Since starting this blog I think I’m on my fourth attempt at designing a solo-campaign. From an 8 nation micro-modern beast (originally there were 12 nations), to a 6 empire space setting based on Firestorm Armada, all of them have been a challenge to run and enjoy. Although, they have energised me into finding and creating rules, and collecting and painting awesome looking models.
But, the point of solo-gaming to have some games. My previous attempts had more stats and spreadsheets to manage than actually rolling dice. So, in an effort to keep things simple, my current attempt is based in the Battletech universe and focuses on one empire invading a world controlled by another. I was tempted to expand it to include multiple worlds or nations, but I wanted to concentrate on Company-level combat as a minimum.
After finding a really cool map builder, I dusted off my old downloads of Vassal game engine. It’s a fairly powerful tool for mimicking tabletop gaming and there are a plethora of game “modules” to choose from. I had to build my own to get this solo game working, which took some time but it feels and looks far better than trying to run a game using powerpoint!
There have been a few issues, however, mainly in terms of the number of features and balance. I had originally made units that ranged in size from Company to Regiment. This turned out to be too difficult to manage without a file full of spreadsheets! So I’m whittling it down to only Company-sized units. The other features issue is the inclusion of mercenaries, empire-controlled forces, and planetary militia. I also wanted to add an element of realism in that empire forces would only be committed to important or desperate battles, and mercenaries will only work if they know they’re going to make a profit. Unsurprisingly this is yet another tricky thing to manage.
I’ve already whittled down the number of elements I’ve included, but there is still more work to do. With a couple of trial runs done I think I’m near something I could enjoy playing.
I’m also considering exploring a narrative option but the tricky thing there is that I’d fel compelled to write fluff and backstory, which while fun can be quite time consuming; and as I’m finding out at a rapid rate of knots, I do not have a whole lot of spare time!
What I may end up doing is some sort of scenario-based event-tree type game, where winning or losing one game effects what the next game will be, but with a slight narrative twist. They could be easier to set up and manage… I guess we’ll see!