Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Going Solo - What is the point? Where is the enjoyment?

To many the idea of solo wargaming just holds no appeal and is quite understandable in part. The whole point is to pit your wits against an opponent, feel the satisfaction of a victory or disappointment of a defeat, if only the dice roll had gone in my favour when the cavalry went in, the result could have been totally different!

The soloist has to study the table from both sides and decide on the best strategy for both forces. I like to study the battlefield and both forces, come up with a basic plan for both sides, based on strengths and weaknesses of the forces.  A little pictorial example may help.

I am currently experimenting with Lion Rampant, a rule set for skirmish type games in the Dark Ages/Medieval period. In the first photo the Lancastrian raiding force has been pillaging the village to their rear. A Yorkist flying column of light troops has hurriedly been dispatched to deal with the threat. The latter have a slightly larger but, man for man, a weaker force. The Lancastrians fancy their chances and form up for battle. ( A short piece of background to give meaning to the battle)

Closest the camera is a unit of Bill men who wear some armour, to their left is a unit of six foot knights in full armour (strongest foot units in the game). In the centre is a unit of crossbowmen and beyond them another Bill men and finally the leader with his mounted men at arms.

Moving to the advancing Yorkist army, being a flying column it consists of mainly light troops, nearest the camera are a unit each of archers and spear men, the force commander with his mounted men at arms. Beyond the road are two more units of archers and Bill men and finally a unit of light cavalry cover the flank.

The Yorkists have the first turn and the chance to activate units, of course there is no way of knowing the dice roll in advance, which units will activate if any! But a plan needs to be formulated anyway, whether it is actually put into action is another matter.

Let us study the field and the forces from the Yorkist commanders point of view. He knows he has superiority in ranged weapons, two units of archers versus one unit of crossbowmen, he really needs to get those two units in firing range quickly to try and degrade the powerful foot units. The spear men will hopefully, depending on the god of the dice, move up to support them. His own mounted men at arms equal the enemies, but he also has a speedy unit of light cavalry on the flank, this unit could prove influential in forcing the enemy foot into Schiltron with all the disadvantages that formation has against another attacking foot unit, hopefully his spear men.

You must now put yourself in the shoes of the opposing commander. He knows with his stronger foot units that he needs to get up close and personal as quickly as possible, he has no time to stand in a nice line for the enemy archers to pick off his men. If he gets the roll of the dice and the activations that he needs, he can feel confident of smashing the enemy line. One concern is the unit of light cavalry the enemy has fielded, but as he with his knights are opposite, he hopes to smash them in a charge.

So you have put yourself in the mind of the two commanders, a very fun and rewarding experience I find, having to formulate two battle plans. For your information, on the first turn the Yorkist archers and Billmen nearer the camera did activate and move forward, bringing the archers into extreme range of 18 inches, however the next unit of archers failed the initiative and the turn passed to the Lancastrians. They had more luck and every unit except the mounted men at arms, activated and moved forward. This brought the Bill men and foot knights to 12 inches range from the enemy archers.

I won't tell you any further movements as I am preparing a battle report for my own blog, but you are getting the picture, as the Yorkist commander, the plan has already started to come apart and will need some careful thought this turn. As the the Lancastrian, you are reasonably happy with how the units have behaved so far, but also understand that the dice may not be so kind next time!

Can you cheat? of course you can, just as in any other game, be it snakes and ladders or poker, that of course is entirely down to you and your own conscience and enjoyment. Personally, I see no point, as if you are partisan and have already decided which side you want to be victorious before a die is even thrown, you might as well put the troops away and watch television, save you the bother!

Some eye candy as usual.

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