Split your mind - How to approaching solo gaming

Saxon cavalry charge 1706

I game solo - a lot. Even pre-covid I was an inveterate solo player. I have been asked how do you begin to play solo as for some, the concept seems a little counter intuitive. I thought it might be useful in these times of health anxiety and travel expense to offer a few tips for those interested in solo gaming. 

40mm German meets Soviet vampyre!

Some may appear obvious other perhaps not so.

Existing Source Material

There is a fair bit of collateral out there for solo gamers.  At one time I even remember a solo gamers magazine - Lone Warrior it was called. a website still exists LONE WARRIOR.  Programmed scenarios are a neat way to play solo wargames.  Almost like playing against the AI of a computer or the 'house'. The opponent may have a set pattern of moves or options available which are made in response to the player's decisions.I have written many scenarios in that form. The latest naval game I published is a programmed scenario where the player has to respond to 'the house' each move.  A reverse of what I mentioned earlier. The objective is to score a maximum number of points. Even scenarios not written specifically for solo play can be quite easily adapted to this format. 

Micro armour - I have played over 100 solo gamex with this stuff

Start small

If you are starting solo play begin with a modest and simple scenario. If you are playing both sides attempt to get into the head of each commander. What would they be thinking if the unfolding situation on the table top faced them in real life?  Make logical decisions or occasionally, take a chance on something desperate and unexpected.

2 x 2 feet game - a single TSS terrain tile

Random generation of the opposing moves

To avoid splitting your brain which some people find quite difficult, use dice or a card deck to generate the response or actions of the second side. What is quite interesting with regard to computer wargames is that when the difficulty level is increased the machine programme does not think more intelligently, it simply adds a weighting to the casualty levels inflicted to the player side in order to make it more difficult for you to win!  This is very unsophisticated.  Using an unpredictable or event generated mechanism will force you to respond to the unexpected. That is fun.

A programmed scenario - This is one ship against an entire fleet in 1666

Pick the right scenarios

Choose some scenarios where the house side is the 'defender' and so has less to think about other than surviving or repulsing your imaginative assaults. 

No bias. The Royal Navy versus... The Royal Navy 1688

I go, I go

Use rule sets which work on the I go, You go principle of course in this case, it is I go, I go!  That way you don't have the headache of simultaneous movement.

Republic to Empire is an I go, you go system

Take your time

Leave your scenarios set up and go back to them. Don't rush the game. There is no time limit when it is only you. Enjoy the moments. I love just sitting and watching the action unfold at a gentle pace with no need to work to someone else's boredom threshold. 

Enjoy the space and time of a solo game

Have no bias

Try and avoid having a bias for one side to win. Love the game for what it is rather than for a particular outcome. It is very easy to make bad moves for your least favourite army in order for the chosen ones to win.

Cards are a fantastic tool to simulate another person's brain

Comfort yourself that although you are playing solo, you will always get a victory (one half of you will anyway!)