Here’s a Slaughterpriest with Hackblade and Wrath-hammer that I painted up a while ago. Colour scheme is similar to the standard bloodreaver one.
If you’re contemplating solo wargaming then there is a wealth of information online – some good and interesting. But if like me you’d rather get to grips with a subject by reading a good book then there’s also some available too. There are rules books that contain some options for solo wargaming – and indeed some games have been specifically designed for solo or cooperative games in mind – I’ll cover those in another post. But if you want some rules-agnostic ideas, then here’s some good books to have a look at.
This the granddaddy of books on solo wargaming – a classic by a well-known legend of Wargaming. I have bought the kindle republishing of this by John Curry and found it an interesting read. I have started exploring some of the ideas in the book, which are inspiring, fun and relatively simple. However, this book won’t provide a concise system for solo wargaming – it’s written in a rather meandering conversational style, which is very charming, but also a bit frustrating if you’re wanting to use it as a resource. Also some of the ideas are a bit tricky to apply nowadays – who has loads of matchboxes kicking around for instance!
But I would heartily recommend reading it – and it’s fairly cheaply available.
Another one from the Don – I’ve not read this one – it’s only available in Paperback and I have only just come across it – it’s been reissued by John Curry as well – so perhaps there will be a kindle version at some point as well? From what I can tell it provides 15 historical battle scenarios of actual battles, together with notes on how to play solo. That sounds like a great resource to me.
Has anyone else read it?
This is a more modern book – I think by an American author. From what I have read it seems to be a good resource of different solo methods:
Features methodologies for campaigns (mobilization, weather, logistics, morale, alliances, revolts, sieges, and mutinies), sea campaigns, integrating fantasy, tactical actions (terrain, weather, commander’s competency, concealment, ambushes, and minefields), and air warfare.
It’s in Paperback only though and I haven’t got it – again it would be great to see something as an eBook. I simply don’t have the space to collect loads of printed books!
Previously published as the Military Modelling Guide to Solo Wargaming, this has been taken on by Partizan. Unfortunately, this is also only available as a printed book, but again it does look really useful. I have read on various forums that it is a useful resource. Certainly one for my wish-list!
Well I hope that was useful to somebody. If you know of any other books, or have comments about these, please add in the comments section below.
I have recently been painting some freehand designs on miniatures. This post isn’t about how to paint designs like those, but how to make a fairly standard design look more realistic. I have an Orc archer with a simple quartered design on shield, but I was concerned that it looked a bit flat – it’s quite hard to add highlights to a flat image – well for me anyway!
So I did a bit of Googling and found this great tutorial on how to add realism to shields on the Pinman Miniature Painter blog. The idea is that you can add marks where the shield has suffered damage from people hitting it with swords. It’s quite a simple technique but really adds to the look of it I think.
Here’s what I managed to do as a first attempt on my Orc archer.
It’s pretty simple to do – you add some brown and off-white lines, but looks quite good I think! For how to do it see Pinman’s tutorial!
Here’s my paint job of the Grey Seer that was part of the Legends of the Skaven Made to Order from Games Workshop a while ago.
My new short story Mars Incorporated is out now and will be free on Amazon until Saturday!!
Mars Incorporated by Mark Lord
Earth’s colonization of the red planet, Mars, was supposed to be the crowning glory of human civilization. Instead the small colony on Mars is in trouble. After the death of one of the colonists CJ Douglas, hero of the Moon and founder of Lunar Alpha Base is sent to investigate.
Mars incorporated is a 4,000-word science fiction short story.
Available as an eBook from:
In the fourth volume of Stonehearted, For a Heart Made of Stone, the action shifts to the chateau of Saint-Pol. The Count of Saint-Pol is one of the villains of the story and is holding a tournament, which provides the backdrop for the action.
When I looked into Saint-Pol, I found that it was difficult to get much detail about the castle (it’s now just a ruin) but eventually I came across some good websites that gave me enough to form an impression of the place – and gave me some ideas that contributed to the narrative.
An article on the Flags of the World website about Saint-Pol is perhaps the best historical description of the town and castle. If you read you will see that the castle is divided into an old and new castle – and its the old castle bailey that I use in For a Heart Made of Stone to locate the tournament put on by the Count. The new castle is the location for much of the action. In particular the Wiki Pas-de-Calais site describes the layout in detail (in French – but you can translate using Google!). In particular notice the large round tower used as dungeons – they play a prominent part in the book! Below you can see a great plan of the castle and also an artist’s impression of the new castle. Only a few ruins remain now.
