Re: What makes a good solo wargame?
- --- In SoloWarGame@yahoogroups.com, "Patrick Carroll"
> The whole joy of playing a wargame is immersion--imaginative and
> intellectual immersion. The game has to be convincingly realistic,
> and it has to give the player something to think about.
I whole heartedly agree with your opinion. To me during solo games I
do more mental visualization and what if scenario's than actual
playing. This is one reason I have half the basement storage room
dedicated to a wargaming board and terrain storage. I usually don't
finish my solo games in a timely manner. So I might end up playing a
solo game over 2 or 3 weekends nights.
A good AI system for the programmed enemy is important. I have a
very basic homegrown set of what if's that I use. It truly gives the
enemy an unknown response. It works ok. Sometimes the dice dictate
one reaction I assume the probability of an enemy commander actually
doing this would be zero. That's when I find myself becoming bogged
down by tactics, my mental visualization takes over and I start to
lose the interest...
> I wrote an article on this for The Lone Warrior some years ago<Patrick,
What issue was that in? Would like to read it if I can find it.
I have an article coming out in this month's issue of LW on
solitaire play of cloaked ships in Full Thrust (spaceship combat
I agree with most of what you said;however I am not averse to
setting up large games that I can leave setup for later,and do not
mind moving lots of units on the board/table.Having grown up playing
wargames solo this has never been an issue with me.
What I have found is a definite lack of solo AI systems for the
types of tactical wargames I prefer (company/battlegroup
level);since I play Advanced Squad Leader,the solitaire module has
been an awesome addition to both ASL and I have used that as a model
for other types of games at that scale (for example,the Random
Events Table I made for my solo Dirtside 2 games is modelled after
the ones in Solo ASL.)One drawback to it is I found the AI can order
the Enemy to perform some strange actions,but that can be justified
as the Enemy operating under "fog-of-war" as well.Have played Solo
ASL using just the generation tables without the AI and that works
ok too but then it reverts back to original concept of playing both
sides to best of my ability.
One other attempt at this scale was a scenario pack for Yaquinto
games "Panzer/Armor/88" series but not to the detail of Solo
ASL,plus the scenarios felt rather "vanilla" in flavor.Still a good
source of inspiration though.
I have tried a couple of THW products and have found them to be good
in the aspect of removing total player control from me,but they are
geared for skirmish-level gaming.The same goes for the Ambush!
series of games:great AI but also skirmish scale.
One "pseudo-AI" can be found in Charles Grant's book of programmed
wargame scenarios.It will control the Enemy force generation and
general objective/victory conditions but not how each unit
behaves;that is left to the solo player to decide.
One solo AI whcih I found for use in naval gaming is here:
Anyone wishing to detail what kind of solo AI they have come up with
please post them here,perhaps someone can use that idea as a model
for their AI in their solo gaming.
- While I agree with Patrick on the joy of immersion I differ on how that goal
is to be achieved. I suppose I could describe myself as a cinematic
wargamer. I want a good story first and foremost. The classic tournament
scenario of a set piece battle between two armies that has no back-story to
it is the antithesis of what I find to be a satisfying game. I want there
to be a story and a setting to the battle, even if it is made up for a
one-off game. Why are the armies fighting here now? Is it crucial that the
chariotry survives to fight another day or can they be freely sacrificed?
Are Union reinforcements to the blockade going to be steaming over the
horizon at any moment so the blockade runner must make an escape
immediately? Knowing this gives my games a better sense of purpose.
I personally find overly complex and detailed rules an impediment to my
immersion. I do not want to be constantly checking factors and modifiers. I
want things settled with one or two quick dice rolls. Rolling a handful of
dice at once is preferable to rolling one several times in succession.
For me switching sides is not a problem, I am interested in the overall
story, not the detail of each action and decision.
When playing multiplayer games I find that extra detail can become much more
enjoyable. In a multiplayer game I prefer a more involved player turn with
more decisions to be made and more things to do.
For me the chief thing a good set of solitaire rules has to do is tell a
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- --- In SoloWarGame@yahoogroups.com, "thedrake70458"
>I don't remember. It's been too long (probably some ten or twelve
> > I wrote an article on this for The Lone Warrior some years ago<
> What issue was that in? Would like to read it if I can find it.
years). I've long since let my subscription lapse, and I don't know
where my old issues are, if I kept them.
