Stat Chat – Solo Play Guide For Almost Any Wargame

Simple Solo Game Rules

Hey there Rangers,

It is a solitary lifestyle we seem to find ourselves in these days. And as I sit here and write this New South Wales is currently looking at some of its highest covid rates of all time (so far at least) going up by 10,000 cases each day for three days running. Whatever your personal stance on how to deal with this ongoing outbreak, my bottom line is that I have 2 members of my household who are immunocompromised and I personally have chronic respiratory concerns and so bunkering down as best as possible is my game plan.

Whilst I am entirely desperate for social interaction, and I cannot express to you how much of a mental health impact losing my entire sense of community is having on me at the moment, I have become one of the many who has been experimenting with Solo Wargaming over the past year or so. With things looking like they are about to continue on much worse than before where I live, I thought maybe now is a good time to put my own set of “rules” for solo play down on paper. (or at least digitally)

Other Systems Exist, So why write this?

Okay so let’s preface this with the acknowledgement that other systems are out there and exist and work just fine. In fact, you may notice the influence of several of them on my own personal take on this. I highly encourage you to also experiment with them and find what works for you.

For me I found many of them to be far too much work to get up and running and some were even too clunky on their own. Some of the good ones that are out there are excellent but don’t apply across game systems universally. My time is precious to me right now and so what I don’t want to be doing is going back and forth between rules and messing around. I want a simple and clean system that anyone can use with minimal set up.

Can’t you just play the other team?

So, I know many people who do the Solo thing just alternate between sides. I have always had a hard time feeling biased or second guessing myself. It takes a lot of the fun out of it for me. I want a solo play experience not a me arguing with myself experience. I know I am not the only one. If you are the kind of person who can just play the other team, go for it. Haha. More power to you. But I can not.

Okay, What is the system?

So my system is pretty straight forward. It is a 2 phase system. Phase 1 happens when you set up your army list. Don’t stress, it is as simple as assigning roles to your units as you would normally do when building an army. Phase 2 is about the deployment and varying that up. And then after that is done, most games play out fairly straight forwardly.

These fast moving wyches make great interceptors.

Phase 1 – Set up

I don’t know about you but when I build my own armies, I generally am thinking about what my “roles” for those units are. Is this squad a basic trooper/all-rounder? Is this being taken because it moves fast? Is this being taken because it carries a BFG and kicks armour plates in? So this is already a step I am already doing in an informal way.

When building my army list for the NPC player I will make this a bit more formal, associating each squad or unit etc. with a predetermined role that it is being recruited for. The roles are as follows.

Troops – These are basic units that are here to take objectives where relevant. Their job is to play the mission.

Artillery – These are units with big fire power who are here to assassinate things we want deleted. Their job is to pick a key target and melt its face.

Interceptors – These units move fast and their whole job is to go in and control movement of units that I don’t want moving places. They tie up an enemy for a turn or two.

Harassers – These units are hit and run units designed to use guerrilla tactics. Their job is to stay in cover until they can annoy the other units.

Decoys – These are big units that are designed to draw fire away from other units. Often they do pose their own threat as well, but by themselves they can’t win the mission.

Buffs – These are units that exist to help one of the other units do their job more efficiently/grant buffs, rerolls, etc.

Not every game will have every role, but most characters/squads/units will fit into one of those above. For instance, a wizard might count as Artillery, standing at the back to cast some massive explosion, but just the same a cave troll is also Artillery because where it goes things die. A troop transport like a Rhino tank for space marines would technically be a Buff because its job is to boost their speed in and provide them with defence until they get out.  

In terms of set up… that is all you have to do. Just choose what role each of your units belong to and note it down. This will then generate your AI in Phase 2.

Random deployment helps keep things spicy.

Phase 2 – Deploy and play

All that is left is to get in and play. Sounds easy right? I bet you feel like there is something missing. Well, there kind of is. That secret ingredient is random deployment and AI actions. Here is how I do it.

I always deploy my own troops first, meaning I am not reacting to the enemy. I find this adds a bit more of a challenge. And then I divide up my deployment zone into 6 fairly equal zones. This could just be a grid like in NUTS! And other two hour wargames, or it could be tied to specific objectives or buildings. It depends on your mission/scenario/game/battlefield. Do it as you would. And then I number the deployment zone areas 1 – 6. I bet you can see where this is going, right?

For each unit, Roll a d6 and put it in that zone. Pretty straight forward. Random deployment.

And then play the game as you normally would. I use the following instructions to run the AI on my NPC units when it is their turn. I activate from Left to Right across the table. Feel free to deviate from that if it makes sense to do so.

1. Choose a target unit who benefits most from your buff. 2. Move into proximity to that target. 3. Do your buff. 4. If able, attack nearest enemy after buff.1. Are troops in danger? If yes, assist them by attacking in a way that helps them. If no, move on to 2. 2. Is there a Major Big Bad enemy that needs to be focussed on? If so, attack in a way that allows other allies to also attack. 3. Is there a better position to be in to help your allies next turn? Move there.1. Are troops in danger? Intercept the enemies. 2. Are buffs in danger? Intercept the enemies. 3. Are Artillery in danger? Intercept the enemy, 4. If no one is in danger, find the most dangerous enemy and tie it up to stop it being useful next turn.1. Is there something that is being oppressive to our allies right now? Target that. 2. If nothing is too dangerous right now, target the weakest member of the enemy force.1. Can you secure the nearest mission objective? Do this first. 2. Are you in danger? Deal with that danger. 3. Does engaging the nearest enemy help defend an objective? Do this next.1. Can you block line of fire to otherwise important units such as troops capturing an objective? Do that. 2. Will attacking a weak and squishy unit draw attention away from the main objective? Do this second.

And that is literally all I do. Following this simple guide is sometimes all you need to get yourself out of your own head. It creates a super simple AI which basically just tells the unit to do the job it was hired to do. As an aside, this is also a fairly handy little way to improve your own game when playing real people as well.

Pro Tip! – When units do the job they were picked for, they are surprisingly effective!

I would love to hear your feedback regarding this system, or any systems you use yourself to play solo games.

Let me know how your NPC armies go!


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