I’ve been inspired by the guys at the Solo DBA Development group to begin work on my own solo variant for DBA. This is an ongoing project, and I’m unlikely to take quite as scientific and methodical an approach as Dale and Richard are doing. I’m really just looking for a ‘quick and dirty’ way of spicing up my solo games, with an emphasis on the tactical engine, which seems to me to be the least satisfactory aspect of the original De Bellis Solitarius, despite that ruleset’s groundbreaking status.This is a first-cut version of what I hope will eventually be a workable variant, so I’m really offering this as a possible approach to be freely adapted/tweaked if it seems useful.
As in DBS, the programmed opponent is designated below as the ‘NPG’ (non-player general), while the human player is designated as the ‘HG’. In addition to the usual kit you will need a pen and paper plus a pair of percentage dice for these rules.
NPG Army Composition
If there are options, select the elements (and general’s element) that has the best chance of defeating the HG’s troops.
Dice For NPG Type
The NPG can be Defensive, Cautious, Aggressive or Impetuous. Throw a D6:
1 : Defensive
2 – 3 : Cautious
4 – 5 : Aggressive
6 : Impetuous
Note that a Warband NPG (eight or more Warband elements in his army) cannot be Defensive. Similarly a Light Horse army (eight or more Light Horse elements) cannot be Defensive or Impetuous. If such a result comes up throw again until a suitable alternative result has been achieved.
Determining Defender and Attacker
Throw percentage dice (PD), giving the NPG a 75% chance of being the defender.
Use the standard terrain placement rules (I must admit that I use the DBA v1.1 rules for terrain placement…mea culpa!). When the NPG is defending, place terrain to maximise his chances of victory given his army composition.
Determine position of NPG’s camp and its defenders (Camp Followers or an army element) by assessing the options, apportioning a percentage probability to each, and throwing PD.
As HG you will always deploy your army first. Having done this, draw up a minimum of three possible deployments for the NPG, taking into account your own deployment, the NPG’s ‘type’ (Defensive, Cautious, Aggressive or Impetuous) and the terrain set-up. Allocate a probability to each deployment and use PD to decide which one the NPG will opt for. For instance, a Defensive NPG will probably try to deploy in such a way that his flanks are anchored and protected, and to ensure that he will have a chance of holding his position with the minimum risk. On the other hand an Impetuous NPG will probably deploy in a way that enables him to get to grips with your army as swiftly as possible. The NPG then takes first bound, regardless of whether he is the defender or the attacker.
Game Play and NPG Type
Different NPG types have different priorities, and there is therefore a higher percentage probability that they will behave in a way consistent with these priorities on the battlefield. Note however that these are only probabilities. In order to avoid the danger of the NPG becoming too predictable there should always be a chance, however remote, that he will make an unexpected command decision that upsets the HG’s assumptions.
The general priorities for each NPG type are listed below, in a default descending order. After throwing for pips at the start of each turn note the percentage likelihood of the NPG opting for each of these permitted orientations, taking into account how many pips the NPG has to play with, then dice using PD to see which he carries out. Factor in what he has been doing so far: e.g. if he has been engaging in a promising flank attack there is a high likelihood that he will continue with that approach rather than suddenly break off and do something else!
Defensive NPG options: (1) Hold current position (2) Reinforce and repair (3) Manoeuvre to meet perceived threat (4) Advance to defensible battlefield positions (5) Counter attack with caution (6) Break formation to administer coup de grace (7) Launch general assault
Cautious NPG options: (1) manoeuvre to meet perceived threat (2) Advance to defensible battlefield positions (3) Reinforce and repair (4) Counter-attack with caution (5) Threaten HG’s flanks and/or camp (6) Reorganise and regroup (7) Launch general assault
Aggressive NPG options: (1) Manoeuvre into advanced positions (2) Threaten HG’s flanks and/or camp (3) Support attacks with maximum number of troops (4) Attack with reasonable odds (5) Reinforce and repair (6) Launch general assault (7) Reorganise and regroup
Impetuous NPG options: (1) Attack with all available troops (regardless of odds) (2) Attack with fastest troops (ahead of others) (3) Support attacks with maximum number of troops (4) Reorganise and regroup (5) Reinforce and repair
These are general orientations only, and should always be interpreted for maximal effectiveness for the NPG in any given battlefield situation. There are several important caveats to this. The NPG will always, within the general orientation determined above, and provided that he has the spare pips to do so, attempt to do the following:
1. Produce the most favourable match-ups available to him for that move.
2. Engage in repairing and reinforcing his formations as needed.
3. Move to take out any weak and/or isolated enemy units.
As a final caveat, there may be occasions when there is an ‘obvious’ move that any reasonably experienced DBA player would go for, but which doesn’t seem to be covered by any of the above. If such a situation occurs, allocate a percentage probability to it and determine using PD whether it is carried out or not. This should be limited to a maximum of three times per game.
I hope that these rules are of some use. The options listed for each NPG type are particularly likely to need development and amendment, and clearly the extra work involved in allocating percentage probabilities etc. won’t be to everyone’s taste. But I hope that this rather ‘fuzzy’ solo variant, which I’m currently testing out in my HoTT games as well as my DBA games, will at least provide some food for thought!