Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Friday, December 25, 2015

Solo Wargaming or is it?

By choice or necessity, solo wargaming is always an option. For many the thought of simply having to collect and paint up two opposing armies is enough to put them off. Quite true, going solo means double the cost and work required. There is the lack of interaction with an opponent whose tactics might be totally different to what you yourself would have employed. Sharing a few glasses of your preferred beverage and a lot of laughs with a like minded opponent is sadly not the lot of the solitary gamer.

Or is it...?

I have always been a solitary gamer, for my part this is through necessity not choice. However, a year or so ago, through the power of the internet and You Tube in particular, I hosted a couple of English Civil War battles. The format was very simple, two good buddies, Kurtus in the USA and Ringo in Manchester, England each commanded one of the forces. The troops were arrayed on the table in my gaming room and they would each email me orders for their individual units. I would film the whole event and would roll the dice on their behalf, the whole lot then uploaded to YT for them to see the result, they would then issue their next orders and so on.

Very play by mail feel to the whole thing, but it worked really well. It wasn't quite like having the guys in the same room, but was a very enjoyable experience and I wasn't even commanding my own troops! So you see, solo doesn't have to be a solitary experience. Interestingly,  Kurtus has now taken that idea to the next level and hosts live games on his table and people from all around the globe are welcome to take part and command a force. Still in its infancy and granted there are still some problems with camera and lighting, but it shows what is possible and I personally have commanded troops in three of these live battles. I can tell you it is great fun and also you are pitting your wits against a live opponent.

It is an idea which I also intend to emulate in the near future, when I too will host live battles on air, open to anyone who fancies their chances of being a Napoleon, Rommel or Alexander the Great. Though due to the troops I have it would have to be Oliver Cromwell, Robert E. Lee or Richard III. But no matter, you could end up playing a game you have never played previously with troops you don't even possess. How cool is that?

But back to totally solo, what are the attractions? How do you focus on being two opposing generals at the same time? What is to stop you cheating? What is the point, because you win and lose at the same time?

If you are a wargamer and have bought and lovingly painted up your army, then it is pretty safe to assume you are also a student of military history. It may be for just one specific period or conversely you may have many periods of interest. As a lonesome gamer you are free to choose as few or as many conflicts as you wish, money and time permitting of course. You are under no deadline to complete these forces, something which would stop my enjoyment of painting the figures, knowing they had to be ready by such and such a date.

You can choose the scenario and the troops to populate your table. A game can take days, weeks or even months, if you are lucky enough to have a dedicated hobby space. You can choose whatever rule set(s) that appeal to your style of play and of course you can tinker with the rules mid-game if you so wish. Finally, your opponent is very flexible, in fact he is available every time you are, he doesn't mind waiting whilst you paint up that unit of artillery that is required, nor does he drink your beer! You are free to experiment to your heart's content and no one is going to complain.

I currently have a game set up focused on the Wars of the Roses, the first turn is yet to be played. I am going to use the 'Lion Rampant' rule set for this battle, but I intend to re-fight it a number of times using different rules to see how they compare, which I prefer and which give a good feel to the game. I can do this, because there is only myself to please.

Enough of my rambling, now for some eye candy to reward you for getting this far.

A Lancastrian force has been caught in the act of pillaging a Yorkist village.

On the arrival of a slightly larger, but less powerful Yorkist force, the Lancastrians choose to give battle.

The Yorkist force advances up the road towards the village.

For Lion Rampant, it is recommended that troops are based individually but is not mandatory. I have troops on a selection of bases and it will work just fine.

I also intend, as previously mentioned, to re-fight this battle using different rule sets. You can see all four of them below keeping the Lancastrian and Yorkist troops I have so far painted apart!

I will continue this article, which has gone on long enough, if anyone is interested in my irrelevant thoughts.

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