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Author Topic: Solo ancients woes  (Read 1207 times)

Offline Samsonov

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Solo ancients woes
« on: February 28, 2021, 03:10:23 PM »
I generally play solo, even when the lock down is not on, and I have an early Imperial Roman army and an opposing Celtic force. However, I just cannot get a pleasing game of out this. I have tried Impetus, Warmaster, With Sword and Shield and Warhammer Ancients. Every game goes the same. Deploy legionaries and Celtic warriors in the centre, skirmishers to the front and cavalry to the flanks. Eventually, the legionaries and Celtic warrior meet and it becomes a dice rolling exercise to determine which side wears down or breaks first. Either side might have inflicted damage or disruption through skirmishers, and one side might eventually win the cavalry duel on the flanks, but both these ultimately only give one side an advantage to the big dice rolling exercise in the centre. I do not feel like there are many meaningful decisions to make or that I am really engaged at all.

Admittedly, none of those rulesets were designed to be played solo, so perhaps I am asking them to do something which they were never intended to. Secondly, my knowledge of ancient history is limited but I get the impression that battles were largely about infantry blocks smashing into one another, with the winner of the cavalry battle joining in later. So perhaps these games are historically accurate. If so then my question is whether there is a way to enjoy a historically accurate game solo, or this is just not a good period for solo gaming?

Offline FierceKitty

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2021, 03:35:59 PM »
I think you'd be pleasantly surprised if you had a go at some of the less predictable pair-ups. Popular stereotypic battles of Celts and Romans have done a lot to obscure just how very much variety you can get if you rather throw earlier Romans at Seleucids or Carthaginians, or Achaemenids at Indians, or Ch'in at Han....
« Last Edit: March 01, 2021, 11:03:28 AM by FierceKitty »
The laws of probability do not apply to my dice in wargames or to my finesses in bridge.

Offline wmyers

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2021, 03:50:58 PM »
I think some research into tactics for each army/nationality/general may help add variety. 

Not to mention variety in scenarios. (Ie attacking a mile fort, a raid on a camp/town, attacking a force moving in column, etc).

Offline dadlamassu

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2021, 04:37:50 PM »
I have not tried the rules you mention but I have introduced event cards into games to vary things a bit.  Cards include: reinforcements, soggy ground, hidden ambush parties, axles breaking, omens (giving bonuses or penalties), weather effects (rain, mist, snow, heat, solar eclipse), disturbed civilians, flocks of sheep/goats, wildlife, water shortage/fatigue, spy/assassin, traitor etc.

Don't overdo it and make up the deck of cards to suit your scenario.

We have been playing (on Zoom) a game called Zona Alfa which has "Points of Interest" which are triggered by approaching them.  They generate "hostiles" or items.  Also our "Infamy, Infamy!" have something similar in Ambush/deployment points.  A modified version might be to have a proportion of each force "off table" and appear during the game from one of these using cards, dice or whatever. 

There should be uncertainty in battles between Romans and Britons!  Difficult when playing solo.
'He could have lived a risk-free, moneyed life, but he preferred to whittle away his fortune on warfare.'
-- Xenophon, The Anabasis

Online armchairgeneral

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2021, 06:23:13 PM »
You could try commanding the Romans in a march column/convoy escort scenario with the celts coming on auto-activated in a “Pony Wars” style.

https://ponywars.uk/


Offline Harry Faversham

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2021, 01:38:37 AM »
I've found that a set of half decent chance cards can make solo gaming very interesting.

:)
"Wot did you do in the war Grandad?"

"I was with Harry... At The Bridge!"

Offline mmcv

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2021, 08:23:15 AM »
As others have mentioned, adding terrain or scenarios that make for more interesting decision making can keep it interesting. Potentially a ruleset that is less of a dice grind might work. I find To the Strongest to be fairly nice to play solo, though I've not done your specific armies yet.

Another option might be looking at something like Soldiers of Rome (https://www.northstarfigures.com/prod.php?prod=14626). I've played the crusades variation of it, Soldiers of God and it gives an interesting game. The event cards mean you have to make specific decisions about how to use your troops and can't always just charge forward and grind. I imagine the Rome version is similar. When playing solo you do have to wear two hats at times and make decisions as if you don't know what the other side is doing,but that's the same as any solo play without an AI system.


