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…
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.
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!