Solo Gaming: Circadians First Light

Circadians: First Light is a dice worker-placement game where players are allocating dice to upgrade their bases, move their harvester around the planet, trade for items, and negotiate with alien factions. I enjoy deciding how to use my dice each round and trying to out-guess my opponents to figure out if they’re going to take the spots where I’d like to play my dice. And even when someone takes my spot, there’s usually something meaningful to do with my dice, but it’s best to have a plan b and c in mind!

In the solo version, you play against an automa that simulates other players taking the spots you’d like to have. Below I describe how the game changes for the solo mode and how it worked for me, but I don’t go in-depth into the basic game play. For that, check out one of the many reviews or play throughs on YouTube.

A game of Circadians: First Light set up for solo play.

Game play

The game is set up as though for a multi-player game, choosing the correct side of each of the locations for the solo game. Before setting up your player area, you’ll look at the reverse sides of the player boards to pick which automa you want to play against. Then, in addition to the locations, planet board, negotiation and depository boards, you’ll set up the automa. They have a deck of “scheme” cards, three progress tokens that cover three spots on their board, and a set of dice for another player color. Finally, you’ll set up your player area as usual, choosing a character to play and drawing five item cards, keeping three of them.

Then you’ll start playing. The automa’s board summarizes what they do each round and when. During each phase, their actions happen before yours.

First you’ll roll your dice and make your plans as usual.

Next, at the beginning of the actions phase, the automa will pull two cards from their scheme deck. The first card will trigger a move of the automa’s harvester on the planet, based on the number on the depicted die. Their harvester will move in a straight line until it hits a gem or the edge of the planet. Then you’ll go down the list actions and do the first one that the automa is able to do. Some cost gems, so if the automa doesn’t have enough, they’ll move to the next possible action. You’ll take their rightmost die and place it on the associated action space. The second scheme card is also used to place a die from the automa’s supply, but it will not trigger their harvester to move again.

Then you’ll play your dice as usual, but the automa has already blocked some of the spaces, so you may need to pivot your plans.

Automa board, dice, and cards

At the beginning of the harvest phase, the automa returns all of their dice from the location boards (but not the negotiation or depository — those stay until the end of the game, just like the player’s dice). Then they’ll gain gems based on how many dice they have. You’ll take your harvest actions as usual.

Finally, during the rest phase, the automa will gain additional dice based on how many they already have. You’ll collect your dice and get ready for the next round as usual.

As you play the automa’s scheme cards, they’ll start to collect their progress tokens. The tokens themselves will gain the automa two points each at the end of the game. But more importantly it will unlock other things on the automa’s board, like playing three scheme cards per round instead of two, or gaining additional gems.

At the end of the game, you’ll tally up your score as usual. The automa will get points based on their dice at the depository and negotiation boards, leftover gems, and progress tokens they’ve collected. The specific number of points they get for those items depends on the automa you chose to play against. If you beat their score, you win.

How did it work?

The Circadians: First Light automa takes a bit more upkeep than some of the other solo games I play, but it’s all clearly laid out on the automa’s board, so it’s easy to follow the steps once you’ve wrapped your head around the actions.

I really enjoy Circadians, and the automa does a decent job simulating another player. However, I did notice that the depository and negotiation board seems to fill up much, much faster with the automa’s dice than when it’s just human players. Maybe that’s meant to make sure that those spots are sparse by the end of the game, which is what often happens in the multiplayer game, but it’s still a little disconcerting as those boards fill up!

I like how the game simulates the other players taking spaces that you want. It’s a little frustrating that they get to place all of their dice at the beginning of the action phase, but it’s a lot easier to put them all out at once instead of trying to take turns with the automa. And it does allow you to formulate a new plan that you know you can execute.

All in all, I’ve enjoyed my solo plays of Circadians: First Light. It’s a little more set up and housekeeping that some other games, but it’s worth it. It simulates a multiplayer game fairly well, and I like that there’s variable scoring so you can tweak the difficulty to give yourself more or less of a challenge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *