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MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2012 1:38 p.m. PST

I`m interested in producing a solo module for my Napoleonic wargames rules, Grand Manouevre.
I have some ideas about this should be done, but I do have very little experience of solo gaming !

So, absolutely ANY pointers or advice will be welcome here; from general remarks on how you prefer to play your own games to your particular views on the best types of mechanisms to use.

The command and control levels represented in the rules spans from Army CinC to brigade-level.
Thanks in advance of this, I look forward to any help you can provide.

Regards,

Mike.

John de Terre Neuve Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2012 1:42 p.m. PST

Having played a lot of solo wargaming a critical component is some automation. I would recommend card utilization.

John

MajorB21 Jan 2012 2:08 p.m. PST

I have never had any problem playing any set of rules solo. No need for special "solo" rules.

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2012 2:11 p.m. PST

Margard
So then, I guess that you alternate, playing each side and making the best decisions for both?

Angel Barracks21 Jan 2012 2:37 p.m. PST

I have played solo with rules that simulate fog of war and I have played solo with rules that do not.

Those that do seem better suited to solo play in my experience.

M C LeSingeDew21 Jan 2012 2:49 p.m. PST

Agree with AB!

Yes, you can play any game solo by simply playing each side, but you will seldom be surprised by your opponent's cunning plan.

Solo/co-op designed games will provide greater challenges.

MajorB21 Jan 2012 3:25 p.m. PST

So then, I guess that you alternate, playing each side and making the best decisions for both?

Depends on the rules, not all are IGOUGO. But yes I play each side. How else can you play solo?

I am continually surprised how my best laid plans are thwarted in unexpected ways by my opponent…

Personally, I blame the fickle dice!

Calico Bill21 Jan 2012 3:49 p.m. PST

I usually use an attack/defense scenario and I 'play' the attacker. While I make logical moves for the defender, I also give him a +1 on die rolls. This is usually enough for a very close game with me being clever & my opponent being lucky!

le Grande Quartier General21 Jan 2012 4:03 p.m. PST

My very general suggestions would be:

For tactical decisions- At the outset of the game make two or more battle plans for each side, each with a differnt purpose or objective, based on a backstory. Issue orders as your ruleset requires with objectives and exact starting locations for each battle element, for each side, which then have the ability to change in specific ways based on particular events (you can do A, B, or C, but not D,if…). An event could be a grand-tactical or tactical action by the other side(or the same side, such as the arrival of reinforcements). Pick one plan for each without knowing which one. Set up the side you want to play based on the one chosen, then look at the 'enemy's' plan, and set it up as deliniated. Play away. This is a lot like the C3 concept, developed by Scott Sutherland. I would say it would be worth taking a look at his system as you think about developing your own.

For strategic decisions: I have mused about writing out a 'picture' of the situation from the standpoint of each side, which includes the information and possibilities the 'commander' would be aware of (you could have fun with what was, or was not, included in these briefs).
Then, publishing them to a blog/website/message board, and inviting all interested parties to submit a plan of action based on what they know-no clarifications allowed- as an intellectual exercise. Form your own plan, issue movement orders, then pick the best submission and put it into effect. Repeat as needed to make 'your' plans as hard to achieve as possible!


One thing I have found is that I personally find too much random decision is less enjoyable as a solo gamer than deliberatly assessing things from the standpoint of 'the other side' and making moves/decisions based on what would be the worst thing to happen to 'my side'!

14Bore21 Jan 2012 4:57 p.m. PST

That's all I get to play is solo Napoleonic's using Empire 3. It's rare I get to both sides in any day and playing multiple Corps often see things one day didn't see the previous. I've been thinking of using a random card system if only to throw in surprises but I haven't done it yet. The harder part is to play umpire in a solo game to iron out situations that come up.

TheCount Inactive Member21 Jan 2012 7:35 p.m. PST

I've not played solo Napoleonics but this may work for some players, just as a basic concept:

1) Set up each army as if you were in command of either one.

