Search This Blog

Saturday, June 6, 2009

[Wargaming] Solo Game Design-

This post started out as a reply to one of David Larkins' The Mini Corner blog entries.

At one point I just walked away from the gamers I was 'stuck with' given my location, and broke out my minis and began designing a condition-modified solo game system in which I had no control over events or the opposition, all determined at random (within said conditional framework akin to Victory Games' Ambush!).

I would sit at the kitchen table and get bombed and then move my handful of minis around the terrain as the dice determined at manner of terrible near-future and sci-fi CQB situations. It was a rare victory for my Necromunda Escher gang figures, and each time I sent out a veteran of previous games, I felt the sense of dread at what would befall her.

My SO would come in and smile at my set-up and my pained expression as the girls were pinned down or wounded out in the open.

So, it is possible to be a soloist and be in a steady relationship ('stable' certainly didn't apply in that case).

Bruck-up, soldier! ;)

I devoured Victory Games' AMBUSH!, SHELL SHOCK!, LEATHERNECK! games, and had become such a great enthusiast of Kabal Gaming Systems' M.I.S.S.I.O.N., that it may be argued that it was inevitable that I would devise a sort of Artificial Intelligence gaming engine to keep myself entirely off balance while plotting my protagonist(s) incursions or exfiltrations on the gaming surface.
In its most stable incarnation, I used 2d12 to randomly determine the Condition of the enemy in whatever area my figures (sometimes only a dot on a sheet of paper as I plotted its/their continuous course) had entered, and dealt with the consequences as they arose using a dirt-simple d6 resolution system.
My favourite maps were those included in the Victory Games' games and modules, and I still use them to this day on the rare occasion I feel my RPG sessions require player visual aids.

In one scenario, my elite squad of drop-troop misfits (including a conscript with Psychic Invisibility) were sent into an enemy research camp to steal an experimental hovertank. Two of them died when their Fall-Limiter gear failed to function: One impacted, another snapped her neck, hung up in the forest. Although shaken (a Condition), the surviving members slowly, slow infiltrated the camp's lightly guarded outer perimeter into the abandoned hamlet, and then broke up into to elements to make the best use of time.
The commander of the mission, his honour guard Sgt, and the colour guard Corporal dealt with the bulk of the guards, while the other element (including the conscript) stealthily entered the hanger bay wherein the hovertank was located.
In the subsequent Rounds, the foreign conscript advanced one sub-measure of the hanger hex each step, as he moved directly toward the two guards who were playing cards. Just as he moved to within striking distance, one of the guards saw through the psionic screen and noticed the guy, but missed him and unintentionally struck one of the other infiltrators, mortally wounding him. The psychic and the other member were then engaged in a very loud CQB that alerted the rest of the camp, one guard at a time until the klaxon was sounded.

With no one left to pilot the craft, the two activated it and slowly crash-drifted through the quonset hut, unable to effectively steer it while the rest of the team ran through a hail of gunfire to jump on. Three wounded, one would soon die.
The movement was slightly faster than the guards could muster until the hovertank slid down an embankment and picked up enough velocity to barely outdistance a pursuing 'jeep'. The action moved off map, and I picked up the next game a day or two later.

Everything, from mission gear loads and ammunition had all been accounted for; jams, friendly-fire, everything.
I was exhausted.

I was thrilled.

Unfortunately, the next game proved a loss, but two of the original squad managed to 'DD' out of hostile territory after the conscript gave his life to detonate the hovertank to set the enemy's plans back a few months, if not more.

So, any of you ever run solo scenarios?


  1. First, thanks for mentioning that you left a comment--I hadn't received any sort of notification of it, and that led me to discover that I had my minis blog set to an old email address for comment notifications. Oops!

    Second, I've dabbled in solo gaming, although I have yet to try and adapt a full-blown "self playing" system. Two Hour Wargames produce a couple sets of rules that lend themselves very well to that. All Things Zombie and its parent rules set Crossfire, in particular.

    Right now the main thing standing in my way is available space--city living can be tough on 4x6 table set-ups.

  2. sirlarkins,

    Thank you. I'll have to check out Two Hour Wargames.

    Certainly understand the space limitation. The only place I could play Heroscape is at the LGS. I couldn't swing my cat around in here -- not that I would. :)

  3. I realized I mis-typed--I wrote "Crossfire" when I was thinking "Chain Reaction". I took a look at the THWG website and it looks like Chain Reaction is out of print, but there's a 3rd edition in the works. I'd recommend taking a look at the Two Hour Wargames Yahoo group--it's quite active.