Offline SteveBurt

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2021, 10:41:00 AM »
To the strongest works well solo, but the main thing is to play scenarios rather than straight frontal fights. I've often use the Sambre as the basis of a scenario - two legions and some cavalry on a hill starting to make camp as the Gauls pour out of the woods. Can the reinforcements bringing up the baggage get there in time?
Or have a Roman column ambushed on the way to fort.
Or the Medway makes a good battle - opposed river crossing.

Offline madaxeman

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2021, 11:53:42 AM »
Quote
... I get the impression that battles were largely about infantry blocks smashing into one another, with the winner of the cavalry battle joining in later. So perhaps these games are historically accurate. If so then my question is whether there is a way to enjoy a historically accurate game solo, or this is just not a good period for solo gaming?

I think your view of how historical battles (especially in the Roman & classical era) generally played out may well be largely correct, which means that copying the "common" historical tactics with these two (rather vanilla) armies can often lead to a rather dull game.

Many ancients rulesets have probably ended up allowing far more maneuver than happened historically in order to create a better game as a result - however a lot of the the joy of ancients also can be found in throwing all of the far more exotic toys and troop types that you'll find in armies other than "Romans and Celts" at one another. 

The idea of seeing Medieval Florentines taking on the Terracotta Army, or Hannibal facing off against Ghengis Khan will of course send many grognards into absolute conniptions, but when it comes to Ancients that's actually kinda what makes it fun for a lot of players out there.

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Offline Harry Faversham

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2021, 11:59:32 AM »
Playing solo I always tend to favour one side as 'my' lads. Using a bunch of chance cards brings the frustration of not doing what you want when you want back into proceedings. When the game's finely poised and the 'baddies' get a double move or shoot twice card, it sends yer blood pressure through the roof, just like a real live opponent's more than capable of!

>:(

Offline Irregular Wars Nic

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2021, 12:43:16 PM »
A biased (but still very valid) suggestion would be to have a look at Fantastic Battles.

http://irregularwars.blogspot.com/p/fantastic-battles.html

Your battle plans will be messed up by the 'mishaps' system, initiative is randomised and units outside of the command range of their leader types have to roll to determine their actions based on their unit commander's descisions. All these elements will serve to remove the predictability of the games.

The rules include example army lists for 12 historical armies as well as the usual fantastic tropes, but the army building system is designed to be super flexible.

Offline mmcv

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2021, 12:44:36 PM »
Playing solo I always tend to favour one side as 'my' lads. Using a bunch of chance cards brings the frustration of not doing what you want when you want back into proceedings. When the game's finely poised and the 'baddies' get a double move or shoot twice card, it sends yer blood pressure through the roof, just like a real live opponent's more than capable of!

>:(

Yeah, I'd sometimes play games where I try and play both sides equally. In these instances I try and move around the table to the different side so I'm playing from their perspective as a bit of a physical and mental switch. Sometimes though it is fun to just play as one side as your favourite and having the enemy do whatever they can to break you. Just have to be careful to make sure the enemy does what is sensible in the situation and not what you want them to. I've sometimes considered having a basic "AI" table for these situations where a situation choice isn't obvious you can roll and it'll tell you to act aggressively, defensively, passively, or try something tricksy, just to add a bit of randomness to how the "opponent" will react and focus their decision making away from any subconscious bias you may have.

Offline Ruarigh

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2021, 02:18:24 PM »
You could try Programmed Wargames Scenarios by Charles S. Grant. It offers a selection of scenarios that will vary your games a bit and provides tables to dice on that 'programme' one or both sides, creating different set-ups and different responses to the on-table events. Even if you don't play the scenarios in the book, you might find the approach helps you by adding some randomness to deployment and actions on table.
The greatest revenge you can have on a man that steals your wife is to let him keep her.

Offline Harry Faversham

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2021, 04:08:55 PM »
I've got that book, and it's very good, for Billy-no-Mates wargaming. Even if you don't use the book's scenarios the random Army generator tables at the end are very useful, in giving you what you get, opposed to what you want!

::)

Offline Cat

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Re: Solo ancients woes
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2021, 04:24:28 PM »
Yes, switching seats does help.
 
I find that DBA plays very nicely solo.  Rolling dice for command pips each turn keeps the next side's move from being predictable.

 

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