Does going solo take a particular type of person? Possibly. but I enjoy solo wargaming and consider myself a very sociable animal, I enjoy the company of others for the most part. That said, I am more than happy in my own company too. Jekyll and Hyde personality perhaps? I can easily switch between the two and enjoy doing so. The regular meetings online of the Table Top Commanders for a paint and chat session, is something I always look forward to.
Setting up a solo game is always an enjoyable experience, what is the period, scale, scenario, forces available and back story? Let us take each of those topics in order.
Obviously this is down to the gamer's personal taste, notice I said gamer and not gamers. Unlike a club setting when a game is decided upon by members, it may not strictly be to your favoured period or such like. Nothing wrong with that, we all have to go with the majority and might even discover a new period that we actually enjoy. However, as a soloist, we carefully gather and paint up our troops with a specific period or battle in mind. Be it a skirmish in Medieval France or a huge sweep of divisions at Waterloo, we gather our forces and dream of the day when they eventually take to the table top. It may take years to fulfill this ambition and I dare say many have fallen by the wayside as gamers lose interest or the realities of life take over.
I have miniatures in three different scales, the good old 1/72nd of my Airfix memories of long ago. 28mm which seems to be the current flavour of the month, and I can see why, the figures are large enough to add fantastic detail and they look superb when laid out on the battlefield. In this scale I have armies for the English Civil War and Wars of the Roses. However, they are quite expensive to purchase and take a long time to paint up. They also take up a lot of storage space when not actually battling it out. The third scale in my collection is 6mm and I have amassed two quite substantial armies for both sides in the American Civil War. Storage is so much simpler and compact and of course at this scale, those sweeping divisional attacks I mentioned are now a real option on a modest sized table.
10mm, 15mm and even down to 2mm are all available and each have their merits and drawbacks, being solo means you are free to choose.
If you are re-fighting a specific battle from history, then you already have a scenario and a full back story which you can choose to research and learn as you desire. I certainly intend to re-fight battles of the American Civil War and so the battlefield, order of battle, generals present etc. are already decided. However it is nice just to put troops on the table and have a battle sometimes. I do this occasionally but usually I have to have a back story, it doesn't have to be some long winded essay, just a couple of sentences will suffice. The reason the battle is being fought, who are the combatants, is there a consequence for losing the battle? etc. To me that is more satisfying than just throwing down troops on the table and battling away with no rhyme or reason to why this is happening.
We have to use what we own, that is why a soloist is very careful when deciding on his given period(s), you have to be interested and actually care about the conflict you have chosen to replicate in miniature. Seems obvious! well I imagine there are more than a few gamers out there who began collecting a specific army, full of enthusiasm for the project, paint brushes a blur of activity only for the project to slowly lose its appeal and those figures, still unfinished, join a pile in a corner somewhere known as the Army of the Lost, tiny warriors in various states of undress who are unlikely ever to see the table top. If they are lucky they may be sold on and finally be completed, but for many a storage box is their foreseeable future.
I have already touched on this subject, but it is worth repeating in more depth here. We all love a good story, where, when something happens there is a consequence further along, be it good or bad, it keeps us entertained and turning the pages. To me wargaming can also be like that, and yet again this is where the soloist has free rein and time.
On my own blog, the 28mm Miniature Soldier Journey...
I have a diary, still ongoing, written as a story of the English Civil War, it has characters and scenes and the diary/story is driven by what happens on the table top. I don't know what the next chapter will be until it has been played out. The upshot is that everything that happens, has a reason and a purpose. The battles are not just a slug fest until one side wipes out the other.
My Wars of the Roses battles will be fought out on an abstract map I have devised with fictional towns and estates loosely set in Northern England. There will be four main factions and numerous smaller ones too, and just as in the real war nobles and knights will change sides as they see fit.
I can only do this solo, or at least the setting up part, as this takes a long time to develop, of course an opponent or two can join in once everything is up and running and they can command a retinue of troops as in any table top battle.
Phew! I can certainly waffle on, so time for some eye candy as a reward.
All the following photographs are of my English Civil War troops. Enjoy!