This is a battle report of a small Hundred Years War skirmish I played with the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Games rules. I also tried out one of the simplest of solo wargaming techniques to add a bit of AI to the game.
Solo Wargaming method: Random Deployment
In Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming book he recommends a number of different techniques to create a more interesting challenge for the solo wargaming. I’m going to call this a solo wargaming AI method as shorthand in this and other articles (until I come up with something better!)
One of the simplest methods he recommends is to randomise deployment of each force. You roll a d6 for each unit and that determines where they deploy. The battlefield is split into 5 sections:
- Right flank
- Right Centre
- Left Centre
- Left Flank
Each has a number (1-5). If you roll a 6 then that unit is in reserve. The theory with this method is that a lot of the tactics employed by an army will be determined by it’s deployment. For instance if a lot of units are on a flank or flanks then an envelopment will be a good strategy.
I tried this out with the game I played – and will describe how that worked below.
Middle Earth Strategy Battle Games for Historical Medieval games
I used the fan made Age of Trebuchet rules supplement to enable me to play an historical game using the Middle Earth SBG rules. I know the rules well and I think they are great for skirmish level games – nice and simple but with a lot of tactical decisions to make. I found the Age of Trebuchet supplement easy to use and it gave some flavour of a medieval battle.
Battle Report: Hundred Years War skirmish
I didn’t give the game any historical or fictional background. The forces were roughly equal, but I didn’t work out points. The aim was to use the figures I had available. So from the pictures you may notice that many of them are Wars of the Roses or Feudal era – I wasn’t so worried about that. And as it was a quick game to test out some rules and a solo wargame AI method I wasn’t too fussed about terrain – a simple green baize cloth, some trees, bushes and paper buildings sufficed. You will also notice that this is an oval kitchen table – 5 foot by 3 – but some of the flanks are minimal, but it works for a skirmish level game at 28mm.
- Sir Gilbert – hero on foot
- 8 men-at-arms
- 8 longbowmen
- 4 billmen
- Sir Guillaume – hero on horse
- 3 mounted men-at-arms
- 4 foot men-at-arms
- 10 crossbowmen
- 7 heavy infantry – mixed weapons
Deployment – how did the method work?
Random deployment worked out in an interesting and lopsided way in this skirmish game – there were only 4 units on one side and 3 on the other. The English men-at-arms deployed as a reserve and the other two units were widely spaced as you can see below.
In contrast the French deployed mostly on one flank – with the crossbows in the middle. As hoped this lead to influencing the subsequent strategy quite a bit. Without this random deployment I would have probably deployed most of the forces in the centre and the flanks might well have been ignored.
The French started off by sending their men-at-arms around the flank to see off the longbowmen. There was an exchange of fire – with one longbowman dying. The small unit of English billmen started their march towards the hamlet. The French infantry marched behind the crossbows towards the small wood behind the hamlet.
The French men-at-arms started getting closer to the longbows – who used their half move each turn to retreat and then fire. They only got one of the French cavalry though. The English men-at-arms could now enter the battle as there had been an exchange of fire.
Here you can see the English moving through the hamlet.
Moments before contact. The French men-at-arms are about to charge the longbows. The French infantry are on the other side of the wood from the English.
Sir Gilbert and his men-at-arms decide that the protection of the bushes and hedges might be a good idea when faced with sustained crossbow fire and the French knights!
After a couple of rounds of combat the longbows were seen off by the French knights. Sir Gilbert and some of his men went to attack the French foot men-at-arms and the others went to support the billmen who had engaged the French infantry in the woods. The loss of most of the longbows and some of the billmen meant that the English were now broken (needing to make courage tests as over half had died). Unfortunately Sir Gilbert and many of his men decided to flee the field, leaving only four brave men of St George left to face the massed French. At this point I decided the battle was over! Here’s the ending positions – even the crossbows decided to up sticks and move to get a better position to fire from.
I thought that the Middle Earth rules worked well for a medieval skirmish game – probably with some more miniatures on the field it could have been a better game perhaps. I also felt that I had let down the longbowmen by leaving them exposed to the French knights – they should have found the cover of the hedges next to the hamlet.
