Waterfall for my first location which makes it a bit of a wash considering that one path is already closed off. However, I must explore it. The rules state that to enter it, I must roll my move + the difficulty labeled on the location. In this case, it’s a 4. With 3d6, that’s easy to do. After failing to resolve the test on the location, I draw the obstacle. It’s a deep pit trap which says that I can either do a move or think test of 11. However, the solitaire rules explicitly state that it’s attribute mentioned + the difficulty. Speaking of rulings, there’s one of the two action cards in my hand: The Greater Threat, which enables me to swap out an obstacle card with one in my hand so long as its difficulty is bigger… And yet I don’t have any obstacles in my hand… yet.

This is a bit of a conundrum which I can easily chalk up to the idea that the solitaire rules aren’t one size fits all for the cards, especially action cards as the game instructs you take out any cards that has to do with other Raiders or to put simply cards that interact with other players. So, I’m gonna reinterpret the rules of the Greater Threat card and say that I can draw a location card. If it’s higher danger level, then it replaces the pit trap. I may be setting myself up for failure, but in reality, I’m thinning my numbers. The gamble pays off as I draw Rough Ground, a 1 Difficulty. However, hubris sets in as, even with a roll of 3d6, I get a measly 5 as a result. I get hit with the effects and Waterfall is blocked off. The round ends and I draw two more cards, though I draw about six of them because four of them reference other Tomb Raiders.

Fortunately, the next location is a Safe Chamber. Unfortunately, its two exits are vertical, and we established that vertical has been blocked off. However, it seems the solution is to rotate the card until the exit makes sense. And so, we rotate our card, and have it go to the left. We get there with ease and, based off the entire idea of it being a safe chamber, no obstacles or searches. It sucks that my save point is right in front of the tomb entrance, our first save point, but those are the cards we’re dealt.

Round 3 commences. I cross into a rough staircase which ends up becoming a pit trap. However, I beat it with an eight, though that was the obstacle printed on the location. Now comes the actual obstacle of Natla’s thug. I’m getting into my first fight and so I play the Guarded Attack card. I beat him up easily. I am tempted to say that I qualify to access the offer deck, as I cleared two obstacles, but I’m gonna play fair and draw one more obstacle as per the rules. I draw a Gap and try to overcome it. I also overcome it and earn the chance to get something from the offer deck. I decide to purchase a save point for me to use in a later level, which costs 2 cards from my hand. With that done, I then decide to search for a discovery. Unfortunately, the item in question was very difficult to obtain and yet very useful, and so I was forced to put it away.

I now advance to the second level. The entrance is a bottleneck, which prevents access to the previous level. My obstacle this time around? A crushing stone trap. I fail, and I decide to play “Fool’s Gambit” to try and get over it. That fails, and I die, booting me back to the safe chamber. However, I don’t think there’s anything stopping me from trying that level again. I overcome the trap and decide to search for a card. This time, I was able to get the card with the help of an additional search from the location. However, Level 3 greets me with a dead end and a spike trap. I overcome it, though I fail to get the item, though it was useless considering it was an uzi clip and I had no uzis.

The next location, the meditation chamber, while is also a dead end, helps in that instead of searching for a card, so long as the card’s value is less than 10 (my Think times five) then it’s mine automatically. It is not, and it goes in the bin. Eventually I explore the rest of the tomb and fight off a wolf pack. By this point, I realize I was in a never-ending cycle, as I keep dying and confronting the wolf pack each time until I manage to succeed. In a way, it’s like the scene in Doctor Strange where the titular sorcerer makes a bargain with Dormammu. This could be a result of a few things:

  1. I might have misread the rules, either with how much my health is or what I do once I die. Rereading the rules has confirmed the latter, since I was meant to discard my hand and shuffle the discards back into the deck.
  2. I broke the game in a way that Geek Gamers didn’t foresee.
  3. I was beginning to feel tired and decided to cut some of the effort out. I decided to take a break after this spiel just in case this was the problem.
  4. The game was meant to be like this. After all, this game was based off a video game that didn’t have a lives system, and thus when you die, you go back to the save point. This is probably the more sensible of the options.

Personally, I think it’s a mixture of 3 & 4, with the repeated attempts resulting in my tiredness. After all, it’s not the first time I decided to cut corners because I ended up going into a cycle, case in point, these Actual Plays of Penguin Comics Gamebooks. So, with that, I decided to take a break, go to sleep, go about my routine, and come back to this when I am refreshed. My final thoughts before going to bed was that the idea of me repeating one part of a stage over and over again does feel like a video game, even if it isn’t as grandiose as having a trap fall underneath you or having to outwit a freaky looking doppelganger.

After about three or so days, I get back and the first thing I am to do is to search for an item. I get a combat knife which I immediately stash into the Action Deck as per the rules of what happens when I die. I draw two cards and go to the next area to try and max out the first level. I get to the end of the level and, as per the effects of the card, after clearing an obstacle and searching an item, I skip a turn to add an exit.

I then go back up to Level 2 and get crushed by a boulder… Well, not really. I am chased back to Level 1. I go to the dead end that I added the exit to and go into there. After avoiding two different spike traps and a run in with Natla’s Sniper (seriously, this Natla person has it out for me!) I get another look through the Offer Deck.

I pay two cards to get Lara Croft the Adventurer, which allows me to add +1 to either Fight or Think (the only two stats that aren’t a 3) and I’m gonna choose Think since I haven’t been fighting a lot and the times I do I had the other, easier options… Maybe I should have picked fight though since my next encounter is against a bear. Aaaaand I get swamped. Though next attempt landed me a nice 17 total so I advance past the bear (forgoing my chance to draw) and enter the final level where, while it’s a dead end, is also a treasure room. However, I must roll a critical of 3d6 to win.

However, the objective is to get to the Treasure Vault alive… but at the same time, all directions to there are blocked off, making the Sanctuary the only sort of treasure room I can enter. I think I put myself in a unique kind of situation where I technically lost and won at the same time. I think I will leave it at that.

Personally, this is a really fun game to play and it definitely shows what you can do with random board games. This was a competitive game and yet it turned into a solo game that was enjoyable. Most of the downsides I came into are either me ultimately overlooking some of the rules or the fact that the game has not accounted for the scenarios I encountered. I definitely recommend you guys play this. With that, bon voyage, gamers!

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