Scenes from the Corner of My Room

I don’t have a dedicated ‘games room’ and so instead must adapt with the space I do have to use here at Chez Tinpot. I can set up a 4′ x 4′  table in my front room but it has to be taken apart and stored after use. This will most likely be the mainstay for most gamers and is generally considered the norm.

However, I sometimes want to lay out a battlefield and conduct a solo war game, which may take several days to conclude and I really need space for this. The most suitable spot is in the corner of my bedroom and so from there comes this scene of ‘little Italy’ 1943…

Armoured Recon
Vanguard elements of the 14th Canadian Armoured Regiment
observe the scene ahead from a low ridge.
They’ve found a section the river which is fordable to their
tanks and support vehicles
However ‘Jerry’ artillery rains down, forcing them to withdraw
until the infantry catches up to support their attack.

Going Solo

Solo war gaming is a rather niche element within an already niche hobby and it seems a rather odd idea on the face of it. Most war games are conducted between at least two opponents who will plan their strategies and conduct faints and decoys to throw each other off their real intent. How can this be replicated by oneself?

I have seen some rules which create an opponent which conducts actions by the rolling of a dice and consulting the relevant tables. I’m sure there are many more ideas besides, but I have a system of my own devising.

The biggest problem with solo gaming is the idea that both Generals are the same person who would, naturally, know how to counter the enemies next move and thus ensues a stalemate situation. What if, however, we as the war gamer consider the general plan as somewhat out of our control?

Instead of playing the role of General I play the chain of command that will have to receive orders in the field, the Junior Officers and NCOs who truly conduct the battle on the ground.

For this ‘Orders from Above’ game I will generally use cards or counters with generic orders, sometimes rolling for the number of orders allowed, thus creating a certain amount of randomness whilst also allowing me to use my initiative to best serve the battle plan which is quite simply the objectives and parameters of the scenarios themselves. Having a bad hand of orders can force you to work outside your own plans and beliefs as to what would be the best plan going forward, which is, I am sure, the story many officers and NCOs had to face in real life.

I find it interesting to watch the battle with less of a vested interest in whether one side or the other wins and simply enjoy the process with time to think on the progression of the engagement as a whole, researching historical accounts as I go and it provides a great problem-solving game!

Not So Solo No More

This newly set up board is for a game with a difference. This game will be in part a ‘solo’ war game as I will conduct the battle myself as time allows, but there will also be a ‘Blind’ player who will play the role of the battalion commander planning his attack on a defended position by way of maps and best intelligence available to him at the time.

I will play the supporting command structure to set his plan into motion and collate the information of events as they unfold. I have already set up the defensive positions and will conduct reactions from the Germans during the battle, using a handful of solo ‘house-rules’ and a copy of Crossfire WWII.

I have done this once before with a friend. It was interesting to see him create plans and orders with much more hesitance than if he had been at the game board himself enjoying the luxury of perfect information of the battle (he normally believes almost wholly in the ethos of Tora! Tora! Tora!). This time round The Old Guardsman has agreed to have a go and will be taking on the role of the Canadian Commander so I’d better get off and collate the Intel for the boss!

9 thoughts on “Scenes from the Corner of My Room

  1. How do you handle the information for the ‘blind’ player? Do you provide him with maps, a narrative, or maps and a narrative? Sounds like serious fun. That’s a gorgeous little table, by the way. The picoarmor looks great, too.

    1. Thank you for your kind comments. The Old Guardsman is going to check the blog out for the general story and I will be making a map and a list of his forces. As the play progresses I will up date the map and force roster whilst also giving him an over view of the situation including any new enemy positions as they reveal themselves,

  2. sounds interesting i would like to see an example of how your solo system works any chance of an example of play ?

    1. Hi there, I will be updating this project as I go but unfortunately things have been a little hectic of late so it won’t be for a little while, however, as an example I will run through a little scenario for you now.

      I would normally in solo play use a set of cards (as stated in the post) with orders and would choose say, 1 card per unit and for the Canadians 1 card for their initiative level thus giving me some leeway to best suit the circumstance.

      In this case I choose 2 cards (1 for the tank unit and 1 for initiative) I draw (randomly) a ‘Move’ and a ‘Fire’ card.

      Now I’m not happy charging forward without an idea of what is waiting for me so using the Crossfire rules I decide to give 2x Tanks the fire order and use the rule ‘recon by fire’, if successful this order (on the roll of a 6) lets me know what, if anything, is in a chosen piece of terrain (Think of the movie ‘We were Soldiers’ when Hal Moore orders the soldiers to fire 3 rounds at anything that looks suspicious, straight away all hell breaks loose as the enemy think they have been spotted).

      I don’t like the look of that hill on the right so I choose that and roll 1x six-sided dice (D6) per tank. I roll a 3 and a 6, one success!

      I already know that there is an HMG and 2x Rifle Squads in there but my little models didn’t.

      However, I don’t want to give too much away so instead I use one of my favourite ‘house rules’ to model ‘training & morale’, the GW leadership roll. If you are not aware of this rule it is simply a 2x D6 roll needing a given number or lower to pass. In this case The Germans need a 7 of less to stay hidden (they don’t fall for the rues)

      I roll the dice separately for each and only 1x rifle squad stays hidden, the other two open up and give away their position allowing the Canadians to keep the initiative.

      I then draw another card and receive another ‘Move’ order (no help for it now) so I choose 2x Tanks which move across the river ford to take up position on the other side. Unfortunately for the lead Tank an Anti-Tank Gun is hidden in the hedge straight ahead and no sooner does the point Tank get across the ford before the AT gun opens fire (the non initiative player in Crossfire can declare a shooting action whenever the initiative player moves a model into their line-of-sight)

      The AT Gun knocks out the lead Tank but as they were moving together the following Tank can finish it’s move whilst the ATG is reloading.

      The Canadians have now lost the initiative so It is the Germans turn. I draw 1x card per unit and 2 extra (as the Germans are well known for their high initiative).

      As I have at least 2 ‘Fire’ orders I decide to open fire at the remaining Tank with the AT Gun, knocking it out and keeping the initiative for the Germans.

      I hope this gives you a little taste of how I conduct my Solo play.

    2. Thanks for your reply your solo play ideas are unusual i would be interested to see how an engagement unfolds . The unique feature of crossfire is that it is rules and tables light , the idea of bringing in a command structure element is something that ive been considering for some time ..while reading Blackhawk Down i was struck by how the communications between different elements ,fire teams , vehicles ,helicopters ,aerial observers and HQs lead to a chaotic situation on the ground . I was thinking about how to graft these communication issues into the crossfire system .One way could be to use the pin /suppress success numbers as a pass/fail to communicate with other stands , leaders or HQs , a failure could leave a fireteam unable/unwilling/ to move until ordered to do so. Situational Awareness always crops up in military accounts , because fireteam Alpha can see something ahead doesn’t mean team Bravo can see it, who are street away or inside a structure .The problem is how to simulate the perspective from each individual stands point of view , without getting into over complex charts and tables , any ideas ?

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