Saturday, 8 February 2014

Maurice For One

It’s probably obvious to anyone who reads this blog that I play a lot of solo games. This is mostly because, whilst I have a willing family, many of my games are spontaneous decisions, and playing solo means I don’t have to organise anyone else and teach them the rules; I can have an idea, set it up and play all in my own time and at my own pace.

The problem is, of course, that not all games suit solo play, and that includes some games I like. I prefer to play both sides, being as fair as I can (and I’m pretty good, even if I do say so myself), so don’t go for any special solo mechanisms. This means that I generally play the game ‘straight out of the box’, as it were. So games which have mechanisms where one player has information hidden from the other don’t really fare too well. Of my favourites these include Memoir ’44, Battle Cry and Maurice. Now I have played the former two games solo, trying to ‘forget’ what cards the opponent has, and it’s been useful in trying out scenarios, but I have never found it satisfying. Maurice, however, is really driven by the cards, but I’d like to find a way of playing something which captures the experience but which doesn't have a hand of cards for each player (where ‘each player’ means ‘two different versions of me’*).

I propose to try the following.

Armies will be built as normal, with National advantages. I know they are cards as well, but really they are just information. Terrain and scenario setup can be run as normal.

Neither side gets a hand of cards. Instead they get a number of Command Points. These can be tracked on paper, or with counters. The Attacker gets 8 points, the Defender 5 and a Great Captain +2. A player may never end a turn with more than 10 Command points.

The turn sequence is the same as before, but there are no modifiers and interrupts. This obviously loses a feature of the game, but I can’t really see a way around it. The basic flow of the game should be the same, which is what is important.

After the Volley Phase, the Active Player declares their action. The player may not declare an action which they could not legally order with the Command Points they currently have. They then receive new Command Points based on their choice:

Event – 0
Charge – 0
March – 1
Rally – 2
Bombard – 2
Pass - 3

Activating a group within four base widths costs 1 Command Point. For every extra four, or part of four, base widths the the General is from the group to be activated, the player must pay an extra Command Point.

At the end of the activation the general may be moved, at a cost of 1 Command Point.

Charge, March, Rally, Bombard and Pass are unchanged from the rules.

If a player chooses to declare an Event, they spend between 1 and 3 Command Points (player's choice). For each point they spend they roll 1 dice, and refer to the table below. If more than 1 dice has been rolled, the player chooses which roll they wish to have; only one roll will ever apply.

1 – Gain 4 Command Points, or take 1 Command Point from opponent and add it to your total.
2 – Enemy must discard 2 Command Points
3 – Activate any two groups within 12 of the General; each group may either March or Rally OR Activate one group (with any order) to which you have a valid command path, regardless of distance from the General.
4 – Choose one enemy unit; you can choose to have that unit either make a valid March move or Charge.
5 – Automatically remove all DISR from one friendly unit OR gain a Rally Advantage which enables you to add 1 to all Rally rolls the next time you declare a Rally action.
6 – Gain a Combat Advantage. You may hold up to three of these. If the enemy has one or more Combat Advantages, then yours is automatically expended to make them discard one of theirs (so only one player can ever hold Combat Advantages). A Combat advantage can otherwise be spent to: Gain a +1 on all Infantry firing in a particular Volley Phase, give a +1 to all Artillery firing in a Bombard action, give a +1 to all Infantry units involved in a Charge where you are the Active player or give a +2 to all Cavalry involved in a Charge in which you are the Active player.

Note: I have set up all of the events so that they either happen in the Active player's turn. If playing both sides in a solo game, it is best if only the active side is the one actually making decisions.

I have no idea if any of this will work in practice; it will certainly give a game that lacks some of the swings of fortune of the card-driven one, because of the lack of interrupts and modifiers. But it should capture the essence of the game and have the same ebb and flow. I will have to set up a game and try it out, but I can't see that happening this weekend.

Comments and criticism are welcome.

*Two different gamer versions; there are two different versions of me, but one is far too obsessed with shoes to do much in the way of wargaming ;)


  1. Have always wondered what Maurice was?
    So I've gone and had a look, I see I can get the rules as a PDF for a reasonable price.
    I think I shall investigate further.
    As always I enjoy reading your blog. Pity you aren't in Brisbane!

    1. There is a Lite version of the game you can download for free. It is very much driven by the cards, though, and they are really an essential feature of the game. My pondering in this post are more about playing the game solo, but it's something I'd still prefer face to face.

      Not sure I'd want to live in Brisbane - Wollongong is too warm and windy for me :)

  2. Just caught up with the blog. Your solo variant sounds interesting. I also like your battle cry square grid rules. I can't remember if you've written about using dice instead of cards before, but it was an "Ah- Ha" moment for me. I'm also sad to see Riskovia go, but the Great Northern War is a good one.

  3. Ingenius work around for solo play. Yes, it should give the basic ebb and flow if not every nuance of the card deck. Interested to hear how it plays. For anyone curious, you can download the Maurice action cards for free from the Honour website. These are the basic playing cards and do not include terrain (setup cards), national advantages, and various campaign add ons from the advanced rules.


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