2) Use a secret ownership mechanism, to reveal at end of game which army was "yours". Perhaps simply a card from a normal deck, reds are the enemy, blacks are "yours", kept face down.

3) Play the game with whatever rules you prefer, and, not knowing which army is "yours", play to the best of your ability for each one! Allow for the unavoidable randomness of dice/cards, of course.

4) At end of game, reveal the ownership card. Cheer loudly if your army was the winner, sulk mightily if you lost but vow to return and fight again another day.

5) Pack up, stay at home grin

pbishop1221 Jan 2012 11:04 p.m. PST

Most of my games are played solo. I'm now on assignment overseas, but prior to that, I played General de Brigade solo for a few years. And probably a dozen others over the years. Never a problem with any set of rules I chose. Just set 'em up and play 'em.

Doctor Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member22 Jan 2012 9:49 a.m. PST

I play solo Naps using the C+C card system but each side has to play the next card instead of having a choice of multiple cards.

This is a great Fog of war concept and leads to some very good games

So I agree with AB Fog of war is a must

Whirlwind22 Jan 2012 10:13 a.m. PST

I mostly play solo and really enjoy it. Normally I use the Polemos rules, basically randomize the tempo bids and that works really well.

Since you are designing specific solo rules, I would take advantage of that to emphasize the 'you are the general' experience. For example:

Your ruleset is primarily aimed at the level where the commander is a divisional commander – right? So give divisional type missions and introduce the fog of war at the appropriate level. The troops are given to me, not picked by me. I won't know how strongly positions are held until I reconnoitre them, I won't neccesarily know the quality of the troops I'm facing, or the abilities or lack of them of the opposing commander. I won't know what is over the hill. I won't know if the enemy is going to be reinforced or not. And I will have to judge when my mission has become impossible.

So if I was designing a solo game, I would design it so I played one player against the game, rather than the more familiar be one general then the other system.

Regards

Personal logo rampantlion Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2012 4:18 p.m. PST

I want my solo rules to give some fog of war on movement and on troops receiving or acting upon orders.

Allen

14Bore22 Jan 2012 4:42 p.m. PST

The other thing is in my games results continue to next; units that take a lot of casualties (I allow about 1/4 to return) might have to combine battalions. Units get a small bonus for flag captures or beating a superior force of quality.A loss of a point for most likely bad rolls and running away. So besides playing any guard units the indifferent quality can lead to a lot of uncertain situations

Deserter23 Jan 2012 7:33 a.m. PST

I play mainly solo… here are some mechanisms I use…

1) draw a card from a deck, red is you, black is the NPO (Non Player Opponent). This is used to determine who has the initiative in that turn and / or who activates one of his units (for moving, shooting, morale etc). You can go further and assign a card (K,Q,J,A, numbers) to a determinate unit, and activate it when that card is drawn.

2) random composition of forces: make some cards each with one or more units, then draw 1,2,3,4 or more cards for you and the same number for the NPO; you can place each card face down on the table and then uncover them, for a random deployment effect.

3) table of reactions for the NPO; write down some common actions (like 1-2 = "move forward" 3 = "fire", 4 = "charge" 5 = "rally" 6 = "do nothing" ) and roll one D6 for each unit when it is their turn… you can do tables for different units and situations…

4) random game duration: after a determinate nr. of turns (for example 8) roll 1D6 and with a 5,6 the day is over. If you reached the victory conditions (for example take the village, or kill 1/3 of enemy units) you won… otherwise you loose..

5) the simplest solo mechanism: play the rules as they are, but subtract -1 to every die roll of the playing opponent… this balances the advantage of knowing what the NPO will do…

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2012 4:19 a.m. PST

Thanks Gentlemen,
Some interesting replies!
Particularily in favour of fog of war effects and not knowing the enemy`s plan.
I do have an idea or two to keep this from the soloist player, but there may still be an option to have the player determine more likely responses for subordinate non-player generals at least – i think there will then be less chance of unrealistic or randomly crazy decisions by the enemy `s forces.

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP05 Feb 2012 11:54 a.m. PST

Progress report re: solo rules module for Grand Manoeuvre

I`ve been bashing some ideas around on and off for a week or two now…

I was thinking of using cards to determine orders, but this would require so many card with variants of orders and multiples of these to determine the probablities that I feel would be easier to use charts and die rolls with
modifiers for the circumstances.
Some existing command and control rules will be integrated into this module; like general`s initiative die rolls and others will require some expansion like national systems & battle arrays in which the probablities of options at various times in the period will need to be determined.
Hence I`m finding that the recent discussion on columns of attack on TMP relevant and interesting.

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2012 4:19 a.m. PST

Over the past couple of weeks I have been testing the solo module for Grand Manoeuvre.

However for the first test, I decided to use Shako rules, which uses an alternate movement of divisions.
The battle chosen for the test was Raab, 1809. We used the scenario from "Fields of Glory".
To speed the process I had the help of Andy Crofton, an experienced Shako player
to play the Archduke John, who commanded the Austrian army and on behalf of the non-player, I controlled the French.

To begin with the set up of the battle went quite well.
The general posture of the French army was "advancing" and specific orders for each of the French commands (the infantry divisions and cavalry brigades) were determined. By default, a battle plan emerged which was very similar to the actual historical one; Severoli`s divison from d`Hilliers Corps was on hold, Durutte`s divison had orders to engage, and Seras division was given assault orders. Durutte`s division was therefore supporting the advancing left flank of Seras`s divison.
On the French right, Montbrun commanding two brigades of light cavalry was given assault orders to attack on the Austrian cavalry opposite them and Guerin`s dragoons were to support their crossing of the Pancza stream.

Randomizing the choice of commands to move on the French, non-player side, but allowing the soloist a free reign on which he moved first was not such a good idea however, because it made it all too easy for the soloist; there was, in effect no initiative for the non-player.

Even though I moved the French commands in a rather detached manner, I found it quite frustrating that the battle did not flow in the way that it should have done; especially when a traffic jam developed at the bridge at the southern end of the battlefield where 3 French commands were either held up by loss of initiative to the Austrian player or the "initiative" fell to commands at the
back of the congested columns!
However, in the course of the game a fix was made for Shako play; and that was that the battlefield would be split into sectors (flanks and centre), or missions and diced for and so that a priority would be given to assaulting divisions or brigades, rather than give the initiative to supporting commands.
This fix was to apply to the player side as well.

The exact historical arrival of French reserves was unknown to Andy as French player:

Left Wing:
Sahuc extreme left at 12:00
Baden Brigade rear, left at 16:00
Reserve:
Pully (Cavalry) rear, right at 12:30
Royal Guard rear, centre/left at 14:00
Pachtod rear, centre/right at 14:00

These were given orders at their time of arrival on the battlefield and were sent to the area they were most needed. The easiest solution here would be to have the soloist make the best decision for the non-player side.
Sahuc was ordered to engage Besan`s cavalry which had moved across to threaten Severoli`s division.
The Italian Guard was sent to fill the gap between that had appeared between Severoli and Durutte.
Pacthod`s division was ordered to assault Kis-Megyer farmhouse after Seras`s division had run into difficulties it's morale had to be tested twice in the game.

Because of the command and control rules, and apart from difficulties in giving it the initiative, there were in the course of the game a number of disadvantages, for the non-player side.
Firstly in using rules that determine fixed battle arrays. Using Shako was perhaps a mistake, because it is based upon divisional manouevre elements but does not lend itself easily to the organisations of brigades in battle lines
within divisions.
I believe the clues to how a non-player side should be arrayed are to be found in the composition of brigade components within a division or command (some easily noted examples of this are to be found in typical French divisional systems of 1805 and also in the reformed Prussian brigade regulations of 1812).
It is probably best therefore that my next test of the solo module will be using Grand Manoeuvre rules. Most importantly; and the distinction to be made is that
GM would make it difficult for player and non-player alike to make partial advances by battalions and regiments out of the line or out of their battle arrays.

