Many thanks to Bob Stewart for permission to reproduce the following excellent review of the latest issue of Lone Warrior, which he originally posted on the Solo Wargames Yahoo Group :
Lone Warrior is the quarterly publication of the Solo Wargamers Association, and currently averages 52 pages (with no ads or other bumph), dedicated to all aspects of Solo Wargaming.
From an historical point of view, a lot of Modern era Wargaming started off (by default) as Solo Wargaming, simply because there were so few people who were into the hobby, after WWII (although the roots of Solo Wargaming go back a lot further, and even Napoleon used to move counters around to try and optimize what he foresaw as the attack and counterattack options against his opponent states). The Lone Warrior is a bit of a stand out, because it was founded in 1976 by John Bennett, and has the active support of such well-known Soloists as Don Featherstone, Terry Wise, and Stuart Asquith. The current editor, Rich Barbuto, is a Professor at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College, no less. Some of the other names on the masthead (and authors who have frequently appeared) may not be as well known as these gentlemen, but their additions to the hobby have been legend.
With that, here’s the latest slate: Steve Turner is first up to bat, with another excellent installment of his “With Fife and Drum” series (18th Century Wargames Campaign). You can jump in anywhere with Steve’s reports, and the quality of the writing has you scratching your head and reaching for an historical atlas, sure that he must be writing about a “real” campaign, he does that great a job in bringing it to life. His computer generated maps are delicious, and the quality of his battle reports (with the trumpet calls and the ground shaking with the horse charges) is awe-inspiring (no matter what YOUR period of interest — this is a high standard for us ALL to try and emulate).
Jim Zylka has had a number of articles on a new approach to AI in solo gaming, and in this issue he has a nice little review of the reprint of Stuart Asquith’s “The Partizan Press Guide to Solo Wargaming”. It’s nice to see one of the cornerstones of Modern Solo is back in print, under the guidance of Stuart (who says he is ostensibly “retired”). There is a short list of back issues on the same page, which brings the shocking discovery that (now that MagWeb is currently struggling), there has been a run on back issues! Better get them while they are still around, folks. Think it’s about $7 each, what with postage (and a bargoon, for all of that). Lots of us go back and re-read old issues,
when the urge to game Solo, wanes.
Next up is a VERY entertaining interview with Russ Lockwood (yes, he of the redoubtable MagWeb), about how he orchestrated a Space Empire Campaign (well, what else could the article be called but The Decline and Fall of the Fifth Space Empire, subtitled, Lockwood’s 5th Space Symphony). These are so called Big Picture questions, that equally apply to almost ALL periods — like the start off question, “What inspired this?” Through to “How to you rank Realism versus Playability?” This is a rare chance to peek behind the mask of a very successful rule writer, and see what goes into writing rules that really seem to “work”. I would highly recommend you read this, and read this, and store it under your pillow and read it again.
Marvin Scott is up with the next home run article on Communication. This is a nice 2-pager with a good overview of how the technology of the times dictated the quality of the coordination of the various elements. Marvin has a nice crisp style, and brings you effortlessly along through various periods, and then gives us a nice little one-pager Indian Scout Game, with a little Bibliography (these are SO important because once your interest is whetted up, then you need to know where to go to get more details).
Jonathan Aird may not be a name that jumps to your mind when you think of Solo Wargames, but it should be. He’s been a regular contributor, and this time he turns his laser sights on Warhammer 40K and a scenario based on Laserburn, titled simply Clear the Bunker. He gives some really clean ideas for using cards and dice to set up variable opposition, and with 700 plus variations, you can play this scenario through a whole bunch of times without it getting stale. Don’t think this is “just” for Space-heads, either, cause it would be easy to transcribe the ideas to a lot of other eras or theatres, from Biblical to WWII.
Then there’s some drivel from that old rattle-bag, Bob Stewart. Something to do with The Poacher’s Plunge, and the Forlorn Hope. It reads like something from a Harlequin series for men, but for some reason, they keep on publishing the stuff. Lots of generators for Terrain, or Constructing a Frontier Fort, so it’s not all a loss, I suppose. I guess they’re trying to cater to the geriatric crowd, too, with a bed-time story. Think of it as an interlude with Musak, before the next significant Act.
And that Act comes in with a BANG. Graham Empson delivers some great ideas about an approach-to-target (translatable into lots of periods) using ACW as the specific vehicle. Each side gets a partial map, with a cross-roads as the target. Graham goes through the mechanics of how this gets set up using Solo and variability (for both terrain squares and who might be skulking there), so that you almost never get a 100% repeat when you replay the module again. The thing I appreciate with Graham’s work, is that it is really detailed, and serves as a complete game-inna-couple-of-pages. He also points out some areas where YOU can tweak the tables to get your own flavor, if that’s more to your liking.
Isn’t a Solo Gamer at a Convention a kind of Oxymoron? Well, Jonathan Aird doesn’t seem to think so, and he takes us on a guided tour for Soloists, of Salute 2009, one of the biggest 1-day shows in the UK. Makes me want to pack a backpack, and hire a rowboat bound for England (with fond hopes of getting there, in time for next year’s Salute 2010). Thanks, Jonathan! (Almost as good as going there).
And the whole LW thing is skillfully piloted, annotated, and perked up with line graphics under the most capable hand of the Ed. The end result is a thing of beauty. And you too can have this thing of beauty delivered right to your doorstep, 4 times a year, for the paltry sum of $25 per year (North American rates) or $30 if you live across the pond, or some equally remote part of the global village (sorry Graham, no offence). Back issues are being flushed out at $5 for North America, and $8 for GB’ers (Global Villagers). Don’t do the usual procrastination trick! GB’ers are going to have to pay $40 come 2010, because of increased costs on postage, and tightening production and mailing costs for mail sent into the Great Ether, so if you snooze, you lose! You can pre-pay for 2 years at the old price, and assure the arrival of cheap thrills, quarterly. Check, International Money Order, or US cash goes to Solo Wargamer Association, 1707 Ridge Road, Leavenworth KS, USA 66048. Paypal can be sent to this account: email@example.com (and make sure that you include YOUR mailing address in the Paypal note section, otherwise Rich is gonna think someone is sending him a free turkey dinner coupon!)