Thanks to Bob (a.k.a. Seur D’Armadilleaux) for this excellent review of the latest issue:
There are 6 meaty articles in the latest 50 pages (no ads) from the Solo Wargamer’s Association magazine, and as usual, they are a feast for any serious long-term Solo wargamer, pretty much regardless of the period or the rules you use. Which is to say, a lot of the good ideas in this issue can be adapted for other periods of play, and the suggestions work with almost any set of rules.
First up is AWI, with Rich Barbuto’s presentation of Cowpens, in 28mm. This has a concise history of the “real” battle, goes through the details of how we scale-down the battle (both the battlefield and the numbers of troops, with an order of battle) to more manageable size, and a review of the rules that he used (Our Moccasins Trickled Blood). Rich explains how he modified the rules using “gaps” in the Continental line (the element of Unpredictability and Uncertainty). The re-fight of the battle has a couple of maps, and an analysis of what went right, what went wrong. All in all, this is a very instructive writeup.
Next up is Marvin Scott’s “Death on the Greasy Grass” (which is the Indian name for Little Big Horn). He has a really good historical synopsis, with the map of the environs leading toward the final battlefield, showing the paths of the 3 forces involved on that fateful day. Marvin then explores the use a deck of cards to “automate” on side of the fray, and points out that we really don’t have a good handle on what the Indian forces historically did that day. The article stops at this point, which leaves me to hope that there is more to come next issue. This sort of pre-battle map-game is used by a lot of long-term Solo enthusiasts, and it’s interesting to see how Marvin applies his ideas to the Plains War period.
ACW is a perennial favorite of Solo Wargamers, and George Arnold takes us to Solo Wargaming the Battle of Prairie Grove. George goes through some thinking behind card-driven games (like Piquet or Command and Colors — although the modifications that George explores can work with any ACW rule set), and explores his use of an Activation Card Deck, which determines which troops actually make it onto the battlefield we have in mind. George also has some die modifiers to cover arrival on the board, and ammunition supply, which is a nice touch. Three games were played to test out the optional rules, and you get all the gory details, including how using different dice (D20 instead of D6) can skew the odds. Nice stuff.
Fourth in the presentations, is Steve Turner’s exposition on How to create YOUR World. This is a nice compendium of some of the tools that Steve uses, to breathe near-cinematic life into his campaigns. He goes over programs like “Berthier” (which takes a lot of tedium and pain out of the book-keeping part of Solo Campaigning), and shows some of the benefits of Campaign Cartographer (with an example of a vellum-drawn map that looks like it’s come out of an early museum collection). Steve talks about how he likes to play soundtracks when he is gaming — you better run, when you hear the Ride of the Valkyries, cause nothing good comes hard on their coat-tales! Steve develops dynasty lists, and army Orders of Battles that are so “real” they make you wonder if you slept through that part of the history class in high school, and he takes you through some of his behind-the-scenes work. Then he goes through how he uses a Word Processor program to develop integrated After Action Reports, complete with graphics, and even some “newspapers” that support the period. Marvelous stuff. (I still think I must have slept through that class in high school, cause the results are so “believable” that they MUST have really happened).
When is a Wargame more of a Sidebar? When you want to have more detail (on a siege, in this case, using Kevin White’s “Simple Siege Rules). STOP! (I can see your eyes cloud over, cause you really don’t feel like devoting a year and a half into building the models, the armies, and defending your use of the living room for that period! “Out, wife, while I mold the parapets on the North Wall!) And that’s what Kevin White SAVES you from, with his excellent exposition of a card-based Sidebar game, on laying siege to a number of cities in the enemy kingdom. See, one of the great joys of Solo Campaigning (and solo Wargaming in general), is the ability to multi-task — carrying on several tasks at more or less the same time, that relate to the battle-at-hand. Whether these other threads are battles (like skirmishes or scouting games), or exploring, or sieges, they ALL add to the flavor of the business-at-hand. In a matter of 4 short pages Kevin lays out all you need in order to run a card-game version of siege warfare, which can be played out “off-table”, and spliced into your Wargames Campaign (almost regardless of period) in a number of ways. A great addition to any Solo Wargamer’s tool-box.
The last article in this issue is a nice ramble through the wargamer’s journal that Chris Hahn put together for a couple of months in 2010, entitled “At War With Myself”. Keeping a journal (like a wargamer’s version of a diary) is a great way to look back and see what kept you busy, and where you put your talents to work. (In my case, I have too many scatterbrain red-herrings that always seem to keep me entertained, but don’t leave any time or energy to paint up more little guys, or indulge in prosecuting the next phase of whatever wargames campaigns I have on the go). So it’s nice to “peer over the shoulder” of someone who manages to get a LOT done, and see how Chris spends his free time. This makes a nice break to the usual articles that are all rules and maps, because it shows the personal observations of an experienced campaigner.
And for dessert, we have 4 pages of musings from various regular contributors as to the future format that should be pursued by Lone Warrior — lots of people would LIKE to see a web presence, but there are some concerns that the costs are hard to cover. In the meantime, Lone Warrior continues to deliver first rate articles on ONLY Solo-related topics, 4 times per year, for the bargain rate of $25 (North America, in US funds), and only $40 for the rest of the universe (Afghanistan to Timpeus Prime — and rocket fuel on Timpeus has gone up a LOT, the last few Parsecs).
You too can join the adventure, by mailing US funds (or International Money Order) to Solo Wargamers Association, 1707 Ridge Road, Leavenworth, KS 66048, or PayPal to lonewarrior@…. Don’t forget to include a note on PayPal with your mailing address, and what you are ordering. Back-issues are still a bargain at $5 (North America) or $8 anywhere else in the universe, wherever the United Federation Intergalactic Postal Service operates (Peace be upon them).
(Sorry we no longer accept Romulan Bhatt’s, as their devaluation due to the nearby Intergalactic storm has really destabilized their inherent-Latvium value).
Disclaimer: Plaudits, kudos and subscriptions should be forwarded to Solo Wargamers Association & Lone Warrior. Complaints that you need Lone Warrior for free, and that the poor scribe of this humble piece is taking too many liberties, should be forwarded in loving detail to Seur.Darmadilleaux@… (United Federation of Planets).