BWS(2012) – Solo Wargaming Mechanic

I’ve been busy for a while with work, wrapping up a large project for work. Now I’m packing to move back to the US from Thailand. Chaos to say the least and I’ve had little time to devote to redesigning BWS. But, it’s always there in the back of my head and I incorporate things I think of every day.

In my initial goals statement, I found it important for the game to be played many ways – competitive, cooperative and solitaire. I’m going to focus mostly on the last element for a bit – solitaire wargaming.

There are some interesting ideas for solo wargames. Two Hour Wargames has a neat system that works pretty well, giving the enemy a reaction to most actions you take. If you fire at an enemy, he’ll fire back. If you run out in the middle of an open area, he’ll likely send you running back for cover.

My idea for solitaire play is informed by the marvelous story game Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker. To give you a rundown of this role playing game, players make a move and then roll some dice. If the result is 6 or less, then the GM puts some difficulty in their way or they take harm. If the result is 7-9, then they sort of get what they wanted, but usually at some price. If the result is 10+ that is a full success.

There are different moves defined in Apocalypse World, from moves that inflict harm to others to moves that set you up for later moves. The results all follow that same <6, 7-9, 10+ methodology but the effects are defined different. For example, one move says: When you do something under fire, roll+cool (this means roll 2d6 and add your “cool” stat)
On a 10+, you do it.
On a 7-9, you flinch or hesitate.

You don’t have to define <6 because the GM has a set of moves they can use for that to make things more difficult for the player. One move says: When you try to seize something by force
On 10+, choose 3 from below:
On 7-9, choose 2 from below:
– you take definite hold of it
– you suffer little harm
– you inflict terrible harm
– you impress, dismay, or frighten your enemy

The first move is interesting as it gives you something more than just a pass or fail for your action. The second move is amazing because it forces you to choose between options, all of which you want. You squirm in your seat when you make your choices because they all matter. I want BWS to feel like that.

The solo mechanic I am considering works like this:

+ You pick an action for a unit. If it has a Mod that enhances that action, you add that to your die roll.
+ You roll d6 and compare to these results:
– 1-2 – Pick 1 Bad Effect
– 3-4 – Pick 1 Bad Effect and 1 Good Effect
– 5+ – Pick 1 Good Effect
– 7+ – Pick 2 Good Effects
+ Select your effects from the table using that which most relates to the action you attempted.

Fire Team Bravo is just out of range of an enemy unit. The player decides on a movement/maneuver action for the unit. The unit has a Mod called “Fleet Feet” which gives an advantage in moving, so he can use this to add one to the die roll.

The player rolls d6, adds his point for the Mod, and looks up his result on the results chart. Let’s say in this case he rolls a 2 on the die and adding one gets a result of 3. Now he must pick 1 Good Effect and 1 Bad Effect. He chooses “You alert the enemy to your location” as his Bad Effect and “Advance to an adjacent Zone” as his Good Effect. Maybe the troops were crashing through the brush noisily to get to the new Zone.

Sample Good Effects for moving/maneuvering:
Advance to an adjacent Zone
Gain a temporary advantage (add 1 to any die roll for this unit for 1 round – track this with a token)
Rout an enemy unit in the Zone (move back to another zone)

Sample Bad Effects:
You alert the enemy to your location
An enemy unit advances in response
Bogged down, you may not move next turn
It takes more time that you planned

There would be many more Effects defined for all actions, but the idea is simple: Roll and pick what happened from a list. This mechanic allows solo play to mimic the back and forth of a multi-player wargame by allowing your failed rolls to count as enemy turns.

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