Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Solo Game Play System - a proposal for 'any' time-frame/scale

 I have been experimenting with solo play rules and concepts since the isolation of the pandemic lockdowns began.

I have a few books about the subject of solo play from Grant and Featherstone, yet none of them have a simple yet easy to use system.

So here I am proposing my own, one that I have played out on the tabletop in ECW and Napoleonic games - and sampled using Squad Leader (WWII).


set of tools

In essence any solo system has to bypass the 'know it all' that the player operating it has.

This makes any real 'surprise' events difficult, so that is best to not expect from almost any solo play system.

Alright so that is out of the way here we go:

First, have some chips, or blocks, or beads that are different color, yet not different shape or texture, so that you can have them in a bag or cup.

I have used 2 for each 'command' and 3 for the overall commander and 3 extra as a start mix.
This means for a sample SHAKO game, with two foot and one horse division, you get 2+2+2+3+3=12 'markers' or 'chips' or 'beans'.  I used Orange ones for the Parliament and Purple ones for the Royalists in an ECW game.

'markers' or 'chips' or 'beans'

With this mix for each side I then add two 'other' color ones and one RED or TURN END marker.

These beans are going to be used to determine if or whether orders can be changed.  So if you want more order change possibility, then reduce the number of beans, or add in more of the RED ones; keep reading you will understand.

Each command then gets a card from the deck - you may do total random, or not as you please.


Tools meanings:

Spades = attack to kill or cause maximum death (even if that means your own death)

Clubs = operations (attack or defense) in a planned way - using maximum combined arms

Diamonds = operations (attack or defense) using maximum expenses, ammunition, fuel or technology

Hearts = defensive mindset with preservation of your own forces as the primary consideration

the numbers on the cards can be included as 'how much effort' or 'relative energy' they will put into the operations, where a 2 is 'meh I'll follow it sort of' and 10 is 'this is the way...'

the face cards then become certain personalities (or simply 11, 12, & 13)

Jack: the opposing division or sub formation commander is the 'target' of operations.

Queen: the opposing 2IC (if possible) or 2nd most important (valuable) asset of opposition as overall target.

King: opposing command is target of operations (if not possible then most important (valuable) asset)

Aces are the 'purest' form of the tactical technique, so ace of spades will be to 'kill, kill, kill' (even your own men!) and ace of hearts will be to prepare for with drawl or move to a perfect defense taking no life-and-limb risks at all.

useful tools

no card deck?  print this

After drawing the cards (or assigning them), for the commands and setting your plan (or preparing for attack with spades!).  Set your table/troops according to plans and rules for the game you are using.

Draw three 'beans' before the game start - this sets 'initiative' unless there's a scenario demand for it.

Draw three 'beans' each side at the start of each turn (before normal rules) - this will then set-up your orders options.

So at the start of turn 1 there will be 6 beans for each side drawn.  These get compared, for example, if there's a majority of the side drawn: ie I am Parliament and I draw3 orange 2 purple and a green, then the orange is dominant and the Parliament may make 1 order change.  If all 6 are orange, then they may make 6 order changes.  For each order change one 'bean' is put back in the bag.

If the totals are equal or favor the opponent color, (orange and purple) then NO ORDERS may be given.  Alternately you could allow a 'tie' to permit one order - provided both sides want/need one order.

Any time a RED or turn end 'bean' is drawn (in the three) then, at the end of the turn, the whole group is 're-set'.

 A re-set consists of 1/2 (rounding to be explained) of ALL 'BEANS' to be put back into the draw bag.

this is where the two green (or other color) and RED (turn end) 'beans' become important.
1/2 eliminated is easy when the number is even and there's no 'other color' 'beans' in the mix

If the number is odd and no 'other colors' are involved then the side who is in control of that set of 'beans' gets to decide which 'extra' 'bean' is discarded back into the draw bag.

If there are 'other color' beans available (including the RED (turn end) 'bean') then the player who drew them may decide which 'color' (purple or orange in the example) those green or RED 'beans' will be used as in discard.


Parliament player drew the RED 'bean' and has a green 'bean' also 7 Orange and 8 Purple 'beans' -thus has not been able to give orders.
The Royalist player has 6 Orange and 6 Purple - also not able to give orders.
     at the end of the current turn, BOTH PLAYERS will discard 1/2 of their 'beans'

Royalist is easy, 3 of each.
Parliament must discard at least 3 Orange and 4 Purple 'beans', yet may substitute 2 of them as the green and RED ones that they have.  This means at the end of the discard the Parliament side could have 5 Orange and 4 Purple 'beans'; having discarded 1 Orange 1 green and 1 RED (as the 3 Orange ones required) and the 4 Purple 'beans'.

This 'turn end' discard action is what creates the imbalances at times, along with the two 'other' 'beans' along with the draw of 3 at a time.  The idea is to create an unknown ability to change orders, leaving the player to have to continue with orders 'as is' until the change comes about and the player in solo-play mode will not have knowledge of exactly when that will happen from turn to turn until the very start of the turn (or at least BEFORE clearly being able to do the orders change).

anything can be used as 'beans'

The intent here is to take advantage of the axiom "no plan survives contact with the enemy".

the colored blocks come in many colors

Tell me what you think gentlemen.

Monday, August 30, 2021

SHAKO 2 Meeting Engagment #3 - Russians!

 Another opportunity to get the Napoleonic minis out on the table came on the 22nd.

Mike - from twitch was able to take command - though at a later than planned start time.

First turn complete
the table setup fully shown in the garage


view looking up the table from behind the cossacks

Russian Guard commander

Russian artillery commanded the hill on the Russian right

Dragoons make ready

view into the French left flank

Italians held French left

view down the French lines

camera 'in view'

turn 3 start

cossacks were mauled

they charged many times to keep the
French right held in place

while the horse and guns worked the other flank

Russian columns moved forward

pressing with two divisions

the guards arrive

Pavlov Grenadiers on the table for the first time in many years

end of turn 3 score was 2-0 favoring the French

table view turn 4

the French right had shattered the cossacks

in the center Bavarians were moving through the woods

a Russian division commander had been surrounded
by Bavarian jaegers

while the Italians had held firm

French Dragoons had swept out and hammered into the
Russian columns!

the Guard flags could be seen behind the Russian gun line

Russian Dragoons made ready

French light cavalry had been scattered by the
Russian Dragoons and guns

Pavlov Grenadiers
(flash photo)

Pavlov Grenadiers in columns

Russian HQ and Grenadier Division

the Bavarian Jaeger had flanked the first Russian Division
now hitting their trailing artillery battery

the Russian first Division commander was isolated from his
men and unable to accept a desperate order to re-position
just as the 2nd Division was collapsing having been
hit by French Dragoons and artillery barrage

overview from the 1st Division area

view from far flank

Russian grenadier division seen in field
column formations

2nd Division in foreground (turned to face Bavarians)
Grenadiers and HQ (pink flag) in the background

Bavarians storming out of woods

Italians blasting away remnants of 2nd Division
(casualties on right and foreground)

the many dead of 2nd Div

many many dead

they left three battalions of them from the
combined Dragoon and artillery attack

Russian grenadier division was to hold the ground
vacated by the 1st Div

French HQ

The battle was to be declared a substantial French Victory, at a final score of 6 to 2.

The Russian commander did not feel that he could advance any more (as the attacker) and that the French could shelter enough from his gun line and be able to break the other division before he could get his lines re-set.

This was an amazing tour-de-force series of games I managed to get in with Mike, who I thank very much for putting up with the camera and communications challenges.