> I agree with most of what you said;however I am not averse toplaying
> setting up large games that I can leave setup for later,and do not
> mind moving lots of units on the board/table.Having grown up
> wargames solo this has never been an issue with me.I used to do that with big board wargames. But by the late 1980s I
got sick of it for some reason, and I haven't been able to do it
since. I don't know why. Shouldn't be any different than a model
railroader leaving his layout up so he can run it when he wants to.
But somehow, when I start a game I want to finish it in one sitting.
> What I have found is a definite lack of solo AI systems for themodel
> types of tactical wargames I prefer (company/battlegroup
> level);since I play Advanced Squad Leader,the solitaire module has
> been an awesome addition to both ASL and I have used that as a
> for other types of games at that scale (for example,the Randomorder
> Events Table I made for my solo Dirtside 2 games is modelled after
> the ones in Solo ASL.)One drawback to it is I found the AI can
> the Enemy to perform some strange actions,but that can bejustified
> as the Enemy operating under "fog-of-war" as well.Have played Soloboth
> ASL using just the generation tables without the AI and that works
> ok too but then it reverts back to original concept of playing
> sides to best of my ability.ASL was my game up until about 1994 or so. Then one day I looked at
it, shook my head, and said, "Enough!" I was sick of having to
relearn all the rules after being away from the game for a few
months, and of having to look up rules every other turn. Even
though the rules were nicely organized in the ASL manual, there were
still way too many of 'em. And the worst of it was: even with all
those rules, the game still lacked realism because there were no
command-control rules! No real-life commander could possibly
micromanage half-squads and individuals to the extent the ASL player
can and does.
When I later heard about Solitaire ASL, I *almost* wished I hadn't
given up on the game. But it's probably good that I did.
> I have tried a couple of THW products and have found them to begood
> in the aspect of removing total player control from me,but theyare
> geared for skirmish-level gaming.The same goes for the Ambush!Yeah. I played Ambush once upon a time. Liked it, but didn't care
> series of games:great AI but also skirmish scale.
too much for the "paragraph" system, where you have to flip through
the book to find out what's happening. Too much story getting in
the way of the game action. If I wanted an RPG, I'd play one.
I haven't decided yet whether I like the skirmish scale. It has its
pluses and minuses.
- --- In SoloWarGame@yahoogroups.com, "David & Robin" <gpfarm@...>
> While I agree with Patrick on the joy of immersion I differ on how
> is to be achieved. I suppose I could describe myself as acinematic
> wargamer. I want a good story first and foremost. The classictournament
> scenario of a set piece battle between two armies that has no back-story to
> it is the antithesis of what I find to be a satisfying game. Iwant there
> to be a story and a setting to the battle, even if it is made upfor a
> one-off game. Why are the armies fighting here now? Is it crucialthat the
> chariotry survives to fight another day or can they be freelysacrificed?
> Are Union reinforcements to the blockade going to be steaming overthe
> horizon at any moment so the blockade runner must make an escapepurpose.
> immediately? Knowing this gives my games a better sense of
That's fascinating to me. It definitely goes against my grain, but
it's cool to see that there can be such different approaches to solo
I've never been into RPGs (they came along after I was well into
wargaming). But the few times I've sampled an RPG, I found the
story line very annoying. It made me feel I was caught up in the
middle of some chain of events that would proceed with or without me.
When I started out in wargaming (in 1968), all wargames were
chesslike, in the sense that players hovered over the board and
could see everything and had full control over their own game
pieces. That's what I got used to, and maybe that's why it still
seems normal to me.
Over the years, designers tried to do two things to wargames: (1)
hide information, and (2) limit a player's control. Supposedly
these things would better simulate a battlefield commander's
perspective on warfare.
I didn't mind command-control rules. They made things more
realistic and added a welcome chance element. I've never been much
of a chess player anyway; backgammon is more my game. So, the extra
dice rolls and control limitations were OK with me.
However, I never liked fog-of-war (hidden information) rules. I can
understand why they exist and how it might make a game more
realistic, but I can't get over wanting to see everything and know
what all is going on. I don't like seeing a battle through a
limited, vision-slit perspective; I want a bird's-eye view.
Besides command-control and fog-of-war, something else came along in
the mid-1970s: a story line. It first happened with RPGs, and for
a long time it was limited to RPGs. Wargamers and RPGers were in
opposite camps; not many people played both. The closest a wargame
came to having a story line was the so-called "campaign game." A
series of tactical battles could be linked together into the story
of a whole campaign.