To end on a positive note, the method of determining corps, and divisional orders working quite well and afterwards the calculation for determining each infantry division's orders was shortened by one step.
Some more additional points need to be added now to the module`s "assault" and "engage" orders to determine formations within each line of battle.

More will follow that will relate to playing Grand Manoeuvre and more importantly with the command decisions made through-out using those rules alone.

Grand Manoeuvre yahoogroup:

link

rules available from:

link


mike.

Jagger Inactive Member24 Mar 2012 2:12 p.m. PST

The problem with solo play is predictability/lack of surprises.

The best set of rules I have used for solo has been Piquet. The card driven activity activation and random events produces an enjoyable solo game full of surprises and lack of predictability. I can actually play both sides to their best advantage and still not predict a winner. LeFeu Sacre card command activation produces similiar results but since the cards only activate commands rather than actions, it is not quite as good for solo play.

Personal logo Sparker Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2012 3:33 p.m. PST

Agreed that so long as a rules system is IGOUGO, that is all you really need for solo play. I would add an element of fast play helps with not overheating the Brain, hence I use Black Powder.

As for the opfor's tactical options, these can be boiled down to 3 choices; left flanking, right flanking, or straight down the middle. If you add to that the option of forming a grand battery, feinting, and crumbling attacks all along the line to see what emerges, then you can decide his grand tactical plan on the roll of a D6. (After you have made you cunning plan, of course!)

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2012 2:51 a.m. PST

Jagger,
Right, surprise and predictability; that are elements that I`m interested in balancing in the module.

But, I am concerned that an unrealistic randomness should not creep in to an automated, non-player`s "decisions" – what I`m aiming for, is for the non-player`s plan to develop, or emerge out of changes in situation, rather, than it be predetermined by the player. The automated non-player should have some ability to give the player a game!

Sparker,
I`m use simulatenous movement in GM, so what I think i`m moving towards is a slightly different approach in determining the non-player`s movement and "decisions" and for instance, as a result some grand-tactical moves might be used by the non-player (if conditions allow; suitable cover, lack of visibilty, and threat distances) and this may produce tactical problems for the player.

Anyhow I`ll keep you posted here… I intend to test the initiative rules in the next play test.

regards,

mike.

Maxshadow Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2012 3:25 a.m. PST

Suggest you consider the reserve for the non players moves.
The releasing of reserves to prop up a loosing flank or reinforce an attack would really add to the drama of the game.

desmondo25 Mar 2012 4:32 a.m. PST

I think there are a lot of good systems for getting the basic orders in place for solo wargames, so I will not comment on these any further.

I recommend what I call "spanner in the works" rules, throwing in a bit of last minute changes to the capability of a unit just as it comes into contact. I use a simple up/down die role just as units come into combat the first turn.

I do this, because you can never quite get over the knowledge that you already have in your brain that your French Column should happily break through that Prussian Line. Introducing this simple variable gives the Human Player a bit of uncertainty. In this case, your up/down die roll has increased the Prussian line to veteren status (or similar) and that your column faces a tougher fight than it expected.

In my case I use GdB rules and I concentrate on the morale side, so I use the up/down rule to impact the game at the morale level. Typically an up role allows a unit to be classed as Enthusiastic, a down to 2nd Line.

Great fun and adds that flavour in a solo game.

