Monday 20 June 2016

Solo Wargaming

These days I have no shortage of gaming buddies and can usually get a game most weeks. It was not always thus, and in years gone by there have been times when I have perforce been a solo wargamer, working through tactical problems on a tabletop on my own. Nowadays, of course, with computers and the internet there are many more gaming possibilities than there used to be. Even so, from the various wargaming web fora, blogs etc that I frequent, it is obvious that there are many folks out there who still want to game with miniatures rather than pixels, but who are not as blessed as I am with regular gaming opportunities and agreeable fellow-enthusiasts. So in today's blog I'd like to spare a thought for all those would-be players, who spend so many hours lovingly creating fabulous armies, but who have all too few occasions to actually use them.

Recruit LW

One of the resources I used years ago was Charles Grant's book, "Programmed Wargames Scenarios".
Beyond that recommendation, I'm not really qualified to advise on how to do solo gaming. Fortunately there are others around who are. For instance, there is a SoloWarGame group on Yahoo. Check out Jay's Solo Wargaming Blog. This Solo Wargaming Guide was published recently by William Silvester - I haven't seen it myself but it gets good reviews. Caliver Books offers a guide to solo wargaming by Stuart Asquith. There is also the Solo Wargamers Association (SWA) and its Lone Warrior Blog.

What particularly motivated this post was the fact that Lone Warrior has just published Paul Le Long's review of my own "Bloody Big Battles". Some choice quotes from Paul's terrific review:
"BBB is an excellent game ... 
It's simple and you'll have learned it all within minutes ... 
You get the feel that you are commanding a whole army, not just a brigade ...
It feels realistic and dynamic but without unnecessary complexity ... 
Highly recommended."

On the question of BBB's suitability for solo play, Paul says, "there's nothing particularly that's solo friendly. But I didn't find anything that militated against solo play either". I suppose I'd add that I think the movement rolls provide an element of unpredictability that helps to make solo play interesting. The many BBB historical scenarios lend themselves to multiple replays to explore how different plans for each side work out, which can be a fun solo exercise. And the campaign mechanism used in BBB to link nine historical Franco-Prussian War scenarios, and in BBEB for smaller Crimean and Russo-Turkish War campaigns, is a simple and solo-friendly way of integrating campaign consequences into games.

Finally, for any solo BBB players out there who are able to make the effort once a year to meet up with fellow players: come to the next BBB Bash Day, our mini-convention in Oxford UK, on Saturday 18 February 2017!

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