By the time home computers came along, the "campaign game" was well
established. Thus, the game Panzer General, for example, was
basically a campaign game (though a player could also fight
individual scenarios). The better you did in one scenario, the
better positioned you were in the next.
Though I've played a few campaign games in my time, for the most
part I find them long and aggravating. It takes a lot of time to
play a whole string of scenarios. And it sucks when you get halfway
through the campaign and suddenly realize you lost too many units
and won't be able to get much further. Then you have to go back to
square one and try the whole long campaign again.
I like having some kind of *setting* for the game I'm playing--an
introductory paragraph that tells me what year it is and describes
the situation. But when the scenario in front of me is finished, I
want to be done. I don't want to turn the page and find that
there's more and more and more and I may never be finished. I still
like the old chesslike satisfaction of winning or losing and being
finished once and for all (until I feel like playing again).
> I personally find overly complex and detailed rules an impedimentto my
> immersion. I do not want to be constantly checking factors andmodifiers. I
> want things settled with one or two quick dice rolls. Rolling ahandful of
> dice at once is preferable to rolling one several times insuccession.
That's fascinating too. I think I can understand it, but it's hard
for me to relate to it.
I've heard lots of wargamers complain about "gamey" rules--which
seems to mean anything that takes a player's mind off the
imaginative side of things and forces him to pay attention to how
the game works.
But to me, a wargame *is* a game--and I like that about it. I like
games like backgammon too. And when I'm playing *any* kind of game,
I definitely want to know how the game works--what all the rules
are, what charts are used, and so forth. That's one reason I tend
to be dissatisfied with computer games: too much of the game system
is hidden behind the interface. I want to get my hands on every
aspect of the game--the combat factors, movement charts, and
If I just wanted to "play army," I'd close my eyes and daydream, or
maybe push toy tanks around in the sandbox. If I just wanted a
cinematic glimpse of warfare, I'd watch a movie or read a book.
When I play a wargame, I want more than just those things; I want it
to be a challenging and interesting *game*--in the same way as chess
and backgammon are challenging and interesting games. To enjoy that
aspect of the game, it's necessary to wrap my mind around how the
So, the game system is at least as important to me as the cinematic
effects that the game produces. I want to be involved with the
causes as well as the effects. If I manage to sink an enemy ship,
it's not enough to know I hit the ship and sunk it; I want to know
*how* I hit it, and where, and what kind of damage was done, and how
many times I missed before I finally hit, and what chance the enemy
ship had of evading my shot. Details like those are what captivate
me and make the game interesting.
If it were a competitive game against another player, I might be
happy if it all went quicker. Then my aim would just be winning.
But when I play solo, I want the game to grab my mind in as many was
> For me switching sides is not a problem, I am interested in theoverall
> story, not the detail of each action and decision.What a different viewpoint!
> When playing multiplayer games I find that extra detail can becomemuch more
> enjoyable. In a multiplayer game I prefer a more involved playerturn with
> more decisions to be made and more things to do.That also baffles me. One of the *worst* things about multiplayer
games is sitting around waiting for all the other players to take
their turns. The more detail there is in such games, the longer
other players are going to take.
So, I'd go just the opposite way: the more players there are, the
*less* detailed the rules ought to be--just to keep the game moving.
> For me the chief thing a good set of solitaire rules has to do istell a
> good story.Thanks for sharing that. It gives me a whole 'nuther point of view
Me, I tend to play games in order to get *away* from stories. I
find stories in books and movies; but what disappoints me about
those media is that the story always goes along in a set line, and
all I can do is follow it through to the end. In a game, I'm free
of any story line and able to make whatever moves I choose.
One of the great psychological joys of game playing to me is
perceiving the game in front of me as a whole world in and of
itself, unconnected to anything else. That makes it a great form of
escape or diversion.
- Excellent response Patrick. It's always nice to get a chance to see how the
other half lives. I came into wargames through RPGs, so that have coloured
my approach more than I realize.
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- Have any of you checked Combat Commander out, one of the newer GMT games?
It's passed the P500 mark and is in final production now.
Solitaire game of running an infantry company. There is a copy of the near
final rule book there as well so you can get an idea of how things will flow
in this game. Looks like there may be a lot of solitaire gaming goodness in
- Scratch that last link, I had the wrong game. It's this one called Fields of
And hasn't reached the 500 pre order mark as of yet.