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2012 4:39 a.m. PST

hi desmondo,

In Grand Manoeuvre`s combat rules there one single die roll per unit and this gives an effect similar to the one you mention.
However, the chance of an additional bonus in combat is based on unit class; and so units in the game make their own luck!

regards,

mike.

desmondo25 Mar 2012 12:37 p.m. PST

I like that – nice to have it built into the rules.

kerpob Inactive Member11 Apr 2012 2:15 p.m. PST

Second Piquet. You never know how a turn will play out. Also, keep the rules simple and expandable, as there will be no disagreement between players, but the player may want their own modifications as suits their personality (and since they're playing solo, they may well have strong opinions that preclude other players anyway…)

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP08 Jul 2012 11:48 a.m. PST

Just returning to update you all,

The rules now fall into two main sections:

1. Generating orders for the command within the non-player`s army given its posture (attacking/defending).

2. Determining the non-player`s reactions given certain changes of tactical and grand-tactical situation.

I have also draughted some chance events to be applied to both sides. These are either to be diced for, and/or selected by the drawing of cards I`ve not decided upon which is best for that yet; it just needs to be unpredictable.

Is anyone interested in testing these for me and maybe applying to their own favoured rule sets?

arthur181508 Jul 2012 1:10 p.m. PST

I'd be interested, though I must state I use much simpler tactical rules for my games.

Imperial Guard Miniatures08 Jul 2012 5:13 p.m. PST

Im in to. I have 2 or 3 rule sets i would be willing to try them on. I might try C&C after trying your rules.

Steve6408 Jul 2012 11:47 p.m. PST

One thing I enjoy about playing against other humans is the part where you are trying to work out their intentions and hidden plans, and then adapt accordingly.

For solo gaming, this may work well if you played 1 side only, and did not know what the opponent's intentions and victory conditions were at the start of the game.

If you had a number of different card decks to control the opposition .. from highly aggressive to defensive, and then choose one at random to control the opponent for the whole game.

The victory conditions are unknown at the start of the game, but can be inferred from the enemy's actions.

In a aggressive deck, they may push relentlessly forward and call up reserve and off-table flank march troops. The unknown victory condition may be then to hold a part of your line, or some prominent terrain feature for a number of turns.

On the other hand, if the enemy appears to be fighting a delaying action whilst pulling back, the unknown victory condition may be to achieve a rapid breakthrough on their position within a certain timeframe.

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP09 Jul 2012 1:45 a.m. PST

OK Gents,

I`ll be sending these to you presently if you let me have you email addy`s by personal messaging here …and when my supporting membership comes down the internet pipeline.

Although, I`m designing these rules as a solo player controlling one side, putting both sides on "auto" may be a good option to test of the rules – I understand that some people do this in their solo games already.

"Aggressiveness" of commanders may be a modifier. I`ve allowed for bold and cautious so far, but players may add that if they wish to particular historical commanders or at random if playing a "pick-up game".

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP09 Jul 2012 3:36 a.m. PST

Things I like so far with the suggestions are:

[1] card deck activated initiative,

[2] unknown unit grade untill first contact,

[3] unknown choice from multiple "card decks" being used to define and control the NPO's aggressiveness and objectives,

[4] card deck controlled activation of enemy reserves, &

[5] card deck alteration of movement direction.

Thank you all for these suggestions which might also be included in live opponent games.
.
.
.

You have left out a very important option that I would use when playing a solo game. At my age and normal level of sobrity, I forget so quickly that every move is a new beginning!

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2012 3:41 a.m. PST

Arthur,
I`ve emailed the rules to your addy listed at the Grand Manoeuvre yahoogroup.
Mike.

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2012 5:40 a.m. PST

If anyone else wants a copy to read and maybe to try out then please private message me, or drop me a line here.

Regards,

Mike.

