Home Forums General General Solo and low or no compete games?

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  • #49775
    PatG
    Participant

    Inspired by Michael’s comments on the Firefly board game about preferring to play against the game rather than other players and by personal experience playing against others who are so competitive they ruin the evening even when playing Pandemic, what are your favourite board or table top (war)games for solo play or non-competitive play?
    I’ll start with two obvious ones (and betray my age):
    B-17 a solo game of aerial combat over Germany in WWII
    Ogre – very adaptable to solo play with just one unit on the Ogre side.

    And a couple of less obvious ones:
    Traveller – especially High Guard and Striker
    Car Wars
    Starfire
    All three of these have very heavy building components. I can spend many enjoyable hours just creating new vehicles and ships all without rolling a single dic

    #49780
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    B-17 – sold my copy a few years ago, not sure why,  but I really enjoyed playing that!

    Republic of Rome. There is competition but usually (unless you have raging psychopaths in the game!) there comes a point where everyone realises that the time has come to start fighting the game and not each other, or you are will be overrun and Rome will be no more.

    Ambush! a pure solo game – out of print for years? Unless they’ve republished recently which I haven’t seen. You had a WWII section/squad of GIs and programmed unknown  Germans (different missions) and I seem to remember it working quite well. It was one of those that claimed to be playable in minutes but I remember it needed quite a lot of time investment. Once you’d accepted  that it worked quite well. I think you could play cooperatively with two squads playing against the Germans but I never played that way.

     

    For tabletop games, I regularly play lots of rules sets solo, but I  find Cold War Commander in particular to be pretty good (with some tweaking) for a solo campaign of Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. The uncertainty in the activation system stops too neat planning and with a home brew system that has hidden Afghan mujahideen units of indeterminate size being revealed (and disappearing again) at inopportune moments, it usually provides more than enough of a challenge for my Motor Rifle Regiment working through its tour.

    I really like umpiring or participating in cooperative games. Vietnam hammer and anvil sweeps provide good scenarios for these, with all players being US or ARVN or Aussie and the VC and NVA being preprogrammed and operated (fairly!) by the umpire. We found that VC players in particular often had little to do in opposed games, so it made sense to automate them. Similarly 18th century siege warfare doesn’t offer much for the besieged force to do usually but the besiegers get to worry about quite a lot, especially with the introduction of a possible relieving force hovering nearby.

    #49781
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Funny, you mention Ogre and Car Wars, my two go-to solo games!

    Arkham Horror is a good co-op game, but also slightly susceptible to over-competitiveness. Technically you can solo it but it’s quite a task to do so.

    Also funny you mention Striker – another old favorite of mine, and pretty, let’s say, “granular.”

    #49783
    Victoria Dickson
    Participant

    B17 is a good one, Ambush too.

    But my all time favourite is Rise and Fall.

    https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3403/rise-and-fall

    You can play solo as the Romans against the barbarians, or cooperatively as the two halves of the Empire.  The Barbarians are repeatedly pressing against the frontier, revolts break out that you can put down or ignore at your risk, all your troops need to be paid for and as you lose provinces your income drops, it’s a constant balancing act.  Lots of different approaches to take keep it fresh, I’ve tried holding the frontier while stamping out revolts, pushing forward to eliminate a frontier such as occupying all of Britain, invasions of Germany or the Middle East to push the frontiers forward to buy more time and increase income, or pulling back to a shorter line that doesn’t cost as much to hold.

    If you ever see a copy at a bring and buy or on ebay I’d highly recommend snapping it up. 

    #49791
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator

    and by personal experience playing against others who are so competitive they ruin the evening even when playing Pandemic, what are your favourite board or table top (war)games for solo play or non-competitive play?

    As noted the Firefly boardgame is good, as is solo play KR 16 and video games…

     

    All three of these have very heavy building components. I can spend many enjoyable hours just creating new vehicles and ships all without rolling a single dic

    I like the building aspect and spend probably 99.9% of my hobby time either making models, painting them, creating background for my rules or thinking about those things.
    Escapism more then gaming in terms of miniatures.
    I get most of my gaming fix from consoles…

    #49792
    PatG
    Participant

    All three of these have very heavy building components. I can spend many enjoyable hours just creating new vehicles and ships all without rolling a single dic

    I like the building aspect and spend probably 99.9% of my hobby time either making models, painting them, creating background for my rules or thinking about those things.
    Escapism more then gaming in terms of miniatures.
    I get most of my gaming fix from consoles…

    While I also enjoy modelling, I was referring more to the design or economics aspects. You have a sub-compact car with so many spaces for components and so many pounds of weight capacity, and a budget of so many dollars. How do you go about balancing these constraints to make an effective or at least interesting design?

    You can use story to drive the process the other way. A courier needs a ship to move a shipping container as far and as fast as possible while retaining enough armament to drive off any pirates. With the cargo as a given, how do you maximize the other factors? What options like fuel scoops or drop tanks will improve performance? Or – perhaps the best solution is to use an unmarked container, ship it commercially and hopes customs doesn’t catch it.

    I find this design meta-game immensely satisfying and I have many, many ships, cars, tanks and space destroyers whose creation I remember fondly but will never see the gaming table. But then I am not normal. 😉

    #49794
    John D Salt
    Participant

    The “Ambush!” series, already mentioned, are a work of sheer quivering genius. The psychological effect of the empty map is considerable, and the programmed enemy is not a pushover. Probably the best solitaire games I have ever met. Victory Games tried an armour game using the same system, “Open Fire!”, which I have, but do not enjoy.

    If you want a solitaire tanky game, my next favourite is Avalon Hill’s “Patton’s Best”, where you take the role of tank commander and give orders to your crew in order to deal with the situations the game throws at you. Challenging, atmospheric, and I think gives as good an idea of what tank commanding is about as one is likely to get from a boardgame.

    SPI did a few solitaire games back in the old-timey times: “Fall of Rome” I think was the first ever purpose-designed solitaire game, then “Operation Olympic”, “Wolfpack”, and “Time Tripper”. “Time Tripper” is a solitaire game for up to four players, and even though it is SF I am prepared to play it for the interesting action points scheme and for the chance of firing an M-72 66mm anti-tank rocket at a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

    Victory Games’ “Tokyo Express” I have, but have not played, because the rules seem to me to be more complex than they should for a WW2 surface naval fight.

    Steve Jackson’s largely forgotten “Raid on Iran” plays well solitaire. One would think that raiding actions would be a natural fit for solitaire games, as a lot depends on achieving surprise, and getting as much stuff done as possible towards winning before the enemy gets a turn — which would be quite boring for an enemy compelled to sit doing nothing until the raiders are detected. I do not have AH’s “Raid on St Nazaire”, but that is a solitaire raiding game. So too is Omega Games “Ranger”, a very different sort of game from the usual run of boardgames, written I believe by people who have been through Ranger School. It shows problems of land navigation, planning, patrolling and reconnaissance that are hardly touched upon in mainstream wargames, using a programmed paragraph format. Lots of it will come naturally to anyone who has ever done a night patrol. Omega Games also do “East Front Solitaire”, obviously rather broader in scope, which I have but still have not played.

    The old Ariel “Sorcerer’s Cave” and similarly-designed “Mystic Wood” are excellent played solitaire — essentially card-based Rougelike games — and multiple players need not enter into direct conflict if they don’t want to (although it is a race). “Castle Panic” and “Red November” are also collaborative fantasy games, and I have both but have yet to play either. “The Creature that Ate Sheboygan” and “Awful Green Things from Outer Space” both play well solitaire, too.

    “B-17 Queen of the Skies” is a game I shall never understand the popularity of, as it consists almost entirely of operating the game by rolling dice and consulting charts. Unlike all the other games mentioned, there are practically no decisions the player has to make. This may not be unrealistic, considered the limited degree of control the pilot of a B-17 in formation has over his fate — in Bridge terms, the player is the dummy, and the game does the decision-making. Possibly an interesting stochastic narrative generator, but a wretchedly bad game.

    So there are quite a few games to choose from, covering individual patrols or tank crews up to the Eastern Front or the collapse of the Roman Empire. All the ones I have played I would say are at least adequate games, with the exception of “B-17 Queen of the Skies”, and “Ambush!”, “Patton’s Best” and “Ranger” are excellent.

    I have a terrible tendency to over-use the “multi-player solitaire” format in games I design myself. “NeverWar” (air defence of the UK in October 1962), “The Moon-Grey Sea” (convoy HX-228), and “Churchill Troop Commander” (each player commands a Churchill tank), all presented at COW, use this format, and a game I designed as an introduction to the logistics modelling course I teach (the Artillery Ammunition Resupply Game, or AARG) is intended as a two-player solitaire game, one player commanding the artillery batteries and the other responsible for the supply trucks and recovery vehicle.

    My current ambition is to devise a set of “solitaire” or “carboard AI” rules for a Firefight-like game so that players can be slotted in to command platoons or troops, or perhaps company or squadron groups, in the context of a larger battle with the “NPC” platoons under the control of the cardboard AI rules. This is probably easier for Warsaw Pact doctrine than it is for NATO.

    All the best,

    John.

    #49795
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Agree with Ambush! being a great games system. I still have all the expansion modules, and Battle Hymn which took the game to the Pacific theatre. Haven’t played it in years though.

    Victory Games ‘Fleet’ series plays well solo too, strange though it may seem. I wanted to love VG’s ‘Carrier’, written as a solo game, but it was far too convoluted to be enjoyable.

    Arkham Horror is a good co-op game, but also slightly susceptible to over-competitiveness. Technically you can solo it but it’s quite a task to do so.

    Eldritch Horror is easier to solo, but it’s still a bit of a slog.

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #49798
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    John, I have to agree with you about B-17 in the gameplay sense. Your decision making is (almost ?) zero – but flying in a box formation to a pre ordained target and back, that is not, as you said, unrealistic. Why did I (and lots of others apparently) enjoy it then?

    I think because:

    when it came out there wasn’t anything else like it (or better) available commercially.

    It was quite neat looking and the mechanics played well, within their limitations.

    It gave you a horrible sinking feeling every time another wave of fighters or flak arrived.

    It passed a fairly short period well enough as you operated the mechanics, and gave a (very small) insight into the horror of having to do that over and over with the maths beginning to make sense to you about your survivability.

    (Playing an Andy Callan bombing campaign game, surviving it, and then throwing percentage dice twenty times (I know!) to see if you survived a tour did much the same at lower cost, but you didn’t have the nice drawings and counters and you couldn’t always rely on having Andy & Co around on a wet Wednesday evening in Macclesfield.)

    #50328
    Russell Phillips
    Participant

    I used to have a copy of Ambush, but haven’t played it for years. I mentioned it to my brother in law at the weekend, and he gave me his copy! 😀

    So now I just have to find time to read the rules, and a spare evening to play. Hopefully it’ll be as good as I remember.

    Military history author
    Website : Twitter : Facebook

    #51299
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    The Lord of the Rings card game from Fantasy flight is purely solo and co-op, and is quite good to boot.
    Heavily thematic and you can get a lot of replay out of it.

    The expansion packs are non-random as well, so there’s no messing around chasing rare cards.

    Actually, the Decipher LOTR card game works wonderfully solo as well, by using the rules you can find on the Boardgamegeek site.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

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