Random deployment worked well as a simple method of creating solo wargame AI – I would definitely use it again. It would be interesting to use it for a game with more units.
I will try to look at a different solo wargame AI methods next time!
There is no better time to think about how to play solo wargames. Unfortunately due to the Covid 19 crisis many people who used to meet up to game – whether RPGs, boardgames or wargames – can no longer do so. There’s a few different alternatives, such as playing computer/console games instead, or trying out various online solutions – for instance Tabletop Simulator, Roll20, Zoom etc. But just because those options are there doesn’t make them easy to use or a replacement for getting a physical game out. In particular tabletop wargaming with miniatures is much harder to do remotely.
So I expect a lot of wargamers are instead having a think about how to play solo. I actually do this anyway, as under normal circumstances I only venture out to a wargames club once a month anyway. I really enjoy playing solo. It’s a great way to try out new rules for instance, but is also great if you want to run your own scenarios and campaigns without constraint from the whims and desires of others. Solo wargaming is ideally suited to creating your own imaginations and narrative games. So far that’s not something I have done a lot of, but I think now would be a great place to start. I am hoping to post some ideas and experiences here on a regular basis – partly battle reports of trying out different rules, but also some tips and advice on how to run a solo game. For instance how do you make things “fair” – and is that important at all or not.
Some subjects to cover will be:
- Different “rules” for solo
- Reviews of books/articles on solo wargaming
- Games designed for solo play
- Benefits of solo wargaming
- Battle reports of solo wargames
- How to stay motivated (avoiding distractions!)
- And plenty more …
I usually play one solo game a week – usually early Sunday morning on the dining room table before it is in use by the family. Last Sunday I played Rangers of Shadow Deep for the first time and had a lot of fun with it. Once I have played it a bit more I will post an article about it. This weekend I would like to try a Medieval skirmish using the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Games rules. There are some fan versions available that convert it for use for Medieval games, so I am going to try those out. Hopefully I will post some pictures and a battle report here next week.
I have published a new fantasy fiction novella in eBook format available over at Amazon. Holiday with the Orcs is a tongue-in-cheek fantasy adventure and collects together all the Holidays in Orkrania posts that I put up previously. I have edited it and changed the title to make it a bit more comprehensible! Have fun reading it. Here’s some more information:
Prince Hardlee has arranged a holiday in the Orkranian highlands. The mountains are supposed to be lovely at this time of year. But there is the added attraction of his favourite actress, half-elven Maegana Vulpon, who is vacationing at the temple of eternal youth in Nstaad. But the King, Hardlee’s father, does not approve of the relationship choices of his only son and heir, forcing the Prince to travel in disguise.
Traitors lurk in Nstaad for Hardlee. An uncle who with eyes on the throne has learnt of the Prince’s destination and dispatched a band of cutthroats. Other dangers lurk in the Orkranian highlands. Orc raiders covet the wealth of the village of Nstaad. The Dwarf miners who work there have uncovered deposits of gold. The Orc chief Grim Bearit wants that gold. Can a mixed band of princely retainers, halfling inn-keepers, dwarven miners, elven priests and actors resist the Orc raid?
For lovers of old-style fantasy and Oldhammer everywhere.
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of this new fantasy fiction novella.
This is a pretty niche post – so apologies to the rest of the world – but if the two Venn diagrams of WFRP and RPGGeek align for you then this might be of interest!
I’ve played a number of games on RPGGeek – basically its a way of playing tabletop RPGs but by posting on a forum – great if you don’t have the regular time to commit to a face to face session or an online Roll20/Fantasy Grounds/Skype session etc. I’ve had a lot of fun with it and have started GMing a few games as well.
The last one I did was for WFRP 1e, but I realised that not having a character sheet online for everyone made it a lot more difficult to manage – it involved me having to dig out the PDFs people had sent me and then asking them to update them etc. So now I’m running a game for WFRP 4e I decided it was essential to have the character sheets online – and that meant creating a template! That was hard work as formatting stuff for a forum post is not the easiest thing to do, but I had a look at other templates and managed it in the end.
So it’s done – it’s not perfect. But it can be accessed here: WFRP 4e Character Template for RPGGeek
To see some in action check out these real life ones from my current campaign: Starter Set Character sheets