Marcus Maximus Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2012 1:37 p.m. PST

Michael I would like a copy – trajanicATgmailDOTcom Many thanks

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2012 6:21 a.m. PST

Just to give you all some more of an idea of how i`m approaching this, I`ve a list of situations in which the player himself could be making mistakes and how the non-player side may then take advantage.
For this, I have asked people to provide examples of player`s/general`s tactical mistakes and here`s the list so far:

i) Player is making isolated piece-meal attacks on the non-player's line of battle.

ii) The player has adopted massive formations and large concentrations of troops in one area; a) contiguous columns, b) in divisional columns by lines, c) in colonne vuide.

iii) Player has an "open flank" and has neither cavalry support, nor a visible reserve within 5 moves distance.

iv) Player's infantry attacks are not supported with artillery.

v) Player's cavalry attacks against infantry in squares are not supported with artillery.

vi) Player has taken up an untenable position (e.g. on the wrong side of a river.

vii) Player's forces are outnumbered.

viii) Player's forces are outmatched/outclassed.

ix) Player's forces are out-gunned and exposed to enemy fire.

x) Player's forces are disadvantaged in operating in a given terrain type.

xi) Player's forces are disadvantaged by weather conditions advance is slowed by mud/snow and visibility is limited.

xii) Player's forces are disorganised after combat in a village/town.

xiii) Player's forces are isolated and surrounded by enemy units.

xiv) Player's forces are making unprepared assaults on fortifications.

If I have already sent you a copy of the rules so far, you`ll have an idea of how each case will be treated and how the non-player`s options would be determined.


Mike.

le Grande Quartier General18 Jul 2012 9:23 a.m. PST

I like it so far Mike. The decision making process as laid out so far in the working copy is very usable. Big plus is the framework being designed in a way that makes it fairly easy to adapt to rulesets other than GM as well.
Would the above be something like a "Non-Player Opportunity Assessment Phase"?

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2012 10:48 a.m. PST

Thanks Robert,
In my own rules this would take place in the phase during which orders are issued by CinC`s and subordinate general`s may test their initiative.
These initiatives and player reactions take place simultaneously in GM, but if playing solo, it would be best if the player was to make his own reactions first and not to know in advance, within each turn, what the "non-player" plans to do.

le Grande Quartier General19 Jul 2012 8:28 a.m. PST

Right-on.

Dave Crowell20 Jul 2012 5:46 a.m. PST

I remember a very simple, yet challenging, AI for the Ogre board game back in the day. It was a simple deck of cards, attack left, move forward, advance right, hold possition, etc. there were IIRC one or two of each maneuver and one "attack rear". The deck was shuffled and one card removed face down. Each Ogre turn the top card was drawn and executed. Removing one card from the deck meant you were never absolutely certain of its composition.

Commands&Colours works well as an AI because there are sufficient numbers of cards in the deck that it is hard to predict what your opponent has.

For me uncertainty is the key to solo gaming. If I know the exact strength, orders, and plan of the enemy it is less interesting than playing against an opponent with some capacity to surprise me.

tshryock20 Jul 2012 5:23 p.m. PST

I've used Piquet, its successor, Field of Battle and also used C&C cards. All work fairly well. I've been working on some campaign level solo rules that I've tested out. Next up will be something similar for the tabletop.

Here's the link to my campaign rules:
link

le Grande Quartier General20 Jul 2012 6:15 p.m. PST

hi, you need a different link :)

thedrake21 Jul 2012 2:11 a.m. PST

MICHAEL COLLINS,

Mind emailing me a copy of your rules mod please?

the drake 70458 at yahoo dot com

Wsnt able to PM you here.

Thx,
Mark

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2012 10:07 a.m. PST

Will do Mark.

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2012 10:21 a.m. PST

I`ve just posted the solo rules in the files section of my yahoogroup this is still a work in progress i must add, but they`re there if you want to see them.
The group is at:

link

Message me, or reply here if you`re not into joining the group, but would like a copy.

Mike.

le Grande Quartier General24 Sep 2012 6:31 a.m. PST

Looking forward to it when I get home, Michael- I'm on a somewhat restricted computer today. I purchased a download of the rules last week, so I wouldn't feel as if I was taking advantage of your investment of time and efforts! I know they will be very helpful to me…
Rob

MichaelCollinsHimself Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2012 7:23 a.m. PST

Many thanks for that Rob !

tshryock24 Sep 2012 2:12 p.m. PST

Corrected link from my earlier post:

link

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