- --- In SoloWarGame@yahoogroups.com, "Chuck Parrott"
> Solitaire game of running an infantry company. There is a copy of
> final rule book there as well so you can get an idea of how thingswill flow
> in this game. Looks like there may be a lot of solitaire gaminggoodness in
> this one.There may be. . . . But that reminds me of something I didn't
mention in my post about what makes a good solo wargame.
I've played a number of wargames *designed* for solitaire (e.g.,
Ambush, Mosby's Raiders, B-17)--but I've never yet found one that
measures up to just playing both sides of a good two-player wargame.
It's weird, I know, but it's true. Even though almost all my
wargaming is solo, I've never liked games *designed* for solitaire
For one thing, it's a little awkward going through the game mechanics
that run the "automated opponent." I end up feeling like the game is
playing me--forcing me to jump through some hoops to get to the next
But the worst thing is, I know I'll never be able to play the game
against anyone else. When I play a two-player game solo, in the back
of my mind I'm always thinking, "If I get the hang of this game and
continue to like it, I may go looking for an opponent one of these
days." In a sense, I always feel I'm just "playtesting" a game when
I play solo--and a "real" game will be the one I someday play against
another person. When that's not an option, and I know I'll *only* be
able to play the game solitaire, somehow it's never as satisfying.
I suppose another psychological factor is: I'm really pretty
noncompetitive. I like being able to control both sides, which is
sort of like choreographing a battle ("Suppose these guys do this,
and then those guys pop up over there, and then this
happens. . . ."). As the dice come into play, things happen that I'm
not able to foresee, and that's when the ongoing choreography gets
interesting. But competition--even against an "AI"--tends to spoil
some of the joy of choreographing; when I'm competing, I'm more
intent on destroying the enemy than enjoying the show.
Just some thoughts I've had.
I used to play a lot of wargames solitaire for just the same reasons you've
outlined. I spent many hours setting up and then playing out turns and
trying out different strategies for when I played face to face. I wanted to
find that 'killer opening move' or experiment with optimizing the deployment
of my forces. I've also found most solitaire only games lacking a feel of
playing a wargame against an opponent rather than just playing against a
system. Probably the best I've found for playing solitaire was RAF. Yes you
play against a system, but it still feels like a game where you could
imagine that a live human was on the other side directing the battle.
It's funny, but your other posts also pretty much describes my gaming
mentality nowadays. I fell in love with computer war games back in the 80's
and 90's but find my interest in them now very lacking because so much of
what's going on is hidden from the player. I've found real time games to be
more enjoyable on a computer, the ones with obvious mechanics and score x
hits then something dies style. I enjoy wargames and board games in
paper/cardboard/miniature form because I can look a chart or table and
figure out the factors that make this work and that not work. I like the
tactile feel of rolling dice and pushing cardboard or miniatures around the
table. I've also found as I've gotten older that I don't have the patience
for longer, drawn out games. If it's not over in 2 hours or at least keeping
players actively involved all the time for longer games I quickly get bored
and am ready to move on to something else. Adult ADD I guess.
- --- In SoloWarGame@yahoogroups.com, "Patrick Carroll"
>I absolutely love Ambush. I have 5 of the modules. I wish the makers
> Yeah. I played Ambush once upon a time. Liked it, but didn't care
> too much for the "paragraph" system, where you have to flip through
> the book to find out what's happening. Too much story getting in
> the way of the game action. If I wanted an RPG, I'd play one.
would have expanded it to the Horse and Musket era. I don't mind
flipping through the book. When I play a board game I don't mind the
rulesbook and the continual referencing of the 'book'. But when I play
a miniatures war game I want almost instant action with no looking up
- Hi Guys,
I've not been able to check my emails for a few days now and I've just read the article about what makes a good solo game.
I was wondering does anyone have any ideas for playing Crossfire solo as Preston (Uk) has 0 thats right 0 people who will playing anything but GW rules (sigh)
p.s. I played the boardgame FRAG solo recently good fun very random but good fun :-)
Take a look at this link:
Hope this helps.
> I was wondering does anyone have any ideas for playing Crossfiresolo as Preston (Uk) has 0 thats right 0 people who will playing
anything but GW rules (sigh)
> Tom D
- ...as Preston (Uk) has 0 thats right 0 people who will playing
anything but GW rules (sigh)
Well, it sounds like there's at least one. ;-) Good luck, Tom!
This is true Andy but the voices in my head dont always make good compatition... They cheat some times you see, I say HEY Wait should he be dead, no no they reply you didnt roll that 2 roll this dice instead.....
Ah well back to the